Save vs. Splurge: Home Trends to Keep or Skip

pantry door
These expert tips explain which home features you can do without and which you may want to pay a little more to enjoy.

Save: Cabinetry

Many cabinets come standard with built-in features, so select midrange cabinetry instead of top-of-the-line. Also opt for storage-savvy solutions instead of expensive finishes or hardware—those elements can always be updated later. 

Splurge: Ceilings

If you're building a new home or adding on, consider a 10-foot or higher ceiling. It opens up a room, which is especially important in small spaces. Make the vault even more wow-worthy by installing a rustic beam across the ceiling's slope. 

Save: Tile

Ceramic tile is cheap, widely available, and comes in a variety of colors, so you can easily get the look you want. It works especially well in bathrooms, kitchens, and around fireplaces. If you must have expensive tiles, use them only for accents—like for a border or backsplash—and use ceramic tile everywhere else. 

Splurge: Heated Bathroom Floors

No one likes the shock of a cold bathroom floor in the morning, so many homeowners are willing to spend the extra cash on heated bathroom floors. Radiant-heating systems warm a room via hot water or electrical wires installed beneath a finished floor. Ceramic tile, concrete, and wood floors are ideal surfaces for radiant heating.

Save: Light Fixtures

Choose eye-catching fixtures to light one or two main areas, but opt for basic fixtures, such as canister or track lights, elsewhere. Or plan to DIY some of your fixtures. This pendant light, for example, was created with wooden dowels and spray paint. 

Splurge: Christmas Lighting

Rather than having to strategize outlet and cord placement each holiday, homeowners are having their homes permanently wired for Christmas lights. Once December rolls around, it's a snap to turn on the shine. Plus, less time outdoors fooling around with the lights equals more time with loved ones.  

Save: Crown Molding

Crown molding materials and installation can be costly. Instead, go with less-expensive wainscoting or chair rail. If you just can't live without crown molding, consider installing it yourself to save money.

Splurge: Pot Fillers

Take an idea from professional kitchens and install a pot filler faucet in the kitchen. A pot filler mounted on the backsplash makes filling a big pot an easy job. Plus, it's a little luxury you can use every day. 

Save: Carpet

Lay nice carpet rather than a more expensive alternative material. Your feet will love the soft surface and your wallet will love the price. You can also amp up basic carpet with statement-making rugs. 

Splurge: Media Room

Whether it's for family movie nights or slumber parties, media rooms serve many purposes in a home. Keep all your movies, music, and books organized with built-in cabinetry. And since everything is in one place, a media room is the optimal family gathering spot. 

Save: Paint

Updating color is a cheap way to revamp a space. Don't be scared off by bold looks. Add interest to the exterior or interior with unique color choices, color combinations, and painting techniques. 

Splurge: Home Security

Protect all the items in your home with a home security system. Electric alarm systems often include a master control panel, at least one keypad for arming and disarming the system, a selection of sensors at the doors and windows, motion detectors throughout the home, and a warning siren or light.

Save: Freestanding Pieces

Rather than spending the time or money on built-in shelving, use freestanding pieces to add storage space and interest to a room. Basic cube units, for example, can be transformed into a chic entryway piece, a DIY vanity, or even a buffet table. 

Splurge: Towel Warmer

Turn your bathroom into a personal spa with a towel warmer. Similar to the added comfort of heated floors, heated towels make the bathing experience cozier. Keep one at arm's reach from the bathtub or shower. 

Save: Change Hardware

Changing hardware is a quick and easy update. New house numbers, a new doorknob, and a fancy door knocker can give your front door a new look for less. Even simpler? Just add a wreath or other seasonal door decoration. 

Splurge: 3- or 4-Car Garage

Even if you don't have three or four vehicles, additional space in the garage will give you additional storage or hobby space. Consider adding a workshop, man cave, or home office. No matter its use, the extra space will not go to waste. 

Save: Reline a Tub

Give your bathroom an update for less by relining your bathtub. Relining cuts out costs associated with removing an old bathtub, tiling, and plumbing. This trick works best if you only need to prolong the life of your bath for a few more years. 

Splurge: Walk-in Shower

Universal design may cost more up front, but the payback comes with the length of time homeowners are able to enjoy their homes. A walk-in shower is a great universal design element because it prevents homeowners from having to climb in and out of a tub surround as they get older.

Save: Buy Local

Buying material from a nearby source is often easier on the budget, and is also environmentally friendly. Quartz from a local quarry creates a visually interesting vanity top in this DIY bathroom. 

Splurge: Wine Cellar

Wine is a big investment, so protect your purchases with a climate-controlled wine cellar. Basements and butler's pantries are good places to convert to a private wine cellar. If you don't have the space for a whole room, you can still set up a wine fridge elsewhere. 

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