Category: Bathroom


How To: Install Shower Valve Trim

Install new shower valve trim to freshen the look of your bathroom quickly, easily, and at low cost.

How to Install Shower Valve Trim

Photo: JProvey

A fast and easy way to freshen the look of your shower is to install new shower valve trim. If your trim resembles mine on the day that I undertook this project, then it’s either conspicuously out of date or completely corroded—or both. Fortunately, of all the countless projects you might choose to do in the bathroom, this is one you won’t need the plumber for.

The very first step is to determine what type of shower valve you have. Identification may be visible on the valve. If not, try performing an image search online. Since the majority of older valves were made by only a handful of companies, you probably won’t have to sift through many results before discovering a match.

Related: Wet Tech: 10 Waterproof Gadgets to Enhance Your Shower

When purchasing a new trim kit, it’s important to buy one whose mounting holes are in the same position as the holes that are in your existing trim. Some trim kits have mounting holes at 5:00 and 7:00 positions. Others have them at 2:00 and 7:00. The kit packaging helpfully lists which type of valves the trim has been designed to fit.

Installing valve trim is a task simple enough that conceivably—if all goes according to plan, of course—you could finish the job before you begin your morning shower routine. Even beginning do-it-yourselfers ought to have no problem with the step-by-step instructions that follow.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Remove Screws

Photo: JProvey

Remove the screws holding the shower control handle in place, then proceed to remove the handle itself.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Place Trim

Photo: JProvey

Place your new trim plate over the valve. Mine came with a rubber gasket; others may call for plumber’s putty or caulk.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Screw Plate

Photo: JProvey

Screw the trim plate into position using the screws supplied in the kit.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Diverter

Photo: JProvey

If appropriate for your valve, install the diverter—that is, the mechanism which directs water from the plumbing lines to your shower head.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Retaining Ring

Photo: JProvey

Clip the diverter retaining ring in place if needed. As the ring in my kit seemed prone to popping out, I used some adhesive caulk to secure it.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Stem Cover

Photo: JProvey

Now install the valve stem cover(s).

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - O Ring

Photo: JProvey

Use the supplied O-ring to fasten the stem cover(s).

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Screw In Control

Photo: JProvey

Finally, screw in your new control handle.

 

Installing the shower trim kit took me all of ten minutes. Removing the old trim? Well, that took me an hour. Inexplicably, it had been installed with drywall screws. Oh, the joys of home improvement!


Bath Fans Do More Than Clear Odors

Since the bathroom is the most humid room in any house, a ventilation fan is the best defense against moisture-related problems—namely, mold and mildew.

Bathroom Fan Installation

Photo: diylife.com

Humidity is not only uncomfortable, it is damaging to your home, particularly indoors where it can lead to peeling paint, warped wooden doors and floors, and the potential for mold and mildew. Nowhere is the humidity problem more evident than in bathrooms, where bathtubs, showers, sinks and toilets all contribute to the release of moisture into the air.

Fortunately there is an easy solution within reach of most do-it-yourselfers: installing a bathroom ventilation fan. Bathroom fans are designed to promote positive air movement, bringing fresh air into the bathroom and at the same time, removing steam, humidity and even foul odors from the area.  In short, improving the overall air quality in your home.

“Since the bathroom is the most humid room in a house, having a ventilation fan is a no-brainer,” says Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com. Ventilation fans are designed to solve air movement problems and improve indoor air quality in homes and buildings. In many cases they are required by local building codes. “In the bathroom, a ventilation fan can quickly and efficiently whisk away odors, along with steam and moisture to reduce the potential for mold and mildew,” he adds.

Bathroom Fan Installation - Components

PB110 Premium Bath Fan (One Grille/Vent Only) from SupplyHouse.com

Bathroom fans come in three basic types: ceiling-mounted, which are installed directly into the ceiling and ventilate into the attic or through the roof; inline/remote fans, where the actual fan unit is located in the attic and connected to a ceiling grille in the bathroom with ductwork, venting to the outside through the attic roof or wall; and wall-mounted/external fans, which are mounted on the exterior wall of the house.

