It’s finally time to do it; turn that cramped bathroom into a relaxing home-spa “escape” room. You’re headed into quite a process, but the end result is so worth it. To make it easier, here’s a “Reality Checklist” to help you understand the process before you find yourself in the midst of it:
Plan, plan and then finalize plans
Knowing exactly what you plan to do is the first half of the battle. There are so many amazing small bathroom solutions. For example, you can remove an old tub, shower and surround, replacing it, in nearly the same footprint, with a 5-foot deep soaker tub and stand-alone shower. New fixtures and furniture add personality and breathe new life into a tired old bathroom. You can create a lot of air and space with off-the-floor cabinets and by separating the toilet from rest of bathroom with a half wall. Changing to polished stone countertops and creating back lit, in-wall storage with glass doors, adds light and reflection in small bathrooms with little or no access to natural light.
No matter what you choose to change, once you have a detailed plan, set it in ink, set the budget and set your install dates. And don’t forget: you’ll need access to another bathroom in your home while the one you are working on is under construction.
The Budget: Set it with wiggle room
Once you have a plan, set your budget based on the items you have chosen to include in your new bathroom, the cost of installation, plumbing, carpentry charges, flooring, lighting, tile, and glass installation. These are your fixed costs. Once you have these, you can figure out how much you have left over for fixtures, furnishings, and extras. Then consider wiggle room: often in the midst of renovations things pop-up, like old wiring, plumbing replacement requirements, insulation additions…these are the unseen things in your floors and walls that tend to get uncovered and are best dealt with during the renovation.
How Long Will It Take
Timing depends on how many things you are changing in the bathroom, not the size of the room. Big or small, changing just a few things will take less time than changing a lot.
Ordering and purchasing everything you need before your install day, will decrease wait time and ensure your contractor has everything they need when they need it. Tiles, fixtures, vanity, cabinets and all of the plumbing items and hardware need to be close at hand when required. Know in advance what you are going to do with the items you are removing. If you are doing a full renovation of a 4 piece bath, have a clear plan for your old toilet, shower, tub and sink before they are removed so they can be cleared off premises immediately.
Step by Step
A professional bathroom installer knows the sequence in which your renovation needs be done. In most cases, they’ll start at the top and work down to ensure that the new items being installed in your bathroom are in pristine condition after the reno is finished. If you are planning a major floor to ceiling overhaul, let your contractor gut the room and start fresh. It can actually save time if they have more space to work in and can be less cautious around existing tile work and cabinetry. If you are planning a smaller reno, cover the pieces you plan to keep to maintain their integrity during the renovation.
On the Wall and Floors
Before your new flooring goes in, finish the walls. Painting, tiling, installing cabinetry, mirrors…anything that goes above your floors should be installed before the flooring is installed. Although, in some cases, the flooring does need to be laid before the cabinetry is installed. If this is the case in your new bathroom, cover your new flooring on the day your fixtures are installed.
Check List of Final Design Effects
Pay attention to the little details because they can make or break your new bathroom design. Consider the look and function of your faucets, shower heads, toilet flushers, mirror frames, door handles, window trim, drawer pulls, tub enclosures, shelving and shower doors. Accessories like towel bars, toilet paper holders, robe hooks are really important and the most forgotten items in a bathroom install. Get on top of this before your walls are finished. Most bathroom renovation folks have a great selection of these items and often they can be ordered to match your fixtures and faucets.
Clean and Usable
Before finalizing your bathroom reno plans, consider this: is your new bathroom going to be easy to clean and maintain? Clean-ability is crucial in a bathroom. The other question you need to ask is, “Will everything in your new bathroom be accessible to those who need to use it?” A window over a soaker tub brings in lovely, natural light but can you get to it to open it, use the window covering or to clean it? Can you access your extra supplies of bathroom tissue from your new toilet? How handy will your towel be when you step out of the shower? It’s best to sit in your bathroom and consider these questions before renovation day arrives. If your plans don’t work in practical terms, change your plans.
Lighting & Electrical Outlets
To make your new bathroom feels like a home-spa “escape” room, you need to consider the light. How much natural light will flow in during the day? How much light do you need to put on makeup? Do you want each area of the bathroom to have its own lighting source? For example, you can install shower lighting, some soaker tubs have mood lighting, night-lighting around your toilet area is a great idea, bright lights around the mirror are important and recessed lighting in the ceiling is wise. Glass-front cabinets can be back-lit, cabinetry can be installed with lights in the base that shine down on your bathroom countertops. There are lots of lighting solutions to choose from, so choose what you need to make the new bathroom reflect your desires.
On the day that your plumber arrives you will have no access to water in your home, so consider your water needs for the day before he/she arrives (like filling your pet’s water dish). You may also have a day or two when your electrician needs to shut off sections of your home’s power, so plan ahead for that as well. If you are tiling you’ll have tile setting and grouting days which will block access to your bathroom and before you use your new tiles it is best to seal your new grout. Three coats of silicone grout sealer with one day of drying between coats is suggested for easy cleanup in the future.
The Finished Product
While the finishing touches are being done, shop for towels, artwork and other items that will add to your new room’s decor.