Does a well-lit, well-organized, well-appointed bathroom seem like a fantasy? With proper planning, it can become reality. Here's your guide.
Bathrooms are small, but when you scrutinize yours for remodeling, you'll find it densely packed with potential projects. To narrow the list to what's most important, begin by asking yourself these questions about your current space and ideas for change:
You may be surprised at how much of your present bathroom can be salvaged. If the basic layout works -- the fixtures are placed comfortably apart and there is enough room left for storage and towel racks -- then you can keep your basic plumbing and only replace fixtures. This is the least expensive remodeling option; moving plumbing or walls adds to the bottom line.
Here's a list of essential elements that will need your attention when you are planning a bathroom remodel. Depending on the scope of your project, some or many of these items will also need a line on the budget:
When it comes to bathroom fixtures, an inch or two can make the difference between feeling comfortable and feeling cramped. These guidelines have been established by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Usually, it's best to give yourself more room than the minimum, but don't go overboard and space things too far apart. If you're extra tall or require more elbowroom, plan for additional space. And don't forget the details: Plan your towel racks at the same time as you plan your fixtures.
A well-planned bath incorporates general lighting for overall illumination and task lighting to spotlight grooming activities. For the most complexion-flattering light, choose incandescent bulbs or fluorescent tubes that cast a warm white glow.
In small baths and powder rooms, a central ceiling fixture or fixtures that flank the mirror provide adequate general lighting. For a bath of medium to large size, however, you'll probably want to plan a lighting scheme that includes fixtures near the shower or tub, the toilet, and the vanity and/or mirror.
In the toilet compartment, install a ceiling fixture with a 60- to 75-watt incandescent light or a 30- to 40-watt fluorescent tube.
The tub and shower areas need 60 watts of incandescent illumination. Most building codes call for an enclosed vaporproof light fixture for use in wet areas.
Position overhead light fixtures in the tub area so there's no glare in your eyes when you're relaxing in the tub. You may want to install dimmer switches on fixtures with incandescent or dimmable fluorescent bulbs.
Good lighting is critical in the grooming center. The goal here is to prevent shadows on the face. To do this, arrange fixtures so that light is directed from above and from both sides.
To light a small mirror, align a 100- to 120-watt downlight with the front edge of the sink. For side lighting, install wall fixtures or pendants with 75- to 120-watt bulbs on both sides of the mirror. If you're using fluorescent fixtures, use a ceiling fixture of 32 to 54 watts and sidelights of 20 watts.
If the mirror is wider than 36 inches, sidelights are too far away to be effective. Instead, plan on groupings of recessed ceiling fixtures or mount a long multiple-bulb fixture above the mirror.
Windows give a bathroom cheerful, energizing light, but can also steal privacy. If clear glass lets the world into your bath, consider options such as these: