Published March 2001 in From House to Home magazine under my former name, Dawn Rizzoni
Bathrooms From Scratch - A Love Affair
Designing a bathroom from scratch is a lot like finding the perfect mate. You have a fresh start, a clean slate. You get to decide what qualities the perfect bathroom should have and more importantly, what it shouldn't have.
Designing from scratch can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship between you and your bathroom, if you plan ahead. There are many factors you should take into account when deciding what exactly you want and how to fit it all in.
Date your bathtub and dump that old shower
When drawing up a floor plan, the space allotted for bathtubs is often too small to accommodate things such as the deck area and tile space. That whirlpool tub that looks so spacious on the blueprint may actually have you wishing for more room when you take a soak in it.
Bill Tweten, an expert in bathroom design, suggests consumers visit a showroom and get into the tub to "try it on for size." "You need to know how you will fit into the new whirlpool . . . You are test driving it!" says Tweten.
Cramped showers can be another big problem. The traditional 36" shower is becoming less popular as consumers are realizing it doesn't offer the space they need. 42" showers are the perfect compromise between the 36" variety that is often too small, and the 48" variety that can be too large.
Neo-angle showers are also a popular item, but beware of the wasted space that the angles take up. A 36"x 36" shower is even smaller than a 36" square shower. Tweten recommends that consumers instead choose a 42"x 42" or even a 60"x60" neo-angle shower instead.
There are a lot of fish in the sea...
and a lot of new high-tech items you can incorporate into your bathroom. Some of the more popular items include steam generators for the shower, anti-scald and pressure-balancing devices, faucets that operate without touching them, and televisions and phones built into tubs. Tweten says that in the near future, voice commands will be common with whirlpool tubs and you will be able to fill your bath on your way home from work with just a call from your cell phone.
New improvements in ventilation have helped solve the age-old problem of noisy bathroom fans. There are now several different brands of quiet-design ventilation fans, which will help ensure the fan is never left off because it's just too loud.
I need my space
Local building codes will dictate the minimum amount of space required in your design, but don't settle for the minimum. Tweten recommends 36" of space around toilets, more than the usual 30" minimum requirement. Legroom in front of a toilet should be 21".
And while double sinks may be popular, trying to fit them into a 60" vanity is a big mistake. There's very little counter space and even less storage with this set-up. Unless your vanity is 72" or more, limit your plan to one sink.
Getting cold feet
Many of today's bathroom floors include heating elements below the surface to prevent the inconvenience of stepping onto a cold floor, especially handy on winter mornings.
Another consideration in bathroom flooring is the pattern of the material you use. Small spaces require finer details and larger bathrooms should have larger patterns spaced farther apart. Ever walk into a grand master bathroom and been blinded by the millions of tiny triangles across the floor? Don't make that mistake yourself!
Easy on the eyes
For the perfect "trophy" bathroom, you want the overall layout and design to be visually appealing. The bathroom will appear more balanced if the largest items are towards the back. Therefore, the bathtub and/or shower should be placed in the back of the bathroom if possible. "That great big whirlpool looks great viewed from across the room!" says Tweten.
This type of layout will also keep the "wet areas" towards the back, which is more functional. Placing sinks near the entrance also makes more sense because that is the last place you visit on your way out of the bathroom.
The joy of design
Above all else, have fun! "Express your personality and lifestyle," says Tweten. "If you need a shot of coffee in the morning and would love to hide a coffee maker in the linen cabinet - why not? Running out of soap too often? Add a soap dispenser. Hate shampoo bottles all over, toppling off the shelves while you shower? Add a multi-buttoned wall hung dispenser than you can reach while standing or sitting. Write up your dream list and get started!"
Copyright 2014, Dawn Slusher