Inline/remote fans offer several advantages over ceiling- and wall-mounted fans: because the fan unit is located in a different location, inline fans tend to be substantially quieter. Also, one inline fan can be connected to several ducts and therefore can be used to ventilate multiple locations—a shower and a tub for instance—or even multiple bathrooms.

The main goal of bathroom ventilation is to change the air, and most experts say an efficient fan should produce eight complete air changes every hour. Therefore, the capacity of bathroom fans is rated in cubic feet per minute (CFM), indicating how much air a particular fan can move. According to the non-profit Home Ventilating Institute a good rule of thumb is to use 1 CFM per square foot of bathroom area: for example, typical 8-by-10 foot bathroom comprises 80 square feet and therefore needs a ventilation fan rated at 80 CFM.

For bathrooms larger than 100 square feet, the HVI recommends installing ventilation based on the number and type of bathroom fixtures: for example, showers, tubs and toilets all require a fan rated at 50 CFM, while a whirlpool tub requires a fan rated at 100 CFM. Therefore, if you have a large bathroom with a whirlpool tub, shower and toilet, your total ventilation needs adds up to 200 CFM.

Bathroom fans come in varied models and sizes, and typically are rated for continuous duty. Since many homeowners today are concerned with energy efficiency, there are numerous fans that are rated as part of the U.S. Energy Star program; Energy Star-compliant fans use approximately 20% less energy than standard models. Some bathroom fans also come with timers, humidity/moisture sensors, motion sensors that turn on when someone enters the room, heaters and decorative lighting kits.

Online retailer SupplyHouse.com has produced some helpful videos that can provide more information about how to choose the right product for your needs:

This post has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: Bathroom Storage Plans

If you’re about to renovate the bathroom, here are some tips for making sure you’ll be able to stash all your stuff.

I bet you’ve never heard anyone complain that his bathroom has too much storage space. If you’re about to renovate, here are some tips for making sure you’ll be able to stash all your stuff.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BATHROOM STORAGE PLANS or read the text below:

bathroom-storage-plan

Photo: shelterness.com

Start by measuring your existing bath storage, then count up the items that don’t fit—the towels, toiletries, and brushes that are now cluttering up the back of the toilet tank or the deck of the sink, and the towels that end up on the floor because they don’t have a place to hang.

Be realistic about who’s using the bath. Does your household include small children or older family members, who need easy access to shelves? Think down the road, too: Will you soon have teenagers, with their ever-growing collections of hair- and skin-care products?

Now figure out where to put it all. Determine how many towel racks and robe hooks you need, and what size medicine cabinet you can fit. If you’ll need under-sink storage, opt for a vanity instead of a pedestal sink.

Carve out space for wall-mounted or freestanding cabinets. Recessed shelves, hampers, and cabinets are great space savers. Plan for shelves above the toilet, and build in tall recesses in the tub surround for soaps and shampoos.

Remember to leave space for the toilet paper holder, spare rolls, and a trash can! A little thought today will save you from a cluttered eyesore tomorrow.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Install a Shower Head

A small project that makes a big impact, installing a new shower head is a quick and easy job that almost anyone can do—no fancy plumbing tools required.

How to Install a Shower Head

Photo: shutterstock.com

Installing a new shower head is not quite as easy as changing a light bulb, but almost.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- New shower arm (optional)
- Replacement shower head
- Pipe wrench
- Thread seal tape
- Plumber’s putty or caulk

STEP 1
As you begin, decide whether or not to keep the existing shower arm—that is, the angled pipe to which the shower head attaches. If the shower arm has become corroded over time, or if it doesn’t match the finish of your new shower head, scrap it. A pipe wrench does the job when you’re bare hands fail. Note that while shower heads don’t usually come with shower arms, you should be easily find an appropriate one for sale separately.

