Small Bathroom Ideas That Fit Your Budget

small bathroom painted light green
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Bringing a bathroom to life on a tight budget is definitely possible, especially when it's a smaller bathroom.

There are a few tips and tricks that you can use to make a big impact in a powder room, that won't break the bank and add a fun level of personalization to the space.

While lots of these upgrades are cosmetic, it's important to spend your budget on necessary upgrades first.

Make a List

When you're deciding how to upgrade a small bathroom you need to pull a Santa Claus and make a list, then check it twice.

That list needs to consist of everything that needs to be upgraded in the bathroom and everything you want to be upgraded in the bathroom.

With a limited budget and in a small space, you don't have room to do everything that you might want to do, so it's important to prioritize.

Prioritizing is important for the monetary aspect, but it's also important that you don't try and cram every idea that you've ever had about a powder bathroom in one little space.

That gets way too cluttered and chaotic way too quickly.

Focus on what you can fix and what needs to be fixed and what you want the overall aesthetic of the bathroom to be and go from there.

After you've budgeted for necessary upgrades to the bathroom, like a new sink, faucet, or toilet, then you can start dreaming about the cosmetic upgrades you can make to your small bathroom.

Paint It Up

No DIY small bathroom upgrade list would be complete without suggesting paint. Paint is relatively inexpensive as far as DIY supplies are concerned, and the application can be quick depending on what you do.

Painting your bathroom gives you endless possibilities for what to do with the space.

You can paint a pattern on the wall, you can paint half of the wall and scallop it at the top, you can color block the room, or you can just give the entire room a fresh coat of paint.

There are so many things that you can do with paint that this is a great place to start no matter your budget.

If you're looking for something that's really subtle and sophisticated in a small bathroom, take your door and trim slightly darker than your walls.

In a bathroom that we just renovated, we painted the walls a bright, pure white because there's no natural light in the bathroom, but we took the trim and the door a nice smoky taupe.

This really subtle contrast gives the bathroom a lot of visual interest without being too heavy on the eye and without making the bathroom really dark.

We really focused on what we could do in the space with the lack of light in the bathroom while still making the bathroom fun and interesting.

In another bathroom project that we tackled recently, we painted three-quarters of the wall a dark green and then scalloped the top of the bathroom.

This was a really tiny powder bath, so a little bit of paint went a long way, and it has a very dramatic feel in the bathroom now, but that's okay because it's just a small powder bath - so the paint is not overwhelming.

Paint gives you the option to really express the personality of your bathroom and of your home and it gives you the chance to start over whenever you want.

Our initial vision for one bathroom in our home was very light and airy, but with time we decided we needed something a little bit bolder, so we just swapped the paint on the beadboard out one afternoon and it completely changed the entire space.

We recommend picking your paint very first before you dive into anything else in the bathroom.

This is going to help you stick to a theme and an aesthetic, and it's going to help you tie the small bathroom to any other spaces that it touches.

This is also going to help your space feel really cohesive and connected even if the bathroom is visually very different from the other spaces around it.

shelves with plants and frames in small room

Build Up

If you need additional storage in a small bathroom, consider adding shelving. something like a floating shelf is going to give you storage without adding a ton of visual weight, especially if you add the right kind of shelving.

There are two ways that we like to think about open shelving in a bathroom. We tend to think about open shelving as an accent or as a focal point.

Essentially this way of thinking about it helps us determine if we want shelves that really stand out and compliment the other elements of the bathroom that are already there or if we want shelves that are really subtle and blend in with the walls.

Reasons that you would pick something that stands out include having a small bathroom without a focal point or having a bathroom that's so small that your shelves are forced to become a focal point that leads your eye upward.

Having shelves that lead your eye upward is actually going to make your small bathroom feel larger because you're utilizing space that the eye doesn't normally travel to.

If you're looking for more subtle storage, floating shelves the color of your wall with very simple decor is a good way to accent the bathroom without taking over the look of the bathroom.

We've added both kinds of shelves to small bathrooms, and have loved the result every time.

Our favorite way to incorporate shelves in a bathroom that's really small is right above the toilet.

If your toilet is tucked between two walls, we like to take the shelves from wall to wall. This gives you a really seamless built-in look.

