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Your How-To Guide: 12 Half Bath Remodel Ideas for Any Budget

Bathroom Remodeling

by LB Gabriel Posted on April 25, 2023

Your half bath is a small space, but if it’s outdated, it can have a big impact on the overall look of your home. Whether you want to modernize, increase energy efficiency, or anything in between, there are great half bath remodel ideas for a wide range of budgets. And, bonus, because of the room’s size, the timeline is usually faster than a primary bathroom renovation! Who doesn’t like some semi-instant gratification?

If you’re interested in giving your powder room a makeover, here are some of our favorite half bath remodeling ideas, along with estimated costs, advice on how to prepare, and what you can expect along the way.

How to Prepare for Your Half Bath Remodel 

There’s a lot to consider when tackling a half bath renovation, but it’s a project that’s worth the investment. Not only will you and your guests enjoy the refreshed space, but it will also add value to your property. Now that’s a win-win.

According to Zillow data, bathroom remodels get the biggest return on investment when you’re ready to sell your home. In fact, for every $1 dollar you spend on cosmetic changes, you can see a $1.71 increase in home value. 

Before you start ripping out fixtures, though, you’ll need a plan of attack. Here are some considerations to take before you go full demo.

1. Create a Schedule

If this half bathroom isn’t essential to your everyday living, you may have more time for remodeling. However, if you’re getting ready to sell your home, host an event, etc., use this date as a guideline for when the project needs to be complete.

Since many home projects take longer than expected, factor this into your timeline. If you’re using a contractor or any hired labor, make sure they understand your desired end date well in advance of the project and can accommodate the timeline.

The average cost of remodeling a small bathroom is $6,500.

2. Set a Budget

According to an article featured on Angi, the average cost of remodeling a small bathroom is $6,500. How does that number compare with your expectation? If you were hoping for a smaller final total, perhaps around $1,500, have no fear. This number can fluctuate significantly, depending on a few factors. For example, labor can account for 10% to 20% of your project cost. If you can make some upgrades yourself, this can save some money (more on that in a minute). 

Materials also make a difference, too. Your half bath remodel ideas may include surfaces like marble and travertine, but those can range from $40 to $100 per square foot. Instead, you can easily substitute real marble for cultured marble (a faux marble made from natural marble dust and liquid polyester resin) for half that price.

3. Decide If You’re Going to Hire a Contractor or DIY

Since you’re dealing with a smaller space that doesn’t have a shower or tub, you may be interested in doing this renovation yourself. This can be a great way to save money, as you’ll be cutting out labor costs. And, thanks to the abundance of home renovation TV shows, websites, and other resources, you have plenty of pros to turn to for advice.

Fair warning, though: It may seem like a simple job, but you’ll have to handle some plumbing and electrical tasks, and if those aren’t done properly, you could be spending all of that saved money on costly repairs. For peace of mind — and a protected home — consider using an electrician and plumber for light fixture installations and pipe connections.

Not confident in your DIY skills? There’s no shame in handing the entire project off to a qualified contractor who can ensure the renovation runs smoothly from beginning to end.

A man is about to raise the signature blue door on his PODS moving and storage container that has been placed in his driveway. He will be using it to store things and make room for his upcoming half bath remodel.

4. Make Room for Your Half Bath Remodel

No matter which route you choose — DIY, contractor, or a mix of both — you’re going to need to clear the space before the work takes place. You can store your things or hold rental equipment in a PODS portable storage container. Keep it in your driveway so items are out of the way but within reach during remodeling, or keep your container at one of the secure PODS Storage Centers for as long as you need.

For more home remodeling tips, check out the PODS Blog. From fixing up a fixer-upper to creating your dream home, we’ve covered it all!

Ideas to Maximize the Space in Your Half Bath

By nature, powder rooms are small and can make you feel trapped in a tight space. But there are some clever powder room ideas to make the space look and feel larger than it really is.

A half bathroom with the white toilet and pedestal sink on the same wall. Above them is a wall-length mirror and shelf with a soap set. On the adjacent wall is a gray hanging hand towel.

1. Skip the Vanity

Half bath vanities are useful for storage, but they take up a significant percentage of the overall space. Consider replacing your vanity with a pedestal sink and installing one or two floating shelves for soaps, hand towels, and one or two small decorative items. This is a smart way to save money, too, as cabinetry is usually a more expensive bathroom element.

2. Avoid Dark Colors

Dark colors and wood can make the already-tight space feel even more cramped. Visually open the bathroom by choosing a light color, like white, gray, or blue. Painting the bathroom cabinets this same hue creates a monochromatic look that tricks the eye into thinking the space is wider than it actually is. If you want a more modern-looking bathroom, this is the way to go.

A pink and white sink and vanity are illuminated by a circle mirror with a light that surrounds it. The vanity has matching pink and gold decor, as well as a small bouquet of various pink flowers.
(Source: Max Vakhtbovych via Pexels)

3. Make Strategic Lighting Choices

There are some really cool hanging light fixtures that will add a fun touch of drama to your bathroom. But choose one that’s too large or hangs too low, and that drama will quickly turn messy. Use something small or try wall sconces instead that reflect the light upward.

4. Cut the Clutter

Don’t undo your hard work by filling your half bath with toiletries. Since this isn’t your primary bathroom, all it needs is soap, a hand towel, and maybe a little bottle of lotion and a candle.

A white tiled half bathroom with a concrete counter, a ceramic bowl sink, and a round, frameless mirror. There are plants throughout the bathroom, as well.
(Source: intan Indiastuti via Unsplash)

5. Get a Bigger Mirror

Because mirrors reflect light, they brighten up any room and give the illusion of more space. Swap your small mirror for a larger one that’s either frameless or has a thin frame.