How to Install a Shower Head - Outdoor

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Skip this step if you’ve opted to keep your existing shower arm. To install a new shower arm, start by wrapping its threads, two or three times over, with thread seal tape. Stretch the tape slightly, as you apply it. Next, carefully turn the pipe into the wall fitting, and then seal the wall opening with plumber’s putty. Slide the shower flange over the arm and  press it into the putty. Wipe away excess.

Related: 10 Dream-Worthy Showers to Give You Bathroom Envy

STEP 3
The next step depends on the type of shower head you’ve purchased. If yours is the type that attaches directly to the arm, here’s what to do: Use thread seal tape to wrap the threads at the base of the shower arm, then turn the shower head into position, taking care not to over-tighten. (If using pliers instead of a wrench, protect the finish on the fitting with several layers of cloth or plastic tape.)

Homeowners who have purchased a handheld shower head probably do not need to add thread seal tape at the shower arm base (to be certain, however, check the manufacturer’s directions). Here, installation consists only of threading the handheld onto the shower arm, before threading the handheld shower head’s flexible hose onto the bracket.

Additional Tips
• Arguably, handheld shower heads are more practical than fixed ones.

• A low-flow shower head saves both water and the energy your water heater must use to deliver a comfortable bathing experience.

• Metal shower heads generally perform better than plastic ones. Look for chrome finishes and brass construction. Ease of adjustment and problem-free longevity justify the added cost of such fixtures.

• Metal hoses on handheld shower heads are more flexible, and thus easier to manipulate, than plastic hoses.

• Shop online for greater choice, but visit stores for a chance to see and feel the products you’re considering. Expect to pay at least $80 for a quality model.


Bob Vila Radio: Bath Mistakes

Thinking of renovating the bathroom? Before you begin, bear in mind these mistakes to be avoided.

Before you plan a bathroom renovation, listen up to a few suggestions that will help you avoid some all-too-common remodeling missteps.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BATH MISTAKES or read the text below:

bath-mistakes

Photo: appliancesconnection.com

If you’re installing a whirlpool tub, consider the size of your water heater—you may need to buy a larger one. The water heater should hold at least two-thirds the capacity of your new tub. A standard tub maxes out at about 40 gallons, but even a basic jetted tub could hold 50 or 60. A 60-gallon tub needs a 40-gallon water heater, or else you’ll be taking some cool baths in it.

If you plan on installing grab bars or a shower seat, don’t forget that they’ll require blocking beyond the wall.

Choose materials appropriate for your lifestyle. If you have little time (or patience) for cleaning, or if you’ve got young kids, don’t install a marble vanity, wood floors, or oil-rubbed-bronze faucets. And remember: larger floor tiles equal fewer grout lines!

Plan for enough lighting, especially if your bathroom doesn’t have a window. Don’t forget a light fixture right over the tub or shower, so you’re not showering in the dark.

Even if your bathroom does have a window, include a sufficiently powerful vent fan. A fan does a much better job of venting than an open window does.

Double-check clearances. You don’t want to end up smacking into the corner of the vanity every time you step through the door, nor do you want a shower door that hits the toilet.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Shower Heads 101

Focus on features in order to choose a shower head from the many different options awaiting you in the bathroom hardware aisle.

How to Choose a Shower Head

Photo: faucet.com

Gone are the days of the utilitarian shower head. Today’s spigots are anything but standard. From sleek handheld units to adjustable sprays to stand-up spas, the bathroom hardware aisle has begun to rain a torrent of tantalizing options.

TYPES AND BENEFITS

Standard wall mount. The standard wall-mounted shower head ranges from simple designs to more elaborate, feature-heavy models with adjustable angles and multiple spray modes. Such fixtures also include technology to counteract hard water buildup, corrosion, and tarnishing. Some have only one setting, while others boast mist, massage, and assorted other shower effects. Prices run the gamut, but if you’re economizing, this is where to start your search.

