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Is it time for a Bathroom Remodel?

April 1, 2021

Spanishmermaid

Your bathroom is where you prep to start your day and where you wind down at the end of the day. From a nice hot shower, to an at home spa, the bathroom is an important room in every home and to our daily lives. However, it can be the room most overlooked when it comes to decor and/or remodeling. It shouldn't be. According to Contractors.com, remodeling your bathroom can yield an 80-90% return in the value of your home. Adding a new bathroom can also easily give you a 90% return in the value of your home. Improving this room can, therefore, be a savvy investment in your property. But it can be more than just a wise investment. Updating your bathroom can make this at home retreat more inviting and invigorating. Take the time to make a bright, friendly room to jump start your busy work day, and a calm, peaceful room to help you recharge in your own do-it-yourself spa retreat. Below, we provide some pointers and tips for your bathroom makeover. Whether just updating the decor or completing a major remodel, we hope you will find something beneficial for your bathroom remodeling project.

Part I: Decor Makeover & Small Remodel - This decor makeover includes simple, do-it-yourself solutions for a quick update. Many of these changes could be done in one to two days. Some of these remodel items may take longer.

Make a Plan - The fist step to any decor makeover or remodel is to set out a plan for the project.

  • Set your budget and a timeline. Both will help determine what you can do. You may need to consider doing the project in stages or altering your original ideas. Planning ahead will help make certain you do not end up with an unusable bathroom for weeks or even months!
  • Consider what the bathroom is lacking, such as, do you have enough functional space, storage, lighting, etc.?
  • Does the room have any items that need updating? This can be anything from the toilet to the outdated wallpaper on the walls.
  • What do you envision for the space? Do you want a Zen retreat or a homey B&B feel to the room? Consider what you want the completed room to look like. Do you have anything in there that fits this idea now? Or will it be better to start from scratch?
  • How much experience do you have with remodeling? Are you limited to painting the walls and changing hardware? If some of your ideas seem over your head, you may want to consider hiring a contractor, plumber or electrician. For more information about major remodeling projects, see below.
  • Finally, if you want a change but are drawing a blank with ideas, consider hiring an interior designer. Some people are hesitant about hiring an interior designer because they think they have to use them all the way through. But indeed, you can work with them to make a project plan, and then project manage the remodel yourself. Or you can also hire them to follow the entire project from start to finish.

Cabinets and Storage - You may want to replace or add to your existing bathroom cabinets.

  • Changing a mirror to a medicine cabinet can help add space above your sink.
  • Adding cabinets can help store essentials for the bathroom from towels to extra soaps and supplies. There are many styles of cabinets available.
  • You can get stand alone cabinets or wall cabinets that fit above a sink or toilet, which provide quite a bit of extra space. You can also consider changing your sink cabinet. A new design can offer an updated look and add more storage to your bathroom. **You may wan to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!

Walls - Is the paint or old wallpaper making the room too dark, dated, or showing damage or spots from mildew?

  • Determine your new color scheme or theme for the room before painting or wallpaper goes up.
  • Roll a fresh coat of paint on the walls! Wash the walls down first and check for mildew. Any light mildew will need sanding and bleaching. Then clean the entire surface to be painted with TSP solution. Although a bit shinier, you may want to consider a satin or semi-gloss paint as these will make your walls easier to clean and more resistant to damage from constant cleaning. Just keep in mind, glossy paint will show imperfections in the wall itself.
  • If you decide to wallpaper a bathroom, keep in mind the moisture content of the room. Also consider how often you may be cleaning certain walls near a sink or bathtub.
  • Consider combining a new coat of paint with just an accent wall of wallpaper!

Lighting - Again, how bright is the space? Is it too dark or too bright and harsh?

  • Replacing the light fixtures can help add more soft light in your bathroom. Try to avoid glaring harsh lights as these can be very unappealing.
  • Consider two light switch options for the room: one for soft light for general use and the other for brighter light for applying makeup, etc.
  • Consider adding a solar tube or skylight for more natural lighting in the room. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!

Windows - If your bathroom has a window, consider if there are any updates needed to the window when coming up with your redesign plan.

  • If the window is older, you might consider replacing it with a newer one. Or you may want to add additional windows or change the style to bring in more natural light. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!
  • Does the window give enough privacy? You may want to consider updating blinds or frosting the window to provide more privacy to your bathroom.

Fan - If you have any problems with mildew or don't already have a fan, you may want to consider adding one to the room.

  • Many fans now include overhead lights and can add a more welcoming feature to the room than the loud eye-sores of past models.

Shower Curtain or Door - You can brighten your bathroom by changing your shower curtain or door.

  • Replacing an older shower curtain is a cheap way to help update the decor of your bathroom.
  • Installing a bath/shower door can lighten the space of the room. This can also make cleaning easier and cut down on mildew or damp spots if this has been a problem. Many times shower curtains will let condensed water sit or runoff the corners of your tub or shower. A well sealed bath/shower door can help.

Hardware - Changing out your old hardware can be one of the easiest updates to the bathroom.

