Freshen up a bathroom on the cheap

Posted on Feb 24 2023 in DIY
Man renovating bathroom

By Charlie Gillman

The kids are grown and out of the house. And, as hard as it may be to let go, it’s probably time for their bathroom with the SpongeBob ceiling border and yellow walls to grow up, too. Or, maybe you’re in the opposite position and want your children to delight in a bathroom decorated just for them. Here are some surprisingly simple DIY projects to help refresh a bathroom without breaking the bank:

Wake up walls

A basic refresh of a bathroom (or any room) begins here. A fresh coat of paint hides scuff marks and gives the room an instant lift. Start with wall putty and sandpaper to patch up nicks or old nail holes. Pick up new brushes, roller covers and drop cloths and get painting. Satin or semi-gloss paint works best here. 

Even as gallon prices rise, painting is still one of the most economical, value-adding DIY projects. It’s also a great way to “mature” a kid’s bathroom and ditch childlike designs and colors. Don’t skip the ceiling — if it has that dusty old popcorn texture, scrape it off. Either way, prime and paint your bathroom ceiling with a coat of bright white.

Easy hardware

Speaking of the ceiling, bathroom fans are an often-forgotten necessity. Vacuum the grates and interior blades or upgrade to a quieter, more efficient model. Hardware swaps are simple, so replace outdated drawer knobs and pulls with modern designs and finishes. 

Also consider new towel racks, hooks, toilet paper holders and shower curtain rods — they’re often packaged together in the same design family. Round out the look with a new faucet and showerhead. Consider hiring a pro for these jobs if you’re not the handy type. If you are, pick up some plumber’s tape, pliers or a strap wrench to prevent marring metal fixtures.

Light it up

Today’s light fixture designs are almost endless, from modern shapes and materials to retro-inspired options such as visible filament Edison bulbs. Long-life, efficient and cool-to-the-touch LED bulbs are the way to go. Switch out fluorescents or incandescents for warmer bulb colors to make morning mirror time a lot less harsh. Try popular sconce fixtures next to your mirror(s) to reduce glare even more. 

Extra extras

Turn a boring, builder-grade mirror adhered to the wall into something special. Paint or stain inexpensive wood molding or trim, then nail or glue it around the mirror’s edges to create a frame. Use tile and grout-safe cleaners to freshen up stained or moldy grout, or use a grout removal tool and apply a new bead around sinks and shower walls. 

Keep the momentum going by making your bathroom sparkle from top to bottom. Use cleansers and scrubbing pads specially designed for bathrooms to battle soap scum around sinks, tubs and glass shower doors. If you have hard water, clean faucets and showerheads with a solution that combats mineral deposits. Add some final touches with a new shower caddy, matching towels and a new shower curtain and liner.

Visit your local Do it Best store or for thousands of the best home improvement products, including wallpapering supplies.

CHARLIE GILLMAN is the owner of Gillman Home Center, with locations throughout central Indiana. He’s a member-owner of Do it Best, a Fort Wayne-based cooperative of thousands of hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards throughout the U.S. and around the world.

(This article is for informational purposes only. Indiana Connection and Do it Best Corp. assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, or for injuries, property damage, or the outcome of any project.)