How to Improve an Older Bathroom Without Remodeling

The idea of remodeling a bathroom may sound great to some homeowners, but others will find that the price tag alone is enough to put them off the project indefinitely. Thankfully, there’s plenty of comfortable middle ground between going all-out with a complete remodel and continuing to live in the past. Read on to find some easy, affordable tips for how to improve the appearance of an aging bathroom without investing in a full remodel.

  1. Hide the Clutter in Smaller Spaces

Older bathrooms tend to be less spacious than their contemporary relatives in newly-built homes. When working with a smaller space, it’s important to get organized and stay that way. Keeping clutter out of sight can go a long way toward making the bathroom feel more spacious than it is, as can a few well-placed mirrors.

Before buying a new medicine cabinet or installing under-sink storage, make sure to get the dimensions right. If the bathroom is already feeling cramped, purchasing storage solutions that take up a ton of space may make the situation even worse. Try to keep a good balance of adequate space for keeping bathroom clutter out of sight and plenty of room to move around.

  1. Scrap the Wallpaper

There’s nothing worse than old wallpaper for making a bathroom look dated. Removing the wallpaper and replacing it with a fresh coat of paint can go a long way toward bringing it up to speed.

If some of the wallpaper is too stuck to get it off with a scraper, don’t give up hope. Try painting over the wallpaper with matte paint to improve the appearance of the walls without risking drywall damage.

  1. Paint the Tile

Older bathrooms often feature dated pastel tile. While tile is still all the rage, those ugly colors can really throw the design off. Painting the old tiles is a temporary solution since the new coat will eventually begin to chip off, but it’s a good way to give an aging bathroom a facelift without paying to have it retiled.

Start with a coat of oil-based, high-adhesion primer. Choose any color, but stick to waterproof latex paint. It’s also fine to paint accent tiles to create contrasting color schemes. This approach takes less time and fewer cans of paint.

  1. Create Diversions

Don’t want to replace the tile, or dealing with brightly colored sinks, tubs, and toilets but not ready to replace them? Try creating a diversion. This is an example of when it’s appropriate to play with dramatic wallpaper, curtains, and other features that draw the eye away from ugly fixtures or tile.

It’s important to avoid going too far overboard. Choose dark or colorfully patterned wallpaper then stick with a plain shower curtain, or take the opposite approach. Add colorful curtains, then paint the walls a single color. Overdoing it will only make the bathroom look more garish.

  1. Replace the Fixtures

Homeowners who have a little bit of money that needs to go a long way should consider their priorities. Replacing aging fixtures often makes the top of the list. If the toilet, sink, and tub are still functional, consider working around them, but if they’re leaking, rusted, or difficult to use, prioritize replacing them.

It’s unwise for all but the handiest homeowners to try replacing plumbing fixtures by themselves. Hire a licensed plumber and let him or her know about budget concerns in advance. Keeping the pipes in place and working with the current layout will help to keep the cost of replacing aging or damaged fixtures comparatively low.

  1. Think Outside the Box

There’s no reason homeowners need to stick with traditional bathroom curtains, light fixtures, and decorations. Decorating a bathroom in ways most people associate with dining rooms, living rooms, or dens can make a unique impression and turn an otherwise boring space into an opportunity for personal expression.

Not sure how to get started implementing this technique? Consider:

  • Hanging light fixtures
  • Adding window curtains with unique visual appeal
  • Choosing more eye-catching paintings or other artwork for the walls
  • Add modern frames to older mirrors
  1. Get Rid of Chintzy Old Counters

Manmade patterned bathroom countertops used to be all the rage. These days, they look dated and out of place, though. Homeowners who want to turn their dated bathrooms into sleek, modern spaces without breaking their budgets should consider allocating some of their budgets to replacing old countertops.

There’s no need to spend a fortune on new counters. There are plenty of affordable options for customizing bathroom vanities. Think simple ceramic or glass mosaic tiles, engineered stone, or even industrial-style concrete countertops. They all pair great with basin sinks.

  1. Replace Shower Doors

Have a walk-in shower instead of a tub? That’s great news because most modern homeowners prefer walk-in showers. Old, framed-in glass shower doors can wind up looking like a mess, though, and replacing them can give the whole room a new life. Getting rid of discolored shower doors can also make small bathrooms feel less cramped.

There are a few good options for replacing cracked or corroded framed glass shower doors. Those who have it in the budget may want to install frameless alternatives, but that can be pricey and it requires professional help. Avid DIYers have another option. They can simply remove the door completely and replace it with a boldly colored or strikingly patterned shower curtain.

Find Options That Fit the Family’s Budget

Deciding what to prioritize is primarily a matter of determining a budget and sticking to it. Homeowners who have plenty of money to throw at updating their bathrooms can hire remodeling contractors to free up space in their floor plans and enlist the help of professional designers, but not everyone has that option.

Those working on a budget need to decide what features and fixtures really need to go and which of them can be brought back into the overall design with a little creativity. Focus on replacing fixtures that can be installed by hand without professional help and finding creative options for drawing attention away from any problem areas.

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