(Almost) Free Bathroom Updates

Updating your bathroom doesn't have to be expensive. Take a look at what you can do with a little creativity and some housewares you likely already have on hand.

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November 13, 2018

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Shop Your Home

The best way to decorate for free? Shop for items in other rooms of the house. In this modern rustic bathroom, designer Sarah Richardson transforms seldom-used candy dishes into a ring holder and a soap dish. An aging garden figurine adds vintage charm to this vanity vignette.

Plants With Style

The bathroom is a natural place for houseplants — with higher humidity than most rooms, many varieties will thrive. Choose one that does well in moist environments, like ferns or lilies, or opt for designers' favorite plant: a fiddle-leaf fig, which is a native to the tropics so it does well in warm, wet conditions. Just make sure it gets plenty of light.

Put Collections to Work

Add wow-worthy personality to your powder room by displaying a favorite collection. Whether you have an affinity for antique art pieces, colorful pottery or miniature figurines, gather them all together in one place to show off your much-loved collection and make an impressive vignette. This grouping of vintage mirrors, frames and cabinet doors brings Old World charm to this lovely but tiny blue bathroom.

On Display

A clean and organized bathroom makes for a calm, inviting atmosphere. Add simple trays to keep necessities on hand and give the space an uncluttered look. Stow away those not-so-attractive essentials, like hair dryers, brushes and toothpaste, in a closed basket, drawer or cabinet.

Think Beyond the Basket

Buying wine in bulk not only saves you major $$$, but can also be turned into a one-of-a-kind storage container for towels or toiletries. For a little elevated style and to add durability, this wine crate is stained in a weathered oak shade, and simple hardware is added.

Don't Forget the Flowers

The quickest route to a refreshed bathroom is a freshly cut bouquet. Fill a vase or jar with flowers, evergreens or berries from your yard for an instant (and free) update. No yard? Fashion paper flowers for long-lasting beauty.

Repurposed Style

Transform an old ladder into a chic, rustic towel rack. Dip-dyed legs embrace the natural wood while also bringing a shot of color to your space. Opt for a dark stain to add rich depth to the piece or paint the legs a vibrant shade or bright white for a playful vibe.

Simple Design, Major Functionality

Consider vertical space to really up your storage potential. Grab leftover boards from a project or reclaimed wood and turn them into floating shelves. A trio of shelves adds extra storage space for towels, toilet paper and toiletries in this bathroom nook.

Focus on Fabric

A wall sink is great for an open, airy vibe, but you're left with zero storage space. Make use of extra fabric to add cottage charm and hidden storage to your powder room — no sewing required. Create clean edges with iron-on fusible webbing and then attach to your sink with adhesive-backed hook-and-loop tape.

Chic Reflections

Try suspending your mirror from the ceiling for a fresh new look. For this petite bathroom, the floating mirror solves the layout problem of the vanity being in front of a window. Whether you need a mirror solution or just want to try something different, it's a fun design to add to your bathroom. Another option: Float a smaller mirror in front of a larger wall-hung one for a layered, expansive style.

Handy Organization

Look for creative alternatives to get organized. A vintage wire basket hung above the toilet makes for a cute and accessible bin for storing extra toilet paper.

Bring on the Color

Nothing beats a fresh coat of paint — and this sunny yellow vanity makes a major impact in this crisp white bathroom. With a little elbow grease, some sandpaper and can of paint, you can take a plain vanity from ho-hum to the star of your bathroom.

Dress Your Windows

Take simple white shades to the next level with colorful embellishments. Use fabric glue or adhesive hem tape to attach rickrack or grosgrain ribbon around the perimeter of the shade for a punch of color that ties the window treatments into your bathroom's palette. Want extra glam? Deck the bottom of the shade with hanging crystals.

Flooring With Panache

For a low-cost, high-style addition to your bathroom, look down. Bring softness underfoot and keep your toes from freezing on the morning tile with a cozy runner. Muted earth tones add richness and depth to this clean white bathroom.

Resourceful Decorating

A little ingenuity turns a hand-me-down furniture piece into a completely original vanity. This distressed side table is transformed with a sleek white vessel sink and a pair of large-scale gray tiles for the backsplash. Scour your home (or parents' or grandparents') or estate sales for a base that's little to no money and invest a bit on the transformation.

Use Bottles for Display and Storage

Don't keep your beautiful bracelets hidden away in a jewelry box: display them in your bathroom on bottles. Use vintage glass containers, as seen here, or recycle an eye-catching bottle from your pantry.

Create Your Own Artwork

No budget for artwork? Find an extra frame and print something from a free printable website, or design your own graphic art. To create this bright accent, Michelle Hinckley of 4 Men 1 Lady painted a frame citron yellow and used her computer to turn the classic "Keep Calm and Carry On" print into a gentle reminder for her three boys.

Bright + Bold

Say goodbye to your basic black, brown or white mirror frame and inject your bathroom with a brilliant hue. This frame is painted a preppy Kelly green to give the all-white bathroom a color boost. All it takes is a small amount of paint for the job.

Make Mirrors Do Double-Duty

Bathroom essentials look neater piled atop a tray, but other household items, like painted cookie sheets or even mirrors, can do the job just as well. In the 2009 HGTV Green Home, designer Linda Woodrum used this mother-of-pearl mirror as a pretty base for glass jars and decorative accessories.

Repurpose Damaged Furniture

Before you discard furniture, ask one last time: "Is there another way to use this?" A dresser with missing drawers might seem like trash, but if it still has shelves, it can be a treasure. Give it a fresh coat of paint and you've got a whimsical bureau for your boudoir. Photo by Jennifer and Kitty O'Neil

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