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How to Remodel a Bathroom 

By the Vevano Home Team
June 5, 2021

Whether you just bought a house or you’re remodeling your current one, one of the most popular rooms to upgrade first is your bathrooms, and it’s easy to see why. We spend, on average, two to two and a half years (yes, YEARS) of our lives in the bathroom, so it makes sense that we’d want it to be a functional, comfortable, and beautiful space.

So where do you begin? Do you hire it out to bathroom remodeling contractors? DIY bathroom remodel? Ask your dad for just a few handyman favors? The best way to know where to start is by figuring out which of the items you are going to update, drum up some bathroom ideas and go from there.

How Much Does It Cost to Remodel a Bathroom?

The cost of remodeling a bathroom is a tricky question to answer, because it varies so drastically based on which size bathroom you are remodeling (half or full), and how many changes you are wanting to make. That said, the national average bathroom remodeling costs for a mid-range bathroom remodel are around $5k for a small five foot by seven foot bathroom if done by yourself, and that price typically doubles when you hire a bathroom remodeling contractor. A number of home improvement websites have calculators where you can get a general idea of the cost by inputting your measurements.

The costliest items for a bathroom remodeling project will be your plumbing fixtures, new sinks, tubs and toilets, and tile work. The more affordable items are the cosmetic ones—a fresh coat of paint, adding decorative shelving, swapping out the towel bars.

toilet and bathroom lifestyle image

The other expensive thing is the time and labor, but it’s worth evaluating if it is worth paying someone else to do that work for you. How much time do you have? How quickly do you want the project done? If it is your only bathroom, you probably don’t want that out of commission for very long. How much experience or knowledge do you have on the items you are wanting to change? Are you willing to take the time to educate yourself and potentially waste money making mistakes and having to fix them? Is doing it yourself cost-effective enough to drive you to learn?

Regardless of if you do a DIY bathroom or hire it out, it is always a good idea to add in a buffer to your estimated bathroom remodel cost—remodels are notorious for going over budget due to unforeseen issues, so it’s best to be prepared.

How Much Does a Bathroom Remodel Add to the Value of the House?

Before starting a remodeling project, it’s important to factor in whether you will be selling the property in the near future—this will help you determine if you should go with a more traditional bathroom design style to try to increase your resale value or roll with your own personal tastes if you are staying put for a few years.

If you are planning on selling, spend time browsing Zillow and other realtor sites to look at what other people have done with their spaces to get bathroom remodel ideas. What do you like or dislike? What do the highest priced homes have in common? Are there color schemes you are drawn to, or built-ins that you think you could recreate in your own space? Pinterest and Instagram can also be wonderful places to search to find what is trending and showcasing well. Use those as starting points to build a list of the things that will bring you the highest return on investment.

kohler bath tub

Bear in mind that the property value increase will depend on how many changes you incorporate, the current housing market where you live, the style you choose to remodel in, and whether you did it yourself or hired professionals. On average though, remodeling your bathroom has the highest ROI of any home improvement project and can net you around 60-70 percent back on what you put into the remodel if and when you sell. The joy of living with a more functional and beautiful bathroom? That is immeasurable.

How to Remodel a Bathroom

Fresh Paint

You’d be amazed how much a room can transform by simply slapping on a fresh coat of paint. Even a new coat of white paint will do wonders for the space. It can help cover drip marks from water, stains, and fading paint, and make the area smell and feel refreshed. That said, don’t be afraid to be brave and go for a little color!

Pick up some color samples from your local paint store and then decide on three to six colors to narrow it down. Buy the sample size of each (these are typically around five dollars) and paint a swatch on the wall. Live with it for a handful of days before you decide. The purpose of this is to see how the lighting affects the paint color in your particular room. How it looks in the store and online won’t always look the same in your space, so it’s good to see how it looks in the morning, afternoon, and at night with the bathroom lights on. The lightbulb temperature you are using can also change the color quite a bit, so keep that in mind as well.

Once you’ve selected your paint, buy the paint and primer combo (you can thank us later), some foam rollers, drop cloths, painters tape, and paint brushes and get to work! Use the painters tape to tape off around window sills, outlets, and the ceiling/baseboards. Lay the drop cloths down to protect your flooring. The small paint brushes are great for cutting in around the tricky areas by the painters tape or areas that are too narrow for your roller, and the rollers will help you get the majority of the walls done quickly. Two coats are typically sufficient to cover everything.

Upgrading Lighting Fixtures

Swapping in new light fixtures is one of the quickest ways to transform the look of your entire bathroom. You’d be surprised how much variety there is with not only the fixture finishes and styles, but also mounting options.

