14 budget small bathroom ideas to spruce up your space for less

A stunning design doesn't have to cost the earth

Contemporary bathroom with curved shower cubicle and black and white floor tiles
(Image credit: Future Plc/Lizzie Orme)

Budget small bathroom ideas are a pretty attractive way to give your space a fresh, new look, without having to dip too far into your savings. 

While you might not have the biggest bathroom, small bathroom ideas can go a long way to changing the look and feel of your space and they don't have to cost a fortune either. 

Work out exactly where you can save and where you'll have to spend and be realistic when it comes to how much you can do yourself and where a professional might be worth the money in the long run. If any pipes need moving or lighting needs re-wiring, it's worth paying someone who is qualified, but if it's painting, tiling or swapping over hardware, then think about doing it yourself to keep costs low. 

Budget small bathroom ideas

When starting out with budget small bathroom ideas, consider buying low-cost sanitaryware, re-using something you already have, such as a vintage chest as a vanity unit, or looking for clearance items. Many bathroom and tile companies do this, so you can often pick up designer pieces at a bargain price.

There are also visual tricks you can use to make a small bathroom feel bigger – using mirrors is an obvious one, or having horizontal tiling to make a bathroom seem wider, or vertical to make it seem taller.

Read on to discover our top tips for budget small bathroom ideas as well as advise from some of the industry experts. 

1. Tile the walls yourself!

Small bathroom with white tall wall tiles and orange patterned floor tiles

(Image credit: Claybrook)

A great budget small bathroom idea is to cut the costs of labour and DIY you own bathroom tile ideas! You might be wondering how to tile a bathroom wall, but it's actually not too tricky if you already have a few basis DIY skills (and can get your hands on the right tools.)

'You might be surprised to hear that tiling is something you can do without having to call out the professionals,' says Ruth Foster, interior designer at Victoria Plum. 'Get rid of that dated wallpaper or tired paintwork and refresh your small space with some stylish tiles that will make your bathroom feel like a sanctuary once more.'

'Plus, when you’ve finished you will have an immense sense of self-satisfaction at a job well done. Double win!' 

2. Light it up

Light up round mirror on wall of bathroom with simple marble wall panel

(Image credit: Bathroom Mountain)

To make your small bathroom feel larger without spending too much dosh, think about pumping up the lighting levels with an illuminated wall mirror.

'Illuminated mirrors not only add a luxury element to the bathroom but they reflect light so work well to create an illusion of space,' explains Shamila Iqbal, director at Bathroom Mountain. 'If you are on a budget then a battery powered design is a great option.'

Bathroom lighting ideas are great to refer to when looking to make your small bathroom feel smaller, as dark and dingy spaces are always going to feel cramped and wee.

3. Give furniture a lick of paint

Bathroom with toilet and green storage unit

(Image credit: Future)

Rather than replacing your existing vanity unit or storage cupboards, give them a new look with paint.

'If you can’t afford to splash the cash on new cabinets, you could refresh the ones you have,' says Ruth from Victoria Plum. 'If your existing cabinets are made from wood, repainting them is simple to do.'

'Begin by sanding the cabinet doors, then paint with a primer. The last step is painting the cabinets with a fresh coat of paint. Doing this means you can really experiment with colour too! Complete the cabinets with new door handles for an instant updated, timeless look.'

If want to save yourself some time and skip the priming stage, look to invest in a good quality chalk paint, like Love Letter Lazy Chalk Paint, £19.95 for 750ml, French Chic. It's self priming, self sealing and has a lovely low, soft sheen. 

While you've got your paint brush out, you could also look to paint a bath, which is another fab budget small bathroom idea!

4. Keep tiles to a minimum

White tiled bathroom, shower, sink, mirror, and decorative items

(Image credit: Future PLC)

When thinking about how much does it cost to tile a bathroom, be clever with how you use tiles. Limit the area you use tiles on, to bring down the tile spend. Save statement tiles for inside a shower or a small splashback behind the basin.

For the rest of the room, stick to either painting the walls or opting for wall panelling to achieve a statement look on a smaller budget. 

5. Opt for a shower and bath combo

Tiled pink and white bath and wall in bathroom

(Image credit: Future PLC)

To splash out on a bath and shower, especially in small space, might be a bit beyond your budget, so think about going for shower bath ideas instead.

‘P or L shaped shower baths are a great two in one option for small bathrooms that save both money and space whilst still looking good,' advises Shamila from Bathroom Mountain. 'Combine these with an exposed bath/shower mixer which is simpler to install than concealed models and further savings can be made.'

6. Plump for panels

Contemporary bathroom with tile effect wall panels and black hardware in shower

(Image credit: Mermaid Panels)

Rather than forking out on pricey tiles for your bathroom walls, think about using wall panels instead.

'An easy way to refresh a tired-looking bathroom is to fit some new wall panels,' Ruth advises. 'Shower wall panels are fast becoming a firm favourite with bathroom designers due to their all-round versatility.'

'Available in a range of colours and finishes, they can simply be cut to size then fitted over the top of existing wall coverings, like tiles, to produce a stunning new look.'

'Sometimes, bathrooms require a little more than a lick of paint to refresh the space, but this can become costly. However, there’s a simple way to breathe new life into the bathroom on a budget,' agrees Helen Dennett, UK marketing communications manager at Mermaid Panels.

'Bathroom panels are a cost-effective way to achieve this - they are 100% waterproof and can be used seamlessly, wall-to-wall to really transform your bathroom, or simply within splash zones such as within your shower enclosure. No need to sacrifice on style either as bathroom panels are available in an array of designs – from natural stone effects, to marble designs or geometric patterns.'

