We're in the process of choosing tile for the master bath. We thought we knew what we wanted, but then realized that we were a little overambitious. The thing with choosing finishes is that, assuming you know you will eventually sell the house, you have to make sure that the things you pick are 'sellable'. While yes, this does mean that you probably shouldn't go with the lime green permanent tile or the bright blue carpet in the bathroom (our first house had this - bizarre), what a lot of people don't realize is that you should also think about your neighborhood.
Specifically, you should make sure that you don't overimprove your house for the area it's in, particularly if you want to recoup your costs. In some cases, it's fine to go big, especially if you know you're going to stay in the house for a while and will enjoy it - get the french door fridge, spring for the soaking tub. But for certain things, you have to think about the 'comps' - the nearby houses that will affect your eventual selling price.
Comps are a huge factor in house pricing - it's unfair, but that's the way it is. So if there isn't a single house in your neighborhood priced above $200K, good luck selling yours for $400K - it's not going to happen, no matter what luxuries you've stocked it with. It's just not that kind of neighborhood.
If our house were located about twenty minutes south, in Columbia or Ellicott City, it would be worth at least twice what it's worth here, and I'd have no compunctions about putting in luxe finishes and getting my money back. But it isn't. It's in a quiet neighborhood of old houses, most of which either haven't been updated or have been updated only to 'rental grade'. Our crowning glory is our huge property sizes and commuter-friendly location around here - not marble bathrooms.
So the travertine we wanted is out, and we're going with porcelain instead. It's exponentially cheaper, but we've found several options that mimic the look of stone without being tacky. And we're springing for one upgrade - we're putting river rock down as the floor of the walk-in shower. Just a few square feet isn't a huge splurge, it's an elegant touch, and it comes in neutral colors that won't alarm buyers. Now we just have to make a final decision on the tile that will go with it, and call our tiler!