Top 7 Tips for a Successful DIY Bathroom Remodel

The bathroom is often considered to be one of the most important rooms in a house (along with the kitchen), especially when it comes to selling a house. Because of this, it’s a good idea to make the bathroom look and feel as fresh and updated as your budget allows. Of course, you can always decorate the bathroom, which will go a long way to accomplishing its updated appeal. But sometimes décor just won’t cut it. One of the most cost-effective ways that you can achieve a successful bathroom upgrade, whether it’s a large or small bathroom remodel, is to look into DIY bathroom remodel options. Sounds intimidating? It doesn’t need to be.

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Traditionally, the bathroom is comprised of a variety of key components, such as the toilet, sink, shower, and tub. In other words, the bathroom is one of the easiest places in your home to break down into bits and pieces. This makes for an ideal DIY opportunity – you can tackle the projects you’re most comfortable with, which ultimately cuts down on your bathroom remodel cost, and then you can leave the other parts to a professional.

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DIY Bathroom Remodel Tip #1: Update the walls.

The walls of nearly any space set an instant tone of the space’s style and vibe. Bathroom walls are no exception. If your bathroom has peeling, crusty wallpaper or oddly tinted and speckled paint, the entire space is going to feel dingy, drab, and/or dated. Conversely, if your walls are clean and freshened up, the entire space will experience a pick-me-up in the style department.

Some DIY options for updating your bathroom walls include the following:

  • Smoothing out the dated wall texture.
  • Installing board and batten.
  • Painting the walls a fresh, light color. Keep in mind that less contrast (e.g., lighter walls surrounding your white porcelain fixtures) will make the space feel bigger, whereas higher contrast (e.g., darker walls) will add higher energy and visual busy-ness to the bathroom.
  • Installing contemporary wallpaper.

DIY Bathroom Remodel Tip #2: Maximize the mirror.

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Every bathroom should have an excellent mirror. What makes a bathroom mirror excellent? It should be large enough that you can see at the very least your entire head, although more of your body is better. It should also be well-lit. Mirrors are beneficial, particularly in small bathroom remodels, because they reflect a lot of light and make the tiniest, postage-stamp-sized bathroom feel a bit more spacious than it actually is

Some DIY options for maximizing your bathroom mirror include the following:

  • Choosing a mirror that is large enough, in stylistic proportions to make a statement.
  • Mounting a bathroom mirror professionally, even though you’re not a professional.
  • Install a light on top of your mirror itself for increased light reflection and a doubled-up opportunity to admire a great light fixture.
  • Ensuring the mirror is centered above the bathroom sink.

DIY Bathroom Remodel Tip #3: Customize your vanity.

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The vanity could very well be the largest piece of “furniture” in your bathroom. As such, you have a prime opportunity to show off your style with a vanity makeover! In a DIY bathroom remodel, you may not feel completely comfortable with replacing the vanity altogether…or you might. But if you don’t, there are still some great ways that you, yourself, can take your bathroom vanity from drab to fab.

Some DIY options for customizing your bathroom vanity include the following:

DIY Bathroom Remodel Tip #4: Re-tile the tub/shower surround.

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This DIY project is actually not “a” project, but rather it’s many DIY projects with the unfortunate luck of being grouped into one larger heading. It’s intensive, it can be frustrating, and it’s a big deal. You want to get this one right, or your tub/shower is going to leak and crumble and you’ll curse the day you ever heard the acronym “D-I-Y.” On the flip side, a re-tiled shower/tub surround is gorgeous. It’s fresh, updated, and completely customized to your preferences. It alone can make showering a pleasure. And, truly, this is a completely DIY-able series of projects; doing it yourself will certainly help to keep your bathroom remodel cost lower.

We should note, however, that in order to be successful in re-tiling your tub or shower surround, you’re going to want to become familiar with using a wet tile saw (full tutorial available). This process is not hard, but it does have a few techniques that will be beneficial if you’re aware of them.

