Affordable Bath Updates

Is your bathroom in need of some updates but your budget doesn’t allow much in terms of wiggle room? The cost of a complete bathroom remodel can quickly add up.

Fortunately, there are several small, inexpensive projects you can do to give your bathroom a makeover without breaking the bank. Here are the ten most common small projects to turn your bath into a cozy and relaxing retreat and start upgrading your bathroom step by simple step.

1) Update Your Bath Cabinet Hardware

These small items say big things about your bathroom style. Changing out your knobs and pulls to brushed nickel or bronze can create a whole new decorative touch.

2) Update Your Bath Faucets 

The faucet is one of the most frequently used items in your bathroom, so it's important to select one that truly reflects your style. Updating your faucet with a new low-flow model is a relatively inexpensive way to cut water consumption while adding a refreshed look to your sink area.

3) Replace Your Showerheads & Hand Showers 

Showerheads and hand showers add a nice touch to your overall bathroom design, and they can make your showering experience more enjoyable. Replacing a showerhead is usually a quick and inexpensive project. Hand showers can be used as fixed showers or hand-helds and provide maximum versatility. Drill-less models are easily installed.

4) Update Your Bath Hardware 

A bathroom is not complete without hooks, towel bars and a toilet paper holder. Coordinating bath hardware items can liven up your old bath décor and add impact to your bath's overall design. And for both style and safety, don't forget to include decorative grab bars for your bathtub and shower.

5) Update Your Lighting Fixtures 

A new lighting system will add a touch of illuminating ambiance to your bathroom. Consider updating the existing fixtures or adding a few decorative sconces to complement your faucets and hardware.

6) Paint Your Bathroom Walls 

Color is the key to any room's personality. The right wall color will make all your other bathroom updates really stand out. For a look that takes center stage, choose a color that complements your countertop, faucet and hardware.

7) Update Your Bath Fan 

Bath fans play an important role in removing excess moisture and odors from a bathroom. Newer models are fashionable as well as functional, offering quieter operations and an assortment of decorative features to complement any bath lighting system.

8) Refresh Your Vanity Top 

Whether you choose to go with laminate, granite or something in between, a new vanity top can add dramatic new texture, style and color to your bathroom. The variety of styles, materials and finishes make replacing a vanity top the ideal project for any budget.

9) Replace or Update Old Cabinets 

Replacing old, outdated cabinets can transform your bathroom into an entirely different space. With styles ranging from eclectic to traditional, new cabinets can greatly enhance the storage, functionality and look of any bathroom.

10) Replace Your Toilet 

Most people think of toilets as purely functional, but today's models offer a level of performance, efficiency and style that wasn't available a decade ago. Choosing an economical high-efficiency or ultra low-flow toilet offers substantial water savings without sacrificing performance or aesthetics. 

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Easy Project Ideas - What To Do With Leftover Paint

An easy project idea is using a bulk of leftover paint to spruce up your home with some color? These five easy paint project ideas (plus some bonus inspiration) will give your leftover paint some purpose -- and give a room a fresh look to boot. (One gallon = 4 quarts or 8 pints.)




Photo:Susan Seubert/
YOLO Colorhouse

Paint project idea No. 1: Use a full gallon of leftover paint to …
Create an interesting wainscoting effect by painting the lower half of the wall around a room with a contrasting or complementary hue. Use painter’s tape to make a clean line, or use a rag or dry brush to blur the edges between the two colors for a funkier, more artistic finish.


 

Photo: Glidden

Paint project idea No. 2: Use a couple of quarts of paint to …
Rehab old wooden or metal furniture. Keep an eye out for wood rockers, kitchen chairs, vintage bureaus, washstands or small tables at flea markets and yard sales. With a fresh coat of paint, these pieces can be a simple way to add personality to a room.




Paint project idea No. 3: Use a quart of paint to …

Paint the inside of a cabinet, armoire, closet or even drawers for an unexpected pop of color when the doors are opened. Bonus: Using a light color makes it easier to see into the back corners.



Photo:YOLO Colorhouse

Paint project idea No. 4: Use a pint or two of paint to …
With painter’s tape and a ruler, create a graphic mural of squares, rectangles or triangles. Also try painting square wood panels to add a pop art element to any room.



Photo: YOLO Colorhouse

Paint project idea No. 5: Use remnants of leftover paint to …
Unleash your inner artist. Use the remnants of a can of paint to make a few bold strokes on craft paper or poster board. Or try your hand at spin art using a spin art machine. Sign and frame!

