Your half bath is a small space, but if it’s outdated, it can have a big impact on the overall look of your home.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 design options for a wide range of budgets. And, bonus, because of the room’s size, the timeline is usually faster than a master 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 do you remodel a small half bath?

While no two bathroom remodels are alike, if you’re doing a complete small bathroom renovation, the process will look something like this:

  1. 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.
  2. Plumbing and electric: If necessary, any plumbing and electrical needs will be changed to accommodate the new toilet, sink, and lighting.
  3. Tile and paint: New bathroom tiles are laid, and the walls and ceiling are painted.
  4. Installation: Once your space is prepped, it’s time to install the new light fixtures, bathroom cabinets, vanity, sink, and toilet.
  5. Final décor touches: Last but not least, add the backsplash and bathroom accessories.

How much does it cost to finish a half bathroom? 

Let’s get down to brass (fixture) tacks. The room may be called “half bathroom,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that renovation is half the price of a master 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.

According to a 2021 study by Home Advisor, the national average for remodeling a small bathroom is typically $6,500. Expect to spend a few thousand dollars on the toilet, vanity, sink, and fixtures and around $100 per square foot for labor if you’re not going the DIY route. 

A man using a PODS container for a home renovation

What should I do before the half bath renovation begins? 

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, which can end up being around 50% of an overall bathroom renovation budget. 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.

Aren’t 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. 

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 we can keep your container at one of our 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!
Before and after a half bathroom renovation
Before & after
(Source: Big Al’s Construction Services LLC)

How can I maximize space in my 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 newly remodeled powder room

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.

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, grey, 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.

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.

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.

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. 

How can I make my 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:

  • Use a gold or shiny copper towel bar and faucet to add an elegant look. It’ll make your bathroom look more expensive than it really is.
  • For a pop of color, choose a fun hand towel, accent rug, or small piece of art.
  • If monochromatic isn’t your style, add patterned wallpaper to one wall for an accent.
  • Use marble for your countertop. It may be too expensive for your master bathroom and kitchen, but this is a more affordable way to incorporate it into your home.
Silver buttons on a dual-flush toilet

How do I make my half bath more energy efficient? 

Time to talk about the reason why this room exists — the toilet. 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. 

Although the toilet is the main culprit of energy inefficiency in your half bath, other suspects include the window and faucet. Replacing your old window with an ENERGY STAR®-certified one will make it easier to heat and cool the bathroom. And, like the toilet, there are high-efficiency faucets that reduce water usage. Faucet aerators are also inexpensive and easy to install.

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.


LB Gabriel is a freelance writer and frequent PODS blog contributor. When she’s not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.