If your bathroom is due for a remodel, but your funds are limited - don't lose hope. You can vamp up your bathroom even if you're on a budget.
"There are plenty of little things you can do on a budget that will go a long way and make a big difference in a small space like a bathroom," says Kathryn Cherne, owner of Design Inside, an interior design firm in Chicago.
Keep reading to learn about five costly bathroom remodels - and what you can do instead.
Pricey Project #1 - Replacing Cabinets
Budget Alternative: Refacing Cabinets
Are your cabinets peeling or dented? Are you just bored with the overall look and feel of your cabinets?
While you might think replacing your cabinets is the solution to updating the look, your wallet will be a bit fuller if you opt for the budget-friendly alternative: refacing.
"Most of the time, the door style is the thing that makes the cabinet look dated. It's a lot less expensive to redo or replace the doors than to replace the cabinet box itself," says Tobi Fairley, an award-winning interior designer.
And that's exactly what refacing is.
Jill Valeri, president of The Welcome Home: Interior Design Solutions, says refacing entails replacing the doors and drawer-fronts, then wrapping the other exposed elements of the cabinetry in a material (wood or laminate) with an updated finish (color or style).
How much can you save by refacing your cabinets instead of replacing them? Expect to pay a few hundred for the refacing versus thousands to replace the cabinets, says architect, Jeffrey Veffer, of the firm Incite Design. Of course, Veffer says that prices will vary depending on the size of your bathroom cabinets.
Pricey Project #2 - Replacing the Bathtub
Budget Alternative: Refacing/Reglazing the Bathtub
If your tub cracks or starts showing signs of wear, you may think that the only solution is out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new. But the experts beg to differ.
While replacing your tub could cost somewhere along the lines of $3000, Veffer says refacing should only cost between $350 and $500, depending on the type of bathtub you currently own.
Refacing - also called reglazing - uses specialized compounds to apply a new coated finish to the tub, according to Veffer.
And if you think that refacing can only be done when your tub is cracked or damaged, think again. Veffer says this option also works if you just want to update your current style.
"This could be just the ticket to transform that old pink tub to a clean, modern look," he adds.
Pricey Project #3 - Updating the Floor with Mosaic Tiles
Budget Alternative: Installing a Simple White Tile and Using a Mosaic Rug
"Where simple tiles run between $1.50 to $2 per square foot, fancy mosaic tiles cost up to $50 per square foot," explains Veffer.
So in lieu of fancy mosaic tiles, consider opting for a simple tile, then accessorizing with either a strip of accent tile - which is affordable because you're only using a few strips - or a mosaic rug.
"The best part of using a mosaic rug is that when you're tired of it, you can simply choose a new look without jack hammering up your floor to get it," says Veffer.
To keep a bathroom looking classic and clean, Fairley says homeowners should go with something like white subway tile or a classic hexagon tile.
"Those looks have been popular since the '50s and never really go out of style. When you select something very classic for your bathroom tile, you'll save money but it will still look upscale," says Fairley.
Pricey Project #4 - Replacing Sink
Budget Alternative: Update Your Faucet
It's easy to flip through magazines or home design websites and get tempted to overhaul your single, lonely sink into a double sink situation. But Veffer says this project could get complicated and costly.
"Often this type of upgrade requires new base cabinets as well as new countertops, which can quickly become expensive," Veffer explains.
Instead, he recommends changing out your faucet to something more modern and functional.
"A beautiful faucet is like jewelry in the bathroom and can be a major focal point if done right," he adds. "Plus, it won't require a trip to see your bank manager, as a brand new faucet costs around $300 versus upwards of $2000 for a new granite counter and double sink with base cabinets."
Pricey Project #5 - Replacing Your Countertops
Budget Alternative: Upgrade Your Hardware
When you start analyzing the pieces of an impending bathroom remodel, it's easy to suddenly feel the urge to rip everything out and start from scratch. But instead of swapping out your countertop, have you ever considered changing the fixtures instead?
Fairley says changing out your lighting fixtures, mirrors and hardware gives your bathroom an entirely new look - with a smaller investment in both time and money.
"The amount you'd save in replacing your hardware versus replacing your countertops really depends on how many things you change and the fixtures you choose," she continues. That said, she adds that it's safe to say you could save more than $100 by swapping out your hardware versus your countertops.
To get this project started, Fairley says a homeowner will typically do some shopping on their own and choose the hardware they like before installing it.
"Most home stores have great selections these days and I see a lot of homeowners going online to shop for special touches. From there, a savvy DIY'er could install each of these pieces themselves by following the directions, but calling in a contractor will get the job done in a fraction of the time and at a fairly low cost."
From a design perspective, Fairley says that chunky or ornate fixtures can date your bathroom, so focus on choosing simple and streamlined alternatives that will give your bathroom a sleek and modern update.