2016 Design & Remodeling Trends

When it comes to home remodeling projects, upgrades to the bathroom continue to dominate. With so many resources and options available to the average homeowner, it can be overwhelming to sort through the choices and find the ones that are right for you. The year isn’t quite over, but the 2016 design trends are already making their appearance in magazines, look books, and design websites. If you’re curious about what the New Year has in store for your bathroom décor, check out some of the hottest design trends that are right around the corner.

Modern Metallics

In 2016, metals are expected to come back with full force. Although a little bit of brass crept into the bathroom in 2015, the upcoming year is the perfect time for homeowners to fully embrace metal. Do you have your eye on a metal faucet? Buy it! Always wanted to switch out your cabinet knobs for ones with a metal finish? Go ahead! Along with brass, you’ll also find gold, silver, platinum, stainless steel, and brushed steel explode in popularity. Take a bold approach and install an oil-rubbed bronze sink, or take it easy and replace only a knob or two. The design choice is yours, but remember- metal is back, and in a really big way.

Trough Sinks

Don’t let the name fool you- trough sinks are far more elegant than they sound. Some refer to them as “double sinks”, or an extra-long sink that’s big enough to serve both you and your significant other should you both be getting ready at the same time. In addition to being large enough for two people to use simultaneously, modern-day trough sinks are handy for those who wish to hand wash larger items, including wool blankets or king sized sheets. Trendsetters and early adopters were installing trough sinks as of late 2015, but the trend is expected to be welcomed by a more mainstream audience in the upcoming year.

Shower Seats

In the past, showers were designed for use by those standing in an upright position. Lately the trend of installing seats in the shower is picking up steam. Whether it’s due to the aging baby boomer population or the fact that most people shower in the morning while they’re half asleep, shower seats are as convenient as they are functional. If you’re installing a shower seat for the seniors in your household, don’t forget to install grab bars in the shower. Although grab bars can be installed just about anywhere, the shower is definitely one of the most popular places for them - especially since the bathroom is a common place for seniors to slip and fall.

Green Plants

Eco-friendly bathrooms made an appearance in 2015, but you can take that concept a step further in 2016 by making your bathroom greener- literally. While you can feature a plant or two in a beautiful vase on the countertop of your bathroom vanity, some prefer to take a bolder approach. If you’re renovating your bathroom (or building your own home) think about adding a full green feature to the space in the form of green walls or indoor gardens. Both are natural ways to improve the air quality of your home. For some advice on which plants are perfect for the bathroom, check out The Best Plants for Your Bathroom.

Technology

You’ve heard about Google’s self-driving cars and other advancements in technology, but did you know there’s new technology for your bathroom? If you love to sing in the shower, install a water-resistant music system. These Bluetooth enabled music players can be operated wirelessly, either from smartphones or other audio devices. Plus, there’s plenty of bathroom technology that will make your life easier. For example, Optum VorMax is a new flush system technology that’s being offered by American Standard- not only does it give a powerful flush to your toilet, but it scours and cleans the toilet bowl at the same time.

The Best Cold-Weather Bathroom Luxuries

Whether it’s adding a few extra minutes to your shower in the morning or relaxing in a hot bubble bath after work, there’s no better place to beat the winter chill than in your bathroom. If you’re already experiencing sub-zero temperatures or are just dreading its arrival, it’s time to face the facts- winter is right around the corner. If you’re considering a remodel or are looking to add a few luxuries to your bathroom this winter, here are some of our favorite cold-weather bathroom accessories and fixtures.

Heated Floors

If your toes curl at the thought of scampering across your frigid tile floor after a hot shower or bath, radiant-heat floors are the perfect solution. Typically manufactured as an electric heat mat that’s installed before putting in tile, heated floors are something to consider when remodeling your home- especially if you live in an area that experiences long bouts of cold in the winter. Besides keeping your feet warm as you exit the shower or bath, heated floors can actually help you cut down on your energy usage and save money on your monthly heating bill- just make sure you’re installing hydronic floors.

Heated Towel Rack

Do you love the warmth of clothes and towels fresh out of the dryer? With a heated towel rack, you can experience that same comfort and warmth every time you step out of the shower or bath. While heated floors or a fireplace in the bathroom are luxuries that will set you back, heated towel racks are a luxury that won’t require you to rip up your floor or invest thousands of dollars into your home. They’re easy to install, easy to find, and typically can be found for under $500. So, if you’re tired of cold towels pressing against your skin, install a heated towel rack and say hello to the comfort of warm towels.

