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Remodeled bathroom with new tub, sink, and toilet
January 28, 2012

Reinventing Your Bathroom with a Splash On emotional, practical, spiritual, and financial levels, a remodeled bathroom can be a very good thing. Maybe you’re thinking that colorful new wall tiles will lift your spirits when you walk in there each...

More articles on Bathroom Remodeling

A medical cabinet

Much Ado about Medicine Cabinets

There’s no better place to store medicines, toiletries, and other personal grooming products than right where you need them: in a convenient cabinet in the bathroom. Yes, you’ll still find boring antiseptic metal boxes faced with a mirror, but you’ll also see inspired and appealing designs with intricate beveled glass and mirrors and colorful whimsical designs.

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A black vanity cabinet with sink surface

Looking at your options

The traditional vanity cabinet, which offers the most counter and storage space, is used with a single basin or pair of basins and is installed by fastening it to the wall. Several types of basins are available, and the methods of installing them vary:

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A Vanity Cabinet with sink surface

Converting furniture to a vanity cabinet

Make a bathroom an original by reinventing an old dresser or cabinet into a vanity. The front of the furniture can remain intact, but the back needs to be cut to make room for plumbing pipes. You cut another hole in the top for the basin. Plan to refinish or paint it and give it a topcoat (or three) of polyurethane to make the surface water resistant. Use the following tips to turn Aunt Suzie’s dresser into a one-of-a-kind vanity.

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A sink with large vanity cabinet

You’re So Vain: Vanity Cabinets and Furniture

A vanity cabinet is like any piece of furniture in that the price goes up as the quality improves. You’ll find in-stock factory-made vanities in a range of sizes and styles, meaning that you can simply walk into a store and leave with the vanity of your choice. Or you can order a semicustom vanity that is factory made and customized the way you want it, with specialty finishes and handy options such as a pull-out tray, bins, and shelves that make it uniquely your own. At the high end is a custom-made cabinet designed by you or a designer to exact specifications not available in stock or semicustom cabinets. Although a custom piece can be pricey, it may be a design solution that makes the most of a cut-up floor plan or takes advantage of confined space. A custom cabinet is available wherever you buy cabinets, but remember that you need to allow extra time if you’re ordering a vanity that’s made to order.

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A pedestal sink beside yellow lilies in a vase.

Picking a Pedestal Sink

What it lacks in storage space a pedestal sink makes up for in good looks and high style. The small-bowl pedestals are a good choice in a powder room because they take up little floor space, and the wider console styles with a basin ledge for toiletries make a handsome addition to anyone's bathroom. Assuming you're replacing a wall-mounted sink, installing a pedestal sink is relatively easy. You can hook the new sink up to the old plumbing.

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Bathroom with faucet and sink

Looking at Types and Styles of Basins

Before you walk into a bathroom design center to look at basins and faucets, do some noodling about who uses the bathroom, what the priorities are, how often it will is used, the style you like, and how maintenance friendly you want the room to be. Yes, a snappy red pedestal sink would be a knockout, but in a family bathroom, a better choice is a countertop sink with a vanity for storage in a light color that doesn't show soap scum and is easy to clean.

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A concealed shower valve

Maintaining water temperature

The best protection against scalding is a special valve called a pressure-balance or antiscald valve, which maintains a constant water temperature, even if someone in the house decides to do a super-size load of laundry with a tub full of hot water.

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Bathroom sink with fancy fixtures

Fixtures and Faucets for a Shower

With the right fixtures, you can take the fine art of showering to new heights. New bathroom technology allows you more control of the temperature and volume of the shower spray from a single shower head. You can install an elaborate system of sprays, jets, faucets, and valves that converts a simple shower to a home spa.

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A shower rod on tile

Hanging a shower curtain rod on tile

The biggest challenge to installing anything (shower door track, towel bar, or curtain rod) in a bathroom with ceramic tile is making a hole in the tile without cracking it. The job is easy, however, if you have a masonry bit and a roll of masking tape.

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a handicap accessible shower

 Adding accessibility to your shower

Shower units that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are designed for people with limited physical abilities or those confined to a wheelchair. The key to their design is a low threshold so that you can enter them without an obstacle or so that a wheelchair can be rolled into them. These showers are usually one-piece units with integral grab bars and a built-in or fold-up seat. A person in a wheelchair should be able to roll up next to the shower unit, adjust the controls to the right water temperature from the outside, and then use grab bars to transfer to the seat inside the shower unit. The faucet control should be a single-lever handle and include a hand shower that can be operated by someone seated or standing.

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