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Condo Bath On A Budget

Looks like granite, but the countertop is two-inch-thick laminate, at a cost of about $375 to cover six feet

Yet the bathroom is a small space and, with the variety of bath-related products on today’s market, you can refresh yours to look fantastic on a very slim budget, said a cost-conscious consultant.

It’s the same idea as transforming your office-appropriate look to night-on-the-town glam.

First, says Jeffrey Rebiffe, of the My House Design Build team, think of creating a focal point for your bathroom makeover.

“Because the bathroom is small, pay attention to details where the eye will look first,” he said. As such, cabinets may not be as important as countertops.

A high-end imported granite or marble can cost $1,500 to cover six feet of counter. But Rebiffe explains that laminate countertops wear extremely well and are available in any style, including marble or granite designs. For a standard laminate of 1.25 inches thick, the cost to cover six feet would be about $225. Go crazy and upgrade to a two-inch thick super laminate, and the cost is only about $150 more. Plus you’ll save on the labour costs of installing vinyl laminate.

You can save on faucets by ignoring both expensive designer styles and very low-cost knockoffs. Instead, Rebiffe said, choose products from established, mass-produced brands like Delta and Moen, who not only compete in styles with the European designer labels, but are low-maintenance and usually fit right into existing plumbing.

Plumbing, in fact, is a key factor in a budget bathroom makeover, Rebiffe said. In general, do not move any of the plumbing fixtures, just replace faucets and showerheads. For the toilet, go with proven brands and don’t get too fancy. “Honestly, people aren’t wowed by a designer toilet,” Rebiffe said.

For low-cost, high-quality floor tiles, Rebiffe recommends heading to “tile central” around Burnaby’s Boundary-Lougheed area, home to wholesalers Tierra Sol, Julian Tile and Ames Tile. “You can save 90 per cent off the regular price on incredible tiles,” he said. Imported slate border tiles that can cost up to $9 each can be found for $1 to $2.

Also, check building-supply dealers. The sudden downturn in condo building has left some with large inventories of bath items.

Rebiffe also recommends bright paint, perhaps two contrasting shades to get a wow look. He also notes that many lighting stores have low-cost mirrors, and the combination of the right lights and mirrors can truly transform a bath at low cost.

Other tips: go with standard sinks or porcelain vessels – undermounted sinks can be expensive to install. Never opt for a steel enamel sink, no matter how inexpensive. “They always look cheap,” he said.

According to Rebiffe, a standard six-foot-by-eight-foot condo bathroom can be changed completely for less than $2,000 with planning and some legwork.

How to save money

  • Use marble- or granite-design thick laminates for countertops.
  • Buy local, brand-name faucets.
  • Scout Burnaby tile wholesalers for great deals on imports.
  • Paint in vibrant colours.
  • Match lighting and mirrors.
  • Buy quality towels and light accessories for a finishing touch.