Main Content

Minor Improvements That Make a Big Difference


Does your bathroom feel old and kind of grungy, but you don’t have the time or the money to have someone do a remodel? There are simple things that you can do to make it feel like a renovation. The assumption is that you are into doing a little “DIY” and that you have a little bit of skill to do that.

The first thing to consider is painting.

Lots of bathrooms have the original paint put in by the contractor. You might even have one that has the ceiling and the walls the same color. Choosing colors is probably going to take you the longest, so consider looking at magazines or model homes or even some of the sample books at your local hardware store for pleasing color combinations. If the ceiling is not white—or maybe it is but looks dull—give it a fresh coat of semi-gloss white paint. Remove the AC vents and fan vents and ceiling lights before you paint.

Most people just put those back up as they did not realize that you can replace them for a little more money, or you can buy a couple of cans of white gloss spray paint and paint them. Even if they are plastic, there is spray paint designed for plastic that works great. If you do not refurbish them, they are going to look ugly next to the new paint. Remove all of the plug covers and tape over the plugs with painter’s tape before you paint the walls. Now if you are ambitious, you can paint the cabinets. This takes a little more time because you are probably going to need to sand them before you paint them. A lovely satin finish gives cabinets a modern glow.

Change switch plates and outlet covers.

In a bathroom, most electrical covers need replacing before you put them back up. There are a host of different cover plate styles available depending on your budget but just replacing the standard style with new white ones (least expensive) gives a great fresh look. Now if you are handy with electrical work or have a friend that is, you could replace the actual plugs from round to the square, completely updating the look. If you hire an electrician to change out your plugs, now is an excellent time to put in a GFI (ground fault interrupter plug) for safety.

Faucets and light figures.

The most dramatic features that you can quickly change in a bathroom are faucets and lighting fixtures. Changing these for something new and bright makes it feel like an entirely new place. Faucets are easily replaced and come in a wide range of styles and prices. A new spigot, even atop the same sink and counter-top, feels like it is all new.

Lighting changes the entire room. If you can find a light fixture that fits your style, it is usually a simple change. But please remember to turn off the electrical breaker switch for the bathroom before you remove the old light. It would be wise to remove your existing light fixtures before you paint because the new light fixture might not cover the same place. Also, consider putting LED bulbs in the new light fixtures. Depending on the “color” you choose (daylight, bright white, etc.) the feel can be much different from traditional bulbs.

One final suggestion for your lighting: You can replace the light switch with a dimmer switch. Dimmers make a significant change to the bathroom. Now you can set mood lighting—think spa level or movie star dressing room—that once again makes it feels like a different space. Remember, if you choose to install the dimmer switch, you must make sure you use the LED bulbs rated as dimmer bulbs. There are two kinds of LEDs, some that are dimmable and some that cannot. Look for markings on dimmable bulb packages.

Check with your personal real estate agent to see if certain color combinations or fixture metals are trending in your area. Now you have a new looking bathroom, without major reconstruction and all of the mess. Enjoy!