Want more fun DIY paint project ideas? Try these! If you have …

A gallon of paint:

  • Paint an accent wall to act as a focal point for a room or define a space.
  • Brighten a narrow or dark hallway with a vivid hue.

A quart or two of paint:

  • Paint a 4-inch-wide chair rail around a room to create an accent. (The rule of thumb is to paint it about one-third of the way up from the floor.)
  • Paint a faux headboard for your bed. Keep it simple with a rectangular shape, or add drama with an elegant arched top.

A pint or two of leftover paint:

  • Paint the inside of a metal medicine cabinet with a bright, cheery hue.
  • Paint just the drawer facades of a bureau for an unexpected pop.
  • Paint the edges of a bookcase to add definition and make a bold, visual pattern.
  • Create a simple stencil to make a frame around an inset shelf or niche.
  • Freshen up the frame of an old mirror.
  • Coat the inside of clear glass bottles, vases or jars with paint to make glossy, colorful decorative accessories.

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A Guide to Paint Finishes: From Flat to Fabulously Glossy

Flat, eggshell, satin, gloss: When it comes to interior décor, there are a lot of confusing terms, but at least the names for paint finishes are fairly straightforward. Even the most novice painter can guess what’s what.

Flat (or matte) is a smooth surface without luster. Eggshell resembles its namesake. Satin has a subtle sheen reminiscent of the popular fabric. And gloss is, well, glossy.

When shopping for paints you’re faced with the inevitable question: What finish? To sheen or not to sheen? But there’s so much more behind choosing a paint finish than just their names. Some finishes work better than others in high-traffic areas. Some hide imperfections that are common in older buildings. And others add extra pizazz for home décor projects.

The next time you’re choosing paint finishes, use this user-friendly paint-finish guide -- with some expert input courtesy of international color expert and designer Maria Killam -- to help you find your perfect paint.

A QUICK-REFERENCE GUIDE TO PAINT FINISHES

The Finish: Flat (aka Matte)

· The Basics: Lacking any sheen whatsoever, flat paint is light-absorbing with a smooth finish. The flat paint finish hides imperfections but also holds dirt and is difficult to clean -- rubbing it with cleanser may even damage the finish.

· The Use: Living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, hallways and ceilings. “If you have walls with a lot of imperfections, flat hides them,” Killam says. “And ceilings should be flat for that same reason.”

· Good to Know: It’s a good idea to keep extra paint on hand to touch up nicks and scratches in flat finishes.

The Finish: Eggshell (aka Low-Luster)

· The Basics: This low-sheen paint finish resembles the shell of an egg (so, no, the name is not a coincidence). Eggshell paint absorbs light just like its flat counterpart above. It’s best used in lower-traffic areas, and is easier to clean than flat.

· The Use: Living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, entryways, hallways and trims. “I like walls to have a little shine, so I always specify eggshell for the main rooms in a house, hallways, living and family rooms,” Killam says.

The Finish: Satin (aka Pearl, with certain paint brands)

· The Basics: A subtle finish with a soft sheen that reflects light. This is one of the most versatile finishes as it falls in the middle of the spectrum. It can be wiped clean with ease, making it ideal for active areas.

· The Use: Kitchens, dining rooms, children’s bedrooms, guest or powder baths, laundry rooms, trims, doors and shutters. “Satin is great for bathrooms and kitchens thanks to its high scrub-ability,” Killam says.

The Finish: Semigloss

· The Basics: A step up in sheen from satin, semigloss paint finish reflects more light. It can be scrubbed to keep clean, so it’s a great choice in areas with high traffic.

· The Use: Kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, cabinets, doors, trims and moldings. “If you are using latex paint for trim and doors, a higher sheen will give you more durability,” Killam says.

The Finish: Gloss

· The Basics: Gloss paint finishes come with a smooth, high-shine sheen. (Opt for high-gloss paint for the light-reflecting extreme of paint finishes.) Gloss can be scrubbed clean without concern for the finish, so it’s ideal for areas that most often require washing.

· The Use: Kitchens, baths, trims, woodwork, moldings, doors and cabinets. “If you opt to use a high-gloss finish to create an interesting sheen effect, such as on a ceiling or powder room,” Killam says, “spray it on to prevent roller or brush marks in the final finish.”

