Bathroom refresh – getting the spa look on a budget

This is a project we have just started, so the final reveal will come in the second part, which hopefully won’t be too far away, as we want to motor through this bathroon update and move onto the next thing.

When our bathroom was fitted about 9 years ago, we opted for a corner bath because we had one little boy and another baby on the way and I imagined it would be better for bathing them together. It did work, though on the downside, in our smallish square shaped room the bath does take up a lot of the floor space.  (Also, they’re now probably just as unfashionable as the shell-edged bath that it replaced.)

As our children are tending to take more showers and less baths, we would prefer to remove the bath altogether and replace it with a large walk-in shower.  A bit controversial, but we don’t plan on moving any time soon and it would suit our family’s needs better.  Plus, further down the line, I hope we can convert our loft and include a bath in the design.  At the moment we have the funds for neither project!!!  So for now this is the dream…

And this is the reality…

Until we can do a proper re-fit,  we desperately need to refresh this space.

Years of daily use has taken its toll and lately the space has been looking really tired.  The cupboard doors have let in water and expanded and warped, there was a shabby light fitting, the silver window blind which was ‘on trend’ a decade ago looked sad, too – the whole place has been feeling unloved and cold for a while.

Bathroom1 adj

As all this is (hopefully) just a temporary facelift, we’re reluctant to spend much money on it.  Rather than replace anything major right now, we’ll keep the main fittings and just update what we can for a newer look, e.g.taps, paintwork etc.

We went to check out some replacement doors for the vanity unit earlier in the week, at a shop that specialises in just cupboard doors, only to be told they would cost £57 each.  Not even for a smart grey gloss door, like I had in mind – no, just a basic, budget MDF/melamine cupboard door.  Since we would need 4 of them, plus a drawer front, I could get a brand spanking new vanity unit and sink for the same price.  We would much rather keep our £228+ and put it towards the future shower room, than waste it on a temporary measure.

So it was back to the drawing board.  We do have some white MDF we could probably cut to size, using the old doors as a template.  But do we actually need doors at all?  I wouldn’t want a sink skirt like below (fine for a vintage looking bathroom, but not in a modern spa, which is the feel I hope to give the room)…

sink skirt2

However I do think an open vanity unit could work…

vanity 1 vanity 2

Definitely more spa-like, oh yeah!  And because we’re not spending over £200 on new doors, I can splurge a little on some nice wire and wicker baskets, right?  And fluffy towels, scented candles etc etc.

So I’m feeling quite excited about this project now, to see what we can achieve on a shoestring.  My father-in-law is an electrician and has fitted a new light for us (£30 from B&Q).

We’ve painted the walls a warmer tone (the previous colour was a cool lilac).  This B&Q shade called ‘Alfie’ (£17.98) is quite a modern ‘greige’ – a bit like putty – and we’ve done the ceiling as well as the walls which gives a cosier feel than a white ceiling would.


I priced up a heated towel rail as they obviously look nicer than a radiator, however I’ve been reading reviews online and lots of people say don’t get rid of your radiator, as a towel rail won’t heat the room adequately.  So for now I think we’ll keep the rad and give it a fresh coat of paint.  If anyone has any thoughts on this, feel free to chip in – also on the open vanity idea, whether you like it or hate it.

I’ve got some cute little details planned such as individual towel hooks for the boys and maybe doing something different inside the open cupboards, so watch this space.  Oh and if you have been wondering where our loo is (of course you have!) it’s across the landing  –  yet another makeover-in-waiting (how can such a modest house continually need work?).

This tiny cubicle will be addressed in a future post sometime after the bathroom is finished.  I would really like to give it some ‘board and batten’ treatment, it’s all over pinterest via mostly American blogs and I think it looks great in hallways as well as bathrooms.

Really fresh and clean looking, but hubby can’t see the point as he thinks the boys will just pee all over it!  Ha ha, that’s a nice thought to leave you with… but he’s probably right.





© Copyright Antonia, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tidylife
  1. Hi Antonia,
    Beloved and I had a small (North-facing) bathroom which was more than adequately heated by one wall-mounted towel rail. Our new home has a larger (South-facing) bathroom, with a “Victorian” style towel rail which heats not only the bathroom, but also the landing!
    I agree that open vanity would be a great interim option 🙂
    Good luck! I can’t wait to see what you decide upon.

    1. Thank you, Sue – that’s good to know about the towel rail, I won’t completely discount them now! The makeover is coming along, I hope to reveal all soon 🙂

  2. Looks like another of your lovely makeovers Antonia!
    Agree that a more ‘of the moment’ refresh is called for & I love the paint colour!
    We’re mid-bathroom update too, but on a larger scale involving the moving of walls, toilet, bath etc, and gone from a shower AND a bath to just a shower bath. Ours was way too big for what we need, so we’ve
    actually downsized the bathroom and increased a bedroom size instead.
    I’ll be posting a picture or two over on my blog once we’re done – hopefully within the week!!
    Look forward to seeing your makeover results!

    1. We’re progressing – we’ve got a new blind and I bought some baskets today, yay! How is your bathroom coming along? I hope you are all sorted and enjoying your new space! x

      1. All done with the exception of paint to one wall and half of ceiling. We were pressed for time prior to half-term visitors, so have fitted everything, including new bright pink blind (!!) and wall mounted towel rack, and we can just take them down for a couple of coats of paint to be done on a weekend. But so lovely to have deep new bath, soft-close drawers and one heck of a HOT towel rail!!!

  3. I look forward to seeing your finished makeover – it’s looking great so far. I really like the look of open cabinets/shelving.
    It’s funny I’ve just been writing a couple of posts today for my blog about my bathroom makeover! We went for a towel rail (bargain from Screwfix) and although it is small it bangs out plenty of heat, at least as much as the radiator we had before.

    1. Another positive comment about towel rails, so thanks – that’s really helpful. I’ll look forward to reading all about your bathroom makeover, too 🙂

  4. I heard the same thing about heated towel rails so we kept the radiator when we did our bathroom. Having read the replies on here I wish we had gone for the the rail after all!

    I’ve been coveting the board and batten look too, but for the hallway. It will probably get spattered with mud with the weather being how it is, but at least it won’t get peed on there. 😉
    Angela at A Typical English Home recently posted…Free Heart Social Media IconsMy Profile

  5. Hi Angela, I know – I had totally discounted the towel rail idea, may have to have a re-think now! Board and batten in the hallway would look amazing, especially with your gorgeous white staircase xx

Your email address will not be published.

CommentLuv badge

Sign Up
A customizable subscription slide-in box to promote your newsletter

I consent to the terms and conditions