Where to Save & Splurge On Bathroom Remodels

Save and Splurge Bathroom Remodel East and Gray Interiors | Columbus, Ohio

As you’ll learn in any renovation project, sticking to a budget can be a difficult task. It almost always seems that the products and fixtures you’re drawn to are always the most expensive—but we’re here to help you learn that not every part of the remodel needs to break the bank! 

After years of remodeling and walking clients through the renovation process, we’ve picked up some expertise around where to save and splurge on bathroom remodels. You’ll learn where quality and necessity come at a price, while discovering that some of those eye-catching details are more affordable than you might think.

Keep reading to learn where we save and splurge on bathroom remodels.

How Much Does A Bathroom Remodel Cost?

The cost of a bathroom remodel depends heavily on the scope of work. If we’re talking about a full bathroom remodel where everything is redone—floors and cabinets/vanity to the shower and/or tub and countertops—you could be looking at anything from $30k to $100k+, depending on size, customization and quality of products and labor.

Marble Countertops and White Bathroom Cabinets by East and Gray Interiors | Columbus, Ohio
Image via East & Gray Interiors

Pro Tip: If you plan to sell your home in the next 5 years, we recommend spending no more on your bathroom renovation than you plan to get back when you sell your home.

Where To Splurge On A Bathroom Remodel

Faucets & Hardware

Stunning, well-made faucets on the sink and in the shower and/or tub are a total game-changer for a bathroom remodel. Whether that’s choosing styles that speak to you, going bold with brass or black, or simply investing in pieces that are made to last for decades, spending money on faucets in your bathroom remodel is essential.

Remember, you’ll be using your bathroom daily, so having the most ideal shower system with the water pressure style you desire will make a huge difference in how much you enjoy the final result. You’ll never regret spending more on pieces that make a simple daily shower or hand wash feel like a moment at the spa. 

Sustainable Design Tip: Limiting how many shower heads are put into a shower and omitting body sprays can help conserve extraneous water consumption—this also cuts down on your water bill if daily showers are part of your routine. One gorgeous and substantial shower head can still make a stunning statement and will provide all the water you need for a shower.

Dublin Bathroom Remodel by East & Gray Interiors | Columbus, Ohio
Image via East & Gray Interiors

Pro Tip: Don’t be duped by cheaper look-alike faucets that you’ll find at Home Depot or Lowe’s. While these models may look the same as the high end products you’d find at your local high end plumbing showroom, they’re not made to last!

Independent plumbing showrooms stock more expensive models with inner workings that are made of metal which will last for decades, while the faucets and fixtures sold at Home Depot and Lowe’s have inner workings made of plastic. Unless you want to replace the plastic parts every few years (which is a hassle and will cost you more time and money in the long run between labor and product costs), it’s absolutely worth it to spend more on a quality product upfront.

Countertops

Quality, timeless countertops are a must in any bathroom, just like they are in a kitchen. (Note: countertops are hugely important for resale value if this is something you’re considering with your renovation project.) 

We love to use quartz and marble in bathroom remodels because they’re durable and timeless (depending on the pattern, of course), and they stand up to wear.

If your goal is durability and stain resistance, quartz is your best friend. Quartz countertops hold up much better to daily wear than natural stone materials like marble and granite; it’s our preferred option for busy families and clients who use their bathrooms heavily.  Since quartz does not stain, is extremely durable and maintenance free (you won’t have to seal your countertops bi-yealry or yearly like with natural stone), it’s truly worth the investment!

Laminate countertops are the cheapest option, but they don’t feel nearly as luxe as stone. Additionally, laminate can warp under a curling iron or other hot hair tools, as well as peel over time if exposed constantly to large amounts of water. We highly recommend steering clear of this material and investing in a higher quality countertop if possible.

Sustainable Design Tip: Marble and stone countertops are the most eco-friendly options since they are sourced from naturally occurring stone. Quartz is less eco-friendly because it is made of ground stone particles that are bound together with plastic resins. Laminate is the least sustainable since it is made entirely of synthetic plastics that are bound together with particle board or kraft paper. 

Cabinets

As we mentioned in our Save & Splurge: Kitchen Remodel post, there’s quite a debate here. Should you save or splurge on cabinets in a home remodel? The answer is…it depends. We know, nobody likes that answer, but it really does depend!

If you’re working with an oddly shaped bathroom, you may have no choice but to have custom or semi-custom cabinets made to fit certain areas of the room. Ready-made box cabinets only come in certain sizes, so you may lose a lot of space to cabinet fillers in order to make boxed cabinets fit your space…which is no good considering that many people’s top priority in a bathroom remodel is adequate storage!

