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July 31, 2014

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Bring your bathroom to life, on a budget

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Bathrooms are sometimes neglected when it comes to decorating, but it doesn’t take a lot to make them feel new. Savvy spenders can spruce up a bathroom for less than $150 with some of these tips.

1. Make the most of your mirror

Creativity is key. Change out a standard square mirror for a circular one, or buy a colorful frame to put around an existing mirror. Playing with a mirror’s size, shape, style and even texture could be just what your bathroom needs.

Rectangular mirrors are trendy, but interior designer Laura Oglethorpe, of Blue Sofa Studio in Las Vegas, says a pared-down, less bulky look is becoming more popular. Taking down a full wall mirror requires a little labor, but replacing it with a smaller framed mirror can add style and functionality.

You also can hang an assortment of smaller framed mirrors around a larger mirror for an eclectic, antique look. But be careful: done incorrectly, this can look less like an antique shop and more like the house of mirrors at a carnival.

2. Shower power

A new shower head can update both the look of your bathroom and your experience in it. The biggest difference you’ll notice after replacing a shower head is how you feel.

Do you prefer a light mist? Massaging pressure? Want to be able to swivel the jet stream in multiple directions?

For $35 to $120, you can snag a shower head to better serve your morning routine or nightly wind-down.

If you’re a fan of natural showers and want a bit of a spa environment, you can find rainfall shower heads for $60 and up. For guest bathrooms, designer Kevin Johnson, of Bungaluxe in Las Vegas, says a dual shower head with a handheld attachment is best, especially for older guests.

3. See it in a different light

New light fixtures can make a statement or make a room more functional.

Sconces can improve lighting and are a great alternative to standard bathroom fare. Oglethorpe suggests installing sconces on both sides of a mirror for a customized look.

Want a timeless, elegant fixture? Oglethorpe recommends crystal.

Mini lampshades are great for diffusing light. Try a shade with a pop of color or pattern.

Ceiling-mounted, overhead lights can be great for decorative, ambient lighting but require additional lights to avoid casting unflattering shadows. Brushed brass fixtures are all the rage.

Lamps in bathrooms also are popular. Small lanterns on a vanity can create a tranquil, spa-like environment. Black is a great color for lamps and lampshades, as it adds drama to a room.

One note of caution: bathroom lighting can get expensive fast, but great options exist for less than $150.

4. Save space, use shelves

Shelves can help make the most of a space while adding to a room’s tone.

Wall-mounted shelves run from $30 to $100 and can be used to hold knickknacks, photographs or potted plants.

A train rack is a modern way to keep things tidy and fashionable, but you also can mount wicker baskets or wooden crates for chic extra storage space.

Cabinets are more popular for linens and toiletries but aren’t limited to under sinks. Vertical cabinets can create separate spaces and provide storage.

Tidy up your bathtub or shower by installing shower shelving. Or add a small shelf above the tub to hold bath salts, loofahs or candles. Storage can be as simple as using glass jars for small items on a tray.

5. Fancy up your fixtures

Changing metal bathroom fixtures can go a long way. Cabinet knobs typically cost $1.50 to $5 each. Try crystal or glass knobs for drama, or a ring pull for a distinctive touch.

Light switch covers cost $10 to $20 and come in plastic, metal, wood and stone finishes. Johnson suggests a light switch cover that blends in with your tile for a spa-like bathroom or a metal cover for a modern, industrial space. Artsy options also are available through sites such as Etsy.com.

Toilet paper holders can also be upgraded to bamboo, bronze or chrome for $10 to $25. A “c”-shaped bar is easy and stylish, while standing models are more unusual and don’t require holes in the wall.

Faucets tend to be more costly but can be replaced for less than $150 each. Try vintage-inspired fixtures or carry a brushed brass theme throughout your bathroom for a trendy look.

6. Touch up that towel rack

For $25 to $60, you can jazz up your rack. Popular options include models with shelving and racks that attach to the door to save space.

Be careful not to clash with the rest of your fixtures. Oglethorpe suggests a towel bar made with plumbing fittings to bring in an industrial look. Attention to details, such as wall brackets in unique shapes, can add elegance.

Whatever style you choose, gracing it with new towels will make a huge difference. Interior designer Laura Sullivan, of My Favorite Designs in Henderson, says dirty or old towels can ruin even the best of bathrooms. And white towels are a must, she said. They emanate cleanliness and are easy to bleach.

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