DIY Paint Ideas: Disguise an Ugly Wood Floor With Paint

Replacing an old wood floor can be a time-consuming and expensive home project. If you don’t have the bandwidth or budget to refinish old wood floors, try updating them with paint. All you need are the right tools and a favorite paint color -- and maybe a great pattern idea to create a custom design that will liven up any drab surface (see below for our favorite ideas for home).

Interior designers such as Illinois-based Jeannie Balsam like to use this paint trick for a custom look. She’s executed the technique in several spaces, including her own design studio.

“An inexpensive and easy update is to paint an old stairwell, treads, thresholds or trim with glossy floor paint,” says Balsam. “The space immediately feels fresh and modern. To add a little interest, you can also incorporate numbers or words on the treads.”

Whether you want to paint wood floors, stairs or trim, consider this DIY home décor project to give any surface a dose of personality.

Time: approximately three days

Materials:

Sanding sponge
Sponge
Painter’s tape
Paint roller
Paintbrush
Pencil
Ruler
Porch or floor paint
Polyurethane

Steps:

1. Give the wood floor surface some traction and even out rough spots by grazing over them with a sanding sponge. With a damp sponge, wipe away sanding residue and allow it to dry.

2. Tape off all the areas you want to protect from the paint, such as baseboards. With a paintbrush, begin by painting your base color a few inches around the perimeter of the painting area. With a roller, fill in the rest of the area. Let dry and paint another coat if needed. Let dry overnight.

Skip to step 6 if you’re painting a solid color. If you’re painting a pattern*, follow steps 3 through 5.

3. Measure and tape off your chosen design (remember to measure twice and paint once!). Using painter’s tape, mark the areas you don’t want to paint with an X. Next, rough up the areas to be painted with a sanding sponge. Then wipe away sanded areas and stray pencil marks with a damp sponge (a pencil eraser can damage the base coat). Let dry.

4. With a paintbrush, paint your pattern. Clean up any drips or spills right away with a damp sponge.

5. Before the paint dries, carefully peel away the tape from the floor at an angle.

6. Let paint dry for a day. Once the floor is fully dry, apply a coat of polyurethane with a paint roller to seal in the new design against heavy foot traffic.



*Brush These Patterns On for Size:

Preppy Stripes: Aside from a solid color, this idea requires the least amount of tape. Go broad and bold with two colors for a classic look. Or add funky texture to a kid’s playroom with skinnier strips of three or more colors.

Checks: Don’t think gingham or chessboard -- unless that’s your intention. This pattern is about as versatile as it gets. Two-tone squares magically make everything else in a room seem more cohesive.

Faux Rug: Skip area rug hunting and bring on the double takes by painting one instead. Rather than tape off the whole floor, focus on one area of the room, or just leave a border of unpainted floor around the edges.


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Holiday Decorating Guide

Tired of the same old holiday decorations? Mix it up this year. A color scheme of ice white, silver and blue tones blend together for a fanciful sparkle. And creative ideas give old items like ornaments new life. By layering different shades and adding accents beyond the tree, you’ll create a look with an elegant touch. Here’s how to get the look:

Frame Your Wreaths
Choose a mirror or frame that has a contemporary color to upgrade this decoration to a true piece of art. Plus, it’s a perfect way to work around your existing décor.

Look for Basic Shapes
Let the shapes of Christmas inspire you. Simple cylinders, circles and stars all represent the season’s silhouette, and can be embellished with lots of sparkle or bright colors for big impact.

Cohesive Colors
The color scheme you choose reflects your personality as much as the style of ornaments. Pick nontraditional shapes, or mix in items that remind you of meaningful moments.

Get Creative with Gift Wrap
An easy way to pull double duty when gift-giving is to attach an ornament to the box. Pair it with matching gift wrap, secure with ribbon -- and see how the gift of lasting memories is truly tied up with a bow!

Expert Wreath Lighting Tips
There are plenty of wreaths already equipped with lights, but if you want to do it yourself, keep the wreath’s size in mind. Use a piece of string to wrap around the wreath for a rough estimate. And make sure to keep in mind the extra length you’ll need to reach the outlet.

Take Ornaments Beyond the Tree
Christmas ornaments aren’t just for the tree. Fill a decorative bowl with colorful balls to make a pretty centerpiece. Keep the container’s color neutral so that the ornaments truly shine. And feel free to mix it up! Traditional single-hue ornaments get extra attention when they’re paired with others that use stripes or unusual shapes. Paint faux branches and berries in complementary colors for an easy way to bring it all together.

 

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Main Photo: Corbis Images