The Top Five Remodeling Apps

Whether you’re in the beginning stages of planning a renovation project or are already midway through, DIY project guides, calculators, and color matching swatches, would all come in handy, right? Lucky for you, there’s an app for everything nowadays – including home improvement, design, and renovation. With these helpful mobile apps in your virtual tool-belt, you’ll be able to tackle virtually any project without having to get your contracting license.

WikiHow (Android, iOS)

This free app is like Wikipedia for the DIY community. Within the app you’ll find thousands of how-to-guides ranging from life hacks and quick repairs to DIY projects and food recipes. Users can browse by category, search by term, check out featured articles and bookmark how-tos for offline reading – all from the comfort of their own home. If you’re using the iOS version, there’s an additional perk: a collection of first aid and survival guides that come preloaded for offline use – because you never know if you’ll hurt yourself while at the hardware store.

Houzz (Android, iOS)

Often referred to as the “Wikipedia of Interior Design”, Houzz is a popular social network dedicated to interior design and home improvement. Their official app is the home of thousands of articles, discussions, and photographs intended to inspire and motivate DIYers to take the next step in renovating their homes. Whether you’re looking for ideas or inspiration, this is the app for you. When the time is right, the app includes a directory of local professionals including architects and contractors.

Home Improvement Calcs (iOS)

Perfect for homeowners interested in forecasting the costs of certain renovations, the Home Improvement Calcs app includes a variety of helpful DIY calculators and estimation tools. The database includes over 74,000 present functions that range from mulch coverage to attic insulation volumetrics. With the amount of explanatory illustrations found in Home Improvement Calcs, you’ll be able to make your way through the flooring section of Home Depot with ease.

iFixIt (Android, iOS)

This DIY-oriented app focuses on do it yourself repairs, and includes repair and teardown guides for a variety of categories and devices, ranging from vehicles and smartphones to common household appliances and furniture. Whether you’re fixing a leaky sink or replacing your cell phone’s battery, this site can help. Users can browse by category, check out featured guides, and even create their own guides straight from within the app. If you don’t have the necessary tools or parts, the app includes a handy link to iFixIt’s own online store.

House Maintenance Schedule (Android)

So, you’ve installed a new vanity sink – but will you remember when to deep clean the oak? Now, thanks to the House Maintenance Schedule app, you’ll be reminded when it’s time to give your vanity a little TLC. Anything from flushing the water heater and inspecting fire extinguishers to changing HVAC filters and cleaning the rain gutters can conveniently be scheduled using this app. Over time you’ll find that remembering miniscule maintenance tasks can prevent them from becoming large and expensive issues.

Bathroom Lighting: A Guide

When it comes to a bathroom remodel, lighting is probably the last thing on your mind. Whether you’re remodeling an existing bathroom or building one from the ground up, natural light is at a premium – if natural light is minimal or non-existent in your bathroom, you’ll want to find lighting that suits your style, budget and bathroom space. If done poorly, lighting can produce unwanted shadows, glare, and can create an unpleasant ambiance. Explore these bathroom lighting ideas and get ready to create a welcoming, well-lit, and functional bath space in your home.

Choose a Style

Before moving a step further in exploring bathroom lighting options, you’ll want to decide on a preferred style of lighting. If you’re matching the lighting to theme or style of the rest of your home, this is as simple as choosing contemporary or traditional elements to match. Some lighting options, like classic wall sconces, can work in any style bathroom – especially as they’re now available in both contemporary and traditional styles. If you’re on the fence, a transitional style strikes the perfect balance between traditional and contemporary.

Use Daylight as Model

The true color of our face, clothing, hair, and makeup is best represented in daylight, so this is the quality of light you should try to mimic in your bathroom. This can be achieved by installing bathroom lighting fixtures with white shades, and using bulbs that render colors appropriate for the room. Although incandescent bulbs and LEDs are popular choices, compact florescent bulbs can be a good choice too – as long as their CRI is 90 or above. For more information on picking the right light bulb for the type of lithe you’d like to achieve, visit a lighting professional in your area.

