Planning out a Bathroom Remodel

The simple key to the perfect bathroom



The April issue covered five timeless “trends” in kitchens — things I felt were sure bets for design longevity and that homeowners could incorporate regardless of the size of their budgets.  

Continuing that idea of renovating without regret, I’ve come up with seven budget-blind tips if your next project is tackling that problem bathroom, and we all have one.

Steps one through seven are make a plan. That’s it, folks! All said and done. Don’t leave things to chance and your bathroom should stylistically, functionally and financially work out well.

But, if you’re hoping for a little more detail than that, these guidelines can help steer you in the right direction.

Put a dollar figure on it.

This seemingly obvious first step is imperative no matter what space in your house you plan to decorate. No one likes to talk money, but set your budget and then don’t get lazy. Choose all your design elements and get your labor estimates. Don’t leave decisions to chance while you’re in the middle of the project — you will either go over budget or have to scrimp and use cheap quality at the finish to make ends meet. When you plan in advance, you can choose where to splurge and where to save in order to get the overall feel and quality you want.

Pick your aesthetic.

How do you want to feel in your bathroom? Most people want their master bathrooms to feel serene and calm — oases before they hit the noise and exertion of the day — but that doesn’t fit everyone’s needs. Are you doing a kids’ bathroom and want a little more energy and color? Is it a laundry combo where you don’t have to worry about humidity and can play with wallcoverings to inject a little fun to lighten the work? Or a powder room where things can be a little more sophisticated to coordinate with the more formal rooms in your home?

Find your focal point.

You have to start somewhere, so find that inspirational launch pad. Are you in love with a certain tile, a light fixture, a colored vanity, a mirror, a window or shower curtain fabric? Choose it, and then let the other elements play supporting roles. Even the biggest bathrooms are smaller than most living spaces, so you can’t have too many divas on the stage or you’ll have one noisy mess.

Don’t get overzealous with tile patterns.

I see this too often. There is so much inspiration out on the web these days, it’s easy to go overboard — floors, tub surrounds, shower niches, backsplashes. My advice is to pick one more dramatic pattern or color and then — as I said earlier — let the others play supporting roles. Solid surfaces that have movement to them (such as vanity counters) act like patterns too. So don’t forget to figure those into the “pattern” mix of your bathroom.

Keep your undertones consistent.

Get all your finishes together — paint, wood, tile, surfaces — and make sure that their undertones harmonize.

Don’t forget storage.

Pick your pretties, then figure out alternative storage methods if necessary. You don’t have to have a huge storage vanity if you can stash stuff elsewhere. If you want a pedestal sink or console, can you do a medicine cabinet? Is there a place for a small closet in a wall between studs? You can even hide storage in the walls behind pictures or in a paneled tub surround. Plan a tiled shower niche rather than those corner tiles or after-the-fact metal shower towers.

Have a contingency fund.

If you’re demoing, you can never be too sure of what you’ll find. If you have an absolute-do-not-exceed dollar figure in your head, then make sure that your budget is actually 10-20 percent less than that figure, depending on the scope of the project. Your bank account will thank you.

Lastly, there are always unexpected problems that arise in renovating and decorating. So take heart, a deep breath and one step at a time. The result will be worth it.

About the Author

Decorator and color consultant Amy Mitchell is the owner of Home Glow Design. Each week, she writes for Home Glow’s “Saturday Blog,” focusing on fresh twists on classic style, American craftsmanship and value and quality for dollars spent. The blog also features more photos from this story. She lives in Hopkinton with her husband and two boys.

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