to splurge or to save…bathroom edition

With the way the economy is today, we understand as well as anyone that staying within a project’s budget is of upmost importance.  Therefore, it is very important to understand where you can make some cut backs without compromising the intergrity of the design.

There was an article recently about this very topic in the Kitchen + Bath Business Magazine (K+BB), however, I disagree with some of their advice when it comes to where you should splurge and where you should save.

SPLURGE:  Plumbing fixtures – now you don’t have to go with the creme de la creme but without a high quality plumbing fixture, your overall bathing experience just won’t be quite adequate.  Good quality plumbing fixtures use brass and ceramic parts (rather than plastic parts – think your Big Box Stores)…they allow for good pressure while keeping in mind overall aesthetics.

You use your plumbing fixtures…every…single…day, so why would you scrimp?  Plus, think of it this way…a faulty plumbing fixture has the ability to cause thousands of dollars of damage to your home…

SAVE:   Tile – most homeowners cannot tell the difference between a $4 tile and a $12 tile.  Tile has come a LONG way and there are so many great options out there!  Yes, it is true, there is no true way to completely mimic a beautiful piece of natural travertine in a manmade product – but there are some absolutely beautiful porcelain products that do a great job (and for a quarter of the price).

Another way that we help homeowners save when it comes to tile is by doing an accent strip of a glass or decorative tile, instead of an entire wall.  This way you can get your $45 a square foot glass tile…but instead of needing 30 sheets of it, you may only need 4 – therefore, giving you a great accent but not breaking the bank.

SPLURGE:  Cabinetry – vanities get probably the most ‘wear and tear’ of any particular piece in your bathroom.  By opening and closing drawers and daily use, a poor quality cabinet can start to look old in as little as 6 months to a year.  Sure, you can find ready made vanities a dime a dozen pretty much anywhere but there is a reason for that…they simply are not built for longevity.  It is important that your cabinetry be made with resistance to steam, chipping, cracking, etc.  Look for cabinetry with a lifetime warranty.

Now, a place you can save on good quality cabinets, is in your door style selection.  Cabinetry manufacturers such as Dura Supreme Cabinetry have many different door style price levels – and you can drastically alter the pricing by simply changing the door style selected.

SAVE:  Countertops – most bathroom vanities are small enough to accept a remnant piece of granite or marble.  A remnant is simply a piece of stone leftover from a larger slab.  Granite fabricators keep these remnants and sell them at a pretty dramatic price decrease.  You do, however, have to be willing to ‘settle’ for what is available at the time of your project.


  1. Determine your budget – and be realistic!  There is nothing worse than a client who set a budget way too low and is constantly disappointed that they cannot afford any of the items they love (consult your designer on budgeting – I can look at a project and within about 10 minutes be able to tell the client if their budget is adequate or not).
  2. Decide where you are willing to splurge and where you are willing to save.  I have had clients who just absolutely fell in love with a particular marble and they just ‘had to have it’!  So we worked with them to stay on the lower end as far as tile, cabinetry door style, etc.  So decide where you want to slurge and stick to it – if not, you will find yourself frustrated with your budget!

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