Home Remodeling: When to Splurge; When to Save


“Planning a remodel of your home can be a daunting task. But sometimes small changes – or focusing on one or two elements – can make a significant improvement in the overall feel and comfort of your home.”

There are many reasons to remodel, but most of them stem from wanting to enjoy your environment and make your home the best it can be for your family. If you plan to sell in the next few years, upgrades in line with other homes in your neighborhood make the most sense. Conversely, if you plan to stay put for a long time and your remodel is primarily for your own enjoyment, you have a little more leeway for expressing your personal style.

Kitchens are one of the most commonly updated areas of the home. Consider your family’s lifestyle and spend more on features that meet those priorities. A gourmet cook might find a high-end range worth the investment while someone preferring the hostess role would find more value in warming drawers and a wine cooler.

Erin Hoopes, principal designer at Moss Building & Design in Chantilly VA, has a few suggestions for keeping your spending in check. “Choose an area in the kitchen for a WOW moment – perhaps an intricate tile backsplash, unusual granite or quartz with sparkle, or a detailed light fixture. Spending your budget on jazzing up those smaller details can make the overall space look expensive. Spending more on the smaller items or choosing one element to focus on can help you stay on track.” Jason Hampel, co-owner of Moss Building & Design, gives this additional advice regarding kitchens:

Cabinets should be built with solid plywood and have full overlay doors and dovetail drawers. You will also want fullextension, soft-close drawers. Instead of 42″ cabinets, go with 39″ cabinets topped with standard crown moulding to get a similar look for less money. Birch is a great choice for homeowners who like the look of maple cabinets, but need to keep costs down. Birch also gives you the option of using a darker stain to get the rich look of cherry.

Spend extra money on a low-gauge stainless steel sink. All stainless steel sinks may look the same when brand new but, over time, the higher-gauge (cheaper) sinks will show dings and dents.

Splurge on a good one in the kitchen because it’s used all day, every day.

Purchase a slide-in range and a microwave that doubles as a convection oven versus a separate cooktop, double oven and microwave. Incorporating appliances saves money and space.

It’s easy to be sucked in by all of the spa-like amenities available. Over-the-top showers are all the rage, but do you really need a shower large enough for practicing yoga? How often would you actually use two shower heads at the same time?

Camille DeLew, owner of Another Eye Design in Oakton VA, gives her take on where to spend and where to save in your bath remodel:

If you like a vintage or shabby chic look, you can re-purpose a vanity, table or base cabinet from a vintage shop or Craigslist.

Bathroom vanities have relatively small countertops, so using a granite remnant is an easy way to cut your cost without sacrificing the look.

Master-bath faucets do not take near the abuse the kitchen faucet does, so save the high-dollar faucet for the kitchen. A fixed shower head and a hand-held sprayer is the best bet for most people.

Porcelain tile made to look like natural stone or hardwood is an attractive cost-saving choice. Using large format tiles for your job, and saving for the more expensive decorative accents, will give you the upgraded look you want without the cost.

Lighting websites offer reasonably-priced fixtures. Select one for your bath and save the high-end show stoppers for the areas of your home with higher visibility. One of the most important cost-saving measures in remodeling any part of your home is working with a reputable company. You must do your homework and know who you’re working with. It may cost a bit more up front, but doing so will pay off in the long run.