By Ginger Rodriguez
Redesigning a bathroom is a great project that will enhance the enjoyment of your home and increase its overall value. However, it’s easy to fall in love with luxurious bells and whistles, but be careful not to get in over your head.
What’s the main focus of your dream bathroom? A fabulous vessel sink? Glistening glass tile? For most, the star of the show is the tub/shower. Start with your most important element and go from there. If you just have to have your steam shower, multi-head shower system or a copper soaking tub, then work your budget around the splurge item. But be sure to consult with professionals to avoid hidden costs. Know how you can run out of hot water if you linger in the shower too long? Multi-head shower systems can use up all your hot water in the blink of an eye! While rain shower heads require a water line in the ceiling, which you probably do not have. Get a professional assessment of the entire job before you start spending.
Where is it okay to save? Light fixtures can add so much character, define your style and, if you keep an eye out for sales, are good bathroom accessories on which to save. But again, check with an electrician if you’re going for lighting that is out of the ordinary.
A wise investment is a professional grade glass shower door enclosure. It will look neat and luxurious, capture the relaxing warmth of your shower and, best of all, offer good protection from water splashing onto your other investments, such as flooring and cabinetry.
Tiling, fortunately, is available in a very wide range of costs. Splurge on some of the most dramatic and stunning, but save by using them as accents only – a band running through a wall of sensibly-priced tiles or a medallion effect in a focal point.
Want to save on the vanity cabinetry? It’s better not to. This is a hard-working room with the added factor of dampness. Not the place for MDF (medium-density fiberboard), which is likely to absorb moisture. It’s worth the investment to choose solid wood bases. But the countertop itself? Great place to save! Without prejudging, take an objective look at laminate options that mimic stone very well. Since this is not the kitchen – and there will be no cutting or hot pots and pans – bathroom countertops might be a great place to be economical.
Everybody knows that plumbing issues cost a lot! Splurge on good quality sinks, faucets and toilets up front because, in the long run, you’ll actually save money by avoiding many malfunctions and repairs.
The bathroom is no place for laminate or wood flooring of any kind. Tile is the tried and true option, and is a great way to save while looking like you splurged. Again, use a reasonably priced tile, but accent it with something over the top, such as stunning glitzy glass, metallic tile or whatever you love the most.
If you’re going for a Zen retreat or nature-inspired look, you might be disappointed to have to steer clear of a wood floor. So don’t! Again, with an open mind, take a look at the latest versions of sheet vinyl flooring. Yes, it used to be tacky, but, these days, it can be anything but! Advantages are that it is one continuous piece of vinyl – perfect for a wet environment. Higher end options are sumptuously “spongy” and padded, which feel great and also make for better traction and less change of slips. Unlike tiles or stone, this flooring is not cold underfoot; it tends to be warm or neutral in temperature and will be ideal for your bare tootsies.
Comfort elements add a lot to the enjoyment of a bathroom. In-floor heating is a wonderful thing. But, while the heating system itself may not be exorbitant, remember that only tiles, stone or other hard surface flooring can be used with it, which may triple the actual overall cost.
An inexpensive splurge is a recessed, in-ceiling heat lamp placed right where you step out of the shower. It’s a yummy treat and doesn’t cost much (but will have to be properly wired by an electrician). Another great luxury item that can be easy on the budget is a wall-mounted towel warmer.
So the best plan is to focus on one main “wow” item that you can’t live without, and let yourself splurge there. But balance it with sensible savings so you feel great about your gorgeous new bathroom!