What Is a Bathroom Remodel?
Falling somewhere between ‘refresh’ and ‘complete renovation,’ a bathroom remodel is a process that allows you to make your current bathroom more functional without requiring you to tear down walls and remove all of the cabinets.
Think about changing colors, refinishing surfaces, replacing fixtures (like old toilets and tubs), and making sure everything is aligned with current safety standards. Some bathroom remodel ideas can be done in a day, while others will require a longer timeline.
Here are nine ideas to get you started on your bathroom remodel.
1. Stick to a Plan
A bathroom remodel is no place for improvisation. Before ripping out the first tile, think hard about how you will use the space, what materials and fixtures you want, and how much you’re willing to spend.
The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends spending up to six months evaluating and planning before beginning work. That way, you have a roadmap that will guide decisions, even the ones made under remodeling stress. Once work has begun — a process that averages two to three months — resist changing your mind. Work stoppages and alterations add costs. Some contractors include clauses in their contracts that specify premium prices for changing original plans.
2. Keep the Same Footprint
You can afford that Italian tile you love if you can live with the total square footage you already have.
Keeping the same footprint, and locating new plumbing fixtures near existing plumbing pipes, saves demolition and reconstruction dollars. You’ll also cut down on the dust and debris that make remodeling so hard to live with.
Make the most of the space you have. Glass doors on showers and tubs open up the area. A pedestal sink takes up less room than a vanity. If you miss the storage, replace a mirror with a deep medicine cabinet.
3. Install a Freestanding Bathtub
“Built-in deck bathtubs used to be the thing, but now they look dated and take up a lot of space,” Ariana Lovato, owner of Honeycomb Home Design in Shell Beach, California, told Forbes Advisor.
Instead, she recommends freestanding bathtubs, which are elegant, timeless, and easier to reface. The one caveat? Freestanding tubs can be hard to get in and out of for some people, so keep that in mind before you commit.
4. Select an Undermount Sink
Undermount sinks are known for their sleek design, but one of their best features is the fact that they are so much easier to clean than their traditional overmount counterparts, Lovato says.
What exactly is an undermount sink? As the name implies, it is one that you install from beneath the countertop (overmounts, on the other hand, are dropped in from above).
Available in a range of colors, styles, and price points, adding an under-mount sink to your bathroom is an upgrade won’t regret—and one that will likely leave you wondering why you waited so long to make the switch.
5. Upgrade Your Toilet
While a basic toilet gets the job done, a bathroom remodel is the perfect opportunity to switch the basics out for something a little more luxurious. One of the obvious choices, Lovato says, is to add a bidet (something that feels almost like a requirement after the great toilet paper shortage of 2020).
However, you don’t have to stop there—today’s toilet manufacturers are incorporating heated seats, automatic flushing, self-cleaning and smart technology into their designs.
6. Consider a Medicine Cabinet
Wait, a medicine cabinet? Aren’t they a little on the antiquated side? Believe it or not, medicine cabinets are making a comeback, says Lovato. And today’s medicine cabinets are a far cry from the medicine cabinets of yore, she says, explaining that you can now find medicine cabinets that offer just as much in terms of design appeal as they do in space to store your ibuprofen.
Some higher-end medicine cabinets even incorporate USB ports so you can keep all those electric toothbrushes hidden behind closed doors.
7. Add Steam to Your Shower
These days, everyone is looking for ways to incorporate a little self-care into their daily routine. One way to do this, Lovato says, is by replacing your regular shower with a steam shower. Steam showers essentially re-create the spa experience at home, and some even incorporate aromatherapy, Wi-Fi, lighting, and other high-tech features.
Naturally, steam showers aren’t going to be easy on everyone’s budget—but if you have the resources, this is a bathroom remodeling project that you most certainly will not regret.
8. Contemplate Your Color Palette
Who decided that a bathroom had to be neutral in color? The truth is, the bathroom is just as apt to benefit from a color scheme change as any other room in your house. So, instead of going for the color you think should go in a bathroom, select colors that you love.
This may result in bright green cabinets, pink tile, or dark walls that coordinate perfectly with your vinyl flooring. All are acceptable, as long as you like it—just be sure to think about whether the bathroom color scheme is something you are willing to either live with or modify in the event that your taste changes in the future.
9. Prioritize Lighting
If the only lighting in your bathroom comes from the bulbs above your vanity, you are probably not getting the most out of your personal grooming routine. Vanity lighting is important, but you’ll enjoy your bathroom much more if that isn’t all you have.
Options include adding ambient lighting fixtures around the bathroom or bringing in some accent lighting into the space (this is a light fixture that is as much about looks as it is about function). You can install shower lighting, as well.
