Paint It BlackYou won't find another bathroom like the one inside this home in Lady Lake, Fla. It's beautiful yet inexpensive. Instead of shelling out for a granite vanity, the homeowners bought a cheap piece of glass and painted the bottom of it black. It has the same smoothness and look of granite and saved them about $1,000. And check out what's behind the vanity — Brazilian cherry wood flooring leftover from when they finished their floors.
Borrow From the LandscapeFor a Zen-like feel to your bathroom start in the landscape aisle of your local home improvement store. Homeowner Sherry Binkley did just that to create this luxurious shower floor. Instead of using expensive rock tile that can cost $11 or more per square foot, Sherry bought a few $5 boxes of 12x12 sheets of landscape rock and set them in concrete. She says the texture of the rock massages her feet while she showers.
Shop AroundIf you like the look of retro, you'll love this renovated bathroom. Instead of paying $2,500 for a custom vanity and sink, homeowners Donna and Mike Schramm assembled their own stylish counter using a table they bought at a restaurant supply store for $300. They spent another $300 on the sink and plumbing materials and then pieced it together. To contrast the industrial vanity, they gave the rest of the bathroom a few traditional features, including using inexpensive subway-style tile purchased online for $5 per square foot to surround a 1940s tub purchased in an antique shop.
Think UnconventionallyIn Kansas City, Mo., architect Cary Goodman wasn't afraid to incorporate unconventional materials into the design of his home. Instead of tile in the bathroom, he used concrete panels called Plycem (a silicone-infused concrete board typically used underneath floors and roofs for fireproofing). He says it is made of 20 percent recycled materials, and he paid only about $1.50 per square foot. He used Plycem on the floor, walls and ceiling, then added a glass-tile accent for further visual interest.
Buy LocalIn Valparaiso, Ind., architect Fred Bamesberger came up with a great idea for dressing up his bathroom vanity without spending much money. He bought an ordinary prebuilt cabinet for $100. Then he took three slabs of Indiana limestone (usually used for a chimney top or other exterior architectural detail), cut them to size and surrounded the cabinet. The whole project cost less than $250. He used the Indiana limestone simply because it's a local material that he could get inexpensively. He suggests shopping around to find out what materials are local to your area.
Mix and MatchWalking into this Minneapolis, Minn. bathroom, you're hit with quite a pop of green. The idea for these homeowners was to give each bathroom shower in their home a different, vibrant color. The homeowners found a website where they could actually mix different shades of colored tile themselves. By purchasing online, they were able to save $5 per square foot on the tile, resulting in a total cost of about $300.
Browse Specialty StoresYou might expect to see a sink like this inside a high-end yacht, but this handmade wooden piece is in the Longmont, Colo., home of Robby Finley. He spent only $300 on the sink. First Robby talked to a couple of yacht builders to find out how to build and seal it. He used bird's-eye maple and coated it with a commercial epoxy. (He says you can find marine-grade finishes at most boating stores.) The vanity is made from stainless steel he picked up at a surplus auction from items used to build Denver's International Airport.
Think Transparency and ColorHere's a great idea that takes two bathroom necessities, a medicine cabinet and a bathroom light, and turns them into one cool conversation piece. Homeowner and architect Eddie Jones created a sculptural cabinet that glows in the dark for about $300. The pieces are all off-the-shelf materials that can be found at most supply stores. It's basically a wooden cabinet with a translucent acrylic back covering a fluorescent light. He used a clear acrylic door with a translucent film applied to the face. Eddie says he's found himself filling the cabinet with lotions and medicines based on their transparency and color.
Hire a FabricatorCarla Hutker loves her industrial Cape Cod bathroom. She hired a metal fabricator to build the vanity out of steel frames, and ash wood planks were mounted as shelves. Then she bought inexpensive baskets to hold her toiletries. Total cost: about $1,100.
Consider a Concrete SurroundWant your tub to make a statement? Consider framing it in concrete. The Bainbridge Island, Wash., homeowners took a typical cast-iron tub and surrounded it in cement face panels. They poured dyed concrete into sections, applied a sealer and a thin layer of wax. The entire project cost about $100, compared with the alternative granite that would have cost closer to $1,000.