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.

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.

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.

How to Find the Perfect Contractor

Whether you’re thinking about renovating the guest bath or want to give the master bathroom the whirlpool tub you’ve always dreamed of, you’ll want to find the right contractor – because a home remodel is only as good as who you hire. As a result of the sluggish housing market, many Americans are staying in their homes for a longer amount of time, and many are choosing to remodel and renovate along the way. With these tips, you can be sure you choose the perfect contractor for the job.

Personal Referrals

Chances are, you have a few friends and family members who have recently remodeled or renovated their home. By asking those whose homes have recently gone through remodels their opinion on their contractor, you’ll be able to get personal testimonials from a trusted source. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for neighbors’ projects that seem to be going well. The advantages of personal referrals include opinions you can truly trust, the option to gauge the quality of work firsthand, and, in all likelihood, the referring friend or family member has already shopped around to find the best offer in the area.

Make Plans & Get Bids

Once you have a list of contractors whose track record is clean and work ethic seems responsible, you’ll want to stop looking back at their past work and start looking forward to your own project. A reliable contractor will not only want a complete set of blueprints, but a general idea of what homeowners want out of the project and what they’d like to spend. In order to best compare bids, ask each contractor to break down the total cost into the following categories: materials, labor, profit margins, and other expenses. Generally, materials should account for 40% of the total cost, with the rest covering overhead. A typical profit margin for home renovation work is 15-20%, depending on the size and depth of the job.

Don’t Let Price Be Your Guide

If an offer sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. In fact, many contractors and home design professionals urge homeowners to throw out the lowest bid, as it could be a sign of desperation or low-quality work. Beyond technical competence, homeowners should look for someone they’re comfortable with. The single most important factor in choosing a contractor should be how well the two parties are able to communicate. At the end of the day, it’s better to spend more and work with someone you’re comfortable with, then spend less and end up with a contractor who is difficult to work with.

Confirm Licensing and Insurance

If your state licenses contractors, you can typically do an online license check. As far as insurance goes, the Better Business Bureau’s website indicates what the insurance requirements are for each state – so that’s a good place to find pertinent information. At the minimum, all contractors should have worker’s compensation insurance, so you’re not financially liable if one of their employees injures themselves while on the job. To verify, ask to see a copy of the contractor’s certificate of insurance. Any reliable contractor should have these items on hand and will gladly provide them upon request.

Don’t Ignore Red Flags

With a large number of scam artists posing as professional contractors, homeowners should be aware of who they’re dealing with. If a contractor pressures you for a quick hiring decision, accepts only cash, wants to skip the building permit, tries to cut you a deal using materials leftover from a previous project, or quotes a final price without seeing the job, consider cutting all ties and moving onto your next option. Although some reliable contractors solicit door to door, be wary if they’re not local to the area.

Put Everything in Writing

Once you’ve chosen a contractor, be sure to draw up a contract that details every step of the project, including payment schedules, proof of liability insurance, a start date, a projected completion date, specific materials and/or products to be used, and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases from all subcontractors and suppliers. Lien releases will protect you if he or she doesn’t pay their bills. Insisting on a clear contract isn’t a sign of mistrust, it’s a sign of insuring a successful renovation from start to finish. Happy home renovating!

Is There a "Best Time" to Remodel Your Bathroom?

While a bathroom renovation can technically take place at any time of the year, planning to renovate at specific times can help facilitate the process. Any type of home improvement project can take a great deal of time to complete – from hiring the contractors to choosing and ordering the products, it can be upward of six months before a renovation project has been completed. Homeowners who time their projects just right can take advantage of slow times in the design industry while capitalizing on deals.

The Best Time to Purchase Products

The best time of the year to purchase products, such as plumbing hardware or tile, is usually in the winter, after the holidays. The fall is a busy time for the design industry, since many homeowners are trying to complete their renovation projects before the holiday season. By holding off on purchasing products until December through March, you'll enjoy emptier showrooms, more attention from design consultants, and you may even be able to get products at lower prices through negotiation.

