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|Accessible Bathrooms Can Be Beautiful and Practical
|From Charming To Dashing, Small Bathrooms Can Make Big Statements
Not every client’s bathroom is an eyesore, but even a well-groomed space can often use a little beautification to smooth out the rough spots or improve functionality. As you’re working with individuals and families, be on the lookout for these red flags that call for a total overhaul:
Are your homeowners complaining they feel like sardines when taking showers? Expand their horizons with a walk-in shower. Walk-in showers make getting clean truly enjoyable because they offer so much room. Ironically, they don’t necessarily have to be huge to feel spacious. As long as you construct or design a shower with space to linger, your clients will experience a big difference every time they step inside.
Augment your shower with body jets and rain showerheads to pamper clients beyond their expectations. You may even want to introduce clients to the advantages of dual shower heads, which can double as massage jets. For families or couples with mobility concerns, consider making the lip to the open shower navigable for easy wheelchair access. And be sure to add grab bars or shower seats in the walk-in shower for maximum safety and comfort.
What could be better than having a bathroom that doesn’t feel like an icebox or a sauna (unless, of course, your clients want a sauna)? The key to making a bathroom temperature just right is zoning the space and installing a programmable thermostat.
Interestingly, you’ll also be setting up the homeowners so they spend less to heat or cool the bathroom when not in use. It’s an environmentally friendly way to get the most out of a new bathroom without overspending on utility bills or wasting resources.
Have some space to play around with in your client’s bathroom remodel? A free-standing soaker tub could be just what the contractor ordered: Soaker tubs are coveted by people who want complete coverage when taking baths. Plus, the models available today turn up the modern atmosphere in any bathroom.
Are your clients looking for something a little more high-tech when it comes to their tubs? Some bath manufacturers are testing the waters with Jacuzzis, offering built-in vibrational acoustics. As bathers relax, the water vibrates to the beat of their favorite album, piped in with Bluetooth-compatible speakers. Add that to a tub full of bubbles and jets, and your clients will be happy to take long baths every day of the week.
No one wants to get out of the shower or bathtub and be greeted with a chilly floor. The answer to this age-old problem plaguing homeowners across the country is radiant heated floors. It’s not just a nice perk — having radiant heat in the floor can reduce energy costs because people typically require a lower ambient temperature if their toes are toasty.
Another advantage to heated floors is the insulation they provide. No more hearing every footstep: The flooring keeps everything quieter inside and outside the bathroom while saving money and increasing comfort.
Most homeowners are accustomed to grabbing towels out of closets and using them right away. However, those towels may be cool to the touch, taking the luxury out of a bath or shower. Heated towel racks are the game-changers that banish cold fabrics from the bathroom.
Many heated towel racks can be installed right into the wall, saving space and acting as aesthetic upgrades, as well as practical solutions. Others may be standalone products with streamlined profiles.
The steam shower has come of age and is finally available for just about any homeowner on a mission to completely reinvigorate a bathroom area. Your client might not realize the major opportunities that come from a steam bath, including serious water savings. On average, a steam shower uses about two gallons of water per visit, which is far less than normal shower usage.
Additionally, steam showers have been linked to improved circulation and healthier skin.
Are your clients raving about all the contemporary bathrooms they’ve seen on social media and home improvement websites? Talk with them about incorporating a floating vanity into the bathroom.
Floating vanities mount against the wall and seem to merge seamlessly with their surroundings. You can increase the natural drama of a floating vanity with amenities like undermounted lighting and anti-fogging mirrors. Another cool effect involves adding an integrated sink into the floating vanity. Integrated sinks are constructed of the vanity material and allow water to flow easily. Not only are they easy to keep clean, but they also look minimalist and sophisticated.
Don’t forget about mood lighting for your next bathroom project. Tricks to use include undermounted lighting, spotlights, and mood lighting. You may want to test out different light colors to bring out the nuances of the space and wow your clients.
Along with lighting, see whether your clients are into music: Emerging technology enables contractors, builders, and interior designers to include these types of amenities into their bathroom planning strategies.
At one time, replacing an unattractive, worn, grimy, or damaged shower was fairly straightforward. Homeowners would contact a trade pro, who would then recommend a same-size replacement unit. Case closed.
Fortunately, home improvement experts can recommend items like open-concept showers to their clientele. Best of all, open-concept showers work for cozier bathrooms just as well as they do for multiroom bathroom oases.
What’s making the open shower so popular? Without a shower door, the shower seems to open up into the rest of the space. In other words, it becomes integrated into the total design. Rather than being a “box” in a bathroom, it merges with the rest of the room’s decor. In many cases, homeowners perceive the space to be much bigger without a shower curtain or opaque glass door.
