Going into a small bathroom remodeling project usually means a lot of work and a lot of money. And, if you're like most folks, you want your bathroom remodeling ideas and efforts to produce some sort of "wow" response. A complete small bathroom makeover may be out of the question right now, but the room needs something! Maybe if you replaced that vanity, or turned the linen closet into a shower or added a few feet by knocking out the exterior wall.
Instead of replace and add, maybe the idea should be relax and lighten up. Simple is actually harder to do than complex. In other words, remodeling a small bathroom, especially a guest bath, for the illusion of more space could be much less of a project than what you may now have in mind... and, "less" could be about both money and work!
There are three things that pretty much have to stay where they are, unless you're planning to spend lots of money. The sink/vanity, tub/shower and toilet, in that order of importance. That means when someone walks into the bathroom, they usually look at the sink/vanity first, then the tub and/or shower (especially if there's some nice design element(s) or tile work) and finally the toilet, which is probably the reason for them walking in there in the first place!
So, let's start with the toilet. Does it need replacing? Remember; its dead last in the popularity contest and most people can't tell the difference between a $500 and a $100 toilet. The criteria for replacing it should be function, then. Is it an old twentieth century thing with a 3-plus gallon flush? If it is, and not working properly or leaks, you may want to replace it. But the good news is toilets are relatively easy to take out and put in. Search "replace toilet." If its a newer, white, standard unit, though, hold off on replacing it until after you've explored other areas to remodel.
The tub is the most difficult to replace of the three and, like the toilet, if its white, works okay and is in good overall condition hold off on any thoughts of replacing it, as well. The three walls around the tub, however, is a different matter. You can buy pre-made polystyrene "tub surrounds" at the big boxes, plumbing supply stores and at some hardware retailers for around a hundred dollars and up. Tile—a beautiful way to surround your bathtub—comes in a wide, wide assortment of styles, colors and sizes, and tile work is fun. White to match the tub or light colors will bring the bathtub into the twentieth century and visually expand the room.
If you're thinking about redoing the floor, consider using the same tile for both it and the tub surround. Maybe use matching smaller tiles for the floor molding or, if you're using 12" tiles, cut some in half and have a 6" tile molding. The simplicity here will add visual space. Add an even lighter colored rug and the space will seem bigger and softer. Shower door or curtain? Either way, make sure the colors are light, translucent or... even clear, if you've done a great tile job. A simple larger-than-you-probably-first-thought-of mirror will add light and reflect all the great work you've done, as well!
The sink/vanity is the easiest and, by far the most used and noticed item in there. Here is where your remodeling budget should be open to ideas. To add floor space, get a pedestal sink. For even more space, a wall mounted sink. If you need the storage, a small white or soft, light colored vanity. If your vanity is okay, perhaps paint and a really wild vessel sink or some other unusual sink/countertop combination. This is where friends and guests will spend time, so maybe you should spend some money there. Wander around a few plumbing fixture retailers and big box home improvement stores.
Paint is always the first thing you should consider, though. Keep the "60-30-10 Rule" in mind when you buy paint, fabrics or accessories. This means 60% dominant color (white or light in this instance), 30% secondary color (earth colors, pastels, etc.) and 10% accent color (something wild). This includes shower curtains, rugs and towels. Check the big boxes for discounted gallons that people returned. Sometimes, one person's "too much" is another person's "just right!" One wall—behind the mirror, for instance—will do.
Now is the time, if you're just starting to plan, to take a fact-finding trip or two to the home improvement stores, plumbing retailers and the paint stores. Also, search online for "vessel sinks", "cool vanities" or "bathroom mirror" for ideas. New products are being introduced all the time and many items are not only new and cool, but Earth-friendly, too!
Durand Demlow is a commercial designer, home remodeler and website developer. His knowledge and career has given him the experience to create a website focused on helping do-it-yourselfers and homeowners with free remodeling and decorating tips and ideas. His website, RemodelQuickTips.com is an ever-growing resource of DIY concepts and advice.
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