How to Update a Bathroom on a Budget: Costs, ROI, & Ideas to Save Money


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Sellers do not want bathrooms with stained tubs, brightly colored walls, or broken vanities. Nowadays, luxury baths with modern features and an upscale aesthetic are becoming the norm. Have a home for sale? Are the bathrooms ready for the market?

Doing an Overhaul vs. a Refresh 

Especially if you want to update a bathroom on a budget, an overhaul is likely not the way to go. Instead of doing a full remodel, a refresh is a good option. A refresh will involve cosmetic updates that can still have a big impact on the way a room looks but will not involve pulling permits or gutting the room. Work can include everything from a deep cleaning to some painting. As a result, a refresh will lower project costs while still getting a good return.  

The Cost to Refresh a Bathroom 

Seattle Curbio bathroom

The bathroom refresh cost will depend on the scope of the work, size of the bathroom, location, material costs, general contractor, and more. Because there are so many factors at play, the average cost to refresh a bathroom is hard to define. In many cases, sources will classify any type of update as a remodel, so there is no distinction between what constitutes a refresh versus a full remodel.  

By one account, the low end of updates costs $3,908, and the average cost is $11,362. This is significantly cheaper than the high end of updates which is marked at $25,749.1 While the bathroom refresh cost can vary greatly, adjustments can be made according to budget.  

Bathroom Refresh ROI  

While the costs may seem high, the return on investment is significant. After calculating ROI from past projects, we found that the average ROI of a bathroom refresh is 256%. This return is higher than a full remodel which is only 120%.2 According to these numbers, a refresh not only costs less but also leads to a higher return. For homeowners, making simple updates with a refresh could be the best way to increase the money coming back into their pockets.  

Bathroom Ideas on a Budget 

Trying to upgrade a bathroom on a budget can be challenging if you do not know where to begin. Some homeowners will try DIY bathroom updates to keep labor costs down, but this can be challenging, and the work may not turn out exactly as they want.  

Try these ideas and tips on how to update a bathroom on a budget to uplift the space without breaking the bank. 

Declutter & Organize 

The first step to a bathroom makeover on a budget is to declutter and organize the space. A messy bathroom with an overflowing countertop and stuffed shower caddy can destroy the ambiance of the room. Especially when selling, you need to rethink the storage in the room and clear away unnecessary items.    

Do a Deep Clean  

Along with clearing out the bathroom, it also needs to be cleaned up. A deep clean includes swabbing the grout, wiping down the tub, scrubbing the toilet, and cleaning the shower curtain liner. Together, these tasks can make the bathroom look almost new.  

Paint the Vanity 

An inexpensive way to update a bathroom is to repaint the vanity. While it may be tempting to replace the piece altogether, simply painting it can significantly cut costs while still improving the way the room looks.  

Upgrade the Lighting 

An impactful but cheap bathroom update is to upgrade the lighting. Old lighting can make the entire room feel dated. If you replace these out-of-style features with contemporary lighting options, the whole room can look more modern. 

Update the Floors 

Flooring updates can be a bigger change but can still be done on a budget by using materials that are less expensive. For example, vinyl flooring is less expensive than ceramic tile, but it still has a professional look and a high resale value. 

Pay Attention to the Details  

Toilet paper roll holders, towel racks, showerheads, and faucets may all seem like minor bathroom design details, but together, they can have a surprisingly big impact. A few minor upgrades or changes can alter the entire look of the bathroom.  

Check the Shower Curtain 

The shower curtain can sometimes act like a statement piece. Make sure it is making the right statement. The shower curtain is a good opportunity to tie the room together or add in a pop of color. Just make sure not to overdo it, or you risk falling on the side of tacky. In some cases, it is best to ditch the shower curtain altogether.

Reglaze the Tub 

A dirty tub can immediately have buyers and guests turning up their noses. Instead of spending the money on a new one, reglazing the tub is a good way to update an old bathroom on a budget.  

Use Neutral Colors 

Especially if you are going to sell soon, you should use a neutral color palette. Neutral colors will appeal to most buyers and can help you get more offers. You can still incorporate accent colors to décor, towels, bathmats, or the shower curtain.  

Paint the Walls 

A fresh coat of paint is one of the easiest ways to makeover a bathroom on a budget. Not only can it fix chips and cracks that can make the room look old, but also it can brighten up the space or change the look completely.  

Stage It  

If you are going to sell, the last step to upgrade a bathroom on a budget is to stage it. Along with putting away anything that doesn’t need to be there, pay attention to modern décor and the placement of items. Done correctly, staging can increase the sales price of a home.  

Some homeowners will try DIY bathroom updates to keep labor costs down, but this can be challenging, and the work may not turn out exactly how they want. Instead, a general contractor may be the way to go, but the upfront costs can be extensive.  

At Curbio, we can solve this problem. We help homeowners make bathroom updates before selling without having to pay anything until closing. Our team will start with a proposal of updates that have a great return and end with marking off the final punch list on this projects. In the end, homeowners are able to sell their homes for more money and faster, and agents are able to use us as their one-stop shop for the work.  

If you are trying to update a bathroom on a budget but don’t want to miss out on the high ROI, let us help. Contact us or get started with a free estimate.  

  1. Remodeling Calculator (2023). 2023 Cost To Remodel House- Estimate House Renovation Costs 
  2. Curbio (2022). Preparing to Sell: 2022 Home Improvement Report  

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