When experts express caution about the kinds of mistakes you can make when remodeling your bathroom, you get a lot of warnings that could apply to any renovation project: don’t do it yourself if you don’t have the expertise; hire a reputable contractor or a bathroom specialist; avoid under-budgeting. However, there are some mistakes you can make that are specific to remodeling a bathroom. Below are some of the big ones you should avoid.
Leaving Everyone in the Dark: Lots of older bathrooms were built with inadequate lighting. They might have a single overhead fixture or a couple of bulbs over the mirror, but regardless the lighting is barely adequate to apply make-up or shave. When you’re showering it’s so dim you can’t find the soap. If you want to avoid these frustrations, it’s important that you plan your renovation with lighting in mind. Think of ambient light – from recessed lights or an overhead fixture – as well as task lighting provided by pendant lights or a fixture over the sink (and maybe the shower or toilet if they’re in separate rooms). Remember that proper lighting is also a safety precaution. Your bathroom should be well illuminated so that a guest can maneuver around safely.
Forgetting the Little Things: It’s important to think about the little details, like outlets. A lot of older bathrooms don’t have enough outlets for the volume of hair dryers, straightening irons, electric razors, and other gadgets we use today. When renovating, be sure to include conveniently located outlets. How about storage? If you have a pedestal sink, where will you put all the toiletries people usually store under the sink? Think about towels as well. You need a convenient place in or near the bathroom to store towels and other toiletries. Another little thing to consider is the placement of the toilet paper holder. You want it where it’s a convenient reach from the toilet, but not so close to the shower or sink that it will get wet. And there is nothing worse than using damp toilet paper!
Keeping Up with the Joneses: Yes, your friends may have neon lights or waterfall faucets in their bathrooms, but think about how dated some of these trends will be in 10-20 years – around the time you might be trying to sell the house. Think of all the bathroom trends that seemed to be a good idea at the time, but now make most homeowners cringe: bathrooms tiled all in pink, avocado green or bright yellow fixtures, and Jacuzzi tubs that no one wants. Instead of choosing the latest thing in triangular sinks or red toilets, consider making your bathroom “neutral” in terms of décor. Choose neutral colors that aren’t likely to go out of fashion and classic fixtures in white or off-white. If you want a trendy look, see if you can get it with extras such as towel bars, drawer pulls, or even lighting fixtures. These things are easier for your home’s next owner to replace and aren’t likely to make them cringe.
Bad Space Planning: We’ve all had experience with knocking our knees on the bathtub while using the toilet. Or showering in a stall that even a supermodel would feel was too narrow. Or how about the tubs that look great in the room, but are too short for you to stretch out your legs. The clearance around certain fixtures is in the code, and it’s important to conform to these requirements. However – if you can – you should consider giving yourself more space than the bare minimum. You never know when you might have an extra large guest or someone who has trouble walking or standing. Besides, a feeling of extra space creates a sense of luxury in the room. It’s actually relaxing to have extra space and not feel cramped. When you’re planning out your bathroom remodel, think through where you need the space and where you don’t – and plan accordingly.
Choosing the Wrong Products: The bathroom isn’t like other rooms in your home. The fact that parts of it get wet every day means that you need products that are specifically designed for a damp environment. Bathrooms need a different kind of paint. They require tiles that are properly sealed to keep moisture out. Even some contractors use the wrong kind of underlayment or backer board so that over time moisture will get inside the wall, causing a whole host of problems. Similarly, you might not be particularly interested in exhaust fans, but it’s important to have one that is the right size for your bathroom (or two in a big bathroom). That could be all that’s standing between you and a major mold problem. So make sure you have the right materials before you start your renovation; it can save you plenty of headaches later on.
About the Author: Brianna Perkle is a freelance writer and guest contributor to Handyman Matters. She enjoys home decorating and remodeling.