Before & After: A chic DIY bathroom renovation for less than $2,000

With a shoestring budget, one blogger turned her drab bathroom into an eclectic oasis.

Bathroom Renovation after photo - shiplap walls, black vanities
(Image credit: Heather Cooke, Interior Swag)

Need to start a bathroom renovation but don't want to break the bank? Take a cue from blogger and interior designer Heather Cooke. Her dated '90s master bathroom was in desperate need of an upgrade, but instead of splurging on a pricey renovation, Cooke gave the space a makeover using secondhand finds, a lot of creativity, and a little bit of elbow grease.

Now, the black-and-white space has an eclectic farmhouse feel more in step with her family's tastes. "As someone who has decorated their home 95 percent secondhand, it’s always a proud moment for us to develop spaces that are both unique and fit our design aesthetic," Cooke says. 

For more bathroom inspiration, browse our bathroom ideas gallery.

The before

Bathroom Renovation

The original space had a dated, '90s feel. 

(Image credit: Heather Cooke, Interior Swag)

Cooke's home was built in early 2000, so the bathroom had a very traditional 1990s feel. Thankfully, it wasn't all bad. "We fell in love with the size of the master bathroom and its large open windows," she explains. "The space had a large long double vanity that was functional, just very dated. We wanted to update the space immediately to fit our personal style and make it feel more modern."

One of the first projects the family renovated, the bathroom was hardly used before completion. Still, Cooke wanted to preserve the ease and function of the roomy layout. 

The Process

Bathroom Renovation

Cooke installed faux shiplap for a farmhouse look. 

(Image credit: Heather Cooke, Interior Swag)

"We wanted the bathroom to have an electric mix of styles, yet still be crisp and clean," Cooke explains. "We also wanted to achieve a bit of an old farmhouse vibe and ensure that the space felt old and more original."

To nail that balance, the Interior Swag blogger opted for a clean black-and-white color scheme. She painted and stenciled the floor tiles instead of ripping them up and installing something new. "The stenciling transformation is pretty easy, just time consuming," she notes.

Of course, a farmhouse aesthetic calls for a shiplap wall. To install the faux shiplap, Cooke used 1/4-inch sheets of underlayment from Home Depot, ripped into 8-inch boards. "When you cut the boards, make sure to use a fine saw blade to minimize splintering," she explains. "I also used sandpaper to sand off any splinters, and we used nickels for spacing, starting from the bottom up."

The Details

Bathroom Renovation

Vintage storage lockers found on Facebook Marketplace round out the eclectic vibe. 

(Image credit: Heather Cooke, Interior Swag)

After all that work installing the shiplap wall, Cooke didn't want to drill holes for towel rods. She stumbled across old storage lockers on Facebook Marketplace for $40. "Not only do they add a ton of storage to our bathroom, but they’re near and dear to my heart as they came from a local school," she says, adding, "They were in great condition and we used them as is."

New vanities from Home Depot and an Edison-bulb wall sconce complete the modern farmhouse look. Cooke finished the space with contemporary extras like a round decorative mirror and a bohemian stool. With a budget of $2,000, the finished product rang in around $1,900. 

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Ann Loynd Burton

After serving as an editor for luxury publications for nearly a decade, Ann Loynd Burton struck out on her own as a freelance writer covering design and lifestyle. Along with her work highlighting decor trends for Real Homes, Loynd Burton has covered interiors for such publications as Apartment TherapyAspireCottages & Gardens, and Galerie