  • Add a new towel rack or completely change the set to start a new color scheme with gold, brass,brushed nickel, or bronze, etc.
  • You can create a spa feel to your bathroom by adding small upgrades like a heated towel rack!

Faucet - Updating your sink faucets can give the bathroom a facelift.

  • Sink faucets can be relatively easy to change out. If uncertain, take a class at a hardware store or hire a professional.
  • Changing the faucets in your bathtub can be a littler trickier. However, again a class or professional can help with this change.
  • If you have a showerhead, this can also be changed out to complete your new look and add a more spa like feel to the room.

Sink & Countertop - You may want to replace or refinish your sink.

  • If you are already replacing your sink cabinet, you maychoose to replace the sink at the same time if you get an all-inclusive unit.
  • Consider adding another sink if you have the space. Many new vanities include a two sink option.
  • You may also consider changing the countertop if the sink itself is fine. There are many styles of laminate, granite, quartz, marble, etc. to choose from or you may change the template completely with a new cabinet.

Mirrors - A mirror is an essential item to every bathroom.

  • Consider updating your mirror if crackled or out of style.
  • How do you use your mirror? You may want to consider mirrors that hinge out to provide angles or depth when needed or one that offers different strengths of magnification.
  • Mirrors can also be decorative items! Mirrored sconces or tiles on the wall can help to give a dark corner light or a narrow space depth.

Refinishing & Liners - Refinishing or lining your tub can be a great way to make it look new again.

  • You can refinish your own tub, but you will need a respirator, spray gun, sander, chemical cleaners and will need to also purchase an acrylic top coat. The actual refinishing product can be purchased as a kit. Keep in mind that there will be a 30-60 minute wait between about three coats of acrylic and a 24 hour set time. Needless to say, this will be a time consuming project that will take clear ventilation and lots of patience. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!
  • Another option is inserting a bathtub or shower liner. This is a task you can do by yourself with some careful planning and a few extra helping hands. There are also many dealers offering liners and installation for reasonable rates. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!

Tiling - Does your tiling need replacing? If you have the time and skill, this can be a great update to any bathroom.

  • Again, consider your timeline, budget, and skill level before taking on a task of this magnitude. Consider a deep clean. Giving your tiles a good clean can help breathe new life into them. Some also find it beneficial to selectively replace specific tiles and re-grout lines rather than replacing the whole wall; consider this option if you are on a tight budget.
  • Make arrangements to be without your bathtub for a while if you plan to retile this area. Although the tiles and grout may set at specific times, you may need longer to work it out if taking it on as a do-it-yourself project.
  • If tiling/retiling a floor, consider how you are going to move the toilet and sink/sink cabinet or if you are going to tile around them.
  • Be patient with any tiling project, take it slow as this is something that should last a long time.

Vinyl Flooring - If tile flooring is not for you, you may want to consider replacing your existing vinyl flooring with an updated vinyl.

  • As with tile flooring, consider your timeline, budget and skill set before taking on this task.
  • Consider how you are going to move the toilet, and sink/sink cabinet or if you are going to cut the vinyl to fit around them.
  • Again, consider taking a class at a local hardware store or hiring a professional if uncomfortable with this kind of work.

Part II: Major Remodel - This makeover includes major structural changes and updates. You will most likely need professional help. Also, this type of remodel may include obtaining specific building permit from your city or county.

Make a Plan - The fist step to any major remodel is to create a plan for the project.

  • Determine your budget and timeline. Planning ahead will prevent unforeseen expenses and help you obtain better estimates from professionals you may need to hire for the project.
  • You may need to get a building permit for some of your changes, especially if you are making major structural changes to the room.
  • Consider what the bathroom is lacking, such as, do you have enough functional space, storage, lighting, etc.?
  • Does the room have any items that need updating? This can be anything from the plumbing to the sink fixtures. What do you envision for the space? Do you want a Zen retreat or a homey B&B feel to the room? Consider what you want the completed room to look like. Do you have anything in there that fits this idea now? Or will it be better to start from scratch?
  • How much experience do you have with remodeling? Are there some aspects of this remodel that you are confident you can complete on your own? Perhaps you don't want to install the sink but have no problem putting in the tile backsplash. Mixing contracted work with do-it-yourself work can be a great way to save money, if you have the time.
  • You may want to consult with an interior designer for a major remodeling project. They could bring up considerations for the space you may not have thought about.
  • What kind of professional help will you need? Will you need a general contractor, electrician or plumber? Often times even a general contractor may hire out certain tasks (i.e. electrical work) under their supervision. If you know what tasks will need to be done, then you will have a better idea of who will need to be hired.

Hire a Contractor - With a major remodel you will very likely need professional help.

  • Interview several contractors and get estimates from each. Ask questions and be bold enough to ask why estimate are different - i.e. if they are using different materials, this is good to know in advance!
  • Many contractors will help obtain the necessary permits for your project.┬áCheck and see if any you are interviewing will help with this process. Avoid any contractors who say this or that permit, "isn't really needed."
  • Check to see if the contractor will be sub-contracting certain aspects of your project such as plumbing, electrical, tiling, etc.
  • Find out what they expect from you in giving sub-contractors access to a work site, etc.

