First-rate secondary bathrooms
Master bathrooms get the most remodeling dollars, but homes typically have one or more other bathrooms-or else their owners wish they did. Here are a few key considerations if you’re renovating or adding a kids or guest bathroom or powder room to your home:
These compact spaces are often tucked into nooks in the home, such as converted pantry closets or the cavity beneath a staircase. They’re all about economy of space, though the best examples also emphasize design. “This is not a high-traffic room, so function is not as important as the wow factor,” says Elizabeth Goltz, owner of Design by Orion in Kansas City.
(Photo: Consumer Reports)
Streamline the design. A sink and toilet are the only must-haves in a powder room. A round toilet bowl takes up less room than an elongated one, which may be worth the compromise in comfort that some users will experience. Consider a pedestal sink instead of a bulkier sink/vanity combination.
Be adventurous. Design treatments that would look over the top in other parts of the home are fine in the powder room. Deep dark hues, such as burgundy and eggplant, play well in these small spaces. Not that adventurous? Limit dark hues or unusual colors to wall paint. Pricey materials such as vessel sinks, custom floor patterns, and stone counters won’t be as hard on your budget because you won’t need as much as you would in a larger bath.
Splurge on the accessories. With so few accessories to consider, you can spend more on those you do need. “Invest in the faucet,” says Carolyn Cheetham, president of Design Works by Cheetham in Alberta, Canada. “It’s an opportunity to bring something fun and sculptural into the space.” Also, consider matching the faucet finish to other accessories in the space, such as the towel ring, mirror frame, and light fixture.
Kids and guest bathrooms
(Photo: Consumer Reports)
A second bathroom, be it for the kids or overnight guests, is expected in all but the smallest homes. If you’ve bought a home without one (say a 1950s split-level), it should be high on your wish list. To get the job done right, follow these recommendations:
Focus on durability. The surfaces and fixtures will likely get lots of wear and tear, especially if children use the room. Plastic laminate flooring and countertops are durable and inexpensive, plus the kids likely don’t care if they have high-end materials. As for fixtures, you still want high-quality construction, including all-brass parts and a PVD (physical vapor deposition) finish that resists scratches, but go with basic chrome, rather than pricier nickel or bronze. On the walls, choose an interior paint that resists mildew.
Don’t forget the bathtub. You might not take baths, but every home should have a bathtub. Even when master bathrooms had whirlpool tubs, it was still customary for the secondary bath to have a tub, usually in the form of a shower/tub combo. A one-piece molded acrylic unit can cut down on cost and maintenance compared to one that’s tiled.
Remember ventilation. A bathroom fan is critical in high-traffic bathrooms where the shower is going all morning. And since kids can’t always be trusted to turn the fan on and off, spend more on a model that uses humidity sensors to operate the fan on its own.