Owning a home

How to style on a budget: The bathroom

5 min read

Following on from the kitchen, here I share my top tips for updating your bathroom. Ultimately a place to escape and relax, more and more the bathroom is becoming an extension of the living space. You may not be able to afford a full-scale renovation, but the good news is you can turn your bathroom into a stylish and relaxing space on a budget. While some of the ideas below come under the umbrella of renovation (replacing the shower or installing a bath) most involve simple cosmetic changes. My design mantra when it comes to the bathroom is to invest in good-quality fixtures and flooring, and to save on walls.

Tiling: Use restraint, or simply update

Keep costs down by limiting the amount of tiles you use. Focus on the high-impact areas including the floor, shower and bath surrounds, and paint the remaining wall areas (see paint tips below). That way you can use quality tiles that you love, with the option of tiling the remaining areas at a later stage if you wish. Do however take the shower tiles to the ceiling, as this will give a more streamlined look, especially if the space is small.

If you are doing a simple update, check your existing tiles. Fixing cracked or broken tiles and missing grout will make a huge improvement to the overall look of your bathroom. You could also use White Knight Tile Paint to give ceramic tiles a new lease of life. If your floor tiles are structurally sound, employ a professional to tile straight over the existing ones, which is a lot more cost-effective than removing the old ones first.

How to style on a budget The bathroom image 2

The power of paint

The cheapest and most effective way to freshen up your bathroom is with a new coat of paint. For walls, ceiling and window trims invest in a high quality, mildew and mould-proof paint. The DULUX Wash & Wear Kitchen & Bathroom Semi Gloss is ideal. Designed for use in wet areas, it provides a super tough, acrylic finish with the added benefit of containing anti-bacterial and anti-mould technology.

Neutral colours are best for longevity of bathroom style. Add warmth and colour through textural elements and accessories.

The big fixtures

Replacing any of these will give your bathroom a whole new look. To save on labour costs, use the existing plumbing infrastructure, i.e. install your replacement fixtures in the same position as the original ones. Also think about the environment. Low-flow toilets, sinks, and showerheads will not only help you conserve water, but they’ll also save you money. We also found that water-saving showerheads and taps often cost the same, if not less, than traditional ones. So you won’t have to spend money to save money!


If you have a small bathroom, minimal is best when it comes to the shower. Choose an open or frameless concept and clear glass to create a bigger feeling of space. Update the showerhead and if you need to stick with a shower curtain, choose something stylish or even have one custom-made.

How to style on a budget The bathroom image 4Bathtubs

By all means test the bath before buying by sitting in it, but also take into the account the size of your bathroom. If you only have a space for a small tub, go for depth rather than length. A new tub may require re-tiling, especially if going from a built-in to a free-standing. For existing baths that are in good condition consider professional or DIY resurfacing, which is a much cheaper alternative.


Wall-hung toilets with concealed cisterns are expensive to install and maintain. A close-coupled toilet (where the cistern is fitted directly to the pan, avoiding the need for visible connection pipes) gives a similarly clean look without the hefty price tag.


For a budget-friendly option choose ready-made bathroom furniture that integrates the vanity and cabinetry in one. Your personal style and budget will determine the materials and finishes chosen, but once again I recommend sticking with a neutral palette. White will always be a winner, and you can add texture and warmth with composite stone benchtops and wood or veneer cabinets.

The small fixtures

Changing even the smallest of fixtures can create maximum effect.

Taps and towel racks

Simply updating your existing taps is an affordable way to freshen up a dated bathroom. Changing the tap type is more expensive, but this may be the key to giving your bathroom the new, contemporary look you want. The same goes for towel rails.


A must-have for every bathroom, the mirror can provide a great design element without blowing the budget. Remember also that the mirrors make a room feel more spacious, so think big.

Light fixtures

In addition to natural light, good task lighting is important in the bathroom. If installing a bigger window, skylight or additional lighting isn’t an option, make the most of what you have by replacing the existing light fixtures. Make a statement by hanging a stylish pendant light or add a bit of luxury with an elegant wall light.

Finishing touches

Quality towels and hand soaps go a long way in making the bathroom more inviting for both you and your guests. Scented candles, fresh flowers or a small plant will also make the room feel more homely. If you have the space, a small wooden stool provides a nice way of adding warmth to neutral bathrooms.

Moving away from traditional stainless steel tapware and towel rails, we’re seeing a growing trend towards the use of other materials and powder coated finishes. Perfectly suited to bathrooms that have a white canvas, I’m loving black accents in the bathroom right now.

Home loan top-ups

Pay for home renovations, big purchases, and/or events and if it's insulation or heating you need, you could be eligible for a special home loan top up.

Find out more today.