Another perk of opening up the shower? It allows an interior designer to use the same elements in and out of the shower. For example, the same tile pattern can be utilized around the vanity and in the open shower. When people step into the room, their eyes naturally see one cohesive, contemporary bathroom without breaks.
To be sure, homeowners also appreciate that open showers are just easier to clean. Anyone who has ever scrubbed the nooks and crannies of a shower door knows how frustrating it can be to keep spotless.
A final perk to having an open shower is the accessibility factor. Your clients may want to “age in place,” necessitating a bathroom space that will change to meet their future needs. If this is the case, be certain to create a curbless shower floor to reduce the likelihood of falls or difficulty getting in and out of the shower.
While open showers are on the cusp of trending bathroom designs, you’ll want to be sure your clients understand a potential downside before they go totally open: privacy. Family members who expect to use the same bathroom at the same time may feel a bit uncomfortable being out in the open.
Additionally, not all bathrooms are candidates for open showers. Although small spaces can often get a visual boost from this type of open-concept shower, you can expect to need no less than 6.5 square feet to make an open shower happen. Moreover, if you can’t drain the water via slanted floors, you may need to rethink what you bring to your clients.
One last consideration is the moisture exposure of an open shower: Without a door or curtain to trap steam and water particles, the moisture goes into the rest of the bathroom, where it lands on everything from vanities to the toilet to wooden cabinetry. Therefore, adequate ventilation is a must for any bathroom with an open shower.
Every bathroom needs hiding places to store soaps, cosmetics, appliances, towels, and other necessities. Even if the homeowner claims to enjoy using an outside linen closet for storage, you owe it to your client to think of other ways to maximize storage space inside the bathroom.
What are some of the best methods to accomplish what sounds like a major feat? Don’t assume you’ll be able to pop floor-to-ceiling shelving into the bathroom and call it a day. After all, it might look “tacked on” and, well, kind of tacky. Instead, consider the value of floating shelves.
Floating shelves are fairly self-explanatory. They bump out from atop the wall, making the space seem larger because they don’t take up an entire wall area. Plus, those that don’t have any kind of doors and are painted a bright shade or white inside can give the illusion of a wider room.
The power of lighting can suddenly make even a teeny bathroom appear roomier. Banish dark spots by considering which types of lighting will work best in the space. Have room in the ceiling for a skylight? Talk with your clients about adding one. The difference will be palpable, especially with natural sunlight flooding the area.
You don’t have to stick with one type of lighting for your client’s bathroom, though. A mix of task and ambient lighting will offer an even spread of the right type of light for the moment. And if you’re looking for maximum creativity from your project, consider cove lighting. Just hide rope lights behind ceiling crown molding to give a soft glow to the walls of the bathroom.
A huge asset to revitalizing a small bathroom? Your clients can splurge on amenities, cabinetry, and flooring. After all, a cozy space doesn’t require tons of tile, which means the homeowner might be able to opt for a high-end product without breaking the bank.
Other ideas that follow this vein of thought can be one focal piece that absolutely makes the whole bathroom shine. For instance, imagine how a hand-carved marble sink could take a modest-sized bathroom from good to glowing. If your clients aren’t ready to go that route, at least talk to them about other options, like oversized showerheads and radiant heated floors. They might warm up to the idea.
Every interior designer knows illusion is the name of the game when it comes to bringing a project together. In the case of a little bathroom, any trade pro can use tried-and-true tactics to trick the eye.
A great one is to purchase and install small shower enclosures that fit the size of the bathroom. The same goes for scaled-down versions of towel racks, lighting fixtures, cabinetry, faucets, and more. Even the size and shape of tiles can contribute to making a space less cluttered. Sure, smaller tiles do require additional cleaning because of their many grout lines, but for a homeowner who’s tired of an outdated bathroom, that might not be a deal-killer.
Another is to wall mount the sink or choose a pedestal sink with a classic style and modern appeal. Be cautious about adding too many accessories, though: The more you pack into a small bathroom, the more cramped it might start to look (and feel).
What’s your best bet when it comes to choosing colors for a small bathroom? In general, stay away from dark palettes. Dark hues just aren’t going to help make the bathroom seem open, airy, and inviting.
On the other hand, you don’t have to always select a shade of white, although it’s certainly an option. Sometimes, soft neutrals or even light colors can be the perfect additions to the space. Don’t be afraid to explore a few ideas before landing on the right one for the job.
In a nutshell, steer clear of too many patterns or brash tints. At the same time, feel free to add a pop of fun by adding one focal point, such as a mosaic tiled floor or backsplash that stands out for all the right reasons. The goal is to customize the space to your client’s needs while keeping any space limitations in mind.
