So, you’re thinking of remodeling your bathroom. There might be any number of reasons you’ve finally decided to take the plunge: Your clawfoot tub is suffering from carpal tunnel. The cracks in your tile wall have started to resemble an evil bunny. That faux-fur leopard print toilet cover was concealing a multitude of sins. You’re simply too vain for that ugly vanity.Or maybe your decision is about more than aesthetics. Perhaps you’ve got an aging relative coming to live with you (or you, yourself, are an aging relative) and you’re seeing the advantages of a step-in shower. Or you want your bathroom to be ADA compliant. Or maybe you’re finally tackling that persistent plumbing problem head-on, and you might as well give the bathroom a facelift while everything’s torn up. These are all valid reasons.
A bathroom remodel is like minor surgery: It happens to everyone sooner or later and it’s nothing to be afraid of. But you do want to put some thought into these three questions before you start cracking tile:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- How much is it appropriate to spend?
- Have I considered function as well as form?
Most people have at least a passing idea of their answer to the first two questions, but it’s remarkable how often the third question is overlooked in the rush to create a gorgeous HGTV-worthy masterpiece of penny round tiles, touchless faucet fixtures, and a serenading bidet toilet.
The reality is that the bathroom is a crucial room in your home, and an important one in your life. It’s the first room you enter in the morning and the last one you visit before bed. Sometimes it’s the only place you can get a moment of privacy. It needs to do a lot more than look pretty.An Expert’s Advice on First-Time Renovations
Bart Gorelick, Regional Sales Manager for MrSteam, has spent his life thinking about bathrooms, having entered the family plumbing business at a young age. He’s played a role in countless renovations, and he confronted one of his own when he and his wife relocated from his native Chicago to Los Angeles.
“Our house was built in 1970. The bathroom was a good bathroom for 1970, but it didn’t suit contemporary needs. It had a huge sunken marble tub. Beautiful but deadly. We were afraid of slipping.”
(Plus, in water-strapped California, filling a giant tub isn’t the most economical or environmentally friendly proposition.)
So what pearls of wisdom—or words of warning—does Bart have for the first-time renovator?
Don’t Fall for Fads
“Self-standing tubs have been in vogue lately,” notes Bart. “They’re sleek and minimalist in look, with nice flowing lines, but they have limited utility. They’re not easy to get in and out of. People don’t necessarily want to wait for a big tub to fill, and it’s losing heat while it fills. You’re using 60 gallons of water for one bath.”
Before that, it was all about ‘carwash showers,’ which blast you with water from all directions (though they usually don’t spray you down with hot wax or polish your hub caps.)
“Those were really popular, but some states are cracking down on the amount of water a household uses and you may not be able to use your carwash shower one day. Toilets, for example, now have to flush with 1.6 gallons. When I grew up, it was five gallons. Water use is becoming critical.”
Think About Health Benefits and Your Budget
Not surprisingly, as a member of the MrSteam team, Bart enthuses about steam showers as a bathroom upgrade solution that is beneficial to body, soul, and savings account.
“When you’re planning a bathroom remodel, you should be thinking about your personal wellness and the wellness of your pocketbook.”
Steam showers can be installed in just about any size bathroom, usually making use of the existing shower enclosure. It’s necessary to seal off the shower, if it isn’t already, and finish the ceiling with tile or another liquid-impermeable surface. The steam generator itself is a smallish device that can be placed just about anywhere in a home—up to 60 feet away from the shower itself. Often the generator is under the bathroom sink or in a cabinet, but if space is tight it could be in the basement or even an insulated attic.
Want more expert advice on first-time home renovations from Bart? Check out our upcoming blog post next week, Put Down That Sledgehammer! Remodeling Your Bathroom Takes Planning (Part 2) by subscribing to our blog.