For example, bath bars mounted above the mirror pointing down give perfect illumination for morning routines. Flip them upwards, and it creates a perfect ambient mood in a guest bath where task lighting isn’t as important. Mounting pendants or sconces on each side of a vanity can help decrease shadows and provide even lighting for things such as putting on makeup. There is also the option of adding a lit mirror, however those tend to run more on the expensive side and are meant to be used as supplemental lighting, not your main source.

bathroom vanity lighting
bathroom vanity lighting
bathroom vanity lighting

New Plumbing Fixtures

Another quick, albeit more expensive, way to jazz up your bath is changing out the plumbing fixtures. Plumbing can be a bit tricky for even the most experienced DIYer, so it’s definitely one of those projects you need to make sure you feel really comfortable doing yourself—otherwise you should hire a more experienced pro to do it.

Add Wall Tile or Shower Tile

Ceramic tile will definitely increase the aesthetic of your room. The cost here will vary quite a bit based on what color and size of tile you choose, how much you need, and whether you DIY or hire it out. But it adds quite a bit of value and is a nice change from the standard drop-in tubs and shower stall.

If you do install tile, be sure to read the tile and grout care instructions. A lot of common cleaners will actually break down the sealant, so read the packaging to ensure you keep them properly maintained to last a long time.

white tiles
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Install New Flooring

There is really only one rule for bathroom floors and it is this: avoid carpet at all costs. All jokes aside, you have many options with what you select: add new linoleum, paint your current linoleum using stencils, lay tile, or install vinyl. The great of installing new flooring is that there is an option for every budget and every design taste. Just double check that it is water sealed or water safe; you don’t want to install something only to have moisture cause it to buckle in the wet room.

Change to a Different Style of Bathroom Vanity or Sink

Unless it’s in poor condition, a bathroom sink is something you typically don’t notice much until you’re completely wowed by one. You don’t have to be stuck with your ugly old built-in. Consider a drop in, a pedestal sink, or a custom vanity and make your space somewhere you want to get ready every day. It might even be worthwhile investing in a gorgeous freestanding vanity.

toto pedestal sink
american standard undermount sink
toto vessel sink

Bath Remodel

This is definitely one of the pricier upgrades, but showers and bathtubs are an area you will spend a lot of time and are one of the most important bathroom features, especially if it’s a master bath. This is an area you will want to hire someone to help with. Most shower and tub installs can be time consuming with heavy and expensive materials.

A few other items to consider incorporating are grab bars to help with mobility, accessibility, and safety, as well as a shower pan to retain water, and a shower door to help retain the heat. When it comes to shower doors, you have a few different options—from glass block, to swing doors to sliding tracks.

kohler tub in a newly remodeled bathroom

Shower Faucet Upgrades

Bathroom fixtures, such as shower faucets, are something that can save you money on your water bill down the road by selecting energy efficient, water-saving shower heads. There is a surprising variety of finishes, shapes, and water pressures to select from to ensure you’re not just standing under a boring hotel shower head faucet anymore!

single handle shower from kohler
shower panel
kohler showerhead

Install a New Toilet

While this may not be the most exciting upgrade, a new toilet may be just the ticket to making your remodel more complete. There are a number of modern style toilets on the market, and you can incorporate things like bidets or slow-close toilet lids to make your experience more comfortable. This is another area where an energy-efficient model can help save gallons of wasted water as well.

neorest toilet
toto one piece toilet
toto drake toilet

Storage Solutions, Decor and Towel Bars

Finally, the crème de la crème of it all, what pulls the space together? The finishing touches! Visit your favorite home decor store and invest in some new fluffy towels, bath mats, clothing hampers, or towel bars. Incorporate decor shelves above the toilet of the bathroom wall or add built-in shelves to store things like towels and bath products and utilize what is otherwise wasted space. Grab a few potted plants, a cute framed quote, and some candles and voila! Your new bathroom is complete!

towel bar
medicine cabinet
bathroom art ocean blue

How Long Does It Take to Remodel a Bathroom?

The time a bathroom makeover takes varies based on the number of updates you are wanting to make. However, it is important to also factor in things such as budget, time constraints, and the location of the bath you are choosing to remodel before you make any decisions as to whether to hire it out or do it yourself.

For example, you will spend a lot less time and money remodeling a guest bathroom than you would a master bathroom because the upgrades are likely to be more cosmetic—like paint, flooring and faucet fixtures—instead of a complete bathroom renovation, so if you are new to DIY, a small bathroom remodel might be a better way to ease into the experience.

Remodel Your Bathroom with Vevano

In the end, the sky is the limit for what you choose to change with your house projects. Before starting a bathroom remodel, it is wise to list out the items you are choosing to upgrade, then research the cost of goods and call around for a few quotes on installations before you begin.

Youtube can be a great asset here to help evaluate if the work is something you feel confident you can learn to do yourself, like painting, or if it is something best left to the professionals, like plumbing work. And, of course, our Vevano Home interior designers are available to help with all of your bathroom remodel needs.