Few spaces in the home are as personal, and as practical, as the bathroom. Bathrooms are a place to refresh, re-group and prepare for the coming day. They’re also a place to wind down from a day just past and prepare for bed.
Serving so many functions, and often for multiple individuals, makes bathroom design a challenge. But it’s also an opportunity for tailoring what is often the smallest room in the house to suit the most important needs.
First, maximize the space available. Few have the chance to build a bathroom as large as we might want. Even in new home construction, costs often limit how much space can be allotted to the bathroom. But there are usually many pockets of wasted space that can be used to open up floor space and add elbow room.
Depending on the height and size of the bathroom users, medicine cabinets, shelves and under sink storage can often be relocated higher or around a corner. That can free up counter space for makeup application, shaving and so on. Lots of medicine cabinet designs, for example, aren’t set in the wall but extend into the space a few inches.
Six to eight inch shelves are often placed at chest or chin height in a high traffic area. They tend to store less often used items like spare towels, perfume bottles, etc. Move them higher and provide a collapsible step stool for the shorter members of the household.
Cost is always a limiting factor, but there are two ways to maximize your dollars.
One way is to select higher quality materials and accept a higher initial outlay. The longer use will make the average cost per year the same as using cheaper materials with a shorter life span.
If that’s not feasible, plan the design so that lower quality materials can be easily replaced every couple of years. Use screws into L-shaped hooks for large bathroom mirrors whose moulding will tarnish. Lay linoleum in a roll and secure with colored, invisible nails. Glue removal always makes a job many times harder and more time consuming.
Don’t scrimp on the cost or installation effort for smaller, but important, fixtures. A noisy fan will quickly become an annoyance. Lights that don’t sit at the right angle or provide harsh illumination will produce frustration every time they’re used.
Make sure you allocate enough percentage of the budget for quality shower components. Shower heads, knobs, behind-the-wall valves, and so forth that don’t last lead to leaks and more frequent replacement. A small behind-the-tile pipe leak can lead to hundreds of dollars in repair costs, increased insect invasion and weeks without a shower.
Consider heating options. For the first time in decades electrical heating is more cost-effective than gas, especially for small, confined spaces like bathrooms. And the odds are it will stay that way for some time to come. If you’re planning a floor tile replacement, now is a good time to install radiant under-floor heating.
Several different styles are available, some as easy as rolling a thin sheet of material lined with wiring or mesh that connects to the house electrical system. They’re safe and, since heat rises, help to take away not only that cold floor tile but warm the entire bathroom for pennies per day.
Often bathroom remodeling projects can be carried out in pieces. Floors one month, cabinetry the next, then showers or toilets and so forth. Make it easy on your budget and your back. Plan ahead and you can create that personal space that gives you the ideal place to wash your cares away.