How to Choose a Shower Head - Panel

Photo: hudsonreed.com

Top mount. Opt for this type of shower head if you like the idea of your daily deluge falling from above. A top-mount model either installs directly onto the ceiling or hangs down from an extension arm.

Sliding bar. In response to the height and personal preference of the user, a sliding bar shower head moves up and down along a wall-mounted base. For a bathroom shared among family members, a shower head like this, whether it’s fixed or removable, ensures that everyone enjoys an optimal experience.

Handheld. Removable from its mounting, a handheld shower head performs well in bathing applications and can also be useful for washing things other than adult bodies (e.g., pets and kids). If you can’t decide between a handheld or a traditional fixture, why not settle on a two-in-one combination? Remember to select a model that is easy to grip and maneuver when your hands are wet and soapy.

Related: 10 Dream-Worthy Showers to Give You Bathroom Envy

Shower panel systems. A great way to think of these showers is as Jacuzzis you stand up in. Highly customizable, shower panel systems deliver more water pressure where you want, less where you don’t. Buy a pre-configured unit or design your own, specifying the number of spigots and their placement (overhead, chest-level, knee-high, etc.), the output volume, as well as the included spray options.

Note that in homes with shower panels, hot water consumption tends to increase. Make sure there are no environmental restrictions in your area concerning the installation of multiple shower heads.

Also, confirm that your plumbing can accommodate any shower system you’re eyeing. While the standard diameter of water pipes is one half inch, some custom showers require pipes that are wider. Meanwhile, your existing water heater may not have sufficient capacity to meet a graduated level of demand. Retrofit options are often available, but the wise course is to seek the advice of a professional.

Aerating. Many shower heads on the market are aerating, which means they mix air and water to create the sensation of enhanced water pressure, even though they actually use less water than a regular fixture. Aerating shower heads cost more initially, but they save you money on monthly utility bills.

Lighted. Shower heads enhanced by LED lights provide adjustable, mood-matching illumination that can make your habitual shower routine that much more pleasurable and convenient.

How to Choose a Shower Head - Low Flow

Photo: jaclo.com

Environmental Considerations
Since the early 1990s, the EPA has limited shower heads in the U.S. to a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), thereby conserving both water and the fuel that runs water heaters. Knowing that the average family goes through almost 400 gallons of water in a single day, consider investing in a water-saving shower head that uses even less than 2.5 gpm. Models that carry the EPA WaterSense label have been demonstrated to utilize no more than 2 gpm.

Going the green route? Take your home’s water pressure into account. The EPA-specified flow rate is for a standardized pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi), so if your water pressure is not that high to begin with, a low-flow shower head probably won’t offer the results you’re seeking. In fact, if you’re already unsatisfied with the water pressure in your home, concentrate on models that have been specially engineered to mitigate that issue.

Related: Designers Tell All: Today’s Top 10 Bathroom Trends

Price Range
To upgrade your shower, you can spend anywhere from $5 to $1,000 and beyond. Decide for yourself whether special features that tip the price scale are worth the expense. When comparing two models with similar feature sets, keep in mind that a higher price does not always indicate a higher level of quality.

Other Considerations
Who is going to use the bathroom you’re updating? If it’s the master bath and you don’t plan on sharing the space with guests, do whatever you like. If it’s a bathroom that visitors to your home are likely to use, select from those models that are easiest to use.

In addition, think about how much time and energy you wish to spend on installing your shower head. If you’re renovating the bathroom or building a new home, the course of work already being done might easily absorb an otherwise demanding installation. For a weekend afternoon project, basic wall-mounted fixtures are most accessible for do-it-yourselfers.


Bob Vila Radio: Shower Seats

Stylish new choices in bathroom seating make adding this safety device a no-brainer.

