Bathroom remodeling trends focus on convenience
Function trumps form as homeowners decide where to put their money when they remodel their outdated bathrooms.
Rick Kimmel, co-owner of highly rated Select Kitchen and Bath in northern Virginia, says there are really two types of bathroom projects: the hall bathroom and the master bathroom.
The hall bathroom, or the family bathroom, often is used by the children or where the family dog is bathed. Most clients, Kimmel says, want to make better use of the limited footprint by improving function and storage.
“Even within that setting,” he said, “you can make small improvements that make a big difference.”
The first step is to figure out how the bathroom is used. For instance, is it a place where toddlers bathe or where teenagers shower? Clients can add flexibility by adding a handheld shower head on a slide bar. A mirror can be exchanged for a mirrored medicine chest. Or a pedestal sink can be replaced with a vanity that has drawers.
“You create capacity so your daughter can have a drawer to put away her makeup,” Kimmel says.
Master bathrooms, however, are where clients do away with bathtubs in favor of showers only; replace older toilets for newer ones with higher seats and better flush capacity to reduce waste; and install higher vanities so they don’t have to bend so far to use the sink. In terms of aesthetics, clients tend to gravitate toward easy-to-clean porcelain and specially coated glass enclosures that reduce spotting.
“People don’t want high-maintenance stuff,” Kimmel says. “It’s the new technology that makes things a little easier to take care of.”
Sirage Adem, owner of highly rated Globe Bath and Kitchen Remodeling in Falls Church, Va., says baby boomers typically request a universal design so they can age in place rather than being forced to move to other barrier-free accommodations. But many shy away from the sterile hospital look, wanting amenities like grab bars better integrated into the overall design, he stresses.
Adem says he actually encourages clients, regardless of age, to incorporate universal design into their plans. “Bathrooms are one of the most dangerous places for people to be."
Many of Adem’s clients gravitate toward a clean look, which includes frameless glass doors on their shower stalls. Many still ask for granite, though solid surface materials like Corian and Silestone are gaining in popularity. And many still ask for the large rain shower heads. “People like that so they can get a quick, powerful shower,” he says.
When budgeting, remember to figure a little cushion to cover the expenses of extra time and materials that invariably are required in construction projects. The National Kitchen and Bath Association estimates projects costing less than $5,000 require an extra 14 percent, and projects costing more than $45,000 require an extra 13 percent.
To ensure the highest level of function and beauty, hire a certified kitchen and bath designer.
As always, get three estimates, and check referrals, insurance, bonding and licensure, if required in your state.