The process of planning home improvements, even major renovations such as a bathroom makeover, can be fun.

Choosing and selecting the tiles, sinks, flooring, walls, bath fixtures – even more dramatic, a walk-in shower with jets, steam or pulsating water valves adjusted to your individual specifications – can be a blast.

The not-so-fun part is how much this bathroom remodel will cost and how long it will take.

A full-scale project that starts with a tear-out of all the old stuff and possibly taking down walls down to the framing could be very costly and easily take a couple of months. If you have another bathroom to use that includes a shower, it will be ok.

If not, you should have a plan B.

Some of the basic elements to consider are walls and flooring.

Ceramic tile and stone are as durable on the walls as they are on the floor. They are easy to keep clean, resistant to water damage and offer a huge selection and design flexibility.

Tile is especially versatile. There are so many different shapes, patterns and colors that can be mixed to create striking patterns in the floor and shower area.

I have designed bathrooms and used the tiles on the wall with fantastic results. You never have to worry about mildew if you tile the walls or at least tile the walls closest to the steam of the shower.

Natural stone, with its beautiful natural veining, presents with a more subdued overall feeling then manmade tile. Using the same natural stone product in the entire project in different shapes and sizes creates the overall look of elegance and style.

Some of my favorites are slate, limestone, marble and granite.

Now let’s talk money and cost. You can save a lot of money by not removing cabinets or bathtubs. Sometimes if money is just going to go so far, you’ll have to do the project with adjustments.

For instance, you can keep a tub, even if you do not use it often, and save the cost of replacing the flooring underneath the tub. Many times you can keep the floor you currently have.

Existing vanities and cabinet can be painted for a completely different effect.

Consider, however, if you want to add a new stone counter, splurging on new cabinetry to enhance the overall look.

My secret weapon for success in any huge project is “keep on talking.” As noted in my last article, finding a professional you can trust is important in any remodeling project. This step alone can save you the potential high cost of expensive mistakes if you do it yourself.

Once you’ve settled on a contractor or design consultant, go to the table with your ideas about what you are looking for. Specify what you are willing to compromise on and which items you simply must have. Open communication will help to insure you get the bathroom you want in a reasonable timeframe.

There are many other ways to keep costs down. The best way to start is to have a plan, pick and choose carefully and, of course, as always, use your creativity and have fun.

Diamond Riegel is an interior design consultant and owner of Designs by Diamond, Bluffton. diamondbydesign@aol.com