Bathroom Remodeling Tips: Small Bathrooms (Part 2)

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Finding new space in a bathroom remodeling project

If you’re planning to gut your bathroom and start over, you might ask your contractor to look for some “found space” by rethinking its previous configuration.

For example, if your master bathroom has a large tub in it as well as a shower, consider removing the tub, says Jim McCoy, president of Bath Express, which has two showrooms in the Washington area. Most people don’t use their bathtubs, and they end up as wasted space – something you have to walk around, he says.

“People used to like big tubs,” but today, people seem to have less time for using them and now want to relax in the shower. “Now, they like very nice showers, with a nice handheld shower, a shower bench or maybe a rain shower head.”

Another place to find space is in the walls. Once the old bathroom is gutted, contractors can frame the walls and find new spaces, for example, to build a shelf or a bench in the shower. It may not seem like much, but in a small bathroom, every corner that you can find to put to use can help.

bathroom remodeling, medina oh, medina exteriorsOne designer, Elizabeth Boland of Design in a Day, says her favorite tip is to create a built-in cabinet in the wall space, between the frame. She then buys a mirror to cover it up and attaches hinges so it functions as a hidden storage space.

“This is a secret everyone should know,” Boland says.

She recommends building the cabinet as tall as possible in the wall. And she has done it often enough for clients that she even buys the same mirror from Ikea to create the look. “It’s not deep enough for toilet paper, but you can put a lot of other things in there.”

Another area to consider is the bathroom door. Simple as it sounds, the space where the bathroom door swings open may be taking up extra room that makes the space feel smaller.

Contractors can remove the door and either create a “pocket” door that slides into the wall or they can move the door hinge so that it swings out, opening into the outer room instead of the bathroom.

In our bathroom, we didn’t have enough room to adopt Boland’s secret cabinet idea, but we did find a tiny space to build a niche in the shower wall so we finally had room to put our shampoo and soap. And we made space in the wall to put in a larger recessed medicine cabinet that fits inside the wall rather than sticking out from it, giving us more space for toiletries.

Lighting and tile

Nothing opens up a space like new lighting. Many old homes were not built with a light above the shower, which my contractor, Neil Jannsen, highly recommends for all of his bathroom remodel clients. Initially, some clients are surprised at the suggestion of shining a light over the space, but it can add depth to the room and make it look larger.

“I don’t think you can have too much lighting,” said Jannsen of Jannsen Design. “Some folks have gotten used to older bathrooms being so dark. But once you get it in there, you realize how it shows the whole bathroom off. You want it to show off all the tile and things you’ve put your money into.”

With lighting, one has to also consider wall color and tile selection; in a small bathroom, the tile can easily dominate the color scheme. Several designers recommended looking for classic designs, such as subway tiles, or ones that are oriented horizontally, particularly in the shower. This helps to create a visual effect that the shower is larger than it is.

Jannsen also recommends using tile all the way to the ceiling in a bathroom, which creates a similar effect, and trying not to “do too much” in terms of adding extras in the shower.

For example, many bathroom showrooms today have tile showers that feature a horizontal strip of “accent” tile that is different from the rest of the bathroom tile, often glass or a unique design to introduce another tile color or pattern.

But in a small bathroom, these can be distracting, Jannsen says. He cautions the same for people who may really want to try to install a lot of extra shower head plumbing, such as side sprays or elaborate shower systems.

“Keep it simple in the tile department and in the shower fixture department,” he said, “just so that there’s fluidity to it and the design is pleasing.”

In our bathroom, we followed Jannsen’s advice and added a recessed light over the shower and bought a three-bulb light fixture to replace the dimmer one that once hung over the vanity. We also chose white Arrabescato marble for the shower in large rectangular shapes – 22 inches wide by 12 inches long and had them installed horizontally from floor to ceiling. This created the appearance that our shower wall was made almost like a large piece of marble, and with the light, made the shower appear taller than it really is.

The other luxury was that we added radiant heated floors in the bathroom, which can get very cold with the large window we have in it, especially in the winter. Although it’s only been a few weeks – and for sure, the cost per-square-foot is something I don’t like to think about – I love the new look.

Instead of being the eyesore of the house – a room that my husband used to avoid – even he admits it’s a dramatic improvement. — From Delaware Online

Interested in starting a bathroom remodeling project? Contact Medina Exteriors today, (330)591-4040

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