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Bathroom remodels that look like a million bucks - for $1,000 or less

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Updated: 12/13/2012 12:24 pm

(BPT) - The average cost of a bathroom remodel tops $16,500, according to Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs. Value report. But you don't have to spend the average to achieve above-average results when it comes to updating a bathroom.

Generally, people renovate or remodel bathrooms for two main reasons: to boost their home's resale value, and to enhance their own enjoyment of the room. A bathroom renovation yields a 62 percent return on investment at the time of resale, Remodeling Magazine's report indicates. How much more will you enjoy that ROI - and the improved livability of your bath - if your initial investment was just $1,000, rather than tens of thousands?

Fortunately, the bathroom is one room in the house where you can accomplish a lot with $1,000. Here are four updates and upgrades that cost less than 10 Ben Franklins, but can leave you feeling like a million bucks when you step into your new bath.

1. Redo walls and floors

The key to bringing this job in under $1,000 is to do the work yourself. The actual materials - paint for the walls and tile, stone or vinyl for the floor - can be purchased for a relatively low cost. By doing the work yourself, you avoid high labor charges. Most bathrooms require only a gallon or two of paint, so you can easily stay on budget even if you purchase a high-end brand. It's also possible to find plenty of cost-effective flooring options, from luxury materials like marble to more economical ones such as ceramic tile or vinyl. After the materials, your second biggest investment for this project will be the time it takes to learn how to do the job right. Fortunately, you'll find plenty of educational material online and many home improvement stores even offer free classes in how to lay new floors.

2. Switch out the shower door

After the walls and floor, the shower door is probably the third largest surface - and design element - in your bathroom. Unless your home was custom-built, chances are your shower door is bland and basic, albeit functional. Replacing a plain shower door with one that features a design, pattern or frosting can add personal flair to a bathroom. Manufacturers like Sterling offer a variety of shower doors that are both beautiful and functional, including patterned shower doors. In addition, Sterling's frameless doors feature the company's trademarked ClearCoat technology, which creates a barrier between the water and glass to keep the door looking pristine and new. Prices vary depending on the style of door you choose, but you'll find many budget-friendly options.

3. Swap out the shower enclosure

Cracked, chipped ceramic tile or an old, stained shower enclosure can make your bathroom look tired, dated and dirty. Replacing the shower enclosure can give the room a whole new look. Plus, if you only have a tub and would like to add a shower, an enclosure is a fast, easy and cost-effective way to achieve your goal. Or if a tub doesn't suit your design and lifestyle needs, you can replace it with a shower enclosure.

Products like Sterling Ensemble Curve shower enclosures are sized to fit standard 5-foot bath alcove spaces, and installation doesn't require you to move the drain location. Replacing a tub with an enclosure makes for a spacious, luxurious showering experience. The Sterling products start for less than $700.

4. Update fixtures

Few bathroom upgrades have a greater impact on efficiency and beauty the way changing fixtures can. Whether you opt for a low-flow showerhead or a high-efficiency toilet that requires less water to flush, replacing older fixtures can update the look of a bathroom and yield long-term savings on utility bills. With abundant color, shape and design options in everything from commodes to sinks, faucets to shower controls, it's possible to find fixtures that suit every design taste - and price point. Smart shoppers can find budget-friendly options that will allow them to replace more than one item, giving a bathroom a fresh look and feel.

Virtually any upgrade you make in a bathroom can enhance the value - and your enjoyment - of the space. Fortunately, with some do-it-yourself savvy and the right products, you can make your bathroom look and feel like a million dollars without spending a bundle.

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