Ideas to Make Your Half Bath Look Better

Your powder room doesn’t need a lot of knick-knacks to make it aesthetically appealing. Making a few sleek design choices will do the heavy lifting in that arena. Here are some ideas for decorating a bathroom.

6. Choose a Few Nice Accessories

Wondering, “How can I make my half bath look fancy?” You don’t have to add gold plating to every element of your half bath to make it look expensive (in fact, that would probably have the opposite effect). All it takes is a gold or shiny copper towel bar and faucet to add an elegant look.

A bright orange hand towel gives a white and gray bathroom a pop of color.
(Source: Zac Gudakov via Unsplash)

7. Add a Pop of Color

White half bathrooms are incredibly popular because they visually open the small space. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon color altogether, though. Give your half bath some personality by choosing a fun hand towel, accent rug, or small piece of art.

8. Try Wallpaper

Wallpaper can transform any room, half baths included. And if you don’t want to cover all the walls, you can select just one for an accent. The good news about wallpaper, too, is that it doesn’t have to break the bank. Sure, there are costly options out there, but there are also peel-and-stick wallpapers that you can apply yourself in minutes.

9. Incorporate Small, Luxurious Touches

We’ve talked about alternatives to marble countertops, but also keep in mind that using marble for a half bath is much more affordable than putting it in your primary bathroom. If you only need a few square feet, this is an inexpensive way to add some luxury to your space. The same goes for higher-end hardware, faucets, and lighting. A sconce by the mirror not only adds light, it adds a touch of class.

Q: How do I make my half bath look better?
A: You don’t have to take your half bath down to the studs to transform the space. A fresh coat of paint, an accent wall created with peel-and-stick wallpaper, some new hardware and fixtures, and a few smart decor choices can do a lot to revitalize the space.
A close-up view of metallic, dual-flush toilet buttons. The left button has a small water drop etched on it, and the right button has a large water drop etched on it.

Ideas to Make Your Half Bath More Energy Efficient 

Half bath remodel ideas that look good are great. But half bath remodel ideas that do good are incredible. As energy efficiency becomes more and more important for all homes, there are easy and affordable ways to incorporate this benefit into your remodel plan.

10. Let’s Talk Toilets

Did you know that toilets are, by far, the main source of water use in your house? It’s true! And, what’s more, older toilets can use more than six gallons of water per flush. That’s a ton of wasted water (and money). Remove your old toilet and replace it with a high-performance, water-efficient option, like a dual-flush toilet. Doing this can save almost 13,000 gallons of water a year. 

11. Don’t Forget the Windows

Although the toilet is the main culprit of energy inefficiency in your half bath, there’s also energy escaping through your window (if applicable for your half bath). Replacing your old window with an ENERGY STAR®-certified one will make it easier to heat and cool the bathroom without draining your home’s HVAC system.

12. Fix the Faucet, Too

A very small and simple addition you can make to your half bath sink is to add a faucet aerator. This is a small, round mesh device that screws onto the tip of your faucet. The mesh works as a filter to create a consistent stream of water. WaterSense faucets and aerators limit your water use to 1.5 gallons of water per minute, which can reduce water flow by 30%.

A before-and-after view of a half bath remodel. The walls have been repainted from a green and brown to a light purple-gray, the old tile floor has been replaced with smaller, more modern tiles, the medicine cabinet has been replaced with a larger one, and the sink and vanity have been replaced with a more modern style.
Before & after
(Source: Big Al’s Construction Services LLC)

Half Bath Remodel FAQs

Q: How do you update a small half bathroom?
A: While no two bathroom remodels are alike, if you’re doing a complete small bathroom renovation, the process will look something like this:

  • Demo: This is where things get messy. To bake a cake, you’ve got to break a few eggs. And, in this case, those eggs are your existing fixtures, sink, bathroom tiles, etc. Out with the old, in with the sledgehammer.
  • Plumbing and electric: If necessary, any plumbing and electrical needs will be changed to accommodate the new toilet, sink, and lighting.
  • Tile and paint: New bathroom tiles are laid, and the walls and ceiling are painted.
  • Installation: Once your space is prepped, it’s time to install the new light fixtures, bathroom cabinets, vanity, sink, and toilet.
  • Final décor touches: Last but not least, add the backsplash and bathroom accessories.

Q: How much does it cost to finish a half bathroom? 
A: Let’s get down to brass (fixture) tacks: According to an article featured on Angi, the average cost of remodeling a small bathroom is $6,500. The room may be called “half bathroom,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that renovation is half the price of a primary bath. While it will likely cost less because powder rooms don’t have showers or tubs, they still share many of the same elements. And, if you have a penchant for higher-end fixtures, you could be looking at a steeper final bill.

Q: How much does it cost to make a half bath full?
A: If you’ve got bigger plans for your remodel, you’re going to need a bigger budget. Turning a half bath into a full requires adding a tub or shower, and other electrical and plumbing elements. You’re likely going to need a contractor, too, as you likely will need to knock down some walls to fit the shower. A new shower installation can run between $2,000 and $9,000 alone. Adding more to the plan will, obviously, add more to the bottom line.

No matter your budget, you can transform your small space into the half bath of your dreams with these half bath remodel ideas.

LB Gabriel is a freelance writer who lives with her husband, daughter, and Golden Retriever in Memphis, TN. A frequent PODS Blog contributor, she’s a sucker for any tip she can find on downsizing, cutting clutter, or minimalist living. When she’s not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.

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