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Make the Most Out of Your Small Bathroom

Article by: Robert Bollinger


small bathroom

A small bathroom doesn’t have to be cramped or uncomfortable. A well-designed bathroom remodeling project can create a space that feels big on space and on luxury.

Think beyond the usual

A traditional vanity and double sink can be beautiful in a big bathroom, but even a scaled-down version can overwhelm a room that has a much smaller footprint.  Consider options like these, which will look great without taking up too much space:

  • A pedestal sink in a classic or contemporary style.
  • A wood vanity with a rounded front that takes up less space than a typical square or rectangular box.
  • A sink and vanity that fit snugly into a corner that would otherwise be wasted.
  • A wall-mounted sink with a wall-mounted faucet.
  • A porcelain sink on chrome legs with an open shelf underneath.

Take advantage of the hidden spaces.

You may not be able to knock out walls or open up a closet to create a bigger bathroom, but don’t overlook the valuable spaces behind the drywall.

  • Eliminate a hinged door that opens inward and add a pocket door that disappears behind the walls.
  • Replace a toilet that sits on the floor with a wall-mounted version. The tank and the plumbing are tucked away between the wall studs.
  • Choose a recessed vanity. You’ll get the space that you need for toiletries without having an object protruding into the room.
  • Create storage shelves for towels, toiletries and cleaning supplies in the spaces between studs. Use glass or Plexiglas for shelving for a light, airy look.

Color it beautiful

There are a few ways you can go when choosing the color scheme for your bathroom remodel. One approach is to choose a soothing, neutral color—think natural stone colors of beige and cream—and carry that throughout the entire space with slight variations in tone or with a specific accent, like a row of beautiful handmade tiles.

If you prefer a bolder approach, look for wallpaper with a big, airy print. Large, open geometric prints area a popular choice.

You can also create the illusion of more space by adding horizontal lines, such as two or three rows of accent tiles, around the perimeter of the room.  If the ceiling feels like it’s closing in, consider adding floor-to-ceiling shelving or storage (it doesn’t have to be very wide) or adding a pop of color at the top of the wall to draw the eye upwards.

Add an interesting focal point—an unusual mirror, a shelf with a candle and a picture of your favorite beach retreat—to draw attention away from the small size of the room.

Keep it bright and simple

Clutter can make even large rooms look smaller. Stow the toothpaste, the makeup and the mouthwash someplace off the counter.

The right lighting brightens the dark corners, making a room look larger.  If your window is small, consider installing a skylight or Solatube. If that’s not an option, try adding wall sconces or even a small chandelier to typical bathroom lighting.

If your bathtub and shower are dingy and dull, and replacement is out of your budget, consider a system that lines your current tub and shower surround to make them look like new. Choose clear glass shower doors or a shower curtain that can be moved to one side so that the space within the shower enclosure adds to the space in the room.

Careful placement of mirrors will reflect light and the walls in the room, adding to the illusion of space.

Splurge a little

If you were remodeling a big bathroom you might not be able to afford radiant floor heating or beautiful glass tiles around the perimeter of the room. Since you need a smaller quantity of such materials in a small bathroom—and since their installation cost is much less than it would be in a larger space—those luxuries may now be within your budget.

When you treat yourself to something that you really want in a small bathroom, you’ll appreciate it every day—and you’ll find that you wouldn’t trade your small bathroom for a bigger space.

10 Elements of a Dream Master Bath

Article by:

Dreaming of revamping your master bath? From dual showers and soaking tubs to saunas, live-edge wood and built-in storage, more options abound than ever before. See if any of these 10 features make the wish list for your ultimate master bath. 

A dual shower. Would you forgo a bathtub altogether in favor of a shower? What if it were a really nice shower? This gorgeous shower has dual showerheads, black slate and built-in storage for towels and soap.

 

A Japanese soaking tub. If you do go for a tub, consider a Japanese-style soaking tub rather than a full-size version. A soaking tub is ideal for smaller spaces or when you want to devote more real estate to the shower; although it has a smaller footprint, it’s deep enough for bathers to fully submerge. 

Slightly larger than a traditional Japanese soaking tub, this one is deep enough for someone to have a good, relaxing soak and wide enough for two. The clean lines of the cube-shaped tub pair well with the narrow horizontal wood slats for an organic modern look.

 

Wood. Wood in bathrooms has been trending for several years now and shows no signs of slowing — and why not? With marine-grade supplies and specialty finishes, it’s possible to enjoy the warm look and feel of wood in the bathroom. Say goodbye to cold tile! 

The bath in the bedroom. Would you bathe in the bedroom? Combining bath and bed tends to ignite controversy — superluxurious, say some, while others prefer a distinct separation. Where do you stand?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sauna. Live somewhere cold or just love a good sweat? Embrace the wintertime traditions of Nordic countries with your very own sauna at home. Saunas don’t need to eat up too much space, and having one installed may cost less than you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sneaky storage. If you are redoing the whole bathroom, you may as well give some thought to your storage options — things have evolved since the days when your only choices were pedestal sink or double vanity. 

Sneak in pullout shelves, wall cubbies, recessed niches and more to get exactly the right storage for your stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What would have been a wasted section of wall space here was transformed into hidden shelving that’s perfect for storing spare toiletries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black and white. You really can’t go wrong with black and white — it’s chic, versatile and always in.Whether you bring the scheme to life with hand-painted floor tiles and horizontal black wall tiles, as in this hip space, or go for the classic subway and hex-tile combo, it’s bound to look good even five or 10 years out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live-edge wood. Well suited for both rustic and modern interiors, a live-edge wood slab makes a great bathroom feature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A view. Sadly, this won’t work for all of us (at least not those of us with close neighbors), but if you are lucky enough to have a home with some privacy, I say make use of it! 

