Remodeling a Builder Grade Bathroom


March 6, 2022

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If there’s one space that definitely gets overlooked…it’s the hall bath. Although it isn’t the most prized space in your home, it is probably one of the most used.

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If you’re like me, you likely have minimal upgrades in your hall bath. After all, only the kids and the occasional guests would be using it. Our bathroom outfits a builder grade vanity with the standard builder grade mirror, and less than eye-catching hardware.

However, this should be one of the most important spaces when tackling a new project, be it new construction or a remodel. Remodeling a bathroom can give you one of the biggest ROIs. In fact, on average homeowners recoup at least 60% of the project costs of updating a builder grade vanity and replacing the builder grade mirror.

Take a peek at the before.

Good design can improve our daily outlook and productivity, but it doesn’t take much to elevate your or your guests’ experience.

Here are six simple and inexpensive ways to update your bathroom on a budget:


One of the biggest changes you can make is new paint. It always amazes me how much paint can change the feel of a space. I wanted something bright and airy. Since the bathroom has little natural light, the color, and finish needed to have a high LRV rating.

The best paint for a bathroom is Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath & Spa line. The Aura Bath & Spa Line is specifically made for high-humidity spaces and protects against mildew and mold. The walls and ceiling are White Dove at 75% in a Matte finish while the vertical shiplap is color-matched to Sherwin William’s Accessible Beige in Satin. White Dove has an LRV rating of 86% and the satin finish on the vertical shiplap reflects 25-35% of the natural light coming from the single window.

Aren’t sure what LRV means and white it is important? You can read about it here.

Style Tip: If you prefer the look of a flat finish but are worried about keeping your walls clean, try the Benjamin Moore Matte finish. The matte finish is almost sheen-free with higher durability that can withstand frequent washes.


When designing this bathroom, I knew that the elongated sidewall begged for character. Instead of being an eyesore, the vertical shiplap creates a beautiful wall feature while leading your attention to the focal point of the oval window.

If your ceilings are on the shorter side, opt for a vertical installation to draw the eye up and create the illusion of taller ceilings. To add more warmth to the look, consider painting your vertical shiplap in a creamy white or mushroom color, like Sherwin William’s Accessible Beige in a Satin finish seen here. The contrasting color adds depth to the bathroom design.

Style Tip: Are you worried about using MDF in a bathroom, caulk your seams with paintable latex caulk with added silicone, and use Flex Seal Liquid Rubber Sealant in white as your primer. Paint the wall and trim with Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa line which is designed to resist mildew and mold.


Nothing screams builder grade lighting more than chrome sconces with frosted glass shades! You can instantly give new life to your bathroom by changing your light fixtures. Create a curated look by choosing fixtures in a contrasting metal to your current hardware. We elevated our lighting game with single antique brass sconces with linen shades. The warm low-sheen brass plays nicely against the high luster of the polished nickel faucets.

I took our lighting replacement a step further.

Does your bathroom vanity have little natural light like ours? If so, overhead lighting casts shadows that can become troublesome with your morning routines. I lowered our lighting to eye level and placed a sconce on either side of our vanity mirror. This instantly changed the feel of the vanity area by creating a suite-like experience.

Style Tip: Install your sconces at eye level, anywhere between 60-65 inches from the floor to avoid shadows being cast over your face while applying make up. You can lessen the harshness of the light by selecting sconces that are shaded.


Upgrading your builder grade mirror is an easy and inexpensive way to refresh your bathroom. Double sinks can be a bit tricky since you likely don’t have space to have two separate mirrors. Instead, I selected an oversized rectangular mirror and centered it horizontally over the two sinks.

The coordinating thin metal brass frame brings the whole look together with the sconces.

Style Tip: When you are building, request that the builder does not use adhesive to install your builder grade mirrors. This will save you from having to repair the drywall when you replace the mirror.


If your budget doesn’t allow you to replace the entire builder grade vanity, there are still many options to updating your cabinetry. You can add interest by painting your builder grade cabinets, or a more labor-intensive option is to sand and restain your cabinetry in a trending wood finish.

I took our builder grade vanity up a notch by refacing our existing vanity cabinet and installing inset drawers. You can customize the cabinetry fronts yourself or purchase from a manufacturer, like Semihandmade. You can check out my process for refacing our builder grade vanity here. You can also find the tutorial of how I painted pine to look like White Oak here.

Style Tip: What makes a cabinet look custom? The design of the cabinet fronts. For a more high-end look, install inset or full overlay doors and drawer fronts.


Sometimes the smallest details can impact the design of your space significantly. Changing plumbing fixtures, like faucets and showerheads can be pricey. To update your bathroom on a budget, invest in quality hardware, towels, and fresh scented toiletries.

Updating the functionality of your bathroom can simplify your routine while adding a touch of style. Install hooks or a peg wall in place of a towel bar for an instant lived-in look, as I did here. Utilizing trays or canisters is a more thoughtful way to display your necessities and elevate your vanity look.

Renovating a bathroom can cost thousands, but it doesn’t have to. We were able to give our guest bathroom a completely new look for under $1,500.

You can see the full transformation on Instagram saved in this highlight!

Get The Look

If you found these tips helpful or if you have more questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or message me on Instagram!

Save For Later!

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