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Bathroom Remodel Ideas on a Budget

Remodeling a bathroom can be overwhelming. There are so many little decisions to make and for ordinary folks, budget is the number one limiting factor. On the quest for helpful bathroom remodel ideas on a budget to pass onto our customers, we reached out to several home and DIY experts and asked them a simple question:

"Where would you save & where would you splurge during a bathroom renovation?"

Here's what they had to say, in no particular order...

"Splurge on the backsplash tile installed all the way to the ceiling for major wow factor. Save money by hanging a simple framed mirror over the top which allows the tile to take the spotlight."

- Kate from Centsational Girl - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest

“I would definitely splurge on counters and gorgeous tile on the floor and a walk in shower. I could save on fixtures cause there is nothing a can of Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint can't fix!” 

- Keitha M. from The Bajan Texan - Facebook Twitter Pinterest

"When I’m working on a bath remodel I start with a style of what I want the bath to look like. 

I collect lots of pictures of bathrooms I love that have the look I want to create. 

Then I start making a list of what I can’t live without, like a special bathtub, vanity or heated towel racks.  These are my wow factor items.  I budget for those first. 

Then I plan the rest of the room with what budget I have left over to work with.  If my wow factor items eat up too much of my budget, I’ll look for similar items that cost less but still fit the overall style I’m creating."

- Wendi W: H20 Bungalo - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram

"In a bathroom Reno I would definitely splurge on marble counters. I think that would make for a killer bathroom as it would be such a focus piece. I would also splurge on a glass shower.          

For the tiles I would go modern by simple and emphasize with a high end border. The floor tiles would be another area I would splurge on because again it's what creates your space and adds dimension to your room.

As for the soaker I would go with a standalone. They tend to be a little pricier but worth it for the look.


Legion Furniture 69" Freestanding Tub

Everything else such as handles, faucets, lighting, sinks, cabinets I would go with less expensive options without compensating for quality or style. Basically anything that can easily be changed later (except for sinks) to suit my taste, I would not splurge on.”

- Rania from The Wardrobe Stylist - Facebook Twitter - Pinterest

I am always about saving $$$ when I am doing renovations, but for a bath, I would splurge on the tub. I would want a large comfy tub that felt luxurious to stretch out and relax in. Everything else would be secondary.
I would save money by using classic fixtures that won't go out of style and DIYing what I could. 

- Dianne H from In My Own Style - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest

"During a bathroom renovation, it’s a great investment to splurge on fixtures, which are the jewels of the room. They can create a high-end feel and get used everyday, so why not spend a little more where it counts? You can keep your budget in check with basic tile and add a nice accent tile, for the shower, floor or walls.”

- Jessica from Décor Adventures - Facebook - Twitter Pinterest

"I gave this question some thought because there are so many parts of a renovation that I consider crucial.  But most people don’t have a limitless budget and something must be sacrificed, so I’d say the place to splurge is on the thing that defines the design of your space - the thing you absolutely love most.  That’s not necessarily the same thing for everyone or even for the same person in their various rooms.  So for instance in my master bath, going with a gorgeous marble tile is what defines the look, so I’d splurge there and save money elsewhere, choosing a ready made vanity instead of custom built cabinets.  

Yet in my son’s bath, the tile can be a simple clean white subway tile and the vanity is what will give the space character and so that is where I will spurge.  The one thing I think that is always worth splurging on is fixtures and hardware because that is like the jewelry of the room."

Lory B. from Design Enthusiasm - Facebook - Instagram - Pinterest

"My splurges would be on the countertops and tile. Those two things have the ability to make a strong impact on the overall feel of the space and they are also something you’re stuck with for quite a while so best to splurge in the beginning. I would opt to save on things like a vanity. Instead of buying one already finished, opt for an un-finished one you can paint or stain yourself."

- Jenna from Rain on a Tin Roof - Facebook Twitter - Pinterest

"I would definitely splurge on tiling and a lovely copper sink and fixtures, including a bath tub.

I would save on the water closet because I would want it to use as old fashioned as possible to complete the look. Basic white would work well. I would DIY a shower curtain too, and use a ladder or an old bicycle to hold towels etc."

Sharon: The Key Bunch - Facebook -  Pinterest - Instagram

"Bathroom renovations are always expensive and challenging.  Removing a tub, or even a sink or water closet isn't a quick and easy task and something most of us hire out. That's why we need to carefully think about where we spend our limited resources. I don't know that it's a splurge, but I won't skip on quality when it comes to fixtures... tubs, sinks, water closets, and faucets.  


Copper Vessel Sink & Faucet

It's easy to replace faucets on sinks, but they get used so much that choosing the best we can afford is always front and foremost. Because fixtures/faucets are such important and lasting pieces I will splurge on the shapes and finishes that I love that are classic - not trendy.  

Though it might be fun to splurge on decorating... that's where our creativity comes in. That's where we need to be inventive without spending extra dollars to make it look like gorgeous and maybe even luxurious."

