Bathroom Design and Ideas

Bathroom remodeling sketches

Drawing up a floor plan

The best way to help you visualize the remodeling possibilities is to do what the professionals do: Make a scale drawing of the space. The process of creating a scale drawing forces you to take careful note of the existing room and everything in it. And it gives you a concise record of the key dimensions of the area you plan to change. As you work through the design with a contractor or designer, or if you do the work yourself, a scaled drawing gives you information to carry on an informed discussion, ask questions, and choose materials and fixtures more confidently.

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bathroom accessories in a bathroom

Planning Your New Bathroom

While you’re bursting with ideas and inspiration, it’s time to take the next step and find the exact amount of space you have to deal with. If you’re remodeling within the walls of the existing bathroom, take measurements of the space within the walls, which can vary from 6 to 10 inches thick. Many bathroom remodeling projects involve expanding the space by borrowing it from an adjacent room or closet. You can remove a wall between rooms, assuming that the wall is not a bearing wall and a structural part of the building. If expansion is your plan, measure the floor space, including any walls or partitions, and add it to the existing bathroom dimensions. You may want to make two plans, to see just how much more space you gain by incorporating an adjacent room or part of it in your redesigned bathroom.

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bathroom with double sinks and vanity mirrors

Looking at some basic bathroom layouts

No two bathrooms are alike, but the layouts in Figure 2-1 are good examples of well-designed, functional, comfortable bathrooms. In Figure 2-1a, the bathtub and shower borrow space from an adjacent bedroom closet. Figure 2-1b shows a 16-x-17-foot bathroom with two separate vanities, a whirlpool, shower compartment, enclosed toilet room, and linen storage. Figure 2-1c shows a bathroom with separate entrances and double vanities, and the floor plan does a good job serving two kids’ bedrooms on either side of it. It features a bathtub storage in a linen closet, and toilet in a space partitioned with a door for privacy. Figure 2-1d shows how two bathrooms back to back can take advantage of having bathtub and shower plumbing lines on a common wall. Use these ideas for positioning fixtures and spacing to create a design that will suit your needs.

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An accessible bathroom

 Reviewing NKBA Planning Guidelines

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), a trade group of design professionals, suggests these planning guidelines for a safe and functional room for all to enjoy. When these people refer to "clearance space" around a fixture, it means the space required so that the fixture can be used with comfort and ease. Note that these clearance spaces in front of or around fixtures can overlap.

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A luxurious bathroom

Retreating to luxury: The master bathroom

A master bathroom is a welcome respite for weary and time-challenged workers, empty nesters, and parents in need of pampering. It’s a retreat where you can soak and steam or just sneak away to an in-house oasis that’s off limits to everyone else. As a companion to the master bedroom, the bath creates a private suite for relaxing, sleeping, dressing, and bathing. This is the room to indulge yourself with high-style fixtures, a whirlpool tub, or sauna and steam jets, and- with space permitting- a dressing area and fitness gear (if you’re so inclined).

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A toilet being clipped shut for child's safety

Childproofing a bathroom

The slippery surfaces and hot water in a bathroom can make it a not-so-safe place for little ones. With a little bit of thought and planning, you can make your bathroom a safe and sudsy room for kids.

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Image of children's bathroom and towel racks

Just for kids

The ages and numbers of kids should determine the design of a kids’ bathroom. For young children, a bathroom with accessible fixtures and reachable faucets is important. For teenagers, privacy is at the top of the list. A shared bathroom that serves both young and old or several children becomes multipurpose and needs functional shared spaces. This type of bathroom is most accommodating when it has partitioned areas for a tub and shower and a toilet compartment for privacy. For school-age kids all leaving the house at the same time in the morning, a large vanity with double sinks eliminates congestion during the morning rush. Materials and fixtures that are easy to clean is a high priority for high-use bathrooms for kids of any age.

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New bathroom with unique decorations

Bathrooms for All Seasons and Reasons

Bathrooms can be categorized into several different types based on their size and function, who uses them, and their location in the house. The smallest footprint for a bathroom is usually the powder room and the half bath. Bedrooms with nearby or attached bathrooms include the guest bathroom, a kids’ bathroom, and the master bathroom. Variations of them include a bathroom with laundry facilities, a basement bathroom, a bathroom with fixtures and features that are accessible to the physically challenged, and a luxury master bathroom suite with whirlpool or sauna, workout equipment, and dressing room.

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An new affordable bathroom

Designing the Bathroom That’s Right for You

According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), the average cost of remodeling a bathroom is $14,600, which includes the design, appliances, fixtures, materials, and installation. So before you plunk down the big bucks, spend some time planning its design. Start a list of your likes and dislikes to create a wish list for your new bathroom so you’ll know the must-have features to include and those to omit. Notice what works and what doesn’t in your current bathroom. Pay attention to features in bathrooms you use at work and at play and even those you use when traveling.

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Remodeled bathroom with new tub, sink, and toilet

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 morning or after a hard day at the office. Perhaps that shiny, new shower will recharge you, or a relaxing whirlpool bath in the new tub will wash away the day’s problems. And the improvements are sure to enhance the value of your house. You’ll probably appreciate your brand-new bathroom for years to come. You have to spend time there anyway, so you may as well surround yourself in beauty and luxury.

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