That lime green tile and powder pink bathtubs may have been the height of style back in 1957, but here in the twenty-first century, your once-trendy bathroom has become more of a time capsule than a showpiece. Sometimes the only solution to such bathroom design woes is a complete bathroom makeover.
Although the thought of bathroom remodeling can strike fear in the hearts of homeowners, it’s not nearly as daunting of a task as it may seem at first. There are just a few key decisions that need to be made. From there the bathroom practically remodels itself!
Bathrooms can be divided into three core elements: toilet, sink, and bathtub/shower enclosure (obviously half baths omit the last of these), all of which are unified by the flooring and the lighting.
The floor—more specifically the type of tile used on the floor—is the most prominent feature of most bathroom designs, especially when the tile extends to create a tile tub surround or custom shower enclosure. Starting by selecting tile that fits the project’s style and budget is a great way to get the remodeling plan rolling.
Bathroom flooring choices are a little more limited than elsewhere in the house, as no other room gets nearly as wet and humid. For this reason, it’s wise to shy away from flooring options that absorb and retain water. That means hardwood’s out the window, including its more modern incarnations of vinyl and laminate.
Typically, the best choices for bathroom flooring tile are going to be porcelain, and it’s less-expensive cousin ceramic. Porcelain is much more water resistant than ceramic, making it the preferred material for bathrooms that are going to see a lot of spilling and splashing (think: toddlers).
Ceramic is a great choice for half-baths (which have no shower or tub at all) and guest baths (which aren’t used as frequently as other bathrooms in the home). Since they’re manufactured, porcelain and ceramic also offer the widest range of designs, coming in practically every shape, size, color and pattern imaginable.
Limited in terms of style but overflowing with opulence and luxury are natural stone tiles, which include marble, granite, and limestone (of which travertine is the most popular variety). However, stone tiles are not only stronger and heavier than other options; they carry a pretty hefty price tag as well.
Besides having to pay a premium for it, the only real downside to natural stone tile is its tendency to be cold and slippery, which may not be ideal for homes with the very young or the very old. However, some natural stone varieties are available with slip-resistant textured surfaces, and any tile floor (including porcelain and ceramic) can benefit from having a heating element installed beneath it.
With the choice of tile out of the way, the rest of the remodel should be a breeze.
Toilets haven’t changed their basic design too much over the last several decades, so choosing the right “porcelain throne” really just comes down to size (small bathrooms benefit from tiny toilets), style (whether classic or contemporary, one-piece or two), efficiency (high-flow vs. low-flow or dual-flush), and, believe it or not, color (yes, they come in more than just white).
Of course, homeowners with loftier budgets can shop for more innovative designs: chair-height seats, LED lighting, self-closing lids, self-flushing, and self-cleaning technologies. Some “smart” toilets even come with their own touchscreens and virtual assistants, like Alexa.
No one has invented the “smart sink” just yet—although, with several water-measuring, temperature-precise, voice-controlled “assistants” in the plumbing aisle, the same cannot be said for the “smart faucet.”
Unless you’re trying to future-proof your bathroom for the twenty-second century, most folks end up choosing among eight different options when designing their bathroom sink. Eight? Yes, eight, but picking out your perfect pedestal isn’t nearly as confusing as it sounds. It mostly comes down to space and budget.
If cost is of little concern, a natural stone countertop with an undermounted sink adds class and distinction to your washroom. And the best part is they are as easy to clean (just wipe right into the basin) as they are elegant.
A more cost-effective option, laminate countertops are what you’ll find in most bathrooms nowadays. As with most manufactured products, available colors and designs run the gamut from the classic to the contemporary. Unfortunately, it’s not advisable to undermount a sink on laminate; however there are still plenty of stylish basin options available.
Traditional top-mounted sinks come in a number of different designs, but if you’re looking for modern flair, vessel sinks and semi-recessed sinks are going to be more your style. Vessel sinks, where the entire basin is above the surface and the drain being level with the countertop, are great for people who prefer a big sink that holds lots of water.
Semi-recessed sinks, on the other hand, are great space-savers, with half the sink embedded in the countertop and the other half extending out.
Other possibilities include pedestal sinks (no cabinet underneath), wall-mounted sinks (which nix the cabinet as well), wash-plane sinks (like wall-mounted, but with almost no basin), and the most budget-friendly of the bunch, all-in-one sinks (the countertop and basin are all in one mold).
Finally, there’s the other unifying element to consider: lighting. With bathroom design, there’s really only one rule about lighting—make sure there’s lots of it! Bathrooms are meant for cleaning and grooming, both of which benefit from the ability to actually see what you’re doing. Beyond that, it really just comes down to picking out a light fixture design you like that fits with the style you’ve already established.
Your choices of floor and bathtub/shower enclosure tile, toilet and sink will determine whether you go rustic (Edison bulbs, water-pump faucet), contemporary (wall-to-wall mirror, freestanding tissue holder) or refined (natural wood towel racks) as you decide upon the remaining details.
If this all still seems overwhelming, Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers of New Albany, Indiana is here to help. Their certified installers have been remodeling bathrooms in the Louisville Kentucky, Southern Indiana, and surrounding areas for nearly 30 years. Call or email today for a few
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