Bathroom renovations are among the most impactful changes you can make, and done well, they can increase value of your home when it is time to sell. They can also cost a bucket-load, so for our best tips for your next bathroom reno, read on! There are things you can do that could either drive the budget up or keep the costs down.
Great ways to save money on your next renovation
Plan your budget and stick to it
The easiest way to overspend on a bathroom reno is to skip critical planning steps before you begin. Take the time to itemize everything you need including labour, and allowing for deliveries, and for discoveries. Opening up walls can lead to surprises, sourcing can lead to upgrades and discovering new ideas. If you have a budget in hand, you can navigate those and avoid costly budget overruns.
Don’t change the footprint
This is a biggie! Moving a bathroom to another location in the house will cost you. The major plumbing that runs through your house is the most costly part of a renovation if you try to change its location. The most important thing you don’t want to move is the stack. The plumbing stack is the really big drain pipe that collects the waste from the drains in your house and relays it out of the house to the sewer. At the same time, the plumbing stack vents fumes upwards and out of the house, allowing air to enter into the plumbing stack. All of your sinks, tubs, showers, and toilets need to drain into a plumbing stack, and vent noxious fumes out.
Since the plumbing stack is typically integrated into the joists and walls of the structure of your home, it is very costly to move it. The good news is that within a limited range, you can move a fixture like a tub or shower to another close-by location, but never further than 8 feet from the stack. To save the maximum amount on your reno, aim to keep the main fixtures approximately where they are. The toilet being the most difficult to move because it drains into an opening in the floor and is limited by the structural members (joists) in the floor. Leaving the fixtures close to where they are will save a lot of money.
Use classic materials in an interesting way
Resist the urge to splurge on trendy expensive materials. The latest tile trends for example, will date your renovation very quickly. In the nineties we saw a lot of installations mixing glass with ceramic and metallic finger tiles. In the eighties it was common to see glass blocks used in construction. Today we are seeing a surge of encaustic (patterned) tiles and zellige tiles (natural clay tiles usually square in format, usually from the area of Fez, Morocco). All are lovely but using trendy selections is more likely to date your renovation and lead you to love your work less as years go by. Your reno does not need the latest new tiles to be impactful and beautiful. The sign of a pro at work is their innovative use of cost-effective materials, while dodging trends!
Instead, choose materials that are timeless. That does not mean they need to be boring. Designers have many ways to use classic materials in interesting ways. A tile pattern can be varied, and interesting without being expensive. Simple subway tiles can be installed in many different patterns to create interest, and are typically the least expensive option you will find. Change the scale on alternate courses (rows) to create interest. Arrange them in a herringbone pattern, stack them for a modern look. Use subway tiles and you will always have options to change it up with new wall colour and towels, or a fun wallpaper.
Try inserting a border of a different feature tile, or a different shape of the same tile. Add a niche if you really crave a feature tile. Mix it up and keep it interesting but subtle. Keeping your large investment selections classic ensures enduring beauty.
In this guest bathroom below, we selected a marble look-alike for the floor in a subtle classic chevron pattern. It was cost-effective and super pretty.
Balance High and Low-end Selections
The same principle applied previously to tiles, applies to all of your selections. Knowing where to splurge and when to save is the talent of the pros but you can achieve this if you budget carefully. For example, if you have a show-stopper mirror and sconces, you may only need a modest faucet, and simple countertop. Not every selection can be the star of the show! Choose special pieces for your focal point and keep the other selections subordinate to those.
Wallpaper went the extra mile here where we reused the homeowner’s mirror and faucet when we gave this powder room a facelift.
Make your accents impactful
You can save money and still have an up-scale result if you pare back on the material budget and splurge on pretty lights and faucets, wallpaper, accessories, and art. These can all be changed up easily if you have created a classic look. Think of it like the little black dress school of design. You can dress it up or dress it down. Accent it with the latest trendy colours and patterns but only play with the less permanent elements and have fun with them! Anthropologie always has fun towels, shower curtains and accessories, for example!
In this next bathroom, you can see how we painted metallic bands on the walls to make the result more impactful.
Buy quality fixtures
Skip the plumbing aisle at your local big box store, and online suppliers unless you know they are reputable dealers. Yes, this will cost you more initially. That is because products sold through reputable dealers are better quality. You will find faucets and fixtures that look the same online, but with very different price tags. That is because they have often been “value engineered” for the retail market. Look for faucets with a ceramic cartridge, from a reputable plumbing supplier. This will save you a lot of money and headaches on repairs down the road
Consider a prefab shower
Prefabricated shower units have come a long way and have a valuable place in a modern home. Especially for a second bath in the basement, or for the kids to use. Consider one of the newer modern selections and save a large chunk of your budget by avoiding tiling the floors and even the walls if you choose an complete unit.
Choose art for your bathroom from a designer source
Simple framed prints add lots of personality and are easy on the budget if you choose reproductions from an online supplier. Here are a few of our favourite sources for well-priced art:
So to plan for a successful bathroom reno, save these tips to know when to spend and when to save.
My standard disclaimer: Please note, some of these items may be offered through affiliate links which means I could get a small commission if you order. That will never influence what I find lovely and want to share with you. I always offer suggestions I would buy for my home or recommend to a client. Also, rest assured it won’t affect the price you would otherwise pay.