A wall-to-wall window like this one will give you the feeling of soaking right out in nature — and making the bottom of the window level with the top of the tub will keep you from feeling overexposed. You can also always add window shades for privacy and light filtering.

 

Open air. If privacy isn’t an issue, consider opening up an entire wall to the outdoors. On cool days you can still enjoy the view, and on warm days you can slide open the glass and let the sun shine in!

Outfit Your Shower With the Right Bench for You

Article By: Tiffany Carboni

A shower bench is a wonderful thing. Should your shower stall be large enough to include a seat, it’s sure to add function and comfort to your everyday cleansing experience. There is an art to getting shower seating right, however. I asked bath designer Joy Wilkins of Custom Kitchens by John Wilkins to share some tips of the trade. These suggestions will help steer you toward what works best for your stall and your body. 

Types of shower benches. There are three kinds of permanent shower benches: built-in, floating and fold-down. You can also use a freestanding bench, but for this ideabook, we’re sticking with shower seating that’s permanently affixed to the wall. 

1. Built-in bench. This is a trade term describing a seat that is framed into the shower wall and floor. This type of seating can run the entire width of a shower enclosure, like the one shown here, or may be limited to a corner. It can have squared angles or be semicircular.

Tip of the trade: “One of the easiest ways to incorporate a built-in bench is with a product like the Laticrete Hydro Ban preformed seat,” Wilkins says. “The seat or bench is installed, then waterproofed and tiled in for a custom look.”

 

 

 

 

2. Floating bench. A floating bench is firmly secured to the shower walls but is open underneath. It can be made of waterproofed wood, like this one designed by Laura Bohn Design Associates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or it can be made from a single slab of stone, like this one installed by Devlin/McNally Construction. 

Though floating benches may look simple in form, careful engineering is required. This task is best left to seasoned professionals.

 

Braces were installed under this near-floating stone bench by Plantation Building, ensuring that the bench can support both its own hefty weight and that of those who sit on it. 

Another option for a floating bench is to tile it to match the rest of the shower. 

Tip of the trade: For this sort of tiled corner seat, Wilkins suggests using a product called Better-Bench. “It’s designed in several shapes and comes with the appropriate fasteners for the chosen shape,” she says.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Fold-down bench. This is a space-saving solution for smaller showers or universal design showers. Wilkins’ company installed this fold-down bench by framing in special blocking between the stud walls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the same bench in a lowered position. When choosing seating, select the style that can best accommodate the weight it will need to support. This one, for example, is designed to hold no more than 250 pounds. 

Tip of the trade: “This teak fold-down bench is aMr. Steam product rated for steam showers,” notes Wilkins, “but we also use it in regular showers, as it is designed to withstand water penetration and moisture.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heavier individuals might want to go with a built-in bench. This is where a conversation with your contractor, designer or architect becomes especially important.

Heavier individuals might want to go with a built-in bench. This is where a conversation with your contractor, designer or architect becomes especially important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regardless of the type of bench you choose, Wilkins says, “the top needs to slope slightly, so water runs off instead of pooling.” Pooled water not only feels icky on a naked body, it promotes mildew.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word about size. The size of your shower — not to mention the number of people who intend to use it at one time — will help determine the most appropriate bench size for your needs. Keep your desired function in mind, too. A narrow bench, like this one, makes shaving legs a dream, but it might not be the most comfortable spot for kicking back and relaxing.

 

Setting the right height and depth. The height and placement of any bench must be determined prior to installing the backer board and tile, so that the bench’s armature can be securely fastened to the blocking. 

Tip of the trade: The height of any bench, says Wilkins, “is generally determined by each individual customer. Some like a higher perch — around 21½ inches from the shower pan — which is easy to push oneself off of, especially for a taller person. Some people like something similar in height to a chair, around 17½ to 18 inches. This may work best for those who are shorter and prefer to sit on the bench rather than perch.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The depth of a bench is also negotiable, depending on what suits the bodies for which the bench is being built, and what the stall will allow. Wilkins says a comfortable depth ranges from 12 to 21 inches.

 

This shower bench in a Hollywood Hills, California, home falls into the built-in category — but in its own unique way. “It’s a 2,000-pound lava rock that required extra steel engineering to keep it from falling through the floor,” says designer Lori Dennis, who describes this approach as “The Flintstones meets The Jetsons.” 

The rock was carved onsite, and it took seven men to it haul into place. “It’s carved and smoothed to comfortably fit two rear ends,” the designer notes. 

This built-in bench by SoCal Contractor was created for a fashion industry executive who travels most of the year. The custom love seat re-creates the spa experience the owner loves at the boutique hotels she frequents. The tiled, ergonomic design features a sloping seat and a recessed channel that drains behind the “cushions” so water can’t puddle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bench alternative. Not all showers are as large and as lavish as some we’ve seen here. Nor might they be large enough to accommodate a bench sized for an actual tush. If that’s your scenario, don’t despair. Wilkins suggests adding what she calls a toe grip. This is a small recess in the shower wall or a triangle of tile in the corner that takes up very little space, but still helps with shaving legs and washing toes.