10. Install a Ventilation Fan
If your bathroom doesn’t have a fan, now is the time to put one in (plus, it is now a code requirement). Fans allow air to circulate so mold is kept at bay, and they also reduce moisture and humidity (especially helpful for anyone who decides to get on the steam shower bandwagon).
When installing a bathroom fan, make sure it exhausts to your home’s exterior (not to your attic). Concerned about noise? No worries—many modern fans are as quiet as they are effective at minimizing moisture.
11. Incorporate Storage Solutions
If you’ve ever stepped out of the shower to discover that you forgot to grab a towel from the hallway linen closet, you’ll understand why adding storage is an essential component of any bathroom remodeling project. And believe it or not, you can find space for storage even in the smallest of bathrooms.
Hooks and baskets are no-nonsense, but you can also incorporate built-ins or install floating shelves (and don’t forget about the trusty medicine cabinet mentioned above). And if you have enough room for dedicated bathroom storage cabinets, definitely go for it—you’ll never regret having a convenient place to keep towels, extra shampoo, and all those other bathroom incidentals.
Choose a Hidden-Tank and/or Low-Flow Toilet
Toilets with hidden tanks—in which the water storage vessel is mounted inside the wall—have several benefits. They are worth considering especially for small bathrooms, as the design can save space. Their sleek look also fits right in with modern and contemporary bathroom designs. However, be aware that routine maintenance can be difficult because there is usually no easy access to the tank if the inner workings need attention.
Furthermore, another style to consider is a low-flow toilet. These models save water every time you flush. They are a smart choice that not only will lower your water bill but also increase the value of your home.
Use Small, Textured Tile on the Shower Floor
You’ll have lots of flooring, wall, and tile choices to make during your bathroom remodel. The most important choice for safety will be the floor tile of your shower. Choose a small, textured shower tile. The texture and the extra grouting will keep your feet from slipping once the floor gets soapy and wet.
Most modern bathroom tiles are easy to clean, and they use grouts that resist mold, humidity, and stains. Ceramic and porcelain tiles come in many style possibilities. Mix and match different patterns and colors for maximum visual impact, or do something more understated for a harmonious look.
Install a 2-Inch Drain Pipe
This is a small and invisible improvement. However, it will make a big difference in the functionality of your bathroom.
Typical bathroom drain plumbing is usually PVC pipe that’s 1.5 inches or sometimes 1.25 inches in diameter. This type of drain pipe can clog easily, especially if you have several family members using the same shower and/or bath. Installing a drain pipe that’s 2 inches in diameter costs roughly the same, and it will dramatically improve the quality of drainage in your bathroom.
Include a Window in the Shower
One of the biggest enemies of a clean bathroom is humidity, which can lead to mold and mildew. Although a good bathroom fan will make a big difference, the best ventilation is natural ventilation.
Adding a window in your shower will help to draw out humidity, even if you just crack it open during or after a shower. A window also will let natural light into the bathroom, which is both an aesthetic and a safety consideration. Plus, you likely won’t have to waste energy by turning on a bathroom light during the day if you have a window. Remember to slope a shower window sill downward, so water drains off of it. And use frosted glass for privacy.
Improve the Lighting
As you plan your bathroom remodel, consider changing or adding to your current lighting to improve the functionality and mood of the space. One advantageous lighting improvement is a dimmer for the main lights. If you like to take leisurely baths, you know they’re not much fun in full artificial light. A dimmer will let you set just the right mood.
Also, add recessed fixtures around the mirror to give you the best lighting possible when doing your hair, applying makeup, shaving, or doing any other task that requires lots of light. Moreover, consider adding lighting in the shower, rather than around it. You might find your showers to be more pleasant (and safer) when they’re lighted properly.
Make the Tub Optional
A bathtub is not always a necessity, especially if you never take baths. While there are real estate professionals who argue that a bathroom with a tub offers greater appeal to prospective buyers than one with just a shower, this is much less true for today’s buyers than it once was.
Plus, if your house includes another family bathroom that does have a tub or a tub/shower combination, there is no reason why your primary bathroom can’t omit the tub in favor of a luxurious shower. Your main concern should be with how you’re going to use your bathroom.
See a Better Return on Investment
A bathroom remodel will not only impress potential home buyers or a home appraiser, but the sleek design of Kohler fixtures will add to the overall look and feel, and will remind you of the quality and durability of the Kohler name. This name has been known and trusted for years.
You’ll also find that if there is ever a problem with one of your Kohler products, the warranty included with the purchase of your fixtures will take care of you and any problems you may encounter. Kohler fixtures will keep their beautiful look and quality long-term, giving you the return on investment you want and need on your NJ bathroom renovation.