- Diane Miller: An Extraordinary Day - Facebook Twitter Pinterest

"I would splurge on items that get the most wear and tear, like the toilet, cabinets, floors, and a good faucet. I would save on tile and counter-tops but splurge on the accent tiles because I think you can get a stylish look with a small splurge."

- Erlene: My Pinterventures - Pinterest - Instagram

“Splurge on the area of the bathroom that you want to be the main focus of the space.

If you’ve always wanted a beautiful free-standing tub, then let your tub and faucets be the splurge and save on your tile and vanity. If you’ve always wanted an incredible custom made vanity, then spend the bulk of your budget here and opt for a more cost effective tub and fixtures. Always wanted marble floors and countertops?! Then splurge on those and pair it with a more simple, pre-fab vanity.


Luxury Marble Bathroom

By splurging on one main focal point in your space and saving on the rest, you can create the desired look you want in your bathroom without going over budget!”

- Sarah: Just the Bees Knees - Facebook Twitter Pinterest

"I find that I like to freshen rooms every couple of years, but don't necessarily want to re-invest in any of the major components.

I personally prefer to splurge on the long lasting, classic finishes; the floor and wall tile, a tub and fixtures/faucets. I try to save on the items that are easily changed out to make a space feel new and fresh, such as the lighting, hardware and decorative accessories (except for towels, always splurge on soft white bath towels).

If budget is really limited, tile is another place where savings can occur by using a simple or classic shape and placing it in a unique pattern."

- Jennifer Jones: I Heart Organizing - Facebook - Twitter Pinterest

"I’m a big believer that you can create a beautiful bathroom on a budget! The key is to save in some areas and go all out on others. I would always invest in a stunning piece of tapware for the vanity. It’s the thing that you are going to use the most and you want it to look good, but also feel good, function well and last. So don’t skimp on tapware!

If you have the space, a beautiful freestanding tub can add a lot of wow factor and give your bathroom that indulgent spa resort feel.

I’d also pay more to get a decent, good-quality vanity or floating vanity benchtop. I’ve seen too many bathrooms that are let down by a poor-quality vanity. Again, it’s something you’re going to be using every day, so pick something that will last and you won’t regret forking out a little more.


Nepal Floating Vanity with Vessel Sink by MTD Vanities

Areas you can save on – tiles. There are so many great affordable tiles on the market, you just need to shop around. Or you can use an inexpensive, plain tile on the walls, and spend a little more on upmarket tiles for a feature wall, back splash or floor. For our family bathroom makeover, we used expensive encaustic tiles on our floor, but kept costs down by using plain white wall tiles that we already had from an ensuite renovation.

If you are wanting to save more on a renovation, look at keeping plumbing in the same place, which will save. And see if you can reuse elements you already have. For our bathroom makeover, we kept the existing timber towel rail but painted it matt black, and I picked up a beautiful solid mirror from a vintage market, sanded back the frame and painted that matt black too. It cost $13!

Last but not least, don’t skimp on forking out for good waterproofing. No, you won’t see it when the makeover is complete, but it’s vital and will help ensure your bathroom doesn’t spring any nasty surprises on you down the track!"

- Maya Anderson: HouseNerd - Facebook Twitter Pinterest

"Function: If a bathroom’s features are mindfully configured, planned and designed with the purpose of working for us, day-to-day living is so much easier. After years of navigating around our current and only bathroom, my husband and I could easily try out for the World Tango Dance Tournament. We’ve seriously mastered the ability to get ready with the most elegant pasadas and forward and backward cross steps. !Ole¡

Where I’d save: Additional storage such as a low-cost cabinet, baskets, and shelving will make keep bath items easily within reach and organized.

Where I’d splurge: I’d love to find a larger vanity and solid surface countertop so we could each have an area to primp and polish without the pivots. It’s not as sexy, but I’d also hire a pro to make sure the venting and plumbing systems were in good working order. 


Two-Person Vanity by Legion Furniture

Beauty: There’s nothing like an elegant, bright, happy and relaxing bathroom. It may be one of the smaller rooms in our homes, but it’s a place that we use to ready ourselves for important events, school, work or even just to relax. 

Where I’d save: paint, linens, pretty containers for toiletries, soaps and accessories can easily be found at cost-friendly box stores, flea markets and even DIY’d. If you choose like-colored items with a mix of metals and natural materials like wood, glass and stone, your bathroom will be golden. (Though, brass accents are what’s really trending these days!)

Where I’d splurge: quality fixtures (faucets and shower heads), flooring materials (like quartz, marble, travertine, or limestone), and countertops are not only beautiful to look at, they can last for decades, ultimately saving more money in the long run.

Maintainability: I despise having to clean hard-to-clean bathrooms! Our sink and faucet falls under this category. Ugh. With chipping chrome and a countertop that dips where the faucet sits, we’re constantly fighting grime and gunk. Additionally, we’ve got numerous grout lines to manage in our shower that’s become the bathing-bane of my existence!