In an effort to move products quickly, many showrooms hold winter sales or specials and some may even offer flexible pricing. During this time, showrooms tend to experience a decline in foot traffic, making it easier for homeowners to take their time and get extra assistance from sales people. Even if you don't plan on starting the bathroom renovation project until the early summer, ordering products in the winter can save valuable time and money. In some instances, specific products can take over a month to arrive, so by planning ahead you'll also have a greater selection of products to choose from.

The Best Time to Hire a Contractor

Obviously, planning a project during contractors' busiest times is not a good idea. If your contractor is juggling a few other jobs in addition to yours, they're more likely to make a mistake. Additionally, when every contractor within a ten mile radius is putting in orders for toilets or sinks, there's a greater chance orders will be postponed or mixed up, causing all parties involved to experience aggravation and delays.

Ask any contractor their schedule, and usually they'll be booked from August to November. Fall is the busiest time of the year for home renovations of any type, due to the upcoming holiday season. To ensure the best contractor is able to take on your project, consider waiting until the spring to begin renovating. Slow times for contractors could also mean a reduction in pricing. If you're planning on renovating during the late summer or fall, be sure to book the contractor well in advance. Waiting too long can mean being forced to settle for a contractor, or paying more for the services offered.

The Benefits of Spring/Early Summer

The benefits of remodeling in the spring or early summer are too great to ignore. In addition to contractors being available and products being easily purchased, the days are longer and the weather in most areas of the United States is cooperative. If you're planning for a spring or early summer remodel, remember it's not unusual to book a job as early as six months in advance. That way, you’ll avoid having to scramble to get everything done before the start date. Happy remodeling!

Create a Chic Bathroom on the Cheap

Although the cost of a bathroom makeover can be daunting, there are plenty of ways to save. One smart way to save money during a renovation or bathroom upgrade is to focus your efforts on smaller, more commonly used areas of your bathroom instead of replacing large, expensive, fixtures. Make your project even more affordable by selecting lower-priced fixtures over their higher-priced alternatives. The less need there is to relocate plumbing and electrical, the lower the renovation bill will be. Here are some inexpensive ways you can improve your bathroom while staying on track with your budget.

Coordinate Accents

An easy way to give your bath a designer touch is with matching accessories. If your medicine cabinet has a silver frame, find a faucet with a similar finish. Similarly, if you have an accent wall painted a particular color, make sure any rugs, carpets or towels in the bathroom are of a corresponding color. By using colors that clash with each other, you’ll be detracting from the visual aesthetic of your bathroom. Certain colors can be used for different purposes – blue-green hues and yellows create a peaceful sense of tranquility, while deep reds and blues can create an almost majestic atmosphere.

Add a Natural Touch

Although a bouquet of flowers in the bathroom may seem unexpected or out of place, incorporating a small vase of yard-cut greens is a unique way to add freshness to a bathroom. If you plan on purchasing flowers for your bathroom, be sure to take into consideration the location and amount of light your bathroom receives before making a trip to the nursery. Those looking for a natural way to deodorize can slip a perfumed tablet of preserved cranberries and orange slices into the drawer of a vanity.

Brighten Up

In many cases, homeowners decide to replace bathroom tiles on a whim – without ever actually taking the time to find out if they can be salvaged. Just because the tile in your bathroom looks old and worn, doesn’t mean it can’t be brightened up with a bit of elbow grease. By purchasing an eco-friendly acid etcher, you’ll be able to remove ground-in dirt from the surface in addition to grout lines. Spend some time with the etcher, and you may be surprised by the difference it can make – old, worn out tile can be transformed to something lighter and brighter before your very eyes.

Make Investments in Your Future

Installing a shower door is a very popular renovation and can typically be done for as little as $150. Although the price may seem high for a simple shower door, think of it as an investment: you won’t have to continually replace your shower curtains, and you won’t have to worry about children or guests making a mess on your bathroom floor. Additionally, many shower doors come with built-in towel storage, so you can create room on your walls for a mirror, photograph, or other type of accent piece.