A Room of One's Own

A well-planned bathroom can be the difference in how you begin your day and how well your home functions. It’s no coincidence that next to the kitchen, a bathroom takes top priority when it comes time for a remodel. 

Here’s some tips to ensure your bathroom remodel will be a good experience.

The most important step is to know what’s possible. Bathrooms are very particular—perhaps you want the tub here and toilet there, but there may be structural or mechanical limitations to consider before placing them in certain locations.  Or perhaps you have your heart set on two sinks, but it’d be a really tight fit. It may be better to have one vanity with more counter space than two sinks with no space between. In other words, the sooner you have a designer accurately lay the space out, the more time you’ll save. 

The second piece of advice isn’t going to gain popularity votes: bathrooms are going to cost more than you think. Next to kitchens, bathrooms are the most expensive space to remodel in your home. The reason is because bathroom components are mechanically heavy and built for longevity.  Countertops, toilets and tiles are all equipped for regular use and can handle moisture. 

Details Matter

There’s special considerations for powder rooms and children’s bathrooms. It’s easier to be playful in a powder room because it’s smaller and, therefore, less commitment. Because it’s the bathroom everyone will see, it’s a great space to push for high style points, like wallpaper or a special faucet. Children’s bathrooms are geared to be more practical and economical, but you can have fun with the design and tailor it to the kids who use it.

Another tip is to choose a special detail for your bathroom—after all, these details are what make a bathroom truly personal. We love designing bathrooms with details that elevate the space. What makes our job exciting is that the details vary from home to home. For example, some people love tech and want smart water features with digital controller. We just completed a bathroom with electrostatic windows that go from clear to opaque with the flip of a switch. Some people want to add wood and we recently completed a custom vanity using rift sawn white oak with a special cut so the drawers could open without hardware. Bathrooms are so personal—it is absolutely your space and special details matter. 

Set the Mood

Now, about lighting: there definitely is a secret sauce to get the lighting mix right in a bathroom. We like to create as much natural light as possible—invariably, we try to increase the amount of natural light by enlarging windows or adding skylights. We’re currently working on a bathroom skylight for two doctors who get up early in the morning, and we wanted to ensure as much light as possible to get their (early) day started well.  After expanding the natural light resources, we like to illuminate the rest of the bathroom with a mix of lighting options. In small spaces, this may mean lights inside the mirror, but when there’s more room, we prefer to use sconces on the left and right to fill faces in without shadow. The remaining ceiling lighting is for general illumination. Another consideration with lighting is the ability to turn it down. You may want to unwind and luxuriate in your bathtub, but you won’t be able to relax with 7000 lumens illuminating the room. In this case, you may consider a dimmer switch or a designated switch for certain lights to create a calm atmosphere.

Developments in Design

We’ve noticed there’s more people who want intelligent toilets because they’re now more affordable. Smart toilets have been out for several years and people are looking for options such as a combination bidet/seat warmer with fan. Bathtubs are also making a comeback because they add to the feeling of sanctuary and warmth—a place of respite is so important, especially for people who have long days. I’m also seeing more doorless and curbless showers, likely because there’s less maintenance—no glass to clean!

We’ve also noticed people are willing to spend more on bathrooms now than in the past. Back in the 80s and 90s, bathrooms were designed out of necessity: people had space, so they filled it. Today, the movement in bathroom design leans toward creating a quiet space for retreat and self care.

Defining the Project

Before you call a designer, define your wishlist and take special care to equip the bathroom for its users. Once your list is defined, check contractor reviews and referrals to help you hone down your choices. Choose a designer who listens well—someone who won’t re-create the bathroom they did for someone else in your space: you want a team who will create your bathroom. Our best advice is to know what’s possible in your space and to select the best team to create your vision. 

Keep an eye out for our upcoming bathrooms feature in MKE Lifestyle Magazine May Issue!

Tags: bathroom