Consider Dimmers

Dimmers are your best friend because they give you absolute control over the lighting and mood of the room. Whether you’d like to relax in the tub with minimal lighting or apply make-up with the lights blazing on a mirror, you can achieve both by using dimmers. An added bonus: dimmers conserve energy. The total savings depends on how much the bulb is dimmed, but one bulb dimmed just 10 percent will last twice as long as a bulb used at full brightness. Modern day dimmers can work for every kind of light source, though you’ll need to know what to ask for.

Pay Attention to Safety

Although paying attention to the aesthetics of a bathroom is important, it doesn’t diminish the importance of safety. The incorrect combination of electricity and water can be lethal, so consult a certified electrician before tackling even the smallest lighting project in the bathroom. The National Electric Code has specific requirements which must be met, including the requirement that all fixtures within a certain distance of the tub or shower must be “wet” or “shower-location” rated. An electrician who understands these codes can help ensure the lighting in your bathroom adheres to all standards.

Ambient vs. Task vs. Accent

Did you know there’s actually three types of light in the bathroom? Ambient lighting illuminates the entire bathroom with the majority of the light directed towards the floor, task lighting provides visual clarity and shadow-free light so tasks like shaving and putting on make-up are easier, and accent lighting draws attention to specific areas or decorative objects in your bathroom. Most bathrooms include all three, so all three should be kept in mind when shopping for lighting in your own bathroom.

Avoid These Mistakes During Your Bathroom Renovation

When it comes to home improvement projects, transforming an old bathroom from an eyesore into the bathroom of your dreams can add significant value to your home – but only if done correctly. From the tub and shower to the sink and vanity, there’s a lot to think about during a bathroom renovation. Save yourself time, money, and headaches by avoiding these easily preventable renovation mistakes.

Budget Wisely

According to Remodeling Magazine, the average cost of a bathroom remodel is $16,634. Although this is the average, you’d be wise to budget more, especially if you’re remodeling in an older home. The bathroom is unique in that there’s hidden problem areas which you won’t find out about until you start ripping the room apart. Dealing with mold, water damage, dry rot, and plumbing issues can take a serious chunk out of your remolding budget. If you’re not prepared with emergency funds to address these issues, you may have to temporarily put your bathroom remodeling project on hold.

Get Help, If Needed

While it’s fun to take on a new DIY project, perhaps taking on a bathroom renovation isn’t the best idea. Although the bathroom is relatively small, all the skills needed to build a house come together in the bathroom – electrical, plumbing, construction, flooring, and wall covering or painting. If you don’t have the experience, tools, and skills required to take on a bathroom renovation project, hire a contractor or handyman to help you through the process. Before beginning a bathroom remodel, make sure you understand all the different elements you’ll need to know and decide who you need to hire from there.

Avoid Being Too Trendy

If you’ve ever shopped for a new home, we’re sure you’ve come across once-trendy bathrooms that now seem outdated: whether it was the bathroom with pink tile from the 50s, avocado green tile from the 70s, or massive Jacuzzi tubs that were popular in the 80s, these bathrooms may have looked great at one time, but now they’re nothing but an outdated mess. Instead of going with the latest design fad in your bathroom, consider sticking with something classic. Neutral colors, simple tiles, and a clean, fresh look will never go out of style.

Don’t Cheap Out

If you’re purchasing bathroom fixtures that seem “too good to be true”, be advised – they probably are. By surrendering quality for cost, you’ll likely have to do another renovation in less than a decade. It’s especially important not to skimp on paying for a quality contractor; the person who gives you a quote that’s far cheaper than their competitors probably isn’t the right person for the job. Although initially you might be hesitant about spending more money on better quality fixtures, you’ll save in the long run as these items are built to last.

Be Smart with Contractors

One of the biggest complaints against contractors during a bathroom remodel is that the final bill is far larger than what was estimated. Obtaining a properly written bid at the beginning of the project is one of the biggest protections you have. Even if your contractor seems like the most trustworthy person in the world, never hire them without a written proposal. Make sure basic terms are laid out in the bid. At the very least the bid should include the total price, specific description of the work to be performed, estimated completion date, and warranties. If the contractor refuses to leave you with a written bid, then choose another contractor.

