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If you’re anything like us, you spend your days endlessly clicking through photos of luxury homes, dreaming of the day when you can upgrade to a villa with a wine-tasting room, free-standing tub, and home gym—the high-end features that suit your fantasies of affluent relaxation.
But think again: You’re likely to find that some of your longed-for luxuries will simply gather dust—and worse, taking up space. And no matter how large your home is, square footage is always a valued commodity.
So, which luxury features are worth a splurge—and which aren’t? Here you go:
A realtor.com survey of prospective home buyers last year found that their most-wanted luxury feature was a chef’s kitchen. But if you’re not an actual professional chef feeding dozens of people at least twice a day, well, you probably won’t be getting the most out of these features.
Giant high-end stove: The centerpiece of a gourmet kitchen, of course, is the stove. A true professional model, though, is a major investment. “These stoves can range from $6,000 to $10,000, whereas a quality stove aimed at a regular consumer, rather than a professional, can cost under $2,000,” says interior designer Jennifer Farrell. Realistically, most home cooks will be just fine with a stove in the $1,000 range, she says.
Pot filler: A special swiveling faucet right next to the stove seems like the perfect way to save you from lugging a pot full of water across the kitchen. “The problem is, water doesn’t flow as quickly from a pot filler than from a regular sink faucet, so you’ll likely end up filling up at the big sink,” Farrell says. And the money you spent on that pot filler will go right down the drain.
Warming drawer: This is meant to keep prepared food at serving temperature, but… “Every client I know that has one ends up using it to store pots and pans!” Farrell says.
Whirlpool tub with jets: Fantasize about being massaged by powerful jets of water? Luxuriating in mounds of bubbles? Wallowing in germs and slime? Yup, germs and slime. Those jets tend to clog or grow bacteria or mildew, Farrell says. Plus, people tend to use showers more regularly. You’re better off with a plain soaking tub and a separate shower (you can jazz it up with multiple shower heads, a popular upgrade).
Home gym: It seems like a slam-dunk: With a gym at home, you’ll never have the excuse of not being motivated enough to go out to the gym. It turns out, you’d be better off having the entire gym come to you. “Many people find that without the motivation of a trainer and other gym members working out, it’s hard to stay focused on a regimented exercise routine,” Farrell says. You’ll end up with expensive exercise equipment cluttering up precious space. Just pony up for that gym membership and get your butt over there.
Walk-in closet with sitting area: It’s like something out of the diary of Marie Antoinette: “Lounged around inside my closet, eating cake.” Oh yeah, you fancy. But that sitting area is just taking up space that you could probably use for actual storage. “Better to devote more square footage to the master bedroom,” Farrell advises.
Wet bar: “These drink-prep stations with a sink were popular back in the martini era of the ’60s and ’70s and have seen a new popularity in recent years,” Farrell observes. But unless you’re constantly throwing Rat Pack–style parties and serving a flood of cocktails, you’ll probably just wash your glassware in the kitchen.
Outdoor hot tub: Unless you are an avid hot tubber, most likely a hot tub is going to be more money than it’s worth. “They cost thousands of dollars and require a lot of upkeep, but most homeowners say they only use theirs a few times a year,” Farrell says.
Floor-to-ceiling windows: “Natural light is one of the greatest assets for any property,” Farrell says. If you’ve got great views (another highly desired feature), upgrading with floor-to-ceiling windows is a great investment.
Heated floors: Once you’ve tried heated floors, you’ll never go back. Not only are they a very comfortable luxury feature to have in any bathroom or throughout the house, they also cut down on your electricity bills. Plus, they add value to the home. “This is a luxury item worth the price,” Farrell says.
Granite/quartz countertops: A quality countertop, like granite or quartz aggregate, can be well worth the money, Farrell says. Both materials are durable, heat-resistant, and long-lasting—which makes them much more practical than softer surfaces such as soapstone, marble, or wood.
Let’s face it, some people are so wealthy, they’re going to go ahead and get whatever they want—and they’ll probably enjoy it, no matter what. Case in point: the candy wall(above) in the house that Minecraft founder Markus “Notch” Persson smacked downBeyoncé and Jay Z to get.
