Get This Look for Less

Here are some great tips on renovating.

There are a lot of little decisions to consider when planning a bath makeover. You have to choose what areas are important to you. These homeowners provide insight into their recent renovation and offer tips on what to consider and how to budget. Here are a few ideas on how to achieve the same look without breaking the bank.

First Things First
Function is vital. Plan a room around your daily routine. Think about the items you use and where to store them--even your hair dryer. This bath, for example, only had room for a single vanity and very little storage, so the owners had to get creative.

Style With Tile
The couple wanted a crisp, clean appearance, so white tile was a good place to start. They used inexpensive tile, but because it goes from floor to ceiling, the job was fairly costly. To get this look for less, use a little bit of tile in one area to create a focal point; then use glossy painted beaded board elsewhere. Or accent less expensive tile with higher priced insets.

Making Compromises
These homeowners found an attractive cabinet that cost around $4,000 in a catalog. As an alternative, they had a carpenter make a base with a similar look and two mirrors for a fraction of the price. If your budget is tight, a pedestal sink is another great option; you don't have to purchase the bowl and top separately.

Smart Shopping
By purchasing old hardware, these homeowners saved money. They used old-fashioned bath faucets and had them fitted to the new shower for a wall-mounted appearance. It has the same look and ended up being $150 instead of $1,500.

Another cost saver was the louvered door to the water closet. Instead of buying a new one, they salvaged a pine door, sanded it down, and refinished it with mahogany furniture wax.

Going All Out
Because they were cost conscious about most aspects of the project, the couple was able to splurge on such luxuries as tile throughout the bath and a heated floor. They also invested in an enameled cast-iron tub with whirlpool jets. A less expensive garden tub or a fiberglass one with jets could give the same function for less.

The homeowners also recommend spending a little more on towels. They may be the most affordable upgrade made in this well-designed bath.

Heated Tile
Tired of making your daily trek to the shower across ice-cold tile? Create a comfortable environment by warming the floor.

What's Available
There are two systems on the market. Radiant floor heating uses a thin electric floor mat installed in thinset cement under the tile. The system is controlled by a thermostat and is the best option for heating a small section. The second, hydronic heating, uses hot water circulating through plastic tubing. It's good for larger areas.

Because electric heating systems come in a prefitted roll, installation is simple and can be done by a do-it-yourselfer. The only work requiring an electrician is connecting the roll to a thermostat. Hydronic systems are more complicated; we suggest hiring a professional for installation. Some sources include and