Our favorite thing to do with shelves that look like they're built-ins is adding caulk to the edges and then paint them the same color as the wall so that the room feels really seamless but your eye is still being drawn upward.

If the space between the two walls on either side of the toilet is too large, or your shelves would run into something like a shower or a mirror before hitting the other wall, we like to just center shelves above the toilet.

When it comes to floating shelves above a toilet, we recommend a depth no deeper than six inches to avoid any mishaps in the bathroom.

The best part about shelves in the bathroom is that you get to style them. This is where you can let a lot of the personality of your bathroom start to shine.

You can keep it really subtle, or you can have a lot of fun with it — it totally just depends on the overall look that you're going for in your space.

We do recommend really utilizing those shelves for storage, but if you want it to be aesthetically pleasing go ahead and purchase some nice baskets or other aesthetically pleasing storage containers to hold things like toilet paper, soap, or washcloths.

In a small bathroom, the additional storage of even just a shelf or two can be really great.

shelf with design items in bathroom

Themes & Motifs

One of the best ways that you can give a small bathroom a big personality is by picking a theme or motif for the bathroom— an overall feeling or vibe that you want the room to give people who use it.

Sometimes themes tend to be a little bit on the nose.

For example, if you walk into a bathroom where everything is made from seashells and all of the colors are light blue and the soap dispenser is a mermaid, you might be in a bathroom with a very strong theme.

Themes can be hard to tackle without going over the top. It's one of the pitfalls of designing this way.

So we recommend sticking with a motif instead of a theme when it comes to adding design and personality to your bathroom, but it's still totally your call.

The most important thing is that you love your bathroom every time you walk into it.

With a motif, things are going to be a little bit subtler.

Maybe instead of an ocean theme bathroom, your motif uses beachy colors and textures to create the feeling of being at the beach without having to tell somebody that they are in a beach-themed bathroom.

We recently renovated a bathroom in a space that was a really strong combination of old and new, so we decided to have a bathroom that felt like the modern version of something you could have found in your grandpa's fishing cabin.

We did not go out and hang fishing poles on the wall, though we did hang some old fish prints that we found at an old vintage store, in mismatched frames.

We kept the foundation of the bathroom very light and natural, with some darker vintage accents and a few subtle nods to things we thought would go in someone's fishing cabin.

We then layered in some really organic elements, like plants, so that the room felt like it had a real soul and a real connection to nature.

The theme of our bathroom didn't really exist, instead, we were chasing an idea and a feeling that felt like it appropriately meshed with the rest of the space.

bathroom with round mirror

Mirror, Mirror

If you have a small bathroom in a builder-grade home, there's a really good chance that you have a massive mirror on your wall that's too big for the space and does not have a frame.

There's no shame in it, we have a mirror just like that in our bathroom waiting to be replaced.

But if you're in the mood for a quick renovation, this is a really impactful place to go.

Before you take your old mirror off the wall, remember that safety comes first. You're working with a giant piece of glass, and there's a high likelihood that you'll get hurt if you go about this the wrong way.

Put lots of painter's tape across your mirror before you begin to pop it off the wall. This is going to help if the mirror breaks or cracks in any way, and it will give you a level of protection.

That being said, we also certainly recommend wearing eye protection and gloves as you tackle mirror removal.

Once you've removed the mirror from your wall, you're probably going to need to patch things up a little bit. Especially if your builders were like ours and just slapped a glob of glue on the wall, you might end up with a few patchy spots.

If you can't patch the spots on the wall you may need to replace a little bit of drywall, or you could put up a wall treatment like beadboard or shiplap to cover up the spot.

After you patch the wall it's time to pick a new mirror.

There are so many amazing mirrors out there, but if you're trying to save money, you could see if a local glass cutter could cut your current mirror down to size and you can DIY a frame for it.

A few tips for making your mirrors work in your bathroom include not setting your mirror right down on the edge of your counter, and picking a mirror that's the appropriate size for the space.

If you want to have a little bit of fun with it, try adding an arched mirror or a circular mirror for new shapes that will guide your eye naturally around the bathroom and up towards the bathroom light.

We love bathroom mirrors that help create a story for the space they're in, and help bounce that natural light all around the bathroom. Consider adding mirrors to other walls in your bathroom to help gently reflect light around your space.

We love this DIY upgrade because it's super quick. This is something that you can tackle in a day, or during a weekend.