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The bathroom is a utilitarian space — high on function, but often low on design. Upping the bathroom’s appearance however, doesn’t need to involve a demolition team and a big chunk of your annual salary. Involving a weekend and less than $500, you can completely change the look of an outdated and tired bathroom, as well as increase your home value if you’re in the market to sell.

  • Paint: $15-30. Like any room in the house, the bathroom immediately improves with a coat of paint, looking cleaner and updated without spending a ton of money. If you have a small bathroom, consider buying lighter paint to make the room appear larger. Try a satin or eggshell finish paint that holds up better to moisture and cleaning. Have more time? Re-stain or paint the cabinets as well.

  • Faucet, knobs, pulls $5-150. Like the kitchen, the bathroom has a lot of cabinets and drawers. Rather than spending hundreds to replace them, put in new knobs and pulls for an instant facelift. Even the most blah cabinets look better with brushed nickel hardware. For about $100 more, you can also replace the faucet to coordinate the bathroom’s look.

  • New or updated mirror: $30-150. Let’s face it: The medicine cabinet is usually not the most attractive feature in a bathroom. Consider replacing it with one or two flat mirrors. Worried about storage space? Use wicker baskets or shelving to hold your bathroom toiletries. If you already have a large mirror above the sink, try framing it for a quick update. Purchase molding — wood or tile works well — and attach it around the edges of the mirror using an adhesive like Liquid Nails.

  • Update lighting: $20-$150. In a small room such as the bathroom, good lighting matters. A dark bathroom immediately looks dingier and makes getting ready for work in the morning more difficult. Update those old sconces with lighting that fits with the theme of your bathroom. Don’t have the money or know-how to replace the lighting? Put in new glass shades for an affordable and easy fix.

  • Accessories: $10-$60. Swapping out a moldy shower curtain and stained towels is the simplest and least expensive way to update the entire look of the bathroom. Stick with a simple color palette and don’t overdo the accessories. Use drawer and countertop organizers to reduce clutter, which makes the room seem smaller. As a finishing touch, add a framed piece of art on a wall or potted plant.

Need more bathroom home improvement ideas? Check out Zillow’s Dueling Digs.

About the Author

Erika Riggs, the Zillow Digs manager, covers home design and trends.

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