Five simple bathroom renovations that add value

Stylish sinks are one of five worthy renovations | Photo: Thinkstock

Every time you walk into your bathroom, you stub your toe on a chipped tile and knock your knee into the cabinet door that never shuts. Instead of letting the swear words fly each morning, how about investing in an inexpensive renovation that can actually boost your home's value?

This could be a great approach, considering that the national average for a bathroom renovation is $16,552, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value 2011-2012 report.

Luckily, "By updating a few items without a lot of cash, your bathroom can feel brand new and add value to your home," says Tiffany Williams, owner and designer of Tangerine Designs Kitchens and Baths in Omaha.

Check out these six low-cost bathroom renovations that can pay you back...

Bargain Project No. 1: Reface Cabinets

Your bathroom cabinets can take a beating throughout the years. And while you might think that the best option is to replace it entirely, we've got some budget-friendly news for you: You can achieve a brand new look by refacing your cabinets, which maintains the structure of your cabinets while replacing the doors and drawers.

"Refacing your bathroom vanity can change the entire feel of the bathroom," Williams says. "Updating the old cabinet doors and drawers can give your bathroom a modern, fresh look that can increase the value of your home with a dollar for dollar investment."

And speaking of finances, cabinet refacing can cost between $150 to $300 per door opening, including materials and installation, according to Consumer Reports' website.

So, before you decide to replace your cabinets entirely, check to see if your cabinets are structurally sound and simply need a facelift.

[Ready to reface your bathroom cabinets? Click to find the right home contractor now.]

Bargain Project No. 2: Update Your Floors

Installing new floors in your bathroom is a great way to transform it into a personal oasis.

So, what type of flooring will add value and style to your bathroom?

"By choosing porcelain, ceramic, or natural stone tiles, you will get the most added value with an almost dollar for dollar investment," Williams says.

In terms of designs, Williams suggests homeowners "use small detailed tile like hexagons or penny rounds, and think of adding an accent color," Williams says. Penny rounds are dots of tile that come mounted on mesh sheets for easy installation, and come in a variety of colors and designs.

To keep costs down, consider "simple tile designs instead of inlays and other more complex mosaics. Not only do simple designs take less time to install, but you'll often spend considerably less on tile, as well, allowing you to save about $1,000," according to The National Kitchen and Bath Association's (NKBA) article, "Real-World Budgeting for Bathroom Remodeling."

[Want to install new floors in your bathroom? Click to compare rates from local contractors now.]

Bargain Project No. 3: Install a Stylish Sink

Since you spend a lot of time at your sink - shaving, putting on your makeup, brushing your teeth - it makes sense to have a sink that's appealing to the eye - and wallet.

"Sinks are so much fun and can add a little bit of luxury to your bathroom," Williams says. She adds that simple details like a new shiny chrome faucet and porcelain handles are details that can add a lot of value to your bathroom. What's more, these little details won't break the bank.

In terms of the type of sink that offer the most pay back, Williams says you'll want to consider an integrated sink, in which there are no edges or hangovers from the countertop to the sink. Integrated sinks are growing in popularity and range from $150-$500, she says. They also typically add a dollar for dollar investment.

[Does your bathroom need a makeover? Click to find a home contractor now.]

Bargain Project No. 4: Update the Lighting

When you turn on your bathroom light, does it feel like you're in a police inquisition with those blinding lightbulbs glaring down at you? If so, it's time to update your lighting.

"Most of us have a basic light above the sink, and it is terrible for daily tasks," Williams says. "Lighting can make the biggest impact when you are remodeling. This goes a long way to increase the ambience and the value of the room."

If you want a dollar for dollar investment, task lighting (which is similar to accent lighting) is a great option. For example, you can add some canister lights that are recessed into the ceiling, or choose pendant or sconce lighting to help illuminate a mirror.

Another good choice, Williams says, is track lighting, in which lights sit along a track on the ceiling or wall and allow you to adjust their position to shine wherever you want.

Bargain Project No. 5: Get a Stylish Shower Head

You might think that updating your shower head is a minor update, but according to Williams, it's an update that buyers will be on the lookout for - should you decide to sell your home.

"Turn your shower into an oasis by updating your shower head with a rain head. If you are looking to sell your home, buyers are always looking for added value," Williams says. Shower head prices can cost as little as $100 and can go up drastically from there, says Williams, but whatever price range you settle on, it's good to note that a rain head adds a dollar for dollar value.

Just remember that when you renovate parts of your bathroom, you should try to stick to the basics. Why? Because sometimes being too unique may come with consequences, notes the NKBA article, "Do's and Don'ts to Help Manage Your Kitchen or Bath Remodel." If your renovation is too far out there, you may regret your decision and down the road, a potential homebuyer may not like your choices either.