Modern Bathroom Blog

From design ideas to cleaning best practices, the Modern Bathroom Blog provides tips and tricks for creating or maintaining a beautiful bathroom.

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.

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