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How to make your bathroom look luxe for less

In a softening market, it pays to be extra shrewd with your budget if you're tackling a bathroom renovation.

There’s no getting around the fact that a full-blown bathroom renovation is a costly, time-intensive and stressful affair. It requires an army of trades and your bathroom is likely to be out of action for several weeks.

That’s why it makes so much sense to work with your existing bathroom, and avoid the nasty surprises that can come with a full demolition and fit-out (think hidden asbestos, old plumbing and the hefty expense of waterproofing and new tiles).

By cosmetically refreshing your bathroom, you’re targeting highly visible changes that will deliver a modern look, but at a fraction of the price of a full renovation. You can do a lot of the work DIY, minimising the need for expensive trade labour. Just make sure you never attempt any plumbing or electrical work yourself, as you must by law engage licensed trades for these.

 

This bathroom is a shining testament to the power of tile paint – probably the greatest tool invented when it comes to cosmetically transforming your bathroom. In this case, the tiles were floor to ceiling on every wall, so the cost of removing all the tiles and installing new ones would have been huge. Instead, I was able to use White Knight Tile Paint to simply paint over the tiles, creating a feature wall by tinting the tile paint to Taubmans “Summer Breeze”.

If this was a pure cosmetic refresh, I would have been able to get away with just using White Knight Laminate Paint to spruce up the vanity. However, I wanted the look of a brand new bathroom.

It would have been impossible to modernise the bathroom with the existing toilet and 80’s vanity, so a large chunk of my $2,000 budget went on a new vanity and loo (plumbing labour alone was $700). The flatpack vanity, timber top and ceramic basin were all purchased from Bunnings. I then had a big custom mirror installed ($110) that has completely opened up the bathroom and bounces light around.

 

Lack of storage is always an issue in older bathrooms, so a clever solution here for this bathroom renovation, was to add a floor-standing shelf above the toilet, utilising otherwise dead space to create a real focal point. A simple micro venetian blind filters light through the high window and covers the ugly metal frame.

 

The final touch was replacing the plastic tap handles with chrome ones, eliminating all trace of the old bathroom.

For a $2,000 makeover that took two days, it’s a great cosmetic refresh that anyone can pull off. If you were to put in a spanking new bathroom, I’d estimate it would cost between $10,000 and $20,000 if you project managed the job yourself, or anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 if you outsourced it to a bathroom renovation company.

 

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