Experts offer simple, affordable bathroom design solutions

By Ryan Starr, Toronto Star

re-design your bathroom

Upgrading a bathroom doesn’t have to be a costly and stressful undertaking. There are plenty of simple, affordable design ideas for those looking to spruce up their bathrooms.

Several thousand dollars can get you a lovely new master bathroom that will not only be more enjoyable to use, but will improve your home’s resale value.

These are quick and easy adjustments that don’t involve an expensive gutting and renovation of your space.

We consulted design experts for tips for folks who want to give their bathroom a makeover.

Plan first.

Develop a plan and a budget before beginning any bathroom work. If you don’t know what you’re doing – both in style and in DIY – get a professional to do the job.

Keep the cabinetry. Freshen up existing cabinets with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware to give them an updated look.

“If it’s basic cabinetry with a flat face on it, you can add panel moulding,” suggests Jill Maxwell, owner of Manor Interior Design in Toronto. “That gives it the look of a recessed panel and dresses it up.”

Retop the countertop.

Rather than rip out an outdated tile countertop, put a new stone slab – marble or Caesarstone (quartz) – over the existing countertop.

Or retile it, which is an easy enough job for do-it-yourselfers if you take care with the measuring and cutting.

A new countertop means a new sink. For a contemporary look, Maxwell suggests a vessel sink with a single-lever faucet or wall-mount faucet.

Fix the floor.

New tile doesn’t have to be expensive; there are loads of porcelain tile options that offer the look of marble but cost far less. A new, larger porcelain tile floor will make a bathroom look bigger.

Or for something special, you could even add an inlay of mosaic tile, Maxwell says, “to create a carpet effect.”

You could also paint the tile or put down laminate flooring.

Add radiance.

If you’ve ripped up the floor, consider installing radiant heating. Electric-source is cheaper than hooking the in-floor heating up to a boiler, and the wires come in sheets that are easy to install.

Swap out the toilet.

Ditch the old toilet and put in a nice new throne, perhaps an elongated model, and preferably one that’s dual-flush.

Tip: keep the toilet where it is. “Once you start having to relocate, it gets expensive,” Maxwell says.

To complete the bathroom infrastructure upgrade, get new taps and shower controls.

Tackle the tub.

Tidy up the tub or shower space by installing a new acrylic tub and a liner.

“It goes right over your tile and creates a new finish on the interior of your tub and shower,” explains Linda Boorman of Toronto-based Linda Boorman Interiors.

You may be tempted to rip out the tub altogether and put in a large shower. However, remember this: most house-hunting families will be looking for a place with a tub for the kids to soak in after playing outside.

Extra storage.

Install a large hanging cabinet in the void space above a toilet. “You can go up to 12 inches deep and right up to your ceiling if you want,” Boorman notes.

Or install a medicine cabinet that’s recessed into the wall, then trim it with moulding. The humble hanging basket is always an effective storage solution, too.

Finishing touches.

Freshen the room up with a coat of paint. If you have open wall space, add a chair rail and paint the wall different colours above and below it.

Put in a new mirror.

You can find a range of affordable mirrors at big-box stores.

Better yet, go out and buy a piece of mirror and add a wood frame using moulding.

Or use tiles to make an eye-catching frame around the mirror.

And don’t forget about the all-important lighting. New sconces on the walls and mirror can add a nice touch, Boorman says.

Or put in an inexpensive chandelier, Maxwell suggests, “to give the space a bit of glitz.”

First published in the Toronto Star on July 5, 2012.

Related reading:

Should you renovate before you sell?

Achieve the homeownership dream sooner