Let’s say you live in an older house, something that was built prior to the 1980s. The bathrooms were, at the time the house was built, state of the art and everything your parents and grandparents wanted. But we’re in the 21st century now, and those bathrooms just don’t bring a smile to your face. Perhaps it’s because the vanity is too low. Perhaps it’s that the shower valve was made prior to the advent of antiscalding valves. Perhaps it’s the lighting, which makes you look old and tired when you’re standing at the sink shaving.
Whatever the reason, reworking a bathroom can go a long way toward making your home much more enjoyable — and valuable. We don’t live in an age of excess anymore (that was so last decade). What we want to do is be smart about what improvements we make, to invest our money wisely in the things that really matter, to create bathrooms that are wonderful retreats without looking like a room in Versailles.
To do this you’ll want to have a checklist of what’s possible. Then move forward with incorporating the stuff you really need to make your bathroom function — and saying no to the rest. Here are a few things to consider.
Cary Bernstein Architect
Is that tub really necessary? For many years homeowners have been told that they have to have a “garden tub” in a main bathroom. It didn’t matter that no one would ever use it. And it didn’t matter that the cost of the tub — from building the extra area needed to house it to all of the long-term costs — would put a real dent in the homeowner’s wallet. What mattered was resale and having that tub to make sure the house could be sold.
So ask yourself if you really want that tub. If you’re a bath person, ask yourself if the tub has to be in the main bathroom, or if you can do with a nice-size tub in the hall bath.
How to convert your tub space to a shower
White Crane Construction
Mind the height. If your home is more than a few decades old, your bathroom vanity is likely 30 inches high. While that height can be great for smaller children, it really doesn’t work for adults. The standard now is 36 inches, which is comfortable for most adults.
If a 36-inch vanity is too high for you, and you don’t want to invest in a custom vanity, consider a floating one. These can be placed at just about any height you’d like; simply adjust the space between the floor and the vanity. Just make sure to have enough support in the wall so that the vanity can easily hang without coming loose.
Find a new vanity
Phil Kean Designs
Water, water everywhere. Today’s showering experience has almost unlimited possibilities. Standard showerheads are just a starting point. There are body sprays, handhelds, rain heads and more. Keep in mind that each of these items will increase the cost of your project, as each will increase both your rough and trim plumbing costs as well as your fixture costs.
And while you’re at it, plan out the location of each of these elements. For example, consider placing a standard showerhead up higher on the wall if you’re tall. And if you plan on having a shower bench, why not make sure the handheld can be used while you’re shaving your legs?
And please don’t put the controls in a place where they can’t be reached without getting into the shower. Getting dowsed by that initial spray of cold water is something you can live without.
ROM architecture studio
Grab on for safety. Whenever I think of grab bars, I imagine hospital bathrooms. But these really useful and terrific safety elements don’t have to be afterthoughts that give your bath an overly institutional aesthetic. There are many designs that are quite striking and, when placed judiciously, can be beneficial to anyone raising themselves from the tub or shower bench.
Make sure you provide adequate blocking in the walls if you do want to include grab bars in your project. These are not the kinds of elements that can be attached to a wall with a plastic anchor. You’ll want to make sure they are securely anchored into something solid so they will last for years.
John Lum Architecture, Inc. AIA
A place to rest. A shower seat isn’t just a comfy place to relax; it can also be support for shaving your legs. For a small shower where you don’t want to have the seat permanently taking up much-needed floor space, consider a folding bench, which runs a few hundred dollars.
As with a grab bar, you’ll want to make sure a folding bench is securely attached to the wall.
Find your niche. A great way to provide space for shampoo bottles, conditioner bottles and even things like candles is to create a niche or series of niches in the wall of a shower or bath area. These niches are a welcome alternative to a plastic shower caddy or the shower floor, and since they are inexpensive to construct, there’s a lot of value to be had.
The trick to having these niches is coordinate their placement with the tiling pattern. It’ll mean selecting your tile early, not changing your mind, and having the wall framed to accept the niche.
ART Design Build
Do you shave in the shower? I’ve always found the shower to be the best place to shave. If you do too, consider spending a few hundred dollars extra to add proper lighting, a fog-free mirror and a place for a razor and shaving cream.
Wheeler Kearns Architects
Getting your game face on. Do you stand at the vanity to put your makeup on? Would you rather have a place to sit to do so? A place with a big mirror and all of your cosmetics stored neatly at hand? If so, consider a makeup desk. If you choose to integrate one with your vanity, you’ll have to recognize the height difference. While a vanity for an adult tends to be 36 inches or so tall, a makeup desk is usually 30 inches. If you really want a large, uninterrupted counter, you’ll want to look into a seat that’s stool height for the makeup desk.
Adding a makeup desk? Find a makeup mirror
Kipnis Architecture + Planning
Forgo the threshold. While creating a zero-threshold shower during a renovation can cost extra, it could well be worth the added expense to create a shower where you can gracefully age in place. And the cost, depending on structural issues, could be as low as a few hundred dollars — a small price to pay to not have to ever trip on a raised shower sill, something you’ll appreciate every time you get in and out of the shower.
Bill Fry Construction — Wm. H. Fry Const. Co.
Time to get steamed. Steam showers were all the rage for many, many years. It seems that I didn’t do a main bath without one. And the bigger, the better. Some steam showers were large enough to accommodate a Super Bowl party. And while there’s less demand for steam showers today, you should always consider one, especially if you have a home gym that you use regularly.
Keep in mind: Steam showers can easily add several thousand dollars to the cost of a project. And don’t try to save money by undersizing the steam generator. Make sure you calculate the cubic volume, not just the square footage, of the shower space and then go by the manufacturer’s recommendation for size. Also, make sure the generator is located in an accessible spot, a place that workers can get to easily. Steam generators are machines, and any machine can fail, no matter what its age is.
Boscolo Interior Design
Keep reading material nearby. Yes, the best seat in the house is where some of us do quite a bit of reading. So why not have a place for those books, magazines, newspapers etc. that always seem to find their way to the throne room? This is a fairly inexpensive thing to do and a way of keeping the room neat and tidy.
Hooks, towel bars and the T.P. holder. Seems that the placement of these things, always a necessity, is the last thing to be considered. They really shouldn’t be an afterthought, especially when they can be such fun design elements. So when planning your project, think about where the hooks, towel bars, toilet paper holders and the like will go so that you can get that all-too-often-overlooked blocking installed in the wall.
Find a remodeler to create your ideal bathroom