Upgrading a bathroom is an exciting project—especially when the current state of your space is dated and less than inspirational. When you're dealing with reimagining a space from scratch, the options are virtually endless. The downside: The budget can also become virtually endless, and it's all too easy to drive up costs with design decisions that may look good but don't actually have that big an impact on the end result. Sure, antique hand-painted encaustic tiles are amazing, but simple hexagonal ceramic tiles can look just as good in the right space—at a fraction of the cost.
If anyone understands the value of saving a dollar when renovating, it's Drew and Jonathan Scott. The Scott brothers have built a cult following on QVC and HGTV by helping couples find fixer-uppers and transform them into dream homes. We chatted with the Scott brothers about every angle of bathroom design—where to splurge, where to save, and how to get the most bang for your buck. Ready to give your bathroom a much-needed makeover? Start with this renovation road map.
Meet the Expert
Drew and Jonathan Scott are Canadian actors and entrepreneurs famous for co-hosting the home renovation TV series, Property Brothers. With Drew as a realtor and Jonathan as a contractor, the twin siblings are able to help couples find fixer-uppers and transform them into their forever homes.
Mix Your Materials
One of the easiest ways to save a few dollars in fixtures is by finding the best deals and mixing up your finishes. "Now is a great time to upgrade your hardware and accessories because the use of color is back and so are mixed materials," says Jonathan. "Using brushed brass, nickel, and golds together is totally acceptable in design. However, be cautious not to go so overboard that your home becomes a crazy distraction to the eye. Balance is key."
Consider Flattering Light
"Lighting is key, especially in smaller spaces like bathrooms," explains Jonathan. "I always include recessed lights in a bathroom, even if there is a chandelier. For your mirror wall, sconces don't typically do the trick. Anyone trying to use a mirror or apply makeup knows that most sconces do not give you the best light. Nowadays there are many mirrors that have built-in light fixtures. It gives you the perfect glow when applying makeup or taking a selfie." The most bang for your buck when choosing various light fixtures is to focus on the most flattering light.
Maximize Your Storage
"When planning a bathroom design, you need to think style and function," says Drew. "A common mistake when designing a bathroom is to forget about storage or the fact that two people may be using it at one time. To stretch a dollar, use prefab cabinets, which are higher quality than they used to be and are less expensive than custom. At big-box stores, you can typically find preassembled units including sinks and fixtures, countertops, and vanities.
You can also build in open shelving. If you have two vanities with a small space in-between or dead space to one side, construct some open shelves and paint them to match your vanity. It's always a good thing to have additional space for storage or accessories."
Space Things Out
Another mistake that homeowners often make is to keep everything clustered together in one spot. "Don't crowd the sink, tub, or shower," says Jonathan. "If you can have French doors leading into the bathroom where a freestanding tub is the center feature, you'll have hit that high-end mark. Additionally, a water closet (which keeps the toilet separated from the rest of the bathroom) is an add-on most buyers love."
Splurge Where It Counts
"If you have the space for two sinks, use it," adds Jonathan. "Whether it's the family bathroom or the master, two sinks are always better than one. Avoid skimping on toilets and tubs. These are wow factor products for a bathroom, and by putting in a cheap toilet or undersized tub, you're just telling the buyer that you don't see value in the work you've done."
"I would splurge by giving a bathroom the most beautiful spa-like walk-in shower," adds Drew. "Full-height glass doors, steam jets, rain head, and digital controls to regulate the temperature."
Use Every Inch
When designing a small bathroom, not even an inch can be put to waste. "There are creative solutions like kickplate storage, hanging racks that can go inside your cabinets or on the backs of doors, and organizers in your drawers. Avoid the room looking cluttered, but bring your storage A-game."
Choose Eye-Catching Tile
"You will always be able to find a sale on a great selection of tile," says Drew. "Use this to stretch your dollar when tiling your tub. You could even consider using a small-scale version of the same tile on your bathroom floor."
"When choosing tiles, we look for interest in shape, pattern, and color," adds Jonathan. "Tile is one of the easiest ways to make a bathroom pop."