Sunday, September 12, 2010

Beautiful Bathrooms

Beautiful Bathrooms
by Jan Gunn Interior Architecture and Design

Bathrooms are at the top of the list for home remodeling projects in 2010.

With the current trends in bathroom remodeling, there is something for everyone, no matter what the budget is.  If you haven't been in to Ann Sacks recently, they just launched "AS Basics", an new line of tiles at "economy friendly" suggested retail prices of under $12.00 per square foot.  Likewise, Robern just launched a new "builder" line that is also very reasonably priced.

From tub changes, to “borrowing space” from an adjacent closet, to fresh paint and new lighting, a dated bathroom can always be improved.

May all your bathrooms be showplaces!

photo by Doug Salin 

A good place for you and your client to begin is by evaluating the value of their home.  A remodeling project shouldn't be so extravagant that it overwhelms the underlying property value!  The National Association of Home Builders suggests that when all other factors are equal, an additional half bathroom increases the value of a home by 10.5%, and an additional full bathroom increases the value by 20%.  New bathrooms recoup approximately 60% of the initial investment within the first year of completion.  But, it may take up to five years to recoup the full expense of a major remodel.

Once you and your client have decided to move ahead with the project, it’s time to set a budget based on the homeowner's finances, and the suitability of the remodeling project for the home.  After the budget has been agreed upon, the design process can begin!

Layered lighting is important irregardless of the style of the project.  Did you ever hold a flashlight under your chin in a dark room as a child?  The same ghoulish effect occurs in reverse (top down) in a bathroom that is illuminated with a single overhead light!  Who needs to look like they have dark circles under their eyes?  Side sconces by the mirror(s) serve as flattering task lights.  Halogen lamps are the best type of lamps for sconces.  The color of halogen light is the closest to daylight, so the appearance of cosmetics is similar to what others see.  Accent lighting can add a “pop” of personality to the room. General ambient lighting should be controlled by dimmers, which are flexible and energy efficient.  However, building codes often restrict the use of low efficacy lamps, such as halogen or incandescent, in bathrooms, even if they are controlled by dimmers.  So, employing motion or vacancy sensors instead of dimmers could free the designer from these limitations.

photo by Misha Burk

In recent years, ventilation has gotten much more sophisticated.  Better fans and combination fan/light units are whisper quiet.  And, the units can be purchased with humidity driven switching or motion detector actuated night lights.  To determine what size of fan your project requires, simply divide the cubic footage of the bathroom by 5.   In this case, bigger is not necessarily better, because an exhaust fan that is too powerful could pull more air out of the bathroom than can enter.  This could make the fan overheat, make it less efficient, or make it noisier.

Sinks and Faucets
Sinks and faucets are the "eye candy" of a bathroom.  Both are now available in a wide variety of specialty finishes.   Even though toilet flushing plungers are not yet available in some finishes, the handles could always be re-plated to match the finish of the faucets for an additional cost.

photo by Doug Salin 

Comfort height toilets are increasingly popular, and are no longer only considered for ADA projects. And, the styling has vastly improved!   For example, the Kohler "Persuade" toilet not only has contemporary styling, but also is dual flush.  In-wall tank toilets, which make marvelous use of small spaces, are another option to consider. 

It is generally accepted that home buyers like a house to have at least one bathtub.  So, this should be a consideration when planning a bathroom remodeling project.  Now, hydrotherapy whirlpool tubs are gaining popularity over traditional water jet tubs.  Hydrotherapy tubs give a more soothing, vibrating massage, while water jet tubs give a more vigorous, pulsating massage.  Hydrotherapy tubs are considered more sanitary than water jet tubs because the water does not remain standing in the internal pipes when the tub is not being used.  And, the new infinity edged tubs with overflow drain systems are amazing! 

Shower Heads
If you are installing multiple shower heads in your remodeled bathroom, such as a combination of rain showers, hand held showers, or body sprays, consider completing the installation by the end of 2010.  A new building code goes into effect on January 1, 2011 that requires using valves, which can only activate one water emitter at a time. 

For a really luxurious and romantic element, consider adding a fireplace to the bathroom!   Today's direct vent gas fireplaces are economical and easy to install.  Since direct vent gas fireplaces do not require a chimney, they can be vented through a wall or through the roof. The direct vent operates not only by drawing combustion air, but also by venting to the outside atmosphere.  So, direct vent fireplaces don't consume warm air from inside the house, or compete with the furnace or other appliances for combustion air.  Plus, direct venting eliminates the heat loss and the drafts associated with other types of fireplaces.  How better to make your bathroom toasty?

What makes your bathroom a showplace?