How to Choose the Right Bathroom Vanity

While it’s not necessarily the most glamorous part of a bathroom remodel, choosing the right bathroom vanity can make or break your bathroom design. If your vanity is placed in an awkward position, uses mismatched materials, or doesn’t have enough storage space, the rest of your bathroom will suffer. While a beautiful bathroom ensures you’re happy with your surroundings, functionality is just as important as aesthetics. Here’s some professional tips for choosing your bathroom cornerstone:

Size

When it comes to any type of remodel, working within your home’s established architecture is part of the equation. By evaluating your lifestyle, size of the bathroom, and the demands that will be placed on the vanity, the preferred size will become evident rather quickly. While your storage needs do impact the size of your vanity, taking the size of your bathroom into consideration is more important. While 32 inches is the go-to height for bathroom vanities, many modern designers recommend purchasing a vanity that’s between 34 and 35 inches. Ultimately, you should choose a vanity that will offer comfort and convenience to those who will use it, regardless of the size recommended by designers.

Placement

As far as placement goes, access and plumbing are the two areas of primary concern: your vanity shouldn’t disrupt the flow of traffic, and it should be placed near current plumbing. Additionally, homeowners should think about cleaning and vanity door swing space – if the surrounding areas aren’t accessible for cleaning and the cabinet doors would get in the way of foot traffic, another vanity design should be considered. While changing your bathroom’s plumbing in order to install a new vanity is a possibility, it’s going to account for a large chunk of your budget and, in most cases, is not ideal.

Materials

Since vanities are placed in hot and humid environments, it’s important that your vanity can withstand environmental stress. With that in mind, wood veneers, laminates and thermofoil tend to work well in bathrooms. Although hardwood is an attractive choice, hardwood vanities should be properly sealed and lacquered to prevent damage from wear and tear over time. Although lacquer can protect wood, it doesn’t make it indestructible. If a clear finish or lacquer is used, water will still affect the wood if it’s left standing on it. These types of vanities are recommended for use in guest bathrooms or bathrooms that aren’t used on a consistent basis.

Do Your Research

Although this applies to any form of decorating and remodeling, it’s worth noting once again: be sure to explore your options before finalizing a purchase. Keep an eye out for seasonal sales, such as Modern Bathroom’s Labor Day Sale, and remember that price doesn’t always translate to taste. If you can’t afford a designer edition of a bathroom vanity, look for an imitation in a local warehouse. Choosing the perfect bathroom vanity can make or break the look and feel of your bathroom, so take your time, be creative, do your research, and work with the space you have.

How to Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger

Unless you live in a custom-built home with a luxurious bath and walk-in closet, chances are you wish your bathroom was a little bit larger. While a small bathroom can feel cozy and intimate, it can also feel claustrophobic and cramped. Did you know it’s possible to create the feeling of more space without being forced to add more square footage? With these changes in color, lighting enhancements and decorating tricks, you can transform your small bath into something that appears a bit more spacious.

Pedestal Sink > Vanity

When you’re tight on space, replace your bulky vanity with a pedestal sink – or two! While a traditional vanity provides plenty of storage space under the sink, it can also obscure shower entrances and take up valuable floor space. Replacing a vanity with a pedestal or wall-mounted sink is a fairly inexpensive way to provide functionality while opening up floor space. Additionally, don’t install tall shelving units or cabinets that reach from floor to ceiling – these will only make your bathroom seem shorter and smaller.

Paint the Ceiling

Painting your bathroom ceiling the same color as the walls is a great way to open up a room, especially if your ceiling is angled or oddly shaped. By painting everything a unified color, unusual shapes will disappear and the space will visually expand. But how? Painting the ceiling to match the walls will cut down on the number of transitions and intersecting planes, creating a cleaner, more expansive upper space in the room. If your ceiling is flat, consider painting it a shade lighter since ceilings tend to read a bit darker than the rest of a room.

