Planning your bathroom is the first step in creating your dream space so it fits your specific needs. “A good floor plan is essential before you spend hundreds of dollars worth of fixtures,” says Paula Velez, project designer at LUX Design in Toronto. Here are Velez’s tips to make the most of your space.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Think about your current bathroom. What are the most serious problems you want to fix? Lack of space? Lack of storage? Is the tub too small? Is the vanity lacking sufficient counter space?
- Do doors interfere with full usage of cabinets or other fixtures?
- Who will be using this bathroom?
- How many people will be using the room and at what time of day/how often?
- Is this a bright, efficient spot to make mornings easier or a luxurious getaway to relax in the evenings — or does it need to be both?
- Do your fixtures need to do double-duty (faucets that both kids and adults can reach, a bathtub that’s good for kids but luxurious for Mom)?
- Do you need storage for towels, toiletries and other supplies?
Choosing your Space
If you’re renovating your home, try to place the bathroom in an area with access to natural light — either a window or skylight. “Because of the nature of sunlight, it makes all paint shades look warm and inviting,” says Velez. “Having a window will also make your washroom a great transition from day to night.” Windows are also key for ventilation. If your space doesn’t have windows, plan for a good ventilation fan.
Plumbing & Electrical
The current placement of plumbing pipes and electrical wires may limit how you remodel a bathroom. But unless the plumbing or electrical needs repair, it’s best not to change it because the added expense can be better spent on higher end finishes and fixtures. However, if the pipes need repairing, the time to do it is during a full renovation — so that you can rearrange the fixtures for the best layout for your needs. Electrical outlets and switches are easier to move than plumbing pipes, so if you can choose one over the other, try to rewire before you change the plumbing.
If natural light isn’t an option, you want to make sure you have the ability to add as many light fixtures as the space (and your budget) can accommodate — this means planning out where your outlets and wiring need to go (in ceilings and walls) before you start drywalling the space. Allow for a mixture of overhead, wall lighting and underlighting options — and don’t forget about lighting in the shower, which helps to not only wake you up in the morning, but you’ll appreciate it when cleaning. Mood lighting around the tub will eliminate the need for candles — which may be a concern if you have small children.
Line up your most-used pieces by the entrance. The sink should be closest to the door, followed by the toilet, then the shower. A bathtub should be farthest from the door (unless the tub is used more often than the shower — often the case in a kids’ bathroom).
One of the problems with bathrooms is that they’re typically the smallest room in the home, but where you need to fit the most fixtures, and where you spend the most amount of time. Follow these guidelines to make a small bathroom look bigger.
- Paint: Choose light colours for the walls and ceiling.
- Furniture: Choose a compact, low toilet, which will help make the room feel bigger and ceilings higher. Double-up on your shower and tub, or for really small spaces, get a deep, but not long, tub, that’s still comfortable without taking up too much space.
- Mirrors: Instead of individual mirrors over the sinks, choose wall-to-wall mirrors, which will reflect light. Try to hang another mirror on the opposite wall to really open up the space.
- Tile: Choose light colours. Extend tile up the walls, and avoid baseboards or trim, which will make the floor area seem smaller. Contrasting, horizontal borders and patterned tiles can expand the size of the bathroom.
Think about storage solutions before you start your renovation. Built-in shelving and cabinets give a clean, polished look to a space, and save you the time and hassle of trying to find pre-made cabinets that fit into the space you’ve already completed work on.