Affordable Renovations for Every Budget

Affordable Renovations for Every Budget

Renovating on a Dime: How We Gave Our Primary Bathroom a Luxe Makeover for Under $5,000

When my husband Colby and I decided to tackle the renovation of our primary bathroom, we knew we were in for a challenge. As the owners of a historic 1781 home in Vermont, we're no strangers to the joys (and pitfalls) of DIY home projects. But with a tight budget of $5,000 tucked away, we were determined to transform this dated space into a serene oasis - without breaking the bank.

I'll be the first to admit that budgets are a relative thing. What feels like an exorbitant amount to one person might be a drop in the bucket for another. When we renovated our first small bathroom over a decade ago for under $1,000, even a dollar more felt like highway robbery. But as we've grown and tackled more home projects in our "forever" house, our budgets have expanded to accommodate our evolving tastes and needs.

For this primary bathroom makeover, we started with a rough materials list and a $2,500 budget. Hah! If only it were that simple. As any seasoned DIYer knows, there's always something you forget to factor in - whether it's unexpected plumbing issues, rapidly rising lumber costs, or just plain user error on our part. By the time we were done, our total spend had crept up to just under $5,000. But you know what they say: "Go big or go home!" (Or in our case, stay home and completely overhaul your bathroom.)

Laying the Groundwork: The Not-So-Glamorous Stuff

Let's start with the nitty-gritty, shall we? The not-so-sexy aspects of a bathroom renovation that can quickly eat up your budget if you're not careful. Things like insulation, cement board, and gasp screws.

Yes, you read that right. We spent a whopping $512.66 on screws. I know, I know - it's not the most glamorous line item, but it's essential for ensuring our renovation was built to last. And let's be real, those little buggers add up fast when you're tackling a project of this scale.

But we didn't stop there. Electrical upgrades, including those oh-so-stylish push-button switches and switch covers from Rejuvenation, set us back another $403.38. And the plumbing fittings? Well, let's just say we may have gone a little overboard in that department, clocking in at $383.53. Hey, at least Colby got some valuable hands-on experience in the plumbing department, right?

Splurging on the Main Attractions

Now that we've gotten the less glamorous bits out of the way, let's talk about the real showstoppers of our bathroom renovation: the main fixtures.

Finding the perfect tub, toilet, and shower hardware was no easy feat, but we were determined to create a space that felt both luxurious and within our budget. After scouring the internet, we landed on a 48-inch deep soaking tub from Wayfair that fit our tight dimensions like a glove. And for the shower system, we took a gamble on an affordable gold-toned option from Amazon, which required a bit of tweaking to get it just right.

The real splurge, though, was the Kohler Elmbrook Revolution toilet. At $459, it was a far cry from the bargain-basement options we considered. But you know what they say - you get what you pay for. And let me tell you, this toilet is worth every penny. It's the Rolls Royce of commodes, and I'm still raving about it to anyone who will listen.

Building (Literally) Our Dream Vanity

Our initial plan for the vanity was to find a vintage dresser or cabinet and retrofit it to fit our needs. It's a great budget-friendly hack that adds so much character to a bathroom. But alas, our tight space between the tub and the attic closet door just wouldn't accommodate any of the thrifted pieces we scoured the internet for.

So, we did what any self-respecting DIY couple would do - we built our own. Inspired by the sleek, modern lines of the Arhaus Conrad line, we designed a custom vanity that fit our space perfectly. At $302, it was a bit more than we had originally budgeted, but the end result is a showstopper that looks like it cost twice as much.

Tiling: A Splurge and a Budget-Friendly Move

Tiling an entire bathroom wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling is no small feat, and it's definitely not the most budget-friendly choice. But for us, it was a non-negotiable. We wanted a crisp, clean look that would stand the test of time, and subway tiles from the home improvement store fit the bill perfectly.

Sure, we could have saved a bit by mixing our own grout, but we opted for the convenience of pre-mixed buckets instead. And you know what? It was worth every penny. The time and effort it saved us in the long run was invaluable, especially as we were working around our busy schedules.

Bringing It All Together: The Finishing Touches

Ah, the finish work - the part of any DIY project that takes it from a construction zone to a polished, magazine-worthy space. This is where we really got to flex our creative muscles and inject our personality into the design.

One of our biggest budget-saving tips? Sourcing our trim lumber from a local lumber yard instead of the big-box stores. I Living Homes may have a wide selection, but their prices can't compete with the mom-and-pop shops. We're talking nearly half the cost for the same high-quality pine boards.

And let's not forget about those all-important finishing touches - the bathroom accessories that really make the space shine. We opted for a high-low approach, splurging on luxurious towels and a bold shower curtain while scouring thrift stores and estate sales for vintage-inspired knick-knacks. The real showstopper, though, was the floating shelf we sourced that perfectly complemented our design aesthetic, even if it did push our budget a bit.

Lessons Learned: The Joys (and Challenges) of DIY

At the end of the day, our primary bathroom renovation may have cost a bit more than we initially anticipated, but the sense of pride and accomplishment we feel is priceless. As DIY enthusiasts, we've learned that no project is ever truly straightforward, but that's half the fun, right?

Sure, we made a few missteps along the way - like that ahem questionable shower system from Amazon. But we also discovered new skills, like Colby's burgeoning expertise in plumbing, and I honed my tile-laying prowess to a fine art. And let's not forget the countless trips to the hardware store in search of that elusive stain color or the perfect finishing touch.

But you know what they say - "the journey is the destination." And in our case, the journey of transforming this dated space into a serene oasis that perfectly reflects our style and personality has been nothing short of exhilarating. Sure, we may have spent a bit more than we anticipated, but when you consider the countless hours of sweat equity we poured into this project, it was all worth it.

So, if you're contemplating your own bathroom renovation on a budget, take it from us - don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. With a little creativity, a lot of perseverance, and a healthy dose of humor, you can achieve the bathroom of your dreams, no matter your budget. After all, that's the beauty of DIY - the only limits are the ones you set for yourself.

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