Tricks of the Trade: Better Your Bath

So your bathroom screams update. Don’t grab the sledgehammer just yet.

Consider these useful tips from design experts Amy Courage, architect, and Thomas Kearin of Heidbreder Building Group.

Assess your needs

Take a hard look at your bathroom and think about what really needs to be done. Can you get away with aesthetic changes or updates, or are there larger issues (like water damage, hideous tile, size constraints) that need to be addressed?

If you’re going to do a significant overhaul, you’re better off getting down to the studs, Kearin advises. Not only does it give you more flexibility in your design choices, but you can address any and all issues hidden behind the ceiling, floor and walls.  

Get a brighter outlook

home-bath-renovation-newUpdating your lighting can make a dramatic improvement not just to the room, but to your personal appearance as well. Shift overhead vanity lighting to the sides of your mirror to reduce unflattering shadows. Consider adding a dimmer so you can see how your skin will look in different settings, and look for full (color) spectrum or “daylight” bulbs.

Thankfully, there are plenty of fixtures for the bath today that are approved for use in damp environments but offer significantly higher style. And, adds Courage, don’t forget to add a good “grooming” mirror to ensure you put your best face forward.

Update your fixtures and fittings

Often just swapping out dated or dilapidated countertops, cabinets, faucets, sinks or toilets can rejuvenate your bathroom (and save on water use). Unless you are going to change the countertop, Kearin suggests finding faucets with the same configuration as what’s already there.

Updating tub/shower controls and faucets can get a little trickier, Kearin warns. Unless you want to cut into the wall, look for products that allow you to work with what’s already behind the wall. A plumber will be your best resource.

Don’t forget the real workhouse in your bathroom: the medicine cabinet. Robern offers a variety of options with equal doses of function and style, and even markets one designed to seamlessly and easily replace old cabinets without the need to retile, plaster or paint.

Improve airflow

A dry bathroom is a happy bathroom, and that’s where proper ventilation comes in. Kearin recommends a new remote-controlled exhaust fan with multiple inlets. They are quieter, pull air from multiple spots at the same time, and offer a variety of inlet covers to match your design specifications. Dumb it down by adding a timer to your exhaust fan or a humidistat that will automatically kick on.

Don’t forget fresh air. Think about replacing dated glass block or drafty windows with a new, vinyl window that’s resistant to humidity.

Consider color and finish

Paint and textiles can offer the greatest impact for the smallest cost. High-gloss paint and new knobs can revive dated wood vanities. Retro fixtures in dated colors can be restyled with fun wallpaper and textiles. Even beige tiled bathrooms with ornate bronze fixtures from the ‘80s can be refreshed by introducing things like grass cloth, teak accessories and updated burnished brass.

Always put quality first

No matter what products, architects or tradesmen you choose for your bathroom redo, don’t skimp on quality to save a few bucks. Few things cause as pervasive damage as water, especially behind walls. Tile and stone are useless at blocking water if improperly backed or pitched. And there is a reason plumbers must be licensed.

Remember, nothing beats good design, especially when it comes to achieving low maintenance, ergonomic ease of use, safety and the pleasure of interaction with a beautiful space.