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Bathroom Renovations: 7 Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

Interior design paint swatches and countertop samples

Whether you’re planning to sell your home soon or just trying to make your home more comfortable, a bathroom renovation is one of your best bets. Perhaps you’re ready to make a significant investment to create a spa-like oasis with a separate shower and a deep tub—or if your budget is smaller, you may want to explore what you can accomplish with new fixtures and a fresh coat of paint. Whichever direction your renovation takes you, we at Modernize want to provide you with the best possible guidance for your bathroom renovation. Here’s how to make sure that your renovation goes smoothly, improves your home’s aesthetic appeal, and increases your home’s overall value.

1. Start with a realistic budget

A white clawfoot tub in a tiled bathroom.

Once you start taking tiles off the walls or floors, your bathroom renovation can get expensive. Before you start your project, make sure that you know how much money you have to spend so that you can prioritize the projects that are most important to you. For instance, what are the top three things that you want out of your renovation? Items like a new tub and premium tiles (slate, marble, porcelain) can quickly eat up the bulk of your budget. If those items are non-negotiable for you, you may need to look into consignment shops for home-builders to find discounts on major purchases. A good place to start is Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. Present in a number of communities throughout the U.S., the Restore sells new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials, and more at a fraction of the retail price. Proceeds are used to build homes for economically disadvantaged families around the world.

2. Leave a complex job to the experts

A bright bathroom wiht porcelain fixtures and tulip flowers as an accent piece

As much as you may love a good DIY project, a bathroom renovation is no easy feat, and you may end up paying extra to correct a botched job. A bathroom renovation is much more than painting and tiling—you’ll run into issues with plumbing and electrical, too. For example, if your hair dryer often blows a fuse, you probably have outdated 15-amp wiring in your bathroom. To improve the electrical capacity in your bathroom, don’t just switch out the outlets. Instead, hire a contractor to upgrade the wiring with a 20-amp circuit and plenty of outlets for all the appliances you use—from electric razors and toothbrushes to hair-straightening irons. A good contractor can also make sure that new sinks and showers are installed properly to avoid mildew and rot issues down the line.

One of the most highly desirable bathroom features that won’t break the bank, is extra storage. Think about adding a deeper medicine cabinet, shelf storage above the toilet, or adjustable shelves in a linen closet. Additionally, if you have a pedestal sink, adding a contemporary-style vanity can provide a tremendous amount of storage and greatly impact the room's style.

3. Don’t leave your project half-finished

Luxury Master Bathroom with Free Standing Bath Tub

My mother wanted a Jacuzzi tub for years. When she finally got it, my dad decided to save money by installing it himself. Believe me when I tell you that although my mom enjoyed the tub, the giant hole in the wall and orange extension cord running out of it for 5 years made the tub considerably less relaxing. That said...

4. Don’t hire based on the lowest bid

New master bathroom suite with view into master bedroom.

One of the best ways to select a contractor is from the personal recommendations of people you know and trust—and you’ll want to make sure that they’re licensed and insured. It’s also important that you hire a contractor who charges a fair price that doesn’t fluctuate greatly throughout the process; who works quickly but thoroughly; who you feel safe having in your home; and who leaves you with a finished bathroom that you love and requires no additional work on your part. Remember, peace of mind is priceless.

5. Keep fixtures classic and neutral, and be risky with paint or accessories

Sink in Master Bathroom in Luxury Home detail closeup of sink, faucet, countertop,yellow cabinets, and mirror

Rusty or dated fixtures (think brass) can really put a damper on your space—this includes your lighting, too. Update all of your fixtures so that they match, are modern, and would work seamlessly with most home decor styles. While you’re at it, you definitely want to replace your toilet seat to give your space a fresher look, and if you are preparing to sell your home and your budget permits, replace the toilet. If you are staging your home for sale, paint the walls a light, neutral color. It will make the space look larger and newer.

6. Don’t make changes that contrast with the style of your home

Elegant bathroom with Tub and plexiglass shower.

While you may like the rustic look of a log cabin, or simplicity of an Asian themed bathroom, ask yourself if your new bathroom style will mesh well with the style of the rest of your home. A room that stands out so starkly can be a big turn off to prospective homebuyers. While you’re thinking you’ve created a cozy lodge-like experience, they see your nice modern house with the strange cabin bathroom.

7. Finally, don’t ignore return on investments (ROI)

While the cost of renovating your bathroom may seem overwhelming, it’s well worth the investment. According to the 2016 Cost vs. Value report, you can expect a 70.4% return on your investment (ROI) when you renovate your bathroom. Prospective homebuyers are willing to pay a premium for features such an ensuite master bathroom and double sinks. Additionally, while not an easy or inexpensive project, if you have the resources, consider replacing a fiberglass shower insert with stone or tile. The clean, new look will be very appealing to prospective buyers.

Your bathroom is one of the most frequently used rooms of the home, so you can’t afford to make mistakes that you’ll regret later. With these tips, you’re on your way to a space that’s tailored to your unique style, comfort, and budget.


While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.


Article Author

Danielle Hegedus

Danielle Hegedus is an Atlanta based writer. She is a regular contributor to Modernize, as well as a variety of lifestyle and home design websites. Danielle recently finished her first cookbook, in collaboration with Chef, Kamal Grant for Atlanta's beloved, Sublime Doughnuts.

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