Barrel Sauna

Whirlpool tubs are nice, but barrel saunas are even nicer. Although barrel saunas are technically intended to be installed outdoors, we’ll include it on the list as saunas go hand-in-hand with spas. Plus, you can always install a traditional sauna adjacent to your shower or tub if you prefer to enjoy your sauna indoors. While it would surely get the most use during the blustery winter season, a sauna is a year-round luxury that can add value to your home. Additionally, saunas come with their own set of health benefits- saunas can boost your immune system, detox your system, and help relax you from head to toe.

Fireplace in the Bathroom

Although fireplaces are traditionally found in living rooms, dens, and bedrooms, the idea of soaking in a bathtub while a fire glows nearby is gaining popularity. While a wood-burning fireplace in the bathroom may seem like it’s reserved for the ritziest of hotel rooms, it’s something you can easily add into the floorplan of your home if you have control over its design. If you’re purchasing a pre-owned home, don’t worry- there are plenty of gas and electric fireplaces available on the market that can be nestled into an unused corner. No matter what you decide, a bathroom fireplace is a premier bathroom luxury.

Bath Warmer

If you enjoy taking especially long baths, you’re likely frustrated when the water gets cold. While draining some of the colder water and replacing it with hot water is one way to go, don’t you with there was an eco-friendly alternative? Now, there is. Warm On pebbles are sensor-fitted, heat-radiating artificial stones that will maintain the same water temperature for a set amount of time. So, whether you’re taking a ten minute bath or indulging in a half-hour soak, the water will stay the same temperature from start to finish.

Tips for Converting a Tub to a Shower

If you’re thinking about converting your outdated bathtub into the luxurious walk-in shower you’ve always dreamed of, you’re in good company. According to the American Institute of Architects, bathrooms without bathtubs are growing in popularity. In fact, 60 percent of homeowners preferred stall showers to tubs in a 2013 survey. However, there’s a caveat: most real estate agents recommend keeping at least one bathtub in your home to preserve its marketability when you decide to sell your home. So, before you take a sledgehammer to your bathtub, here are some tips for making the process as seamless and affordable as possible.

Measure the Space

Not all showers will fit in the space that’s being occupied by your bathtub, which is why it’s important to measure your bathroom as precisely as possible. Most tubs are 60 inches wide, which is a great width for a shower. Unfortunately, many homeowners typically run into an issue with the depth. You’ll want to aim for at least 32 to 34 inches from the finished tile wall to the future glass shower door. To comply with the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s guidelines for bathrooms, you’ll also need to have a finished ceiling height of a minimum of 80 inches and a shower that’s at least 30 X 30 to comply. It’s also important to record the toilet location- a distance of 15 to 18 inches from the center of the toilet to the shower door tends to be comfortable.

If the measurements of your future shower don’t fall in line, you’ll likely need to put your shower in a different location of the bathroom, which will probably require the services of a professional contractor and/or designer.

What about the Shower Door?

Many DIYers forget about the shower door until it’s too late. To avoid the headache that comes along with that, figure out your shower door situation before you plan the renovation. Ask yourself a few questions: where will you put the door in your new shower? Does it interfere with the bathroom vanity or toilet? Will there be enough room to get in and out of the shower with the new shower door? If the walkway from the vanity or toilet to the shower is too tight for a swinging shower door, there are other alternatives available on the market, including glass block walls, sliding doors, and retainer walls. Tip: if the bathroom floor is going to get wet outside the shower, choose a slip-resistant material for the floor.

Take Your Time with Fixtures

Shopping for bathroom fixtures can actually be a lot of fun, as long as you take your time and do your research. Research your options, and keep an eye out for specials and possible out-of-the-box combos. Many first-time DIYers may feel pressure to purchase all their bathroom fixtures and accessories from the same brand, which isn’t a necessity. In fact, many professional designers mix and match fixtures from a few different companies. Since bathroom fixtures are mostly chosen for their aesthetics, as long as they all look great together they’re fair game. Tip: if you’re building a custom steam shower, it should be constructed by someone with at least five years’ experience with vapor proofing.

Lighting & Tile

The key to a polished-looking shower is to consider your lighting and tile options from the very beginning. Make sure to include lights inside your shower, not just outside or around it. Depending on the size and overall design of your shower, one, two, or four lights might look best. When you remove the tub to make room for the new shower, take the opportunity to make sure the light system you chose can be installed like you had planned. Finally, don’t install the tile until you have the finished light sources already in place. Otherwise, it’s difficult to know how any lippage might look, as the lights of a shower are often quite close to the wall which will showcase any mistakes you made while installing tile.

For more information about your lighting and tile options, check out Bathroom Lighting: A Guide and Decorative Tile: A Guide.

Setting Ground Rules for a Bathroom Remodel

Starting a bathroom remodel can seem like a daunting project. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to make some costly mistakes. As such, it’s important to know the necessary demolition and renovation steps so that you can build a new and improved bathroom With these basic tips, you can begin your remodeling project with the confidence that you’re taking the proper steps in order to complete the process.

