Bathrooms are right behind kitchens in importance, so they are a great place to invest your remodeling dollars. Women especially spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom from our morning rituals to giving our kids a bath. One of my favorite memories is practicing multiplication tables with Ryan while he took a bath. Each time he got the right answer, I bounced a ball into the bathtub and it made a big splash.
Given the time we spend in the bathroom, there are lots of things we want to store there just in case we need it and somehow, there never seems to be enough storage space. That's why updating a bathroom is so popular because you immediately benefit, and it helps when its time to sell your home. It's wise to take time planning out your bathroom space in order to create more function, along with the look and feel you want.
Planning Your Bathroom Update
Every bathroom has a sink and toilet but the big question is where to find enough storage space to keep toiletries, towels and other personal belongings. In addition to more storage, you also want to create more more visual space and maximize the bathroom's functionality. If you can work with the existing walls, it will be cheaper although there are some great solutions possible when you borrow space from an adjoining room or closet. In fact it's common for empty nesters to use an extra bedrooms to create the spacious master bath they've dreamed about for years.
Wait, wasn't budget also a consideration? For most of us, we want it all … an updated bathroom, on a shoestring budget so here are ideas for working within your existing footprint to avoid the high cost of moving walls and plumbing.
- Maximize vanity storage with a bigger vanity if space permits, or add shelves with baskets to an existing vanity. Sliding shelves help you access vanity space better. Pedestal sinks are fine when you don't need storage.
- Add a mirror or medicine cabinet that sits inside wall space that is otherwise unused (interior wall). One large mirror will give you better visual space versus several smaller mirrors.
- Change light fixtures or add more lighting to brighten up your space. Use recessed lights if the room is small.
- Using the same concept, add shelves in unused nooks or tap into the space between wall studs to gain added storage versus extra cabinets.
- Replace the door with a pocket door to achieve flexibility where the door swing uses space.
- Don't forget hooks on the back of the bathroom door provides inexpensive, easy storage.
- For more visual space, you can remove shower walls, and replace them with a glass shower enclosure so the space becomes part of the overall room … as we did here (see photo).
- Light paint colors, and maximizing natural light can help the room feel bigger. If you have wall space, consider replacing the window to bring in more sunlight.
Don't forget about safety when planning your bathroom:
- Any electrical outlets near water/wet areas need ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) plugs.
- Plan ahead for seniors who may need grab bars around the toilet and shower/bath, and with a little extra care you can blend them into your decorating.
- An exhaust fan, vented outside your home, will remove moisture and reduce the risk of mold.
- If young children will use the bathroom, including visits from neighbors and relatives, you want a locking cabinet to protect them from medicine and cleaning supplies that may be harmful.
Compare estimated costs (materials, labor and contingency of 10-20% ) with your budget before you start the project to avoid cost overruns. The worst thing is running out of money and having to live with an unfinished project for months or years. Be realistic when planning which parts of the project you can tackle yourself and how many professionals to involve.