Bathroom remodeling and design blend big dreams and practical realities. To make a bathroom work, it’s best to design from the fixtures and finishes backward to the walls and floor. The little things about an intimate room can make a huge difference in the day-to-day experience of it.
At the beginning of the process — the dream phase — the focus tends to be on color, layout, heated floors and moving things around. These are all important things, but if nobody is thinking about the stuff behind the walls and under the floors to make the overall design work well and affordably, the train will head off the tracks as soon as it leaves the station.
Here are 9 things to think about at the outset of a bathroom project and at every step of construction.
1. Problems under tile. Little things can become big, expensive problems in an old-house bathroom remodel. Subway wall tile and small black and white floor tiles are possible indicators of an older home. And when you talk about removing and replacing old tiles, you’re often talking “wet bed.”
A wet bed essentially means the tiles are sitting on a slab of concrete poured into the floor system — not how it’s done today. Wet-bed tiles are difficult and expensive to remove. Wall tiles may have several coats of concrete and maybe wire lath — brutal. You might want to settle for these tiles and spend your time and money elsewhere. Good thing vintage is in.
2. Hiding the plumbing — or not. Think carefully about fixtures and all the stuff that’s connected to them as you lay out the plumbing, electrical and framing, not the other way around. This will help you avoid mistakes and do tighter work.
You may choose to leave plumbing supply lines exposed, as in the bathroom here, for a more industrial or vintage look. Or you may choose to hide them behind the sink pedestal for a more modern look. Little things make big impressions.
9. Water on the floor. Stand-alone showers are awesome features, but think about the bath mat that might abut it every day. And about traffic flow. There are no (or not many) mats that work with stalls that open at the corner, so you’re stuck with a bare floor on one side of the shower door and a bath mat on the other. And that means a puddle after every shower.