I saw this before and after bathroom remodel in the Centsational Girl blog today - making the best out of low end oak cabinets and uglyassbrass. Check out the link for before and after pictures along with some tips. We had one of these bathrooms in our last house that we did a quick and cheap remodel on. My before pics must have been pre-digital camera (gasp!) but they are very similar to what was shown in the link. As a matter of fact I think we might have the exact same "builder's special" vanity - oak with a white ceramic tile counter. Ours was even worse because we had the Delta faucets with the single big round crystal knob, brass lights, silver towel bars, large unframed mirror. The cheapest of cheap fixtures...you get the idea.
Here are the after pics. Please forgive the venetian plaster, it was our first house and I was watching wayyyyy too much Trading Spaces at the time. This was our second floor guest bath so we didn't want to spend too much money. We replaced the lights, hardware, and faucets with dark bronze and added handles to the vanity drawers and doors. I found the mirror on deep discount at Z Gallery (don't judge), getting the old one off the wall was super fun! We removed the carpet and vinyl tile with polished marble tiles - they weren't the ideal size but at less than $0.50 per square foot we couldn't justify the larger sizes. I'm proud to say Bernie and I did the floor ourselves and it turned out great. Our first and only tile job to date! The easiest and best change in my opinion was sanding down the cabinet fronts and staining them a dark espresso color. So there you have it! I'm proud of the work that we did in upgrading this room.
Can someone tell me why builders put in those Big Knob faucets when they are only $10 cheaper than the two handled bronze faucets we installed? Stop doing that! And stop putting carpet in bathrooms! Ick!