A Guide to Small Bathroom Renovations in Houston

Houston homeowners can navigate small bathroom renovations with this guide from the experts at Sweeten 

wallpaper bathroom

It’s no surprise that baths are topping many remodeling lists these days. In Houston, real estate comes in a variety of architectural styles, from French Country and bungalow to Queen Anne and ranch. Plus, bath trends today cover a range of décor styles that are compatible with your home’s architecture. For those considering their own small bathroom renovation in Houston, here are the need-to-knows and items to plan for before you begin.

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What are your goals for your bathroom renovation?

For most people doing small bathroom renovations, updating the bathroom design is the #1 priority. Who doesn’t welcome a glow-up, especially in the bathroom? Modernizing dated cabinetry and hardware, and installing more stylish faucets are go-to options. So is swapping out a tub for a shower. Or, upgrading the shower with a thermostatic system with integrated volume control. Maybe your luxury shower dreams include multiple body sprays and a rain shower! Many homeowners opt to remove old, tired for a refreshed version. Another key focus in bathroom renovations is adding extra storage. 

What are your needs?

That’s easier to figure out. Who will use the bath? In a medium-sized bath, do you prefer a tub or shower? Single or double vanity? Take clear notes on any must-have features in your bath. 

Budgeting for a bath remodel in Houston 

To help you sort it out, here is what you can expect to pay in Houston, on average. Retaining the footprint in a mid-range bathroom remodel in Houston starts at around $15,000, up to $25,000. Costs will vary based on the materials used, as well as the complexity of installation. For example, a mosaic backsplash is more affordable when the tiles are installed on a sheet. Micro mini tiles installed individually will be more labor-intensive—and more expensive. 

Materials costs can vary greatly as well, with super affordable options available at big box stores, versus high-end imported tile companies. A powder room may slide into a slightly lower entry-level for costs, but again, it depends on the materials you choose! Read more about home renovation costs for Houston.

What are you likely to recoup in value?

Sixty percent, according to Remodeling’s Cost Vs Value report for Houston. Or, almost $12,000; based on a 5-by-7 foot bath that costs around $19,000 or $542 psf. This includes a new 30-by-60 inch porcelain-on-steel bathtub, new single-lever temperature, and pressure-balanced shower control, ceramic tiles, and a recessed medicine cabinet with built-in lighting.

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How long does a Houston bathroom renovation take?

According to Sweeten contractors, construction time averages about two to three weeks. However: planning, executing, and finishing can take six weeks to three months—depending on the size and complexity of your project.

How to get the most bang for the buck

When your space is dimensionally challenged (read: small), and you don’t have the room or budget to expand, you still have plenty of options. One way is to create the illusion of more space, by doing one or more of the following: 

  • Use wall-mounted vanities and toilets.  That extra floor space opens up the room.
  • Another space enhancer: a solid surface vanity counter with an integral sink.
  • Install a wall-to-wall mirror behind a long vanity or an oversized round mirrors. Mirrors visually expand space. Some streamlined designs incorporate medicine cabinets.
  • A classic pedestal sink also is visually slimming. Modern washstands, usually in metal frames, are on-trend options, especially white on black. More traditional sinks with turned console legs offer additional metal choices, like brass or polished nickel.
  • Building in storage wherever you can tuck in shelves for towels and essentials. Recessed niches in the shower for shampoo and conditioner also are smart.  
  • Swap a tub for a roomy walk-in shower with an all-glass frame. If there’s a window, natural light will flow through, visually boosting the dimensions of the space.

Why should you consider neutrals in the bathroom? 

Many homeowners opt for white and beige in baths because it’s safe. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring! Designers use a few tricks of the trade to keep neutrals feel fresh. One trick is the magic of tone-on-tone—but with nuances. (That means mixing different shades of neutral, from light to dark.) Another trick is to pair neutrals with different textures.  Get this look by pairing a dimensional wallcovering or an embossed tile with a polished or smooth surface.

Adding color to a bathroom 

We love when homeowners go bold in the bathroom and color outside the lines. Some argue that vibrant colors can take over smaller spaces, like powder rooms. But others feel that’s the perfect venue for bold cobalt or emerald, a spicy tangerine, or saffron. Precisely because it’s a small space, you can afford to be dramatic—and even splurge on faucets and towel holders, plus lighting and a fancy wallcovering.

Color doesn’t need to be limited to walls: consider the countertop or the vanity. Blues and greens—bright and pale—are gaining traction in traditional, country, and modern styles.

Comparing bathroom remodeling materials

Stone has some hefty competition these days from porcelain tile. Porcelain is not confined to small format 4-, 6- or 12-inch tiles. Porcelain comes in slabs, some very thin yet sturdy, which can be applied to walls and floors. And with digital technology, manufacturers are able to replicate some of the most desirable marbles (Carrara or Calacatta) or granites.  The look of exotic-colored stones also is available with remarkable authenticity.

Currently, matte black is a hot trend in faucets and hardware. Burnished and polished gold are also trending, and pairing them with black is especially chic. Mixing metals, like satin metal and polished nickel with gold also is more acceptable.

One guideline for choosing materials that are basically semi-permanent: Being on-trend (modernizing the classics) is fine, but being trendy (here now, gone tomorrow) is not.

Be sure to allow enough time

As soon as you have a plan, try to get through the selection process for materials as quickly as you can. Ask about inventory even before you place your order, so you’re not disappointed. You may be unpleasantly surprised to find that your favorite tile or stone, or that dreamy vanity you’ve got your eye on, will take an extra 6 to 8 weeks to show up. However, if you can’t imagine living without it, go for it! It may be well worth the wait.

Demolition and prep

On average, ripping out old bathroom material is a day’s work. It depends on how large the room is, and how extensive the renovation will be. For instance, removing a tile floor or wall may take a bit longer. Tweaking plumbing and electrical, which may require rerouting or new wiring, also is part of the process.


You’ve passed through the rough and dirty parts, and now you’re in the fun phase. When surfaces, fixtures, and lighting get installed (allow 1 to 3 days), take a moment to enjoy it! Grab some pictures on your phone to show your family and friends. 

Follow the experts’ lead for small bathroom renovations

It is tempting to think that renovating a smaller area will automatically mean fewer issues to deal with. At Sweeten, we’ve seen a variety of small bathroom renovations; and whether simple or sophisticated, it always helps to have an expert guide you through the process. Are you looking for bathroom contractors near you? Sweeten matches homeowners with vetted general contractors, offering guidance and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner. Start by posting your project on Sweeten today

ADUs, or accessory dwelling units, can transform into home offices, living space for family or as a rental, or a retreat.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

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