As featured in the May 6th issue of Maclean’s
Photo courtesy of Kohler.ca
Text by Bryan Baeumler
Edited by Chris Daniels
When it comes to renovation, bathrooms have traditionally played a supporting role to other rooms in the home. As we witness the evolution of bathroom design in creating personal mini-havens, this is beginning to change. Homeowners are opening their minds, and their wallets, to the idea of opulent bathroom renovations. The consensus is that whether modest or luxurious, the most private space in our home has acquired an important respite and importance all of its own.
An average cost for a bathroom remodel in my experience ranges between $10,000 and $15,000 for a basic redesign and in the range of $40,000 and up for a more specialized design. Expenses can vary immensely, but often times they should directly correlate with the number of years the homeowner plans to spend in the home.
If you’re looking at completing a bathroom renovation in a home you plan to be living in for five years or less, then any remodel should be about making improvements that will increase the return on your real estate investment. Once you figure out a budget, look at the prices of other homes in the neighbourhood, as that will help ensure you don’t over-improve the property. On the flip side, if you plan on living in the home for a longer period of time, or are looking at a custom home project, consider all the elements of comfort that will work best for you and your family.
Labour costs can account for about a third of a bathroom renovation expense. When it comes to plumbing, there can be all sorts of budget surprises hidden behind the walls and floors of a home. That’s why I recommend setting aside a bit of money for such problems that might arise – about 10% of the overall budgeted cost. If nothing else, look at this contingency budget as a financial cushion that, if not needed, allows expenditures at the end of the project for things like towel warmers and other luxuries.
Similar to a kitchen remodel or build, the permit process makes sure that your plans and design concepts are in accordance with municipal requirements including zoning regulations and heritage building designations. A building permit is generally required for renovations that involve changes to the structure or systems of your home. When reconfiguring the bathroom, there is the possibility of moving or removing walls to add square footage, installing or replacing windows and door openings as well as electrical and plumbing modifications, all of which require the necessary permits.
A renovator can apply for a permit on your behalf with a letter of authorization. Keep in mind that ultimately the homeowner is legally responsible for making sure that a permit is in place for the renovation while plans and drawings are approved by the municipality. An inspector will also visit the home after the work begins to make sure it is compliant with municipal requirements.
Photo courtesy of Kohler.ca
Soak Up the Trend
We are increasingly bringing commercial product into our residential custom home bathrooms. Think in-floor heating, electronic faucets and the “total” toilet which allows for hands-free electronic drying and washing.
Minimalist bathrooms featuring well-designed fixtures and smaller vanities are gaining popularity in 2013. Clutter-free surfaces, with toiletries and personal items tucked neatly away into sleek drawers and storage spaces, are taking the stage in current design trends. Homeowners are looking for wall-mounted toilets, contemporary lines and technologically advanced fixtures to complete the look.
One of the largest expenditures for homeowners within the bathroom is the shower and bathtub combination. Depending upon the look you hope to achieve, 20% of the budget can be dedicated to this area. Clients are eliminating the traditional tub and shower units and streamlining the design. The trend for 2013 is the ‘super shower’ in which the shower and tub are consolidated in a larger space similar to a wet room. A double walk-in shower, or walk-in shower with a bathtub, allows for multiple people to get ready at once. Features include cushy double bench seating areas, dual rain showerheads, multiple level body sprays, a steam feature, lighting and music surrounds.
Coveted by our more affluent clientele, the Kohler baths with VibrAcoustic technology range in price from $3,500 to $5,000 and offer a bathing experience like no other. Kohler’s VibrAcoustic baths boast hidden speakers that emit sound waves to envelop and gently resound within the body. Users can choose a soothing spa session with built-in compositions or they can opt to unwind with their own music playlists, catch up on news and even podcasts. In some models of VibrAcoustic baths, chromatherapy lights, with a sequence of eight colours, accompany the acoustics creating a truly luxurious way to relax.
Photo courtesy of Kohler.ca
Pairing the VibrAcoustic bath with Kohler’s DTV system for the shower – an advanced digital platform – gives homeowners a complete customizable experience, whether having a bath or shower, that combines water, sound, light and steam. It offers a personalized hydrotherapy experience, for example, with customizable temperature and spray intensity all through a menu-based navigation system.
Advancements in technology, plus a homeowner’s appreciation for the overall look of the bathroom, have also elevated the faucet as a more important feature. Once overlooked and considered more of an after thought, faucet design and finish is now at the forefront of bathroom design. Brass, copper, chrome, nickel, gold-plated and oil-rubbed metals are now available to consumers in a variety of price ranges. Although chrome is still the leader in terms of faucet sales, the trend for 2013 is brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze as the new metal accent. When selecting a faucet, homeowners should take into account the shape of the sink, the edge of the counter, the mirror, the door’s style as well as lighting fixtures. Ideally, the faucet finish will complement the entire space and add an element of uniformity to the finished bathroom.
When it comes to green design, you no longer need to sacrifice style or comfort. Sustainable, environmentally friendly designer appliances are now available for homes, including low-flow and dual-flush toilets. On the subject of toilets, there is perhaps no over-the-top luxury than one toilet that was showcased at a design show in Moscow: a gold-plated toilet priced at a staggering 250,000 Euros. This toilet is reportedly equipped with an advanced plasma mirror and digital control devices.
Also for the technology inclined, and at a fraction of the price, Kohler’s C3 toilet seat sells in the range of $1,000 to $2,200 and boasts a bidet functionality, heated seat with three different temperature settings, a warm-air fan for partial drying, a deodorizer and a Quiet-Close cover. Another notable inclusion is the lighted bowl for late night usage and a remote control to adjust the seat settings to your liking. Kohler’s Gabrielle Comfort Height One-Piece Toilet which includes the C3 toilet seat with bidet functionality (and features described previously) sells in the range of $3,500 to $4,700.
Bathroom flooring continues to be driven by the tile craze that started in 2012. Bold statement tiles are at the top of client wish lists. In addition to cutting-edge wood-print and stone-print tiles, we are seeing a trend towards large graphic prints.
Marble in the bathroom both for shower flooring and tiling continues to be in demand. Both slabs of marble in large tile form as well as mosaic patterns are a classic choice. Ideally, 2013 design trends would have you tile your entire space from floor to ceiling, but for a smaller project consider installing a marble accent wall or adding a backsplash behind your sink for a simple weekend project.
When choosing the optimal floor for your space, factor in durability as well as water resistance. Because it is durable and easy to clean, tile is a practical flooring choice for the bathroom. Whether the tile is a ceramic, porcelain or natural stone, tile comes in a wide range of sizes, shapes and styles. Textured design and natural stone products help prevent slippage. For a custom one-of-a-kind look I recommend a mix of marble, limestone and onyx. If opulence is the look you are hoping to achieve, then natural stone is a good choice; it is durable and lasts for years.
Nothing goes unnoticed when it comes to bathroom design today. Even the traditional bathmat is undergoing something of a reinvention. The traditional bathmat is being replaced by texture-driven area runners as well as dark painted flooring designed to recreate the look of an area rug or mat.
Read more of Bryan Baeumler’s expert renovation tips.