Tuesday, March 26, 2013 3:05 PM EST
It was time to start choosing items for our new bathroom. Because we were on a budget, I wanted to try to be practical, but I didn’t want to under-spend and pay the price later.
When it came to the tub and bath fixtures, our designer, Valerie Clubine of Signature Interiors, gave some fantastic advice: “There are certain components in your bathroom that can be inexpensively changed to give you a whole new look. Other fixed items, like the tub and bath fixtures, cannot be so readily changed without incurring great expense.” She advised us to buy the best tub we could afford, because we certainly wouldn’t want to be tearing it out any time soon. “Be sure it’s comfortable and has a durable finish that will withstand the wear and tear of daily use. Same with your faucets – they should be classic in style, easy to clean, and easy for small hands to operate. After choosing these items wisely, even if you like to redecorate fairly frequently, all you’ll have to do is get a gallon of paint and a stack of fluffy new towels – but you can leave the fixed items in place!”
I couldn’t wait to get rid of the ancient kneeler tub that had been in our bathroom since before we moved in. (Seriously, can anyone take a comfortable bath in those? Even the kids were sick of it, and had taken to asking if they could have baths at other people’s houses if they discovered a deep, sumptuous-looking tub.) I wanted the biggest tub I could find, but soon realized that would make the bathroom seem cramped.
Here are some helpful tub-choosing hints:
1. Measure! Yes, it seems simple but more than once, we chose a tub, were certain it was “the one” and then discovered there was no way it would fit in the room. Not only do you need to make sure a tub is going to fit in your space, you also have to ensure it’s going to fit through the actual door of your bathroom, so measure all possible angles before you make your choice.
2. Choose Materials Wisely. When we first started investigating tubs, we believed that enameled cast iron was the only way to go, because of durability. However, we soon learned that acrylic is a viable option, mainly because it’s naturally warmer and easier to maintain than cast iron. (This is good news for me, because I’m not exactly the world’s best housekeeper. I’m sure our cleaning lady will be pleased about it, too.) Choosing an acrylic versus a cast iron tub also helped us keep costs down. We were prepared to spend much more on our tub than we did, and were pleasantly surprised that the Kohler Bancroft 5-foot tub we chose cost less than a thousand dollars—and the fact that it didn’t require a reinforced sub-floor, as many cast iron tubs do, helped keep us under budget in this area of the room.
3. Consider Comfort. I knew I wanted a tub I could relax and have a bath in, and that would also fit both my kids comfortably. What the kids wanted was depth, for extra splashy fun—and what my husband, as usual, wanted was cost effectiveness. The tub we chose was the perfect compromise of all these things, but most of all, it was truly comfortable. The first time I climbed in to test it out, I wanted to stay there forever. Seriously, I considered taking a nap! Initially, I had hoped to get a longer tub (5.5 feet rather than 5) but it simply wouldn’t fit in the space. This turned out to be no problem at all, because of the high and gently sloping back rest. (For added comfort, I also purchased a Kohler Removable Bath/Whirlpool Pillow.
4. Check Out Customer Reviews. As a way to save money, we sourced a lot of our materials ourselves, online and in-store at The Home Depot. And we were always able to read customer reviews. Our tub received only rave reviews, which helped us make our decision. For any product you choose, either look up reviews on the website of the store you’re purchasing it from, or look up its product reviews on Google. You may not always be able to find any, but if you can, don’t ignore them.
Now it was time to chose the tub and shower trim kit. We wanted a rain-style shower head, but were worried about the level of flow and didn’t want to purchase a shower head that would be an environmental disaster. We were pleasantly surprised by the Kohler Mistos tub and shower faucet trim kit, because the design allows the water to combine with little air bubbles, creating a more powerful feeling flow without using extra water.
I also purchased an across-the-tub caddy in satin nickel from Bed, Bath & Beyond.
It functions as extra storage for tub toys and shampoo, but can also hold a book, candle and wine glass. I’m already dreaming of lovely long baths in my new tub!
Next up: Choosing the vanity cabinet—plus a little surprise!
Planning a renovation of your own? Check out our Find a Pro guide.