The first place to begin planning a bathroom is deciding on what type of fixtures you want versus what type of fixtures you need. It’s often the case that there simply is not enough space for a client’s complete list- especially in remodels, where the amount of space may be limited. The first priority is always to fit in the essentials, then layer on the extras. This may mean combining a tub and shower if necessary, rather than having a separate soaking tub and separate shower. Or, it may mean designing a deluxe shower with jets and a bench, instead of having a soaking tub.
Choosing bathroom sinks for your bathroom remodel
Choosing a sink can be difficult because there are so many different types available. We first try to narrow down the selections by choosing the appropriate sink type for the type of bathroom. An above counter or vessel sink is best for a powder room, since it won’t be used that frequently. A drop-in sink is good if cost is consideration, or the counter top material does not allow undermounting (like in most plastic laminate installations). The undermount sink is generally the most functional because water can easily be pushed back into the sink when cleaning up. It does, however, require a solid-surface countertop such as stone, quartz, concrete, glass, or Corian.
Choosing a toilet for your bathroom remodel
There have been great improvements in toilets over the years since water saving low-flow toilets were first introduced. When choosing a toilet, you’ll generally have the choice of round front or an elongated front toilet. The elongated toilet has a larger bowl area, and we specify this wherever space permits. The performance of toilets has improved quite a bit, but some perform better than others. Do your research to find one that is the right price for your budget and performs well (there are good performers in all price ranges, even around $100). Also, look for dual flush models which have a smaller flush for liquid waste and a larger flush for solid waste. The extra cost of this feature can pay back quickly with the water and sewer cost savings.
Choosing a bathtub for your bathroom remodel
When choosing a bathtub, you’ll have choices of size, material, and soaking vs jetted. For size, consider if one or two people will be using the tub, and then consider the size of the people. Generally a 36” x 72” is a generous one person tub. If you locate the tub filler in the center of one side of the tub (rather than at the end), it will likely be large enough for two people. A better two person size is 42” x 72”. If the tub is for one person, then a tub contoured to provide arm rests can be nice. If it is for two people, then look for a tub that is symmetrical and allows for the drain and tub filler to be mounted in the center, so one person can sit on one side, and another person can sit on the other side. . There are several material choices for bathtubs. Generally, the cast iron is the most durable choice, but is also expensive and heavy. There are other less, expensive alternatives such as enameled steel, acrylic, and fiberglass.
If you want to use bubble baths or other products in a jetted tub, look for air jets that don’t circulate the water through pipes.
Designing a shower in a bathroom remodel
When designing a shower, we are often asked, “what is the minimum size?” The answer depends on how often you will use the shower. Generally a 36” x 36” size shower is the minimum size you’d want for an occasional use shower. If you are using the shower every day, consider a larger shower, at least 34” x 42” (which is a standard shower base size). Once you have the approximate shower size determined, the next step is to decide whether to use a premade shower base or a mud-set tile shower. Generally the premade shower base is less expensive, but they come in limited number of sizes and materials. A tile shower base can be made in virtually any shape and size you can imagine.
The types of shower heads have expanded dramatically over the last few years to include rain shower heads mounted on the ceiling and body jets, in addition to the standard wall mounted or hand held shower. If the space you are working with cannot fit a tub, or a tub is not desired, consider building a deluxe shower instead, including body jets.
Design storage space into your bathroom remodel
Storage space is another important consideration in bathroom design. A popular trend today is to design or choose a vanity that is open in the bottom to give the bathroom an airier, more hotel-like feel. Unfortunately, this tends to compromise storage space. With the space that is left, we try to incorporate drawers to store toiletries and racks below for extra towels. Then, we look for additional storage space in places like medicine cabinets or other built in cabinets. A cabinet above the toilet can be a great place to house extra toilet paper and items that are not used every day. When designing a medicine cabinet, there are many that are beautiful looking and large, but come with an equally large price tag. We often choose a good quality middle-of-the-road model and design a simple wood frame that a trim carpenter can make on site to dress it up.
Add natural light in your bathroom remodel
Since we usually start our days in the bathroom, adding a window or skylight can help you get going in the morning, plus add natural ventilation for steam and odors. When possible, we incorporate windows into bathrooms and toilet rooms, but always supplement window ventilation with ventilation fans. Ventilation fans should be run for at least an hour after bathing to help get rid of excess moisture in the air. Installing a fan timer switch can help family members remember to do this.
Bathrooms have changed over the years from a simple place to bathe to a place to relax and unwind from our busy lives. They serve multiple functions, and are often designed to be used by more than one person at a time. You won’t dread starting your day when you step into your well designed bathroom every morning!