As an interior designer, I am constantly in beautiful spaces surrounded by stunning furnishings only to be disappointed when coming home to my own home.
The same is true with a few bathrooms that I have recently had the pleasure of working on, and I think it is time for an update.
Updating a bathroom in your home can be an overwhelming process, but breaking it down into steps can help - and it is as simple as knowing a few numbers.
Do you remember the most beautiful bathroom that you have ever seen? I still remember the bath at a Las Vegas hotel with a double door entry that took my breath away.
There is no reason why we can't have a few of those elements in our home, and for that reason I am writing a bathroom renovation series to help you to update your bath with troubleshooting tips on how to select items, avoid mistakes and, even worse, avoid the dreaded regret.
Like most successful projects it is all about the planning. Please do not begin ripping out your bathroom without having a plan for what you are going to do. I recommend that no work take place without everything you need sitting in the garage or basement. For this step you will need a piece of paper and a tape measure. Let's take a look at the size needed for most of the items and tips on how to lay out a great space.
It is all about the numbers
Let's begin with the space that is needed for items and how to plan correctly before we discuss design and finish options. Renovations that are simply switching out new products and replacing pieces with the same size sinks and tubs are generally easier and cost less in labor. Once you decide to move things around, that is when things get tricky. I would recommend bringing your measurements with you to the bath center before making any purchase, or calling an architect or designer for a consultation.
The easiest place to make a mistake is when sizing the area around the toilet. It is not as simple as whether the toilet you selected will fit. Generally the minimum of clear space around the toilet is 30 inches, but 36 is preferred.
Not all toilets are alike. There are now at least two heights and two seat sizes to select from. You need at least 24 inches of space in front of the toilet, so a standard size is a safe bet and the newer comfort height is especially the way to go if there are people in the home with mobility issues.
Elongated seats are 2-3 inches longer and would not be the best choice if space is tight. I just designed a beautiful bath in a waterfront home and we used a new toilet from Rohl that was not only one piece but was a flat surface. And it did not have the molded shape of the water flow area under the seat that we are all used to.
My client liked the look as well as the thought that it was easier to clean. They are twice the price of the basic two-piece toilet. But let's face it, only you can determine if it is worth the splurge. There are toilets with catchy names and funny commercials. (Have you heard of the Vormax?) Some mount on the wall and others on the floor. Seats now self-close and others heat up.
One shower, hold the tub
There is another trend with people removing their tub units and replacing them with just a shower. Be sure to leave one tub in the house for resale purposes. Most tubs are 60 inches long and 30-32 inches wide. Depth ranges from 14 to as many as 20 inches. I recommend my clients consider a tub like the Kohler Archer Collection unit. It's deep enough to soak in on those days where a shower is not enough to relieve the aches, but is not so deep that it is difficult to step in for a shower.
Showers come in all sizes, but if you are unable to find a base that you like then your contractor will likely make one for you that will take your favorite tile. (We will talk about tile later in the series.)
When splurging for glass doors be sure to consider the way the door will swing. Installers want to be sure that the door hinges on a wall, so consider how you will turn on the water before stepping into a cold shower. Think about how you will reach the towel when stepping out; whether it is a wall or on the glass doors, be sure to measure for the proper size towel bar.
Towel bars mount 36-42 inches above the floor. If you prefer those enormous bath towels called "sheets" then raise the bar to 48-50 inches.
The one mistake I see often is the placement of the toilet paper hardware. You should not have to be a gymnast to twist and turn to get the paper, nor should it be the first thing you look at when you walk into the bathroom. Sit on the seat and place it where it won't hit the knees of your tall uncle. Consider it on the side of the nearby vanity if it makes the most sense. Do not not do it because you don't want to make a hole.
Searching your favorite style magazine or an online resource like houzz.com will give you the inspiration you need to narrow down the many choices. Houzz allows you to create idea books and refer back to images later. You can even share your idea books with your designer or contractor and many of the images provide you with the shopping information that you need to buy.
Next month we will talk about the many different sink styles and vanity types as well as lighting options to give your own bath that wow factor that will take your breath away.
Karen Corinha is an accomplished and regionally recognized interior designer who specializes in creating high-style, affordable solutions. She is also a regular columnist for The Sun Chronicle.