Five Money-Saving Tips To Take Away From John & Alice’s Bathroom Makeover

Last Updated on December 28, 2015 by Kristi Linauer

Working on John & Alice’s master bathroom was definitely a learning experience for me, and I wanted to pass along to you some money-saving tips that I learned.

When you’re working with a limited budget, and you start out with a room that looks like this…

…you definitely have to get creative. A complete bathroom remodel would have had at least a $15,000 price tag…at least. But keeping the main existing elements, and just finding ways to disguise them and update them literally saved thousands and thousands of dollars. So here are my top five tips for saving thousands of dollars on a bathroom update.

1. Use high-style, high-dollar items sparingly. In this bathroom, I used a really pretty glass/marble mosaic tile.

If I had used this in large quantities, it would have eaten right through the budget in a hurry. So I opted for a “less is more” approach, and cut the 12 x 12 sheets of tile into strips. In all, I think I used a total of five sheets of mosaic tile. At $10 each, that was do-able with my budget.

2. Mix old tile with new tile. John & Alice’s shower is tiled with regular ‘ole 4″ x 4″ tiles that are original to the house. Fortunately, they were in a neutral color, and in rather good shape. Re-tiling the shower simply wasn’t in the budget, so I had to work with them. And it all worked out!!  You can see the far left wall is covered in new tile, and the shower still has the original tile.  But it all blends and works together.

3. Use wood trim instead of expensive tile trim. This is another little detail that would have eaten right through my budget if I had used the “proper” materials. Those marble chair rails are expensive (about $6 to $10 per piece), and so I had to get creative. Instead of using the marble pieces, I opted instead for the wood counterparts, which were a fraction of the price.

And because I painted it the trim color, it fits right in to the design.

4. PAINT those faucets and shower surrounds!! Talk about saving money!! If you have one of those cultured marble tubs, there’s simply no easy or inexpensive way to change the faucet. If they’ll even touch the thing, plumbers will charge an arm and a leg for their services. And even then, you might still have to call someone else to reset the marble after the plumber has done his work. Talk about expensive!!! And that’s in addition to the cost of the actual faucet. And then there’s the shower surround. And oil-rubbed bronze shower surround costs several hundred dollars, and that doesn’t even include the price of removing the old surround and installing the new one.

So, paint is the obvious solution here…

Now I know that many of you were concerned with how well it would hold up, and time will tell. But I got to thinking…I’ve used spray paint on SOOOOO many things over the years, and when done properly, that stuff is really long-lasting!! In fact, I spray painted the base of my breakfast table white over a a year ago. I sit there for at least two meals per day, with my feet all over the base, and it has held up just fine.

5.  Use what nature provides. You can use things plucked right out nature in such a wide variety of ways.  In John & Alice’s bathroom, I opted to use real branches from trees as the drawer and door pulls.

They added a very unique touch, and were almost FREE!  The only cost involved was the cost of the spray sealer and the screws to attach them.  You can’t get much more cost-effecient than that!!

What great money-saving tips have you used (or would you use) on your own bathroom makeover?  Bathrooms and kitchens can really be expensive to update, and I know some of you must have some really great tips.  So come on, don’t hold back on me!!!  Hand ’em over!!

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    These ideas are fabulous, thank you for sharing!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    January 29, 2011 at 2:08 am

    I am still amazed at the transformation! I LOVE it! Thank you for passing on the money saving tips and ideas. I've been looking to buy a house and you give me the courage to look at those older homes that need updating. Thanks!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    double glazing
    January 29, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Your blog was awesome! This will help us for the formation of our bathroom. I agree that we use some branches of trees to add some nature color to our room. This will be perfect for those who plan to have an elegant bathroom.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Upscale Downhome
    January 31, 2011 at 12:25 am

    I really enjoyed this article because I think it is very true to life. Most of us, have to be creative with our limited budgets and can't do complete redos like we would love! I'm considering painting the brass surround on my shower now. If it doesn't hold up; what do I have to loose? I hate it now!