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When life hands you lemons, make lemonade is how the saying goes. So when life handed me a gross, tiny bathroom—and I had zero renovation budget to fix it—I rounded up the scrappiest tricks in the book and got my hands dirty. Let this before-and-after go to show: You can totally modernize an old grungy bathroom...without actually replacing anything or spending a fortune.

RELATED: 5 Mistakes I Made While renovating My Kitchen 

tiny bathroom before
Courtesy of Grace Beuley Hunt

BEFORE

I know, not ideal. The tiny footprint was made to feel even choppier by bright blue upper walls, yellow dungeon lighting and a too-bulky medicine cabinet. Plus, the tile hadn’t been updated in 15 years—and looked like it. Ready? Here’s what we changed on a dime…

grace bathroom white flowers
Malcolm Hunt

TILE

Sure, standard white subway tiles aren’t the most inspired tiling choice, but they’re clean and classic. The issue? There was fuzzy black mold growing in the grout. Enter: the process of regrouting. I had never heard of such a thing, but with my dad’s direction and labor help, we DIY’d this project over the course of three days and now the tile looks gorgeous.(Admittedly, it was a pain in the butt, but supplies aside, it was totally free, y’all. (Here’s a great tutorial.)

Cost: $30 in supplies

grace bathroom flip 7
Malcolm Hunt

PAINT

White paint = the oldest space-faking trick in the book. We gave the walls a fresh coat of Simply White by Benjamin Moore, which makes the ceiling feel higher since it continues the tile color.

Cost: $50

grace bathroom flip 5
Malcolm Hunt

CLEANUP

The toilet, bathtub and vanity were stained and scuffed from years of use, but a bottle of Soft Scrub with bleach and about ten Magic Erasers made them look totally new. As for the rust stains in the toilet bowl, we let a mixture of vinegar and baking soda sit overnight and scrubbed away with a bristle brush the next day.

Cost: $10

grace bathroom flip 2
Malcolm Hunt

STORAGE

The medicine cabinet was too large and deep and made it feel like the walls were closing in on you. But unfortunately for storage purposes, we really needed to have a unit there—so I found a shallow, scaled-down medicine cabinet in a clean white finish. For extra storage, I popped under-sink organizers into the vanity—and halved my beauty product arsenal. 

Cost: $50

grace bathroom flip 6
Malcolm Hunt

FINISHING TOUCHES

I really don’t love the room’s mini blue floor tiles, so I have a fluffy white bath mat on the floor most of the time, which covers almost the entire room! As final flourishes, I added a diamond matelassé shower curtain, which reads luxe but was actually $25 from Walmart; a black-and-white ocean print (actually a magazine ad popped into an IKEA frame); and a mini 12 x 12 mirror from Wayfair. Lastly, I replaced the dated lighting fixture with a single clear glass sconce from Lamps Plus. With a 100-watt bulb, the glow is now white instead of yellow and mimics natural light. All in all, I’d say it’s a pretty cute little bathroom now—and at $200, a victory on the budget front.

Cost: $60

RELATED: This Is What a $15K Kitchen Before & After Looks Like 

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