Strip It Down

Before beginning your bathroom remodel, you’ll need to clear out your current bathroom. This will require some demolition and removal of large appliances on your part. For example, you’ll need to remove the bathroom vanity, which will require you to turn off the water supply, disconnect any drain pipes, and cut the seal of the caulk holding the vanity to the wall so that you can remove it piece by piece. Removing a vanity can seem like a project in itself, and it’s one of the more important parts of any bathroom remodel. You’ll also need to remove the toilet, which you can do by hitting the base of the tank and the bottom of the toilet with a hammer just hard enough so that you crack the porcelain around the bolts. Once you’ve created some separation, you can haul the toilet out along with the wax ring and you’re all set. You’re also going to need to remove the shower pipe, any remaining insulation, and the tile before you can begin making any additions.

Know Your Home

Once you’ve stripped your bathroom, you can begin to apply your vision of your new and improved bathroom layout. However, make sure to keep it realistic for your home and its function. For example, you’ll want to address questions such as whether or not you’ll need no-slip floors or child-friendly features. If you’re renovating the master bath and you’d like separate sinks and mirrors for you and your spouse, then you’ll need to work this into your floorplan. Make sure you have enough room if you’re going to add a large tub or vanity. It’s important to focus on the parts that you have room for and that you’ll get the most use out of. Make sure to come up with a remodel plan that allows for some walk-around space that will still provide you with everything you need on a daily basis, as your bathroom will surely need to accommodate you comfortably every day.

Know When to Bring in the Professionals

While we’d all like to consider ourselves DIY experts, there are certain jobs that are better left to the professionals. If you don’t feel completely comfortable removing the vanity, then perhaps you should look for some extra assistance, as this is not a task you’ll want to take lightly. The same holds true for installing a new toiler or bathtub. If you’re not experienced or confident in setting these items firmly in their place, then you may want to hire an expert. It’s good to do as much as you can on your own, and nobody wants to spend extra, but there are certain parts of a bathroom remodel that are just better when done by the experts. So, if you’re uncertain on how to install an appliance or secure a certain fixture in your bathroom, then it might be best to do some research on local, experienced professionals.

A bathroom remodel can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Hopefully these tips have been helpful in giving you some perspective on the work that lies ahead. Keep these steps in mind and you’ll be on your way to completing a bathroom remodel.

Bathroom Appliances & Water Consumption

The bathroom is an area of extreme water consumption, a large amount of which is not used in the most efficient manner possible. The EPA estimates that the average American family of four uses about 400 gallons of water per day, most of which results from the use of bathroom appliances. Even for those households that make an effort to limit shower time and sink usage, there is only so much that can be done with common appliances and techniques. An unnecessarily high amount of water usage is not only harmful for the environment, but it can cost a fortune in water and electricity bills. It’s becoming more common for people to seek a different approach to household water usage, especially as new conservation-minded appliances are becoming available.

Low-Flow Toilets

It’s estimated that toilets alone account for 30 percent of a household’s water usage. The average toilet uses 1.6 gallons per flush; however, low-flow toilets use less than 1.3 gallons per flush. There is also the option of the dual-flush toilet, which offers two different flush settings, one for liquid waste, and the other for solid. These are both great alternatives to the common toilet, as well as some other new designs that use smaller tanks, bowls, and make use of gravity to conserve water. Since the average toilet uses the same amount of water for each flush, regardless of its use, this appliance can become a major source of wasted water in your household. These more water-friendly alternatives can make a tremendous difference in your household water usage over time.

Showerheads

Similarly, you can find low-flow showerheads that will use less water with each use. The shower accounts for up to 20 percent of water use in the average household, but you can cut that in half by installing a low-flow showerhead that won’t compromise your water pressure. There are plenty of low-flow showerhead options available today that use air to provide water pressure, rather than simply using more water. You can also buy a showerhead with adjustable settings, so that you get to decide how much water you use with each shower.

Others rely on the “bucket system” to cut down on overall water consumption. If you have a shower that also functions as a bathtub, use a ten-gallon bucket to gather the water underneath the bath spout while you wait for it to heat up. When it’s hot enough, simply remove the bucket, switch it to shower mode, and begin your shower. Then, you can use the water in the bucket for your garden or other irrigation purposes, rather than letting it go down the drain. Since the shower is a major source of wasted water, consider these appliances and methods as a means of saving a significant amount of water in your household.

Faucets

Sink faucets account for around 15-18 percent of household water usage. This appliance can easily be replaced with a more water-efficient option that will save up to 40 percent of water consumed by your faucets. You can simply install a low-flow aerator for around $5 and cut down your faucet’s water usage significantly. This is an easy, inexpensive, and painless improvement to cut back on the amount of water used by the common faucet