When we moved into our last house, the first room we made over was the first floor bathroom. It was a half bath and would be the bathroom that everyone would use when they came over. That bathroom went from weird lime green to a fresh white-and-navy retreat on our first floor. We added planking to the walls, and the project still didn’t take forever or cost an arm and a leg. We had one room “done,” and we were so motivated to (A.) have people over and (B.) tackle the rest of the house. What I’m saying is: If you’ve just moved into a new space or you’re itching for a weekend DIY — it’s the bathroom.
It’s like reading a book in one sitting: Apply some paint, freshen up the towels, light a candle, and voila! — new room. You can even mood board it if you want to, and I promise you can still tackle this in a weekend (and probably catch up on your podcasts while you’re at it). And the best part about it, is it kind of flushes (no pun intended) out your style in a small space that you can try on and then carry throughout the rest of the house.
Today, we’re building a (full) bathroom on a budget. We’re starting with $550, but honestly — you could start with less. (There’s a $39 bath mat that will make you feel like you just checked into a boutique hotel.) We’re building on this budget, designing in stages. So when you have a little more cash to invest in your space, maybe you upgrade the hardware. Phase three? A new vanity and tile. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, a look at all the bathrooms that taught me how to budget…
I give you: The most DIY friendly bathroom renovation we have ever done. We did this one for friends of ours and made videos on how to tile a floor, how to install a tub insert and surround, how to swap out a vanity, and how to hang a mirror and lighting. Whew!
Remember when Greta’s bathroom wasn’t working — and then it totally did? Going dark in a windowless bathroom paid off! I love this bathroom because it’s so moody and tweeny, and I got to play with color and hang a sweet gallery wall for my girl. Greta’s got the best bathroom in our house.
The loft bathroom: The last project we finished at the cabin. Do I wish we would have spent that last weekend at the cabin just taking in the view? Yeah. But am I glad we got to show the cabin some love in the form of penny tile, new paint, and hardware. She deserved it.
Last fall, we did a two-day bedroom + bathroom makeover for Clayton Homes. It was so fun! In the bathroom, we swapped out the big mirror for two chic oval mirrors. Then we applied tile backsplash sheets that we’re still dreaming of using again. (They look amazing!). Sometimes, you just need to swap out the mirror–seriously!
Our master bathroom in our last home still makes my heart go pitter patter. —And by that I mean, when I get up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, I’m still dreamily tip-toeing toward that green tile…
The girls’ bathroom in our last home: This little sweetie had a lot of stops and starts and took seven whole months to complete, but most of that was back orders and having a baby. I bet you could do it in six :)
Okay, ready? Are you feeling motivated? Do you have a little cash, and a bathroom that could use a little love? Here’s what I recommend for Phase 1:
Soap Set: $52 – Wow. You could stop right here. Is there anything that makes you feel fancier than a pretty soap and lotion set?
Hand Towel: $6 (on sale for $3 right now!)
Bath Brushes: $33 for both – Hang these in the shower for spa vibes.
Art: $15 – This print is so fresh! If you’ve got the space, go big.
Basket: $50 – Use this to collect discarded tissues or bath towels on their way to the wash.
Mirror: $259 – This shape? Definitely the fairest of them all. An intentional mirror will upgrade your whole space.
Bath Mat: $39 – Okay. I’m blushing. This bath mat gets my final rose.
Capri Copper Shower Curtain: $39 – Once, a friend asked me what large-scale “picture” he should get on his shower curtain. I just… blinked.
Carved Wood Accent Stool: $56 – This is the perfect spot for your bath-side book :)
If you have $500 to spend, you’re probably adding paint to this list (paint your vanity! paint your walls!), but you can get a high end makeover on the cheap is what we’re saying.
Looking good? Ready for more? For another $409, you can make these upgrades:
Leaning Edge Wall Hook: $9 – “The little black dress” of wall hooks, perfect for a towel or two.
Glass Shelf: $26 – Can you imagine your makeup and cotton balls and Q-tips on this little shelf?
Sconce: $37 – Swap out your lights for these! So easy to install! These work great as one over the mirror or two on either side.
Faucet: $131 – Some fresh chrome will make everything look clean.
Shower Head and Tub Faucet: $206 – If you change out the hardware in your shower, you’ll feel like you just checked into a hotel. And no need to hire anyone. YOU can do it.
I bet those changes feel like a million bucks! They’ll also hold you over while you save up for the finishing touches:
Rice Motif Tile: $8.99/ sq. ft. | $239 (accounted for an 8′ x 5′ bathroom with a 32″ x 60″ tub) – You’re going to love walking barefoot on this handsome tile that’s a completely game changer.
36″ Vanity: $750 – It’s neutral, timeless, and elegant. And now, so is your whole bathroom.
Our wood grain Shaker cabinet fronts were designed for busy, high-traffic homes like ours. Clad with durable textured thermofoils, this line is compatible with Sektion, Akurum, Godmorgon, and Besta cabinets from IKEA. It's the perfect, practical way to add the warmth of wood to all the rooms of your home.
We have teamed up with Loloi to create a line of rugs that are as affordable as they are beautiful. This collection houses a great mix of traditional and modern rugs, in cottage-y colorways, as well as vintage-inspired beauties that you’ll want to roll out in every room.
We partnered with Stuga on a line of hardwood floors — The Ingrid is really livable, and the color is very neutral. It doesn’t lean warm or cool, it’s that just right in-between. We have really loved putting it everywhere in our house. It’s the best jumping-off point for design, no matter your interior style. In addition to being beautiful, Ingrid is really durable — we have three kids, and we always have a home construction project going on. Ingrid stands up to it all.
Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop.
Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here.
We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen.
Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.
Last week, Chris and I had the incredible opportunity to travel to London for work. We were invited by Williams Sonoma and William Morris and Co to preview their newest collaboration and the inspiration behind it. It was my first time in London and although it was a quick trip, they brought us all over […]
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