Permits - Many overhaul projects that affect the structure of your home will need permits from the city or county.

  • If you are removing or adding any walls, this may be affected by local or state building codes.
  • You may not be aware of all the aspects in your project that may need a permit. Check with your contractor. If you are doing it alone, check with your local government for guidance.

Cabinets and Storage - You may want to replace or add to your existing bathroom cabinets.

  • Adding cabinets helps with storing essentials for the bathroom from towels to extra soaps and supplies. With a major remodel, you may have the opportunity to include built-in wall cabinets/closets in your new bathroom. Otherwise, there are many styles of cabinets available. You can get stand alone cabinets or wall cabinets that fit above a sink or toilet that provide quite a bit of extra storage.
  • You can also consider changing your sink cabinet. A new design can offer an updated look and add more storage to your bathroom.

Walls - Do you have room to expand your space?

  • Taking down a wall to add space can do wonders for a small bathroom.
  • Think outside the box. Replace a dividing wall with a sheet of glass to allow more light throughout the bathroom. Insert small alcoves within the walls to add little retreats for mirrors, candles, and other decor items to make the space more inviting. Some redesigns use tiles on the walls as a protective "wainscoting" design. Other designs include half walls to offer definition of space without enclosing entirely. The possibilities are endless.

Lighting - How bright is the space? Is it too dark or too harsh?

  • Replacing the light fixtures can help you add more soft light in your bathroom. Try to avoid glaring harsh lights as these can be very unappealing.
  • Consider getting an electrician to add light switches. Add one for soft, every day light and another for brighter, utilitarian light for applying makeup, etc.
  • With the help of an electrician you can add recessed lighting or other design lighting updates.

Windows - If your bathroom has a window, consider if there are any updates needed to the window when planning your redesign.

  • If an older window, you might consider replacing the window with a newer one. You can add a special feature like stained or frosted glass. Or consider built in blinds for a combo of extra privacy and easy cleaning. You may also consider making the window larger or adding an additional window to the room.
  • Consider adding a solar tube or skylight for more natural lighting in the room.

Fan - If you have any problems with mildew or don't already have a fan, you may want to consider adding one in the room.

  • Many fans now include overhead lights and can add a more welcoming feature to the room than the loud eye-sores of past models.
  • Consider working with an electrician to get a more powerful fan with more options and better ability to clear moisture from the room.

Shower Door - You can brighten your bathroom by changing to a shower door.

  • Installing a bath/shower door can help lighten the space of the room. This can also help make cleaning easier and cut down on mildew or damp spots if this has been a problem. Many times shower curtains will let condensed water sit or runoff the corners of your tub or shower. A well sealed bath/shower door can help.
  • Another alternative to a shower door is using a sheet of glass or a tiled wall to separate the shower from the larger room. This adds a decorative feature and more light for the room overall.

Faucet - Updating your faucets can help give the bathroom a facelift.

  • Sink faucets can be relatively easy to change out.
  • Changing the faucets in your bathtub and the showerhead can help complete a new look for you bathroom.
  • If remodeling an older home, a major remodel may be a good time to consider reviewing the pipes and improving water pressure and usage. There are many water saving devices available now that can still offer a good amount of water pressure.

Sink & Countertop - You may want to replace or refinish your sink.

  • If you are already replacing your sink cabinet you may decide to replace the sink at the same time if you get an all-inclusive unit.
  • Consider adding another sink if you have the space. Many new vanities include a two sink option.
  • You may also consider changing the countertop if the sink itself is fine. There are many styles of laminate, granite, quartz, marble, etc. to choose from or you may change the template completely with a new cabinet.

Refinishing & Liners - Refinishing or lining your tub can be a great way to make it look new once again.

  • Refinishing your tub is an alternative to replacing or lining it. This process will need at least a 24 hour set time. This should be considered if working with more than one professional, as work will have to be suspended as the acrylic is applied and sets.
  • Another option is inserting a bathtub or shower liner. Many companies offer the liner and installation for a reasonable cost.

Tiling - Finish your spa retreat with professional tiling.

A major remodel is a great time to get the bathtub, shower, floor and even walls all done at once.

If you want to keep the old tiling, consider this a time to get damaged tiles replaced and grout redone.

New Big Items - A major remodel may also include getting a new bathtub, toilet, sink or custom made shower.

  • If you are doing a different style design you may want to consider changing some or all of your big items.
  • If you are updating an older home, this would be a great time to get a more efficient toilet or better fixtures to aid with water pressure.
  • This is your own spa, maybe it is time to replace that old bathtub with a jetted one!
  • A custom built shower can offer a neat new design and multiple shower spray option for a more spa-like experience.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are considering a small or large remodel, the short list above makes it obvious the possibilities are endless. In both cases, make certain to plan ahead and really consider how you want your new bathroom to function and feel. Have fun, get carried away, and then look at what you can turn into a reality. Get help from the professionals whether it be an interior designer or a general contractor. Or get in your hours at your local home improvement store's classes and put your patience and creativity to the test. Either way, the best part of a bathroom remodel is that once it is done, you can reap your rewards by enjoying your mini spa retreat everyday!

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