Some DIY options for updating the tile surround in your tub/shower include the following:

  • Removing your original tub/shower surround tile (or whatever it is).
  • Tiling the shower/tub surround. There are so many tile options available these days, you’re sure to find something you like. We especially like the idea of taking a classic, such as subway tile, and giving it a modern twist – laying the tiles vertically, for example, or in a herringbone pattern.
  • Installing a shower shelf will not only look beautiful, but it will make your previously non-shelf-ed self deliriously happy. There are loads of DIY options for this concept, including many that don’t require an entire re-tiling of the shower first.
  • Waterproofing the tub surround is critical in this highly wet bathroom environment, so be sure to seal and caulk your tile surround for longevity and cleanliness.

DIY Bathroom Remodel Tip #5: Choose stylish bathroom lighting.

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Although it probably sounds a little intimidating, most people can switch out a light fixture safely and successfully, if they’re careful and follow the instructions. And what a difference fresh lighting makes, especially in the bathroom! This DIY bathroom remodel idea is small and simple, and it can often be done in under an hour, and it really makes such a difference in the brightness and updated feel of the bathroom. Lighting is key in the bathroom, so be sure you’re opting for light that is bright enough, but not too bright, and also designed for high-moisture areas.

Some DIY options for installing stylish bathroom lighting include the following:

  • Installing a chic light directly onto the bathroom mirror. This idea is both unique and useful, especially if you have a large mirror and few options for mounting lighting that illuminates the face rather than the back of the head. Which, by the way, is a very important characteristic of quality bathroom lighting.
  • Building a modern brass branch light to install above the vanity mirror. This option combines modern art (it’s asymmetrical! And three-dimensional!) with lighting and definitely infuses a standard bathroom with a higher echelon of aesthetic presence.
  • Embracing the industrial style in the bathroom with an industrial-rustic bathroom light fixture.
  • Replace the standard overhead light with a brighter LED option.

DIY Bathroom Remodel Tip #6: Update fixtures & hardware.

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For something so disproportionately small in the bathroom’s grand scheme of things, fixtures and hardware are so important for providing that chic finishing touch on the entire space. And, truly, the cost is not that much for such a major impact. In fact, if you did nothing more than replace an old sink faucet, your entire bathroom would look significantly better.

Some DIY options for updating the fixtures and hardware in your bathroom include the following:

  • Upgrading your bathroom faucet by removing the old and replacing it with something sleeker and more contemporary and/or functional.
  • Swapping out your tub and/or shower fixtures. If you’re remodeling the tub and/or shower anyway, you can take this DIY option a step further and move the shower heads to a more convenient height, and even add more shower heads altogether.
  • Replacing an old toilet paper dispenser with a new one that you’ve made yourself is a simple, straightforward, and stylish way to go. This can be something as simple as bending some thick-gauge brass wire into a dispenser shape or as chic as creating your own brass dispenser out of pipe fittings.
  • Installing stylish wall hooks helps to keep towels and clothes off the ground, which increases both your bathroom’s form and function. This is particularly useful in the small bathroom remodel, where every square inch counts.

DIY Bathroom Remodel Tip #7: Enjoy functional and beautiful details.

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While a bathroom is, in general, a function-heavy space, this doesn’t mean it can’t perform its job without style and comfort, and even beauty. Take the time in your DIY bathroom remodeling to consider what details will serve the bathroom users best.

Some DIY options for including beautiful and useful details in your bathroom include the following:

  • Hanging some artwork on the wall.
  • Laying a comfortable, non-slip rug near any water-prone area.
  • Mounting a shelf above the door of the bathroom to maximize some otherwise wasted space.
  • Replacing shower curtains or updating your existing shower curtains with something unique, such as trim along the lead edge.
  • Mounting shower curtains from the ceiling for a more dramatic flair. The vertical emphasis of this idea helps expand the room’s feeling of airiness for a small bathroom remodel.