Get Your Dream Bathroom with the Right Mix of Saving and Splurging

Bathrooms are challenging kitchens as the most remodeled room in the house. A driving factor is the trend to transform bathrooms from simply functional to fabulous and spa-like. But like all remodeling projects, spending can get out of hand before you realize it without careful planning. But it is possible to get the bathroom you want without exceeding your budget by balancing splurging with saving.

Your first step is to prioritize where to splurge and where you can cut back and get by with less expensive options. To do this, you’ll need to determine how you want to use the space. Your priorities for a master bath that you use as your daily retreat will be different than those for a guest bath that only gets sporadic use. One factor to keep in mind as you decide between options is that function should always be your top priority. Everything you put into your bathroom must be able to stand up not only to daily use but also to moisture.


Tile – Tile can account for a significant portion of your bathroom surfaces. Choosing an expensive tile can add up quickly. Instead, go with less expensive ceramic tile for the majority of your bathroom and use a more expensive tile in select areas as an accent. For example, using ceramic tile for two of your shower walls and expensive tile on one wall as an accent will create a more expensive look for less.

Countertops – You can save money by selecting laminate countertops that resemble more luxurious materials, like granite, over purchasing higher-end surfaces. Also, if you can find remnants in the material you want, you can usually get it for a fraction of the cost.

Sinks – There are lots of great, quality sinks available for a reasonable prices, even in trendy styles like vessel sinks, making it unnecessary to spend a fortune on one.

Flooring – Bathroom flooring needs to be slip resistant and be able to stand up to moisture, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Like the tile used elsewhere in the bathroom, there are lots of great tile options at reasonable prices. Laminate flooring can also be a good, durable alternative to tile. Just be sure to throw down some rugs and bath mats to help protect it from water damage.

Hardware – While replacing your bathroom hardware, such as towel bars and drawer pulls, can make a big difference in your bathroom, it’s not necessary to spend a lot. There are a lot of great options that are inexpensive. By going with less expensive hardware, you can replace it down the road without feeling guilty.

Single vanity – Double vanity configurations have been popular, but going with a single vanity can save you the expense of a second sink and faucet as well as the plumbing to go with it. Going with a single vanity will also give you more counter space.

Moulding and trim – Rather than spend money on expensive moulding and trim, look for less expensive woods that can be painted or stained to look more expensive.

Restored or repurposed pieces – If you can refinish foundational pieces in your bathroom, such as the tub or cabinets, it can save you a significant amount of money. Repurposing furniture, such as converting a dresser into a vanity, can also save money and add style to your bathroom.

Mirror – The mirror is a great place to save. There are a lot of beautiful options for reasonable prices. Consider checking consignment stores as well.


Foundational items – A general rule to follow is to invest in permanent, foundational pieces that will be difficult or expensive to replace later, such as the tub, windows, insulation, and layout. Also, invest in non-standard items, including items that are an unusual or custom size, finish, or color.

Focal points – Splurge on any piece that is going to serve as a focal point. If your tub is going to be the centerpiece of your bathroom, budget more money for it.

Shower – Luxury tubs were all the rage in the past, but as people realized they were only using them occasionally, the trend has shifted to putting money and focus on creating large, spa-like showers with high-end features, such as a steam shower or multiple shower heads. Consider installing a thermostatic valve that will allow you to change the flow of hot and cold water to get the exact temperature you want. If possible, increase the size of your shower to 5 feet by 7 feet. Not only will this give you more space, but it can also eliminate the expense of a shower door since the showerhead can be positioned so the spray doesn’t reach beyond the shower area.

Heated flooring – If you’re installing a new floor as part of your remodel, consider adding radiant heat flooring beneath it. Radiant heat flooring will keep your feet warm even on the coldest days.

Separate space for the toilet – Create a separate space for the toilet, either in its own room or behind a partial wall, to keep it out of sight and to provide privacy.

Faucets and shower heads – Don’t compromise quality on plumbing fixtures. Invest in quality faucets and shower heads. Cheap ones are more prone to leak over time and the finish won’t hold up as well. Choose a hand-mounted shower head, which offers more flexibility.

Toilet – Spend the extra money to get a low-flow toilet, which can save up to 2 gallons of water per flush and up to $90 per year on your water bill.

Lighting – Good lighting in the bathroom is critical. Incorporate a layered lighting approach. Recessed can lights will work for overhead lighting but side scones are best for lighting the face. If you can afford it, consider adding a window or skylight to allow in natural light.

Cabinetry – Your cabinetry is used constantly and needs to be durable and be able to tolerate moisture. Wood cabinetry is bettering suited to stand up to moisture than particle board. Choose cabinetry that provides adequate space below for towels and drawers for hair appliances and cosmetics.

Be sure to shop around for your bathroom fixtures and décor. Taking the time to comparison shop can allow you to save big. Don’t forget to check the big box stores for deals. Also, items found in the bathroom aisle can often cost more than items in a different section of a store, so don’t be afraid to broaden your search.