Easy DIY Builders Grade Bathroom Updates

4 Materials
1 Week

I've spent the past couple of weeks giving our standard "builders grade" guest bathroom a makeover. Since I was working on a pretty limited budget and wanted to maximize style without breaking the bank, I opted for some major cosmetic updates that would give it a more modern look.
You can see that I started with a pretty standard (read: plain!) palate. The same icky cream walls; the color I (not so) lovingly refer to as "Renter's Cream" because it's basically the same wall color of every place I've ever rented.
The first thing I did was paint the grout in the tub/shower combo. I used a grout paint in "Delorean Gray" and a tiny paintbrush to add two coats of gray over the dingy "white" grout. It took two coats to really get the darker gray coverage I wanted, but it turned out amazing! Did I mention the grout paint is only $12?!? It takes some time and patience, but you can't beat a $12 update.
After I got the grout painting out of the way, I painted the walls in Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. This color changes a bit depending on the lighting, and it turned out more of a true gray than the "greige" look it has in our living room, which was a pleasant surprise.
The most involved part of my project was replacing our outdated medicine cabinet with a tiled nook. I'll be posting a full tutorial on this process later, but here's the basic idea:
It took several trips multiple stores before I choose a tile, but I ended up going with a white subway tile (with very light gray faux marbling) and a basketweave style marble mosaic tile for the background. I used the same color gray grout that I picked for the shower tile and it really tied the room together.
The next step was to prime and paint the vanity cabinet. Even though I really really really want to replace it, the floor wasn't done underneath and I knew that replacing the vanity would also mean doing work on the floor, neither of which were in the budget. I opted to paint the cabinet in Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik and changed the hardware for these cute gold tipped feather knobs I found at Target. It adds just the right amount of color to the space, and really brings the room together.
After that, the rest was pretty simple. I switched out our plain, builders grade mirror for a gorgeous wooden one from World Market and changed out the light fixture above the mirror. I also added two floating wood shelves above the toilet, a reclaimed wood towel rack, new shower curtains and rug, and a few knick knacks to compliment the space.
The smaller details really brought the room together and made it feel more cohesive. Yes, there are still some things that drive me crazy and I want to change. Mainly the fact that the vanity counter is cream, while the tub and toilet are bright white, but that's another project for another day. Also the floors will eventually need to be changed. The previous owner used the same laminate wood flooring in the guest bathroom as the rest of the house and I'm not sure how they will hold up in the long run, but fortunately this bathroom is rarely used for showering, so they aren't exposed to a lot of water and should last until it's time for the next update!
I hope that you guys can at least find a little inspiration for your "builders grade bathroom" and know that all hope is not lost! You can easily update your bathroom without changing the vanity, floors, or shower tile and give it a whole new look!
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 22 questions
  • Kari McElderry
    on Apr 19, 2018

    Great job! Love the built in medicine cabinet! Where did you find your floating shelves?

  • Lynda Duthler
    on Apr 19, 2018

    Your makeover is beautiful! One very dull, practical question - what did you do with all the necessaries from the medicine cabinet?

  • Lynda Duthler
    on Apr 19, 2018

    Your makeover is beautiful! One very dull, practical question - what did you do with all the necessaries from the medicine cabinet?

    • Lynda Duthler
      on Apr 20, 2018

      I missed the “guest” part. I just know that I dislike having to rummage around under the sink for my supplies and so I always want a functional storage unit up top. THe niche is very attractive and nice use of space for a guest facility.

Join the conversation

2 of 160 comments
  • Angel
    on Jan 24, 2019

    Looks great*x

  • Jessica
    on Jan 25, 2019

    My bathroom is like this except switch toilet and vanity..This is very inspiring with such a small space.

    Behind space is plumbing and wires.But,across wall good for nook.Plus love the flow of the darker vanity.

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