Color Selection

Pale, soft color schemes tend to great the illusion of more space. “Cool” colors, like light pinks, pale blues and sea foam greens, give the feeling serenity while strong, exciting colors can actually make your bathroom appear smaller. If you’re set on hot pinks or dark reds, consider using these colors for accessories, towels, and accent pieces. For the walls and ceilings, stick to pastel tones, neutrals, and whites. Additionally, keep everything the same tone/value as much as possible – avoid the contrast of dark walls and light tiles in favor of a more uniform color scheme.

Use BIG Mirrors

When it comes to mirrors in small bathrooms, the bigger the better. Nothing can make a bathroom feel larger than a mirror that reaches to the ceiling. When trimmed out in wood or tile and with lighting installed on top of it or in front of it, an oversized mirror will double the impact of the light and make the space grow. Note: don’t use double mirrors over side by side sinks, as this will chop up the space and have the opposite effect. Additionally, be sure to use clear glass in your shower – although textured glass promotes privacy, it can make the already small space feel like it has an extra wall.

Take Advantage of Natural Light

If you’re fortunate enough to have windows in your bathroom, take advantage of them. In many cases, windows are covered with shutters, shades, blinds or curtains in an effort to create privacy. Instead, cover a window with a translucent window shade or a light-toned stained glass window – this way you can have natural light while still enjoying your privacy. If you don’t have a window, consider installing a skylight, as natural light is one of the easiest ways to make a small bathroom appear larger.

Pedestal Sink or Vanity: The Great Debate

Although bathroom sinks come in a variety of styles, colors and materials, deciding between a pedestal sink and vanity is a classic debate. While many homeowners can easily decide on a sink color and style, choosing between a pedestal sink and vanity tends to be one of the hardest decisions. Some interior designers claim you can’t go wrong with either, but there are things you should take into consideration before deciding which style is right for your home. While pedestal sinks and vanities do the same job at the end of the day, they have several major differences that might make one a better fit for your home.

Space

A design rule of thumb states that the more floor space that’s visible, the more open a room will feel. If your bathroom feels cramped and small, a pedestal sink is the best choice for you since the open base of a pedestal sink can help even the smallest areas feel more spacious. Vanities, especially vanities with two sinks, tend to be significantly larger than pedestal sinks. While they can be the perfect addition to any bathroom, some bathrooms are simply too small for bathroom vanities. Note: if you’re replacing an existing vanity with a pedestal sink, the floor might need to be worked on, depending on what’s underneath the existing vanity.

Storage

Since vanities are larger than pedestal sinks, they also offer significantly more storage space - especially if your vanity comes with a long storage cabinet under the sinks. These cabinets tend to span the length and width of the vanity, and are a great place to store cleaning supplies, toiletries, and extra bath linens. If your bathroom is low on space but you need extra storage, you can offset the lack of storage under the sink elsewhere in the bath, including over-the-toilet shelves, open shelving with baskets, medicine cabinets, or a set of drawers. If storage and floor space are equally important, consider a wall-mounted vanity or console sink - something that can offer more storage while freeing up valuable floor space.

Maintenance

Pedestal sinks are easier to clean, due to their size and simple design. Since vanities have more features, including drawers and cabinets, dust and grime are more likely to accumulate. Additionally, the countertop of a vanity adds time to your regular cleaning schedule. Depending on the type of material chosen for the vanity, staining could be an issue as well. For example, marble and granite must be sealed to prevent staining and water absorption. While pedestal sinks are easier to clean than vanities, both are typically easy to clean and only require mild soap and water.

Installation

While most homeowners can install a vanity without too much difficulty, pedestal sinks tend to be a bit harder to install. Since pedestal sinks have no cabinet area to hide plumbing lines, unsightly holes, and water supply lines, everything must be installed so the connections are obscured. In order to do this, the drain must be centered perfectly and the supply lines must be installed at the correct height and close to the center of the faucet valves. For those on the inexperienced side, this can prove to be difficult. For these reasons, it’s usually recommended that plumbers install pedestal sinks.

Bathroom Demolition: How to Remove Old Vanities

Before you can remodel your bathroom, you’ll have to demolish it – this includes removing existing vanities and fixtures so your bathroom is prepared for the facelift you’ve always dreamed of. Whether you’re a total novice or somewhat of an expert, it’s important to take the time to demolition the right way – after all, a successful demolition isn’t about who can swing the hammer the hardest. There is a process to the demolition phase and it requires a plan and lots and lots of patience. Here are some tips for demolishing your existing bathroom without creating extra dust.

