Bathrooms on a Budget

If your bathroom is in need of a makeover but you have a limited budget, don't despair. There are many low-cost projects and strategic as well as creative steps you can take to upgrade a bath area without spending your last dollar.

Begin to Budget Before You Go Shopping

Begin your bathroom makeover by doing some background homework. Browse through interior decorating magazines, remodeling books, and search the Internet to find out about the latest bath design solutions and products hitting the market. Compare prices, styles, installation requirements, and availability even before your feet hit the pavement. Proper research can save you big bucks before you even walk out the door, and by educating yourself ahead of time you'll feel like you're "in the know" when you consult with the bath professionals.

Shop for Look-a-Likes

Is your heart set on the marble vanity counter you saw in a bath & bed decorating magazine? Can't get that state-of-the-art spa shower or whirlpool bathtub out of your mind? Do you dream of a luxury five-star bathroom with all the amenities? Well, with a little creativity and some bargain hunting, you can come close to the bathroom of your dreams by substituting with some look-a-likes. Here's how:

•- Can't afford a Jacuzzi? Then invest in a portable whirlpool bath (also known as a bathtub jet spa or a water jet bath spa), which fits right into your bathtub, allowing you to enjoy the therapeutic jet streams of water at a fraction of the price.

•- Can't spring for marble bathroom counters and floors? You can get the same look with marble-styled tiles or with a laminate countertop featuring a faux-marble pattern.

•- If designer imported ceramic wall tiles are out of your reach, decorate the majority of your bath area with compatible plain tiles and save the custom-made pieces for accents around the window or as your bathroom backsplash.

•- If your bank account will crack under the weight of expensive cherry or maple wood cabinetry, consider the use of faux wood products, which combine the look and attractiveness of real wood with the durability of man-made materials and wood particles. Moreover, faux wood is environmentally friendly, easy to clean, and will not absorb moisture from the humid bathroom environment.

Partner with the Pros

Hiring labor is one of the most expensive aspects of renovating a bathroom, with wages based on hourly rates. For bathroom remodeling projects requiring a professional, you can substantially reduce costs by partnering with the pros and doing some leg work before and after the pros do theirs. Removing old furniture, steaming off wallpaper, pulling up old flooring, and scraping away peeling paint are some of the ways you can save big on time and money.

Once the renovations are complete, there are many finishing touches you can do rather than paying hired help, such as painting bathroom walls, cleaning up debris, screwing in switch-plates, hanging vanity mirrors, et cetera.

Once you have added up all your savings, you might decide to treat yourself to one of those bathroom luxury items that caught your attention after all...