Making a bathroom safe for everyone doesn’t mean making your home look like a hospital.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SHOWER SEATS or read the text below:

shower-seats

Photo: signaturehardware.com

Most companies that make faucets and towel racks also make bathtub grip bars that match, so your bathroom can still be stylish, not industrial-looking. And there are lots of choices in shower seating now—adding a seat can make a shower stall safer and more useful, and it can look great.

Shower seats are available in compact flip-down models that fit even the smallest showers. You can find them in teak for a stylish sauna look, or if teak doesn’t work with your decor, you can choose from bamboo, classic chrome, or powder-coated aluminum in white or black. They all look great and won’t detract from your room’s style. They need to be screwed into wall studs or into a reinforced wall to be sure they remain safely in place.

The best part is that once you add a seat to your shower, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it. It’s especially handy for women who shave their legs in the shower, but it’s a luxury for anyone to be able to sit back and have the shower hit you after a long day. And just think—the more you consider safety now, the longer you may be able to stay in your home as you do get older and need a few accommodations.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Replace a Toilet

To replace a toilet, you don't need a professional license in plumbing, only basic tools, patience, and a few hours of free time.

How to Replace a Toilet

Photo: kohler.com

There are many reasons to replace a toilet. Maybe it’s old or avocado green. Or maybe it rocks more than the Red Hot Chili Peppers when you sit on it. Or perhaps it uses more gallons per flush than the amount of water Survivor contestants get in an entire season.

Fortunately, replacing a toilet is one of the easiest DIY projects there is. With patience, a few simple tools, and a little strength, you can install a gleaming new water-efficient commode within only a few hours.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Measuring tape
- Rubber gloves
- Small cup or old towels
- Adjustable wrench
- Putty knife
- Level
- Silicone caulk
- Replacement toilet (with accessories)

STEP 1
Before removing your old toilet, don’t forget to measure it. Specifically, mark down the distance from the wall to the center of the bolts that attach the base to the floor. Is that distance 12 inches? You’re in luck. Your toilet is standard-sized.

If you’ve measured a distance other than 12 inches, you might need to custom-order your replacement toilet. To avoid ordering one that is too large, also measure the space you have available to accommodate the width of your new fixture.

How to Replace a Toilet - Supply Line

Photo: deltafaucet.com

STEP 2
Beneath the tank of your existing toilet is the water supply line. Adjust its knob to stop the flow of water to the tank, then flush. Most likely, there will still be some water left in the bowl, so don your rubber gloves and use either a small cup (to bail it out) or some old towels (to soak it all up).

STEP 3
The easiest way to get your old toilet out of the bathroom is in two stages. Start with the tank and finish with the bowl. To separate the tank from the bowl, unscrew the bolts that attach the two pieces, then lift the tank off and carry it away, or set it aside on some old towels or a panel of cardboard.

To remove the bowl, pop off the caps that cover the closet bolts (the ones that go into the floor). Next, unscrew the nuts from these bolts, rocking the bowl back and forth gently to break it free from the wax seal at its base.

When the bowl feels loose, lift it off. A putty knife should remove the old wax seal from the flange under the bowl. Wipe everything clean and to prevent sewer gases from entering your home, stuff a rag in the drain hole (or cover it with duct tape-secured plastic).

Assess the flange (the ring beneath the wax seal). If it’s in good shape, leave it alone. If it’s cracked, you might be able to patch the damaged area with a repair tab, available at your local home improvement center. If the condition of the flange appears irreparable, arrange for a plumber to come and replace it.

How to Replace a Toilet - Flange

Photo: toiletpartshq.com

STEP 4
Installing the replacement toilet involves the same process as the above, only in reverse. First, place a new wax ring (one should come with your purchase) around the hole at the bottom of the toilet, known as the water horn. Make sure the tapered side of the seal is the one facing the toilet.

Set the bowl onto the closet bolts. Hand-tighten the nuts back into place on the bolts, but make sure there is still plenty of play between the nuts and the toilet base. Rock the bowl back and forth to set the wax ring, then gradually tighten the bolts all the way, one side and then the other.