Have a Plan

Before beginning a demolition, you should either rent an industrial-sized dumpster or a truck to haul the debris to the landfill. Be prepared for tons of dust and grit, as removing plaster and tile will cause quite a mess. If your vanities and other bathroom fixtures are still in good condition and you feel guilty tossing them in a landfill, you may wish to consider donating them to organizations like Habitat for Humanity – they’ll get a second life in someone else’s home. If you’re working with a hired team, let them know about your donation plans ahead of time so they won’t damage or trash them upon removal.

Collect Tools & Supplies

Whether you plan on performing the demolition yourself or with a hired crew, you’ll need the following tools and equipment in order to perform the demolition properly: sledge hammer, utility knife, wheel barrel, large shovel, shop vacuum, heavy duty gloves, face gargles, face aspirators, duct tape or construction tape, screw drivers and wrenches, old towels, a large bucket, and high intensity light.

Although you’ll have to buy most of the above items, some of the larger tools, like wheel barrows and sledge hammers, are available for rent. Before renting, compare the purchase price and the rental price. In some cases, it may be cheaper to buy the tools and either sell them in a yard sale or save them for later use.

Turn Off the Water Supply

Before beginning any demolition job, think about what household elements you’ll be dealing with. Water? Gas? Electricity? All of the above? In the case of bathroom demolition, it’s important to turn off the water supply. Before removing a bathroom vanity, turn off the water supply below the sink by twisting the hot and cold nozzles. Turn the handles the opposite of their current position, and test both faucets to ensure the water is turned completely off before you move forward with removing the vanity.

Next, you’ll want to unscrew the supply lines that flow from the piping in your wall to the faucets. You can do so by wrapping a wrench around the nut that connects the line to the faucet and turn it until it becomes loose enough to unscrew by hand. If your home has copper pipes that have corroded over time, spray a plumbing liquid lubricant into the joint before beginning the process.

Remove Drain Pipes

Disconnecting the plastic piping that connects your drain to the hole in the wall is one of the easiest parts of a bathroom demolition and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. If you’re having trouble with turning the pipe connectors, try using a dry rag to get a better grip. If you’re dealing with a double vanity, the job is still simple but you’ll have to disconnect both before trying to pull apart the sink. Once the drain pipes have been removed, you’re ready to remove the vanity and cabinets.

Vanity Countertops & Cabinets

If the countertop is attached with silicone caulk, you’ll have to use a utility knife to loosen the countertop where it attaches to the cabinets. In some cases there are clamps securing the bathroom countertop, which can be removed with the appropriate tool. Once the bathroom countertop has been lifted, discard of it in an appropriate area. Now that the countertop is off, it’s time to remove the cabinet. Using a screwdriver or screw gun, remove the screws. Once the screws are removed, you should be able to remove the bathroom vanity.

After removing the vanity, cap off the drain pipe to prevent sewage gases from escaping into your home. Either push a large rag into the drain pipe or use plastic and tape to cover the opening. Now that your old bathroom vanity is removed, you’re ready to install your brand new bathroom vanity.

The Best Plants for Your Bathroom

Whether you’re looking for an innovative way to add color to your bathroom or are seeking clean-air solutions, bathroom plants are a natural way to bring life and clean air into your home. Although the minimal natural light and high humidity in bathrooms aren’t ideal for some plants, there are a lot of houseplants that thrive in your bathroom’s tropical conditions. In order to choose the best houseplant for your bathroom, you should consider the environment your bathroom offers: some plants thrive in low light, while others may require lots of space. Here’s a list of popular plants you may wish to incorporate into your bathroom décor, along with the ideal conditions and basic care of each.

Aloe Vera

Widely grown as an ornamental plant, Aloe Vera is a succulent plant species suitable for a bathroom environment. If you buy a plant that’s already established and add water only after its soil has completely dried, Aloe Vera should be extremely easy to grow. Although Aloe Vera prefers bright, sunny conditions, the plant can burn under too much sunlight, making it an ideal candidate for the bathroom. An added bonus: Aloe Vera can be used to treat minor abrasions and burns. Simply snap a leaf, and squeeze the juice directly onto minor wounds. The extract will moisturize and speed up healing time.

