How I Renovated my Bathroom on a Budget by Myself

I have been living in America for several years now, but this is the first year I have owned my house officially by myself! It is a very exciting time. I enjoy being able to make whatever changes I please to my space and to truly make it feel like home instead of a temporary abode like my past apartments and rented houses.


Today, I will share with you the story of how I renovated my bathroom recently, all by myself and on a budget. I have never even a great DIY person, but I am learning gradually and I am very pleased with the results so far.


The first thing I did was to take the walls of my shower down because they were horrible old tiles that I suspect had been there for several decades. I wanted to use some nice painted tiles from Japan that reminded me of my mother’s old bathroom, which is very historical and beautiful, but the tiles are very expensive to import here to America. What I ended up doing was to mix up a lot of cheap, plain tiles with decorated ones to come up with a pattern that is like a decorated plate around the rim, when the middle is left empty. I think it is a very smart compromise because it has the flavor of home and some beautiful blue dragon tiles but without being too intense, like a good blend of East and West! I estimate that I saved about 75% of the cost by using the plain tiles alongside the nicer decorative ones!


I also took up all the grout and sealant around my shower and bathtub and redid it. I find that no matter how clean you keep a bathroom, when I rented apartments, old grout always made the place feel disgusting and I wanted to have a fresh start with this house now that I own it myself. So I took up all the grout and installed a fresh coat, or layer, or however one refers to grouting. Once I had the grout and tile done, my shower looked much brighter and nicer.

The next thing I did was to replace the fixtures for the sink and the shower since I was left with very old, very corroded old fixtures that I did not feel comfortable using, and they looked very degenerate anyway. I decided upon an inexpensive shower head that doesn’t use as much water as many American showers, only 1.5 gallons per minute. It is made by a company called High Sierra, and I got it for less than $10, which I consider a miracle. It isn’t quite as attractive as I might like, but I suspect it will last a long time, and I can always get another one when companies start to make some water-saving ones that are also more ornate in fashion to match my tiling.


More than any other changes, I found that the new paint on the walls made the bathroom truly feel new and clean, like a blank slate for me in my new home. I have chosen a gentle sandstone color that works very well with the blue tile and with my white shower floor, sink, and toilet. Eventually, I will probably redo the floors, but for now, they look fine enough with a good mopping to get rid of the years of dirt they had between the boards when I moved in.

I have some more ambitions for my bathroom, to use recycled wood to make a medicine cabinet above my sink, upon which I want to install an antique mirror that I found by the side of my street several months ago and saved. But that is for another post. All in all, I think I have done very well for working on a tight writer’s budget!