by Merry Cvetan
Remodeling a bathroom is a huge project. It’s expensive, messy, and leaves the family without a loo for several weeks. Therefore, planning is essential and necessary. No two remodeling jobs are ever the same; your new bathroom will be unique to your home, your family’s needs and lifestyle. Whatever you do, it should reflect your style and personality. Before you begin your remodel, really think about these five elements and the answers you give.
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1. Your Motives
Why are you considering a bathroom remodel? This may seem like a silly question, but think about your motives:
• Is the bathroom simply ugly and outdated?
• Is your family growing?
• Are you getting ready to sell?
This is the time to really think big. It may sound counterproductive, but consider everything you ever wanted in a bathroom—you can always scale back on the ideas later based on your budget. Keep in mind the type of bathroom and who uses it. Is it a master bath, powder room, or the only family bath in the house for everyone?
It may seem odd, but consider age as well. Families with small children probably need a tub. If you’re a senior and plan to stay in your home for the long run, you’ll want to consider universal design.
Then, narrow down and prioritize your wants and needs. Create a must-have, nonnegotiable list—whether that’s more storage, a walk-in shower, an accessible tub, or two sinks. Use that list to figure out whether the project will be cosmetic or a complete gut, and if you’ll stick with the existing footprint, or add on and expand.
Planning to sell in five years or less? Keep resale value in mind and make traditional or classic design choices. If your plan is to stay seven years or more, design for yourself and your family’s needs.
Be realistic with your budget. Make sure you plan for contingencies and unexpected expenses, as they almost always come up. As with any design project, buy the best you can afford and spend the most on items that can’t be changed easily, like the bathtub or vanity.
To help plan your budget, ask yourself these questions:
• Can some items in the room be saved or revitalized instead of gotten rid of entirely? Can you reline the tub, replace cabinet door fronts, save the sink, or get a new faucet?
• Is the plumbing and wiring outdated? These areas will certainly call for a professional.
4. DIY vs. Hiring a Contractor
This is a big decision. Before you tackle a DIY bathroom remodel, assess your skills and knowledge. Are there some areas you can do by yourself, or should you just hand it all over to the pros? Call a pro for a quote or advice even if you’ll be doing some or all of the work yourself. A professional remodeler can avoid costly mistakes, which helps you save money and work faster than your weekend warrior effort. If the plumbing or wiring are outdated, always hire a licensed plumber or electrician. Don’t attempt to fix them yourself.
What is your design style? How have you decorated the rest of your house? Gather pictures or tour model homes to get a feel for how you want to translate that to your new bathroom. Having a plan ready and choosing all of your fixtures before you start the remodel will help you stay on budget.
Keep in mind that you should never choose between style and saving money. There’s something for every budget out there! Study large bathroom designs even if yours is small. Look for details that could work in your space. You might not have room for a double L-shaped vanity, but you could fit a smaller one with two sinks. Small details also help you save. For example, install a simple 4 x 4 glazed tile in the shower and splurge on a decorative tile trim added at eye level.
Accessories are the easy and inexpensive final touches. Can’t afford a glass shower door? Look for a fabulous shower curtain instead! Soon you’ll have a brand new bathroom that’s within budget and perfectly tailored to your tastes.
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MEC Designs’ Merri Cvetan has major expertise planning bathroom renovations. Merri writes on bath design and bath vanities for Home Depot. View some new Home Depot vanity design ideas here.
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