As a homeowner’s trade pro of choice, you need to ask the tough questions of clients. For instance, are they expecting to remain in the home even if one of them suffers a condition that leads to mobility problems? How important is accessibility to them today and down the road? You may be surprised that many clients haven’t considered these concerns, so be prepared to help them understand solutions.
For instance, if your clients are an older couple, you may want to encourage them to expand a tiny bathroom doorway to at least 36 inches. Three feet is the minimum width requirement for a standard wheelchair. Ironically, many bathroom doors are about six inches shorter, so it’s a true problem.
Additionally, the bathroom itself should offer maneuverability, whether the individual uses a wheelchair or an assisted mobile device like a cane or walker. Thus, it may be appropriate to add grab bars and other amenities to increase the safety aspect of moving around the space securely.
After determining your client’s budget and making sure it fits with your targeted, preferred job range, ask the homeowners what they want most in their new bathroom. Are they tired of having a cramped, hard-to-clean shower stall? Do they long for a soaker tub? Are they into high-tech gadgetry, like a surround sound system in the master bath?
Make a thorough list of their must-haves and nice-to-haves, and then provide low and high estimates — including your fees — in a document. Seeing everything on paper will help your clients (and you) weed out the necessary from the unnecessary. It will also avoid confusion down the road.
Worried you’ll be met with a tough sell? Most homeowners are fairly open to giving up one thing for another. For example, the individual who wants high-end bathroom fixtures may be willing to have a lower-end vanity installed to stay within budget. The same could be true for getting a standard toilet to offset the price of a wall-mounted faucet.
Use this list frequently throughout your project, even after construction or interior design has begun. It’s a terrific springboard for conversation, and it keeps you and your client on target.
No matter what kind of bathroom remodel you’re about to undertake, you need to consider the “small stuff,” like cabinetry hardware. Not only does the right cabinetry hardware bring your end vision to fruition, but it also looks as wonderful as it functions.
With myriad styles, finishes, and sizes available, you can take your pick. For instance, you might want to outfit your client’s bathroom cabinetry with brass knobs or pewter handles. Just visit your nearest ProSource Wholesale® showroom to talk with a team member about the latest offerings. When you’re there, be sure to have a few considerations in mind:
For instance, if the bathroom you’re renovating isn’t going to be used very often, consider choosing intricately designed faucets. Even though they require more time to clean than other faucets, they won’t need to be cleaned regularly.
Similarly, some finishes require more TLC than others. Therefore, be sure your clients are prepared to follow special care instructions to keep their fixtures looking amazing for the long haul. Again, your job is to not only beautify your clients’ bathroom, but to also educate them on how they can have it all.
What are some of the most requested types of fixtures today? Polished chrome finishes in bathroom faucets are flying off the shelves, as are single-handle faucets in brushed or oil-rubbed bronze. Satin nickel appeals to homeowners without a specific design preference. Be sure to look for products made by known manufacturers.
If your clients insist on simplifying their fixtures to save money, urge them to do their homework ahead of time. Often, purchasing the cheapest fixture on the market may seem like a smart way to reduce cost, but it may be poorly constructed. This leads to overspending in the future, as well as unattractive fixtures that are peeling or affected by hard-water deposits and limescale buildup.
You should always select faucets that are free from lead and are compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Eco-friendlier versions of old-time favorites help save water and energy usage without sacrificing quality or convenience.
Ceramic tile has been a staple in bathrooms for generations, and it’s still going strong. For that reason, you may want to veer toward it unless your clients prefer another option like vinyl. However, always try to talk any homeowners out of bathroom carpeting: It’s a bad idea that surfaced in the 1980s and proved to be disastrous for numerous reasons.
Another flooring trend that doesn’t always work for bathrooms is hardwood. Traffic and moisture tend to damage real hardwood over time. If your clients insist on a hardwood look, try a laminate that gives the look of wood while offering a forgiving surface that won’t cost a pretty penny to install. The same holds true for luxury vinyl tile (LVT). Like laminate, it mimics the look and feel of hardwood.
When considering durable tile for your clients’ bathroom floors, you don’t have to look far to find luxury. Even modestly priced tiles made of ceramic or even stone can add a splash of sophistication to the space. In fact, tile can be downright elegant, whether used alone or paired with other flooring options. Depending on the square footage of your client’s bath, you may be able to mix and match a variety of tiles to create mosaic designs and geometric patterns.
Another consideration in favor of tile? It’s not limited to the floor. Tile works well on walls, whether as a base trim or encasing the shower. It’s a durable product, and its appealing look can draw immediate attention.