7. Choose inexpensive fittings

Contemporary bathroom with curved shower cubicle and black and white floor tiles

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

Sanitaryware does pretty much the same job no matter how much you spend on it, so if you are on a budget, check out DIY retailers for inexpensive toilets, basins and baths. Factor these in early when planning your small bathroom layout.

This stylish, rounded square-shaped Cooke & Lewis Santoro WC, £190, B&Q, is simple yet smart and will suit almost any bathroom. However, it pays to spend more on good quality brassware and toilet flush systems to prevent problems later on.

8. Consider compact storage

black and white tiled bathroom

(Image credit: Future PLC / Douglas Gibb)

If you have a small bathroom, storage is so important to avoid it looking untidy. This compact bathroom has it covered – budget small bathroom ideas include a slimline vanity unit with storage beneath, GODMORGAN mirrored cabiinet, £215, Ikea, a tall slim cupboard for cleaning products and towels and if that wasn’t enough, a trolley for any extra toiletries.

It’s also been given a mini-makeover with a deep band of red paint on the white tiles which is picked up in the door and frame, trolley and accessories.

9. Paint the walls

bathroom with mirror and pink wall

(Image credit: Crown)

Painting the walls a different colour is one of the best budget small bathroom ideas. Opting for bathroom paint ideas and changing the colour will give the room a whole new look, whether you want something calming or bold. 

Make sure to choose paint that is designed for wet areas such as this Crown Powdered Clay EasyClean Bathroom Paint, £22 for 2.5l, Wickes which has built-in anti-mould technology and will therefore stay looking good for longer.

10. Repurpose an old cabinet

bathroom with white basin and mirror

(Image credit: Tile Giant)

Jump on the upcycling trend and use an existing piece of furniture, often vintage, as a vanity unit. If you have a small chest of drawers like this one, it can easily be repurposed to create a stylish addition to the bathroom. 

A hole is drilled in the top for the waste and a hole at the back for the plumbing. It also has the added benefit of having storage for towels in the drawers beneath. Modern small bathroom tile ideas create a stylish backdrop and a vintage mirror is the ideal finishing touch.

11. Swap tiles for wallpaper

Downstairs loo with dark patterned wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

Make a statement with a wall of inexpensive bathroom wallpaper idea, it’s so much cheaper, and easier, than tiling and if you choose a pretty pattern like this, it will create a focal point in a small bathroom. It’s also a great budget small bathroom idea.

If you love a bath but are tight on space, there are smaller sized baths available too, 1200 x 700 is the smallest. So measure your space to factor in a smaller, cheaper bath – rather than go without.

12. Utilise the space you have

bathroom with white bathtub and potted plant

(Image credit: Future PLC /Lizzie Orme)

If your bathroom is narrow, choose small size pieces such as this compact, back-to-the-wall-mounted loo. Having wall mounted taps means they don’t take up space on the countertop or bath surround.

Large-format tiles are great for small bathrooms as there are less lines which makes the space look bigger than it really is. You can add interest and character cheaply to a small bathroom with inexpensive items such as houseplants or framed pieces of wall art.

13. Use mirrors to make the space feel bigger

A bathroom with a marble sink and reeded glass cabinets

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Look at your space and work out how you can go as big as possible for a bathroom mirror idea. This could be above a basin, or elsewhere in the bathroom. Consider a whole wall of mirror – it will definitely make the room look bigger, especially if it’s opposite a window as it will bounce natural light around the room.

However, if it’s not opposite a window, think about what the mirror will be reflecting, you really want to see something beautiful like bathroom tiles, wallpaper or house plants.

14. Choose statement lighting

bathroom with mirror and basin

(Image credit: Future PLC /Colin Poole)

At one time, good, inexpensive small bathroom lighting ideas were hard to find but that has changed dramatically in recent years and bringing your lighting up to date could make all the difference to the look of your bathroom. Check out IKEA and Victorian Plumbing for cool, affordable designs. All IP44 rated for safety.

‘Lighting improvements go a long way towards transforming the overall look of a small bathroom,' says Rikki Fothergill of Big Bathroom Shop. ‘Choosing a bathroom mirror with LED lighting around the edge is a good light source to complement overhead lighting is great for applying make up or shaving. They are especially useful at night when you don’t want to put the main light on.’


How do you update a small bathroom on a budget?

‘Vinyl flooring is a cost-effective way to give your bathroom a quick update and inject some personality into the space.’ Says Josh Barber, buyer at Flooring Superstore. ‘In bathrooms, people are often drawn to different patterns, contrasting colours and unusual layouts.'

'Neutral décor in the bathroom has always been popular, however even more so in smaller spaces,' adds Ruth. 'Adopting light shades like taupe, cream and white will create a lighter and brighter bathroom, making it appear larger than it really is, without breaking the bank.'

What is the average cost of a small bathroom?

‘Installing a new bathroom (including materials) will cost between £1,500 – £7,500, with the average price being £4,500' says Mike Fairman of Checkatrade

'When planning your new bathroom installation, it can often be broken down into different elements. Having a bath and shower will be more expensive than just having one or the other. Equally, if you only plan to install or replace parts of a bathroom that will keep the cost down.

Whether you only have a weekend set aside for some DIY or you're willing to undertake a bigger bathroom renovation, these budget ideas will help you make the most of your small space.

Holly Walsh
Content Editor

Holly Walsh has been Content Editor at Ideal Home since 2021, but joined the brand back in 2015. With a background of studies in Interior Design, her career in interior journalism was a no-brainer and her passion for decorating homes is still as strong as it ever was. While Holly has written for most of the home titles at Future, including Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes and Gardens and Style at Home, Ideal Home has always been her ideal home, and she can be found sharing her expertise and advice across both the printed magazine and the website too.

With contributions from