Use a level to make sure the bowl is not sitting on a slant. If you’re a bit off, use shims to get it right before tightening the bolts one last time. Be very careful not to over-tighten the bolts; toilet bowls have been known to crack during this stage of the process.

If your toilet came with a rubber gasket, place it on the bowl, setting the tank right on top. Make sure to line up the holes for the bolts that will join the bowl and the tank, then go ahead and tighten the nuts on these bolts.

Finally, reattach the water supply line, put a thin line of silicone caulk around the toilet base, and turn the water back on. You’re all set!


Bob Vila Radio: Bathroom Square Footage

Before you remodel and build a new bathroom, consider what you'll really get for your square footage.

If you’re planning a remodel and are hoping to squeeze an extra bathroom into your home, there are a few things you need to know.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BATHROOM SQUARE FOOTAGE or read the text below:

Bathroom-Square-Footage

Photo: shutterstock

First, it’s possible to create a small powder room in less than 15 square feet, but it will probably feel cramped and uncomfortable at that size. A powder room that’s at least 16 square feet will give you a much more usable space, and 20 square feet is best for comfort.

If you’re working with a small space, be sure to choose a smaller-scale sink and a compact toilet, so the room doesn’t feel as crowded. Wall-mounted sinks don’t give you much basin area for hand washing, but they do make it possible to create a powder room out of an extremely small space.

If you’d like a three-quarter bath—meaning one that includes a shower stall, not a tub—you would ideally plan on another nine square feet to accommodate a shower stall that’s three feet by three feet. But corner shower stalls, shaped like a triangle, can be installed in less than seven square feet of space. Those corner stalls can feel a little cramped, so stand in one in a showroom before you include it in your plans.

A full bath with toilet, sink, and tub needs a minimum of 36 to 40 square feet, even more if you want amenities like a separate tub and shower, a double sink, or a linen closet.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Small Can Be Beautiful—Even in the Bath

Just because your bathroom is petite, doesn't mean it has to be inefficient or unattractive. Award-winning designer Leslie Lamarre shares her pro tips for getting the most out of any bath.

Ideas for Small Bathroom

NKBA's "Best Small Bath 2013" by TRG Architects

When it comes to bathroom remodeling, small can be beautiful. With smart planning, a petite bath can be attractive, efficient, and luxurious. And here’s another beauty point: Working within your current bathroom’s footprint rather than bumping out a wall or adding on will help keep your budget under control, even if you opt for luxe materials—a real plus in these financially uncertain times.

Designer Leslie Lamarre, co-owner and principal of interiors at TRG Architects in Burlingame, Calif., and winner of the first place award for Best Small Bath in the 2013 design competition sponsored by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, enjoys the challenge of making the most of a small space. Working around size constraints requires “creative solutions to make the design outstanding and unique,” she says. “It makes things more interesting and less predictable. Take advantage of every square inch: A little gap in the wall can become a storage niche; an awkward jog in the floor plan might make room for a built-in bench or window seat.”

A creative approach to picking out fixtures is key to making the most of a tight space. The size and shape of the room, your willingness to move plumbing connections, and personal style preferences are among the factors that will influence your fixture choices.

Ideas for Small Bathroom - Corner Tub

Neptune WIND 60" Customizable Corner Bathtub.

Lamarre recommends sticking with an average-size bathtub. “A too-big tub is a real space waster. Most people sit upright in the tub, so a five-foot tub is sufficient for practically everyone. There are all kinds of ways to use the space that you save with a smaller tub,” such as adding a mini storage unit. Consider custom pieces to best utilize small or oddly shaped spaces: “The more you can build in, the better.”

If the average five-foot-long rectangular tub doesn’t appeal—or won’t fit—some readily available options are 48-inch tubs (including some extra-deep, claw-footed Victorian-style models), corner tubs, and square or oval Japanese soaking tubs.