Where I’d save: add easy-to-clean 1/4” thick glass pieces onto shelves or cabinets - you can measure then order them from a local glass cutter and they cost about $5-$7 each (depending on size). 

Where I’d splurge: install clean-lined fixtures (not a lot of edges), solid-surface countertops, and use tile in your shower with black grout or you can even install solid surface stone (super-splurgie, but oh, so simple to scrub!)."

- Skaie Knox: HomeJelly - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest

"During a bathroom renovation, one should definitely splurge on the vanity and mirror since they are the first things anyone would see.  After a long day at work, nothing will quite calm you like a shower, so this is on top of my splurging list along with stone tiles and a good flooring. 

If I’d had more money to spend, I would focus on heated floors. It’s a life changing commodity to be able to step on your favorite materials without getting cold feet. Fancy lighting would also be on top of my list. People don’t usually realize how important light is in the bathroom. Unless you have excess of natural light (which few of us do) I would spend my money on getting the best possible lighting.

I would choose to save money on the toilets, accessories and towel racks. I will also try to save by using fancy looking inexpensive floor for the shower. For example, when I did my last bathroom renovation, I chose carrera marble for the bathroom flooring and a lesser quality marble in the shower because it will be encased in the glass and will not be seen as much."

- Raf Howery, CEO: KUKUN - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest

"For a bathroom renovation (or any renovation project for that matter), I'd begin by setting a budget for the project. Next, I'd list out all of the components of the renovation (e.g., new flooring, tub, shower, vanity, faucets, etc.) in order of importance. When you envision the renovated space, what's the thing that's going to bring you the MOST HAPPINESS on a day-to-day basis? For some, it may be a gorgeous spa shower. For others, it will be the flooring. Splurge on those areas of the renovation that you've prioritized and economize on the remaining areas!"

- Natalie Gallagher: Refined Rooms - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram

"Knowing where to splurge and where to save when renovating your bathroom can be a challenge. I always look back on when I built my home seven years ago and ask myself what I would have done differently. First thing’s first: know your budget and prioritize your splurge items by considering return on investment and absolute must-haves. 


Toilet – Spending a little extra money for a good toilet that uses very little water, will save you money on water bills in the long run. Today's toilets use very little water compared to older models which are flushing your money down the drain.  Also, a quality toilet is less likely to leak or worse yet, overflow.   

Soaker Tub – Consider a soaker tub over a Jacuzzi. You will save money while creating a peaceful and tranquil environment in your bathroom. I, personally, never enjoyed the roaring jet bubbles of a Jacuzzi, so when I built my home, I went against the trend at the time and purchased a spill-over tub instead. I'm happy with the choice I made back then and  enjoy my tub to this day.

Plumbing Fixtures – When shopping online for my new home many moons ago, I found beautiful all-in-one bathroom vanities. I was thrilled because they came with their own faucet fixtures that matched the vanities perfectly. Well, as you may have guessed, both of the faucets now leak. My plumber warned me not to install the fixtures that came with the unit and I wish I would have listened. Bottom line... Splurge on quality faucet fixtures.


Faucet and Tile Backsplash


Light Fixtures – Any woman will tell you that bathroom lighting is very important, but it doesn't have to cost a fortune.  Shop local big box stores and online lighting stores who often have bathroom light fixtures on sale or clearance priced. For best results, consider illuminating the bath in layers of light. Add a flush mount ceiling light(s) for general lighting and wall sconces at eye level above the vanity to illuminate the face for makeup application and shaving. A single recessed light in the shower is important as well.

Flooring – Get the most bang for your buck by using basic, neutral tile flooring that will withstand the test of time. The tile should have a non-slip surface and when possible, laid on a diagonal to create the illusion of a larger space. If you want to include the look of wood into your bathroom space, consider vinyl planks, which have recently been increasing in popularity.

Tiled Showers/Backsplashes – Save money on wall tiles by again, using basic, timeless neutral tiles.  If you must have the stunning mosaic glass tiles that you've been dreaming of, work them into your budget by using them as a border. 

I hope the above recommendations help. With a little planning and prioritizing, you will have the bathroom of your dreams!"

- Nancy Lustri: Style Décor and More

"To answer your question, I would definitely splurge on sink and bath fixtures, which are the "jewelry" of  any bathroom. Also, splurge worthy are quartz countertops  and unique accent tiles for the shower. I would save by using classic subway tiles for the shower walls and bath surround and  using stock or semi-custom cabinetry for the vanities and storage."

- Christine Mello: Must Love Home - Facebook Twitter Pinterest

"During a bathroom renovation, I would choose to splurge on the bathtub and light fixtures.  I think those are two key elements that make a bathroom shine.  When we we are building, I often save money on the tile because there are so many great choices at affordable places like Lowe’s and Home Depot now."

- Carissa M: CC & Mike - Facebook - Twitter - Instagram

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this long (but amazing) post!

Please share if you think it was useful, entertaining, or both.

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