Even homeowners renovating the most high-end, extravagant kitchens and baths in our area still want to save money where they can. Responsible, attentive contractors and designers know that and are willing to work with clients to identify where to splurge and where to save.
In terms of overall best design decisions for a home renovation, Marissa Jambor, a designer at Bath Plus Kitchen Design Remodel, says most homeowners work with her to “maximize storage, create a space that’s easy to organize and then make it timeless.”
In a kitchen or bath, she suggests using tiles and countertops in neutral color palettes instead of bold colors. And if a pop of color is really important to the client, she suggests wallpaper, paint color or accessories—areas where color is easy to change with minimal expense or effort.
Even if you’re not currently thinking about your home’s resale value, if it’s a possibility in the future, experts say going neutral will be more pleasing to most prospective buyers. That can be an important consideration.
“This is something you’re allocating a ton of money to,” Jambor says. “If you’re renovating your kitchen, the rule of thumb is that you’re supposed to spend 10 percent of your home value on your kitchen renovation. So if you have a $1 million home, theoretically, you’re spending $100,000 on your kitchen remodel. You want that to be a timeless kitchen that’s going to last you the rest of your time in that home. You want to make design choices that work both functionally [and] aesthetically for the long haul.”
Jambor recalls a recent master bathroom reno in a tasteful gray and white palette. The oversized shower’s oil-rubbed bronze fittings are loaded with jets and sprays, and the white subway tile was done with a contrasting grout. Because her client “was open to something a little more daring and a little more unique,” Jambor did the floor in a cheeky faux wood marbled in gray and blue.
Allie Mann, a designer for Case Design, recently collaborated on a classic white-on-white master bathroom. In addition to a frameless, jet-powered shower, there’s a statement-making freestanding tub, cozy heated floors and toasty towel warmers.
The master bath mixes what Mann calls “high/low” features—a give-and-take of extravagant and economical materials. The quartzite countertops were a splurge; the choice of a porcelain tile floor was a cost-savings. If a client wants a pricey countertop, Mann and her colleagues work to trim costs in other places.
In a kitchen or a bath, cabinets don’t have to be custom. They can be semicustom or Ikea hacks. Existing cabinets can be rehabbed or repainted, or the doors can be removed for open shelving.
But “with cabinets, I think you get what you pay for,” Jambor says. From places like Wayfair.com, she says cabinets may not be the best quality, but they’ll do the job—and for less. And spruce them up with sleeker, more modern knobs and pulls.
In a kitchen or elsewhere, “we’re seeing a lot of traction in the market for LVT, which is a luxury vinyl tile,” says Mann, who employed the flooring in the laundry room she created for last fall’s DC Design House. Available in countless colors and plank sizes, Mann says, “it doesn’t require grout. It goes on top of pretty much most any existing floor.” It adds an extra layer of insulation and is impervious to water.
“So if I’m working with a homeowner and the budget maybe doesn’t allow for hardwood or tile in the kitchen because we’re splurging on other things, I might say: Let’s consider these LVTs,” she says. “You get a lot of bang for your buck. It looks great, and it’s one of the hottest flooring materials on the market.”