Related: How To: Create a Spa Bath at Home

Or consider getting rid of the tub entirely. “It’s actually more comfortable to take a shower if you’re not standing in the tub,” Lamarre says, “and a frameless glass shower makes the space look bigger.” A clear glass shower enclosure visually expands the space more than etched or frosted finishes will. Using the same wall and floor covering throughout the whole bathroom, including the shower area, lends an open, spa-like ambience.

Older homeowners or those with mobility issues will find it convenient to enter a shower without climbing over the side of a tub. But think twice about eliminating the tub if you don’t have one in another bathroom; if you decide to sell later on, a totally tub-free house may be a turnoff to some buyers.

Whether you want—or have room for—a vanity will influence bathroom sink choices. Lamarre says a vanity has to be at least 24 inches wide to accommodate a full-size sink and provide some functional counter space. But the hidden storage even a petite vanity offers is still a plus if you can make do with a smaller sink and don’t need much counter.

Vessel Sink Vanity

Photo: Columbia CabinetWorks

If you’re pro vanity, a vessel or above-surface sink maximizes below-counter storage—a flush or undermount unit can take up as much as a third of the vanity’s internal area. And a vessel sink “doesn’t need a deck around it,” according to Lamarre, yielding more usable counter space.

The standard depth for a vanity is 21 inches, but you can go shallower if you choose a semi-recessed sink installation. These sinks are designed to be positioned about halfway into the vanity, and protrude several inches beyond the counter’s front edge. Besides being space-savers, they look great.

Corner sinks, with or without vanities, are another way to make the most of limited space. “When you’re remodeling, you’re handed the space that you’ve got,” Lamarre says. “Once I had a jog in the vanity wall, so I carried the countertop across the space. It feels cohesive, and created a dynamic design aspect.”

Related: 7 Easy Ways to Boost Bathroom Storage

If you don’t have room for a vanity, or just don’t want one, check out a pedestal or wall-mounted sink. These styles have a lighter, less solid look than a vanity, and may be ideal for truly tiny spaces. “There are some really cool options; some wall-mounted sinks are only 11 inches deep,” Lamarre says. Some have broad, integrated ledges or shelf-like surfaces at the side; some come with built-in towel bars.

There are lots of ways to incorporate storage into the open space below pedestal and wall-mounted sinks: open shelves, prefab or custom cubbies, even decorative baskets and bins.

Lamarre advises that wall-hung toilets or those with round rather than elongated bowls are the best picks for compact spaces. But keep in mind, “Your choices have to fit the design aesthetic,” she says. A wall-hung unit “has a contemporary aesthetic; a round bowl works better with a traditional interior.”

Don’t overlook the storage potential above the toilet—there’s plenty of wall space for open shelves or shallow cabinets. And there are lots of over-toilet storage units available at big-box stores and storage specialty shops.

Small Bathroom

Photo: wallsfloorsandmore.com

Once you’ve picked your major fixtures, focus on the smaller but still important details, such as the medicine cabinet. You can stash more items in a deep cabinet, but one that’s flush with the wall might be a better pick. A protruding cabinet “will make the space feel smaller,” Lamarre says. Depending on the room and your cabinet choice, it may be possible to install two identical cabinets side by side. Besides doubling the storage, the expanse of mirrors can make the room look larger.

Last but far from least: lighting. A light, bright space is always more attractive and inviting, and in the bathroom in particular, light improves functionality. Recessed ceiling lights are a good starting place, but be sure to provide task lighting—Lamarre recommends sconces—around the mirror. If you like to shave in the shower, good-quality lighting will make the job easier and safer. She also recommends installing motion-activated accent lighting in the toe-kick area. It provides a gentle glow and can increase safety when someone enters the room in the middle of the night.

With careful shopping and planning, it’s possible to have the bath of your dreams in a compact space—without breaking the bank.