When it comes to quality, nothing compares to custom made cabinets. They’re made with quality materials and beautiful craftsmanship, and will last you much longer than most ready-made cabinets—if it is in your budget, we always recommend custom cabinets.  

However, we understand that custom is not always within everyone’s budget. There are many affordable cabinets on the market that will be almost as durable as custom cabinets. In some cases, we can even refinish your existing cabinets with a quality coat of paint, and this can save you tons on your renovation!

Pro Tip: Custom cabinets are not always more expensive than ready-made box cabinets. Often they can be on par, or just a little more than ready made cabinets, so we always recommend getting at least one quote for custom cabinets.  You may be surprised that custom options are within your budget!

Sustainable Design Tip: If you choose to paint over existing cabinets in the bathroom, we recommend using low VOC paints to ensure you’re not using paint that off-gasses toxic chemicals into the room. 

Bold Green Bathroom Cabinents
Image via The DIY Playbook

Where To Save On A Bathroom Remodel

Tiles & Accent Walls

Beautiful tiling or a luxe-looking bathroom doesn’t have to cost a fortune. By shifting your expectations and realizing that a gorgeous bathroom doesn’t mean you have to have floor-to-ceiling marble, or the most expensive tile on the market, you’ll be better suited to approach your renovation with confidence and excitement. 

There are wonderful tile options available at stores like The Tile Shop, Floor & Decor, Home Depot, and Lowe’s at affordable price points! If you choose economical tiles that are plain or minimally patterned/colored, those swoon-worthy faucets will be able to stand out as the showpiece in your new bathroom! Plus, neutral and simple tiling allows you to express your personality and add luxury with towels, rugs or shower curtains! 

However, you will also be amazed at all the wonderful bold and unique tiles that are now available today at really great price points! So even if you are on a tighter budget with your bathroom remodel, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice showcasing your personality and unique style through your tile. 

Pro Tip: Some people even choose to forego additional tiling during the remodel and DIY them after the crew is finished with their work to save money! 

Marble tiled shower with multiple shower heads by East and Gray Interiors | Columbus, Ohio
Image via East & Gray Interiors

Flooring

If you want a material other than tile for your bathroom floor, we love a laminate that looks like hardwood. There are many beautiful laminate wood  options on the market today that look like real hardwood and are just as durable (if not more durable). Plus, laminate is waterproof/water resistant which makes it an ideal material for bathrooms! Most of these options come at a great price point, too.

If you plan to use tile but want to save money, source porcelain or ceramic tile options that look like marble. There are so many fabulous options available that look like the real deal, and you would never know they’re not marble without touching them. These porcelain and ceramic options are also maintenance free, as they do not have to be sealed every year like with real marble and stone. Additionally, they’re non-porous, so they will not absorb water like a natural stone will if not sealed properly or continually. We love these options for busy families whose bathrooms see heavy use, or anyone who is sensitive to water marks and stains.  

Lighting & Fixtures

Designer towel racks, hooks, and cabinet pulls can be a money pit! Luckily, there are tons of affordable hardware options on the market that are beautiful and timeless and cost way less than the designer options. 

Pro Tip: Affordable hardware may not be made of solid metal which can lead to bending, warping or the finish peeling off. Look for hardware that is solid stainless steel, zinc, or brass. Solid brass hardware is usually the most expensive, but solid zinc or stainless steel will still provide you with good durability and finish quality at a better price point than brass. Top Knobs is one of our favorite brands for cabinet hardware that is in the medium price range that has high designer quality and style without breaking the bank.

The same logic applies to mirrors. We’ve been able to find beautiful, style-forward vanity mirrors at much cheaper price points than high-end brands…and most of the time, they look identical!

We also love to find affordable, statement light fixtures for an extra design element in the bathroom. Light fixtures are a great place to be more budget conscious because you can change them out easily over the years when your tastes change. 

Hardware, mirrors and lighting are our favorite places to save because in most cases, these pieces do not get the same heavy use as cabinets, flooring and countertops do. So paying for super high quality materials is not always necessary for these items to hold up well over time. This is one of the few places where style matters more than quality! If you can find more affordable options that still pack a design punch, we’re here for it!

Sustainable Design Tip: LED bulbs in soft or warm white will add a delicate ambiance to the room while also saving energy! 

Are you thinking of remodeling your bathroom? Tell us where you plan to save and splurge in the comments below! Learn more about our design services here.

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Interior Designer Andrea Durcik Columbus Ohio

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Traveling, animals, and all things design encompass Andrea’s life, fueling her creative energy every step of the way.

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