Bathroom Remodel: Splurge Vs. Save(page 1 of 2)

From tile to the plumbing fixtures, get tips for where to invest money and where to cut back.


Function is the No. 1 priority in a bathroom—if it doesn't "work" for you, who cares whether the tile is patterned in period-perfect Arts and Crafts style? Ultimately, you must be able to easily, conveniently use the space and the features within it.

"In the end, you need a good quality toilet that works well, a good valve body for the faucets that gives you the type of water flow you want," says Ken Perrin, president, Artistic Renovations, Cleveland, Ohio.

That said, the bathroom should be an appealing place to go. Especially in a master suite where the bathroom becomes more of a spa/resting space than a utilitarian room, some of the bells and whistles (heated floors) are certainly worth the splurge. And, in fact, some of the luxuries that seem like they would blow your budget are actually within reach (again, heated floors).

What do you value in the bathroom? Refer to your completed Day in the Life of Your Bathroom Questionnaire and Bathroom Goals Worksheet.

Here is some general advice on where to spend and splurge:

Tile. Save money on the background tile and spend on some decorative eye candy. Or, choose targeted spaces for beautiful tile treatment—such as a vanity backsplash or a wall in the shower—and fill in the rest with economical but effective, basic porcelain. "You can do one wall of mosaic that will cost $20 to $50 per square foot, but the space is only 40 x 10 inches, and do the rest in plain field tile that is $5 per square foot," says Cassia Wyner, designer/owner, CW Design, Brookline, Mass. "It's worth spending an extra $500 for some 'wow' factor."

Bathroom Tile Photos: Splurge vs. Save

Floor. The floor must be slip resistant (think tile texture here and larger grout lines in the shower for more traction), but it doesn't have to be expensive. And, you can turn up the appeal by installing electric heated floor mats under the tile.

Cabinetry. Don't skimp on cabinets. On a scale of good, better, best, at least choose the better option, Wyner says. "You will be opening those doors and drawers every day," she says. "And, if the cabinets are made of cheap particle board, they won't last long in a wet environment."

Countertops. The key is keeping this surface clean—and low-maintenance is a main benefit of surfaces such as quartzite (CesarStone, Cambria, etc.). But these surfaces can cost as much as middle- to lower-grade granite. So decide whether this will be a selling point of your bathroom, or if a laminate with a sharp pattern (that resembles granite, say) is acceptable. If the answer is yes, you'll save a bundle. However, Wyner advocates splurging on the material here. "Countertops can really make a statement," she says.

Bathroom Countertop Photos: Splurge vs. Save

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