Snake Plant

Tolerant of low light levels and irregular watering, the snake plant is a popular plant for the bathroom. Although the plant is considered by some authorities as a weed, it’s widely used as an ornamental plant both outdoors in warmer climates and indoors in cooler climates. A study performed by NASA ranked the snake plant as one of the best plants for improving indoor air quality – the plant passively absorbs toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde from the air. Ideal for those lacking a green thumb, a snake plant is one of the hardest plants to kill, and prefers to be watered every 7-10 days.

Orchids

This beautiful, tropical plant will produce brightly colored flowers that are sure to liven up even the dullest of bathrooms. Although this plant can be difficult to cultivate and may die in other areas of the home due to dry air, the humidity of the bathroom creates an ideal environment for this plant to thrive. With over 20,000 species, orchids are one of the largest families of flowering plants. Since all orchids are perennial herbs, you’ll only get to enjoy them for part of the year, so keep that in mind before purchasing an orchid for your bathroom.

Spider Plants

Characterized by long shoots of thin foliage with off shoots at the ends of many leaves, the Spider Plant is one of the easiest houseplants to grow. Spider Plants only require light watering, and will only need to be watered once every two weeks. Although Spider Plants prefer natural light, they should not be placed in direct sunlight and should be removed from sunlight if their leaves turn brown. If the plant is kept within five to eight feet of a window, it should thrive in a bathroom environment.

Hanging Plants

Although hanging plants aren’t a specific type of plant, hanging plants are very popular and appreciated among those who grow plants in their bathroom. Hanging plants above the bathtub or from a hook on the ceiling is a great way to add greenery to your bathroom without taking up too much space. Ideal for bathrooms low on space, you can experiment with hanging plants and find interesting ways to display them in your bathroom. If possible, find a way to hang the plants in front of a window where they’ll be exposed to the most natural light.

Note: Many houseplants are poisonous to children and pets. Please research any houseplant before incorporating them into your bathroom.

Black is the New Black: How to Incorporate Black into Your Bathroom

Although black is not a favorite for use in home interiors, it can be an amazing idea if executed properly. When applied wisely, the color black can transform your bathroom into an elegant, dramatic, and trendy room. By incorporating black into your bathroom you’ll have the unique opportunity to create a room that’s the perfect mix between drama and elegance. Keep in mind the following basic rules and you can creatively use the color black when decorating your bathroom.

Use Black to Add Depth

One of the biggest misconceptions about using black is that it can make a room look cramped and small. While including black into a person’s outfit can make them look slimmer, black in the bathroom can actually add depth and make the room appear larger. One way to ensure your bathroom doesn’t look cramped as a result of using black Is to be mindful of how you’re incorporating the color – if you don’t have a large bathroom, consider only painting one or two of the walls black. If you’re still worried about using black on walls, consider opting for a black tiled floor or accent pieces instead.

Don’t Forget About the Lighting

There’s no denying that black works best in bathrooms with a large window and lots of natural light. If your bathroom doesn’t have large windows or is completely lacking natural light, you can still incorporate black by paying attention to the lighting. By adding contemporary light fixtures or a large mirror into your bathroom, the reflective surfaces will help light bounce through the room. If you’d really like to take it to the next level, consider installing a mirror with surrounding spotlights.

Don’t Feel Restricted

When incorporating black into the bathroom, many homeowners may feel restricted to painting the walls completely black. While this can work well when executed properly, it’s not the only solution. For those a bit less adventurous, there are a lot of fantastic wallpapers incorporating black and white patterns. Additionally, chevron stripes using two different shades of black can be a great way to add black to the bathroom without going overboard. Finally, don’t be afraid of experimenting with different textures. The use of materials like stone, granite, and slate can work brilliantly.