Wine cellar with tasting room: Apparently, this is a thing among the wealthy. But even with cash to burn, you have to be a really, really serious collector for this architectural flourish to be worth your while. “These cellars with tasting rooms have to be kept at precise temperature, which add to the cost of the cellar,” Farrell says. To create a high-end wine cellar, this budget buster can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Naturally landscaped (but still totally artificial) pool, with waterslide (this one still available)
Tennis courts, spa, 27-car garage, vineyard, and discotheque… OK, we give up.
Looking to redo your bathroom? We’d all love one of those giant showers with the all the jets everywhere and a big soaker tub for two. Throw in some new cabinets while you’re at it, and sparkly finishes to replace your old, rusted ones. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
But not everyone has the budget to support that expensive reno. The good news is you can make an impact on your bathroom even without big dollars. Here, we lay out some options for a $50, $500, and $5,000 bathroom renovation budget.
The $50 Bathroom
The biggest bang for your buck with a $50 budget will be in changing your paint color. You can get a gallon for as little as $20, plus another $20 or so for supplies if you keep them to a minimum.
Or, if your cabinets are looking a little tired, pick up a quart of good paint and transform your space. Then, swing by Target and pick up a couple of $5 bath towels. Quality is less important than color since these will just be for display. Anna’s Linens is another great place to find a bargain, like these $3 bath towelsand $5.99 bath rugs.
If you are a DIYer with a good eye for a deal, you might even be able to pull off a flooring redo in a small space.
Check Lowe’s and Home Depot for closeouts, clearance, and overage returns. Your local flooring shops may also have some merchandise they are willing to discount. Tile Clearance is another great place to look for everything for floor tile to wall tile and deco inserts.
If the only thing you really want in your bathroom is a more luxurious shower, try this five-spray WaterSense showerhead, $32 at Lowes.
The $500 Bathroom
At $500, you can replace a vanity, flooring, refresh your tub, and make your bathroom prettier and more functional. But, as Huffington Post advises “prepare for a lot of DIY. You can make a lot of updates to your home on your own with great success. But there are some projects you should leave to the professionals. Electrical and plumbing projects, for example, are complicated — and doing them incorrectly can lead to additional repairs and additional costs.”
A new single vanity can be found at Lowe’s for as little as $119 on sale. A faucet will cost you a few bucks more. You can also replace an outdated wall mirror with smaller framed option like this $29 espresso framed mirror. And don’t forget about the lighting. New vanity lights can cost less than $100 and do wonders for the modern livability of your bathroom.
A more luxurious spa experience can be had with a $79 TotalSpa 3-in-1 Hand Shower Slide Bar with Body Jets
The $5,000 Bathroom
The average bathroom remodel (and we’re taking a total overhaul) costs about $15,000. But for one-third of that, you can achieve a great result.
The tricks for remodeling with a $5,000 budget are the same as for $50 and $500: 1) Make smart choices for the highest impact for your budget; 2) Research, research, research; 3) The more you do yourself, the more you get. You may choose to outsource the tricky stuff like plumbing and electricity, but demo and tiling are two things you can help with so you have more money for other cool stuff, like this $1000 American Standard soaking tub.
Too much of a splurge? You can scale back to this Kohler soaker tub for $634. Either way, you’ve upgraded your bathroom to more of a spa experience. Prefer to upgrade your shower instead? A multi-jet panel will turn it into a vertical spa.
Float your vanity for $1,500, choose a standout color for $1100 or express your classic side with two espresso single vanities side by side for $406 each. Tile your floor, shower, and all the way up your walls if you so want. By selecting a more budget-friendly tile and using the good stuff for accents, you’ll make it go farther. Or, forgo broad use of tile and choose key areas to add in rich detail.
Get more information about bathroom tile here.
Of course, if you really feel like expressing yourself through a few stellar items, there is always the Neorest 550 toilet, priced at $2,992. With a dual flushing system, a programmable nightlight, hands-free automatic flush, an integrated warm air dryer, and a built-in air purifying system, what could be better?
Want more ideas? Check out this Better Homes and Gardens video on remodeling a bathroom for under $5,000.