This is a “budget” remodel?

Anyone who’s followed my blog for even a short time will know I’m big on bargains and remodeling on the cheap. I love do-it-yourself features in magazines and online, so I immediately clicked through to an article titled “Budget Bath Makeover” in the latest DIY newsletter. There I found a photograph of a very pretty master bath that had been remodeled on a budget:


And here are the first couple of paragraphs of the accompanying article:

This master bath had many advantages: a separate tub and a shower, a window, and clean white fixtures. The effect, however, was cold and impersonal. A color cure and pretty accessories much improved the look.

Instead of damaging (and then fixing) the wall by removing the plate mirror over the vanity, the homeowner hung an antiqued flea-market frame in front of it. Then she switched out the contemporary light fixture for a classic three-bulb affair; replaced the basic faucet with a porcelain-handle Victorian-style model; and ditched boring cabinet pulls for brushed chrome knobs and cup pulls.

Okay, so far I’m all there. I’m all about painting, replacing ugly pulls, updating light fixtures, and repurposing antique frames. But here’s where the jaw-dropper hit:

The total cost for the room redo: $900.

Wait a second. Was that nine-HUNDRED dollars? Surely you mean a hundred and ninety dollars, right? Um, no. In the alternate reality of today’s crashing economy, it seems there are “budget” remodels and then there are BUDGET remodels. I wouldn’t class spending $900 on a few bathroom fixtures as a real saving accomplishment. In fact, I feel a challenge coming on! I bet you that any one of us could re-do this room in the exact same way for under $190. Wanna try?

Okay, here’s the challenge: Get online and see if you can price out this remodel for under $190. That means finding bathroom paint (one gallon does it for this size room), pulls similar to the ones used in the photo, a three-light fixture, vintage-style faucet, and a frame to go around the mirror (antique or otherwise–just see what you can find). Post links to your finds as well as prices and your grand total (no need to figure in taxes, as we’re all in different states) in the comments section. Whoever gets this remodel done at the lowest price wins a year’s subscription to Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine.

I’ll play along with you and post my BUDGET remodel on April 10. That gives you six days to get cracking! Invite your friends — pass along this post. The more, the merrier! I bet we can show DIY Magazine a thing or two about real budget remodeling!

PS (4/7/09): I’ve removed the current comments with their running totals and will wait until the contest is over to reveal everyone’s finds. That will make it more fun and won’t discourage anyone from trying. Keep the budget challenge going!

8 Responses to “This is a “budget” remodel?”

  1. 2 queenofmytrailer April 5, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Wow, Sibyl! Way to start off this contest! I really enjoyed checking your sources. The only links that don’t work for me are the ones on — that site won’t come up at all for me. Can you double-check your links and post them again if there’s an error? I’ll also keep checking on my end to see if it’s just a temporary server problem. Thanks! ~ Amanda

  2. 3 Sibyl April 6, 2009 at 12:30 am


    don’t know what happened–i found those yesterday, but can’t today–so i found some others. 4 x 2.34= 9.26 6 x 3.04 18.24

    new total will be 160.47

    Still way below budget.


  3. 4 queenofmytrailer April 6, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Excellent! Thanks for reposting!

  4. 5 Michelle Z. April 6, 2009 at 11:39 am

    My $143.41 bathroom redo:

    Paint $22.98 – I don’t know how to shop for paint online, so I’m linking to the cheapest base from Lowes’:

    Light $44.65 (light fixture plus shipping):

    Hardware $15.78 (these are all from one ebay seller, and shipping is free):
    Cup pulls:

    Faucet $20 (not exact, but close and I’ll keep looking):

    Frame $40:

  5. 6 queenofmytrailer April 6, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Good work, Michelle. Do make sure that you pick a bathroom-grade paint, though. You can’t use regular paint in a bathroom or it has a tendency to mildew or bubble (I learned this the hard way years ago!). I like the faucet you found — very close to the vintage-looking one used in the article!

  6. 7 Michelle Z. April 7, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Very good point! Here is a better paint, AND…it’s $9 cheaper!

    This brings my total bathroom project cost down to $134.41.

  7. 8 Bathroom Remodeling in Los Angeles May 1, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Nice post!! I have read some of your posts and is really impressed. I am adding your blog to my RSS Feed reader.

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About the Queen…

Amanda Livenwell is the pen name of a stay-at-home mom who shares the adventure of living large on one income in, yes, a double-wide trailer! Join our family as we say goodbye to suburbia, trim down, and start saving to build our own home. We're going to talk about doing it yourself, living beautifully on less, making do or doing without, and counting it all joy in the process. We'll cover prep-work and painting, refacing kitchen cabinets, flooring on the cheap, tiling over laminate, upholstering furniture, and just rolling up our sleeves in general. If you love home improvement, this is the place for you. Let's get cracking!

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What Inspires Me Most!

"She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle. She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness." ~ Proverbs 31:13, 17-19, 27

"Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings;he will not stand before unknown men." ~ Proverbs 22:29

"The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich." ~ Proverbs 13:4

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