Consider the Ceiling or Trim

One more substitute for black walls or black floor tile is to paint your ceiling black. While ceilings are typically painted white, there is no great cause or reason for this. A black ceiling is a great way to draw attention upwards, and can make a bathroom look very chic and cohesive, especially when combined with black accent pieces, like rugs on the floor or knobs on the bathroom vanity. For those a bit wary about black ceilings and walls, coloring the trim and other accents of the bathroom in black is also a unique and interesting style statement that carries far less risk.

Classic Color Schemes

Black, when incorporated with white, is a classic color scheme perfect for virtually any size or style bathroom. One of the best things about this color scheme is that you can hardly ever go wrong with it – the color combination has survived centuries and has never seemed to go out of style. Whether you opt for the classic black and white checkered tiles or black and white striped wallpaper, you’re sure to enjoy the classic black and white color scheme we’ve all grown to love throughout the years.

The Basics of an Eco-Friendly Bathroom

As a homeowner, you’ve probably put some thought into how your bathrooms fixtures (and your daily routine!) impact the environment. The bathroom tends to use more water, chemicals, and paper products than any other room in the house and, as a result, is often the first stop on the path towards creating an eco-friendly home. “Going green” in the bathroom is a great way to save money, conserve water, and avoid the health risks of using cleaners loaded with harmful chemicals. Whether you’re in the market for a complete bathroom overhaul or are looking for a few easy fixes, here are the basics of an eco-friendly bathroom.

Water-Efficient Toilets & Showerheads

Did you know most toilets account for approximately 30 percent of household water consumption? Although low-flow toilets often come standard in newer homes, older toilets can consume up to eight gallons of water with every flush. According to the EPA, a high-efficiency toilet can save a family of four nearly $100 a year, in addition to working wonders for the environment. If you don’t want to invest in a brand new low-flow toilet, you can retrofit your existing toilet by installing an efficient flushing handle.

Many homeowners falsely believe that by installing a high-efficiency showerhead they’ll be singlehandedly decreasing the water pressure, which is not the case. Most models won’t affect water pressure, and some even filter or eliminate traces of chlorine in the water. On average, traditional showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, while water-efficient showerheads use 1.5 gallons of water per minute, or less!

Consider Ceramic Tiles

For those considering a complete remodel, ceramic tiling is the way to go. Ceramic tile isn’t easily damaged by moisture, and some can even be made in a low-impact manufacturing process. You can find environmentally friendly tile by looking for words like “post-industrial” and “post-consumer.” Tiles that fall under these categories are often manufactured from recycled bottles and car windshields. Additionally, keep an eye out for paints with a low volatile organic compound (VOC) label; these are less toxic and are verified to have no negative effects on your indoor air quality.

Switch to LEDs

If you haven’t already made the switch to LEDs, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Now, thanks to enormous strides in technology, consumer can now find “warm” LED light bulbs, which will create the same cozy color produced by old-fashioned light bulbs. Switching to LEDs is one of the easiest ways to save: not only will your energy bill be noticeably lower, but you’ll be replacing bulbs far less often. On average, LED lights consume 80 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

Clean with Homemade (and Eco-Friendly) Products

Multiple studies have shown that conventional cleaning products can be detrimental to both the planet and your health. If you’re looking for ways to clean your bathroom safely and ecologically, a bit of baking soda mixed with vinegar is all you need – sprinkle baking soda on problem areas, add a little white vinegar, let it foam, and scrub the area down with a sponge or brush. Those interested in masking the vinegary scent can add lemon, their favorite essential oil, or rosemary.

From bath towels to toilet paper, chances are everything in your bathroom can be purchased more “green.” By purchasing certified organic products, you can rest assured knowing your bathroom routine will have a lower environmental footprint and the items used will be safe and healthy for your body. These products also have a larger global implication – they often use natural ingredients sourced from fair-trade organizations; so you’ll be supporting ethical business practices as well.

Execute Water Saving Practices

Saving water and helping the environment doesn’t have to be as complicated as replacing toilets or installing ceramic tile – it can be as simple as limiting showers and monitoring water usage. By taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet when brushing your teeth or shaving, employing the “yellow-mellow-brown-down” toilet flushing method, or saving water in buckets while waiting for it to heat up, becoming eco-friendly can start with mending the habits and daily routines of you and your family.