According to Remodeling’s 2021 Cost vs. Value Report, a mid-range bathroom remodel brings one of the highest returns on investment if and when you decide to sell the home. More importantly, for homeowners who plan to remain in their home, the National Association of Realtors Research Group gives a bathroom remodel a Joy Score of 9.3. So if you’re planning to remodel your bathroom this year, here are 12 key design elements to consider for your project.
1. Choose High-Quality Cabinetry
The bathroom is probably the most humid room in your home. A typical family of four can easily subject a single bath to two hours of steam per day. You need cabinets that can take that type of exposure. Riverside Construction often recommends Showplace Cabinetry because their choice of high-grade materials ensures you have a quality cabinet. Here are the three options when selecting cabinet material.
Solid wood–Solid wood expands and contracts with humidity changes. Over time, these changes can cause the paint to crack where the boards meet. Choose a close grain, like birch, poplar, or maple, if you want to use solid wood. It’s best for door frames, small drawers, or the cabinet face.
Plywood–Plywood is less expensive than solid wood and less prone to expansion and contraction. Choose a close-grained, hardwood variety, like birch. Plywood is an excellent choice for door panels, deep drawers, and cabinet sides and shelves.
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF)—Fine for painted cabinets, MDF is made of different types of compressed wood. It’s more prone to moisture damage than the other options and requires adequate sealant.
2. Choose Countertops Carefully
When it comes to countertops, choose something aesthetically pleasing but also easy to care for. Here are the pros and cons of the three most popular options.
Natural stone, including marble and granite
- Beautiful and elegant
- An infinite variety of patterns and colors
- Can be scratched
- Susceptible to staining, if not sealed
- More expensive
- Doesn’t require sealing or polishing
- Stronger and less brittle than natural stone
- Water, scratch, and stain resistant
- Ideal for high-traffic bathrooms
- Many styles and colors to choose from
- Not as heat resistant as natural stone
- Sometimes, seams show
- More costly option
- Water and stain-resistant
- Easy to clean and repair
- Great for high-traffic areas
- Can be manufactured without seams
- Less costly (similar to entry-level granite)
- Not heat resistant
- Stone-look is artificial
3. Add Plenty of Storage
Who doesn’t need more storage? In the bathroom, particularly. Any way you can add storage to this already space-challenged room will improve your life. Whatever you choose to create a home for your everyday items, make sure it fits your lifestyle. For instance, to avoid countertop clutter, you need a vanity with enough drawers or cubbies to hold the things you use every day. Also, consider adding a closet for occasional use items, like spare towels, first aid supplies, or extra paper products. Here are a few clever storage ideas for your bathroom remodel:
- Remove the lower shelves of a ladder-style bookshelf unit and place it over the commode for out-of-the-way storage, adding visual appeal.
- Built-ins not only provide storage but also add value to your home.
4. Layer the Lighting
Remodeling is the perfect time to improve the lighting in your bathroom. A design-build remodeler can advise you on how to provide the ideal illumination for everything from up-close work to creating a relaxing spa-like atmosphere. If you don’t have a window, adding lights in the shower makes that space safer. Consider installing bright, focused light for shaving or applying makeup, soft ambient light for general use, and dimmable can lights for a long soak in the tub. To improve the space’s overall design, choose stylish fixtures, like a chandelier near the tub or brass sconces aside the vanity mirror.
5. Design for Accessibility
Planning for future use is recommended, no matter what your age. But older homeowners, in particular, may want to consider incorporating universal design elements into their bathroom remodel. Work with a local design-build remodeler to learn how to make life easier and safer for your family. In addition, older adults or those with accessibility limitations may want to consider the following design changes.
- Zero-entry shower or walk-in tub
- Non-slip flooring
- Hands-free faucets and lighting
- Grab bars and shower seating
- Handles instead of knobs
- Improved lighting
- Lowered cabinets and sink for wheelchair access
6. Add a Window in the Shower
If at all possible, add a window in your shower. The greatest enemy of every bathroom is moisture. Opening a window, even if just a crack, before or after showering will draw the humid air out. If you’re concerned about privacy, choose frosted glass. It will prevent outsiders from looking in, while allowing all the natural light you need.
7. Include Proper Ventilation
Whether you have a window or not, an adequate exhaust fan is key to maintaining the health of your bathroom. A fan’s ability to remove air from the home is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The rule is you need at least 1 CFM per square foot of bathroom area. So, if your bathroom is 5- by 8-feet, you need an exhaust fan with a 40 CFM rating or higher. For further protection, consider installing an exhaust fan with a timer and an antibacterial violet light. When the fan turns off, the violet light comes on to stop mold and bacteria growth in the room.
8. Consider a Recessed Medicine Cabinet
Most medicine cabinets have mirrored fronts, a necessary element in every bathroom design. In addition, they provide much-needed storage space for items used regularly. Things like toothbrushes and paste, deodorant, combs, and hair gel get stashed out of sight rather than cluttering up the vanity top. Recessed medicine cabinets blend nicely into your design, rather than protruding from the wall like someone hung a box there. If you don’t already have a recessed cabinet, the construction phase of a remodel project is the perfect time to add one.
9. Include Niches for More Storage
Stop dropping bottles off the narrow tub ledge while taking a shower. Instead, include niches in your new shower design to store your shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. If the bathroom accommodates several family members, include several places so everyone can have their own space for their personal care products.
10. Stay Warm with Heated Flooring
Nothing is more luxurious than a warm bathroom floor in the morning. Consider installing radiant floor heat underneath the tile if you’re replacing the flooring during your remodel project. Easy to install, electric heat floor mats link together and lay on top of the subfloor. They then connect to an electrical circuit and thermostat. And, then the floor covering goes on top. In a small space like a bathroom, you can cover the entire floor or just the areas where you stand or walk. Your design-build team can advise you on the best product to use and its perfect placement.
11. Consider Low Flow Toilets and Showerheads
Low flow toilets and showerheads can save you money on your water bill and are better for the environment. Consider these comparisons.
|Fixture Type||Standard Flow||Low Flow|
|Sink Faucet||2.2 gallons per minute||1.5 gallons per minute|
|Toilet||1.6 gallons per flush||1.28 gallons per flush|
|Showerhead||2.5 gallons per minute||1.8 gallons per minute|
12. Keep The Main Fixtures Neutral
Everyone remembers the pink or avocado green bathrooms of yesteryear. They were the bane of home remodelers who wanted the charm of buying an older home but craved a more neutral color palette. Don’t make the same mistake for the future owners of your home, which could be you if you plan to stay a few decades. Fads come and go. So, choose neutral options that style well with any décor for large fixtures like the tub, toilet, and sink. Save the personality for components that cost less, and require less work, to replace.
If you’re ready to get started on your bathroom remodel, Riverside Construction is prepared to serve you. Since 2008, their award-winning team has served homeowners in the Lafayette, West Lafayette, and Tippecanoe County areas. Take a look at their extensive portfolio of stunning bathroom remodels, then schedule a consultation with one of their expert design-build professionals. Not quite ready? Sign up to receive their monthly newsletter, “Designed for Life,” to stay informed on current design and remodeling trends.