Remodeling a bathroom can be an expensive undertaking, but there are ways to balance splurging on some items while saving on others. Careful planning allows you to create the bathroom of your dreams while sticking to your budget. Here are some ideas for where to splurge and where to save when remodeling your bathroom.

Splurge: High-Quality Fixtures

When it comes to fixtures like faucets, showerheads, and lighting, it pays to invest in high-end pieces. Going with luxury brands and materials like brass, bronze, and nickel ensures durability and timeless style. Your fixtures get used every day, so this is not the place to cut costs. Some items to splurge on include:

  • Faucets – Opt for name brands like Kohler, Moen, or Delta over cheap fixtures which can leak or break.
  • Showerhead – Purchase an adjustable, multi-function showerhead in a finish that matches your other hardware. Stay away from flimsy plastic models.
  • Lighting – Look for moisture-resistant, durable lighting that makes a statement. Brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze finishes add elegance.
  • Hardware – Spend more on knobs, pulls, and handles in high quality materials rather than plastic varieties which wear out quickly.

Save: Vanities

For a major bathroom investment like your vanity, you can find ways to save without sacrificing style. Some options include:

  • Ready-to-assemble vanities cost less than custom cabinetry. Go for solid wood over less durable particle board.
  • Check big box home improvement stores for vanity sales and closeouts on floor models.
  • Consider refinishing or repurposing an existing antique or vintage vanity using new hardware and a stone sink top.
  • For small baths, use an inexpensive wall-mounted sink or pedestal sink rather than a full vanity.

Splurge: Countertops

Natural stone countertops like marble and granite make a luxurious statement and add value, so they’re worth the investment. Alternatives like quartz and Corian are also durable options where you can splurge. Steer clear of cheap laminate.

Save: Toilets and Bathtubs

Toilets and tubs generally all function about the same, so you typically get what you pay for. Consider these money-saving options:

  • Standard white toilets offer affordable reliability. Add visual interest with the seat, lid, handle, and floor details.
  • Acrylic bathtubs are inexpensive, easy to clean, and come in many styles. Slip-resistant textured bottoms provide safety.
  • Use a budget-friendly fiberglass surround over a custom tile surround which can get pricey.

Splurge: Tile

From walls and floors to accent designs, tile provides a luxe, spa-like vibe. Invest in the details with:

  • Premium porcelain or ceramic over cheap plastic tile.
  • Large-format tiles 12”x24” and up create seamless visuals.
  • Mosaic tiles in patterns or decorative insets create focal points.
  • Natural stone like marble, travertine, or slate bring elegance.

Save: Accessories

For smaller items like accessories, you can incorporate high style at low cost:

  • Shop discount and thrift stores for vintage finds to display. Repurpose items like bottles, platters, or pitchers.
  • Add inexpensive pops of color and texture with towels, shower curtains, linens, and rugs.
  • Dress up essentials like tissue holders, soap dishes, and wastebaskets from budget-friendly big box stores.

With careful selection of where to splurge and where to save, you can create a magazine-worthy bathroom retreat while sticking to your budget. Focus splurges in key areas like plumbing fixtures, counters, and tile as the bones of the room, then get creative with money-saving finishing touches to tie the whole look together. With smart planning and resourceful choices, your dream bathroom can become a reality.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bathroom Remodels: Splurge vs Save

Q: Should I splurge on a customized shower or save with a basic model?

A: Custom showers allow you to splurge on special features like body sprays, benches, and specialty hardware. However, basic shower kits are affordable and can still look high-end with tile, lighting and accessories.

Q: Is it better to splurge on a vessel sink or save with a drop-in?

A: Vessel sinks make a dramatic style statement but come at a higher cost. Drop-in sinks are simplistic and budget-friendly. Evaluate your style preferences vs. budget to decide what is right for your space.

Q: Should I splurge on heated floors or save with basic tile?

A: Heated floors provide luxury but come with a hefty price tag. Well-installed tile floors can offer warmth at a fraction of the cost. Only splurge on heated floors if your budget allows.

Q: Is it worth it to splurge on a smart toilet or high-tech bidet?

A: High-end smart toilets and bidets come packed with features, but aren’t essential. Standard toilets with basic bidet seats provide affordable options with the features most people need. Splurge only if gadgets are important to you.

Q: Should I splurge on a custom remodel or save with an IKEA bathroom?

A: Custom remodels allow personalized luxury but are expensive. IKEA bathrooms provide contemporary style on a budget. Determine which factors—budget, design flexibility, time—are most important.

Q: Is it better to splurge on tile or save on drywall?

A: Tile in showers is recommended over drywall which can fail over time. Elsewhere drywall painted in colors like gray or navy can get a high-end look for less. Focus tile splurges in wet areas only.


Remodeling a bathroom provides an opportunity to upgrade your home’s style and function. By strategically choosing where to allocate your budget between splurges and savings, you can achieve the high-end bathroom of your dreams while sticking to your bottom line. Focus splurges in fixtures, counters, tile and other foundational elements then get creative with budget-friendly accents and accessories. With smart planning and savvy spending, you can create a magazine-worthy bathroom that reflects your personal taste and sensibilities while being gentle on your wallet. The right balance of splurges and savings allows you to thoughtfully design a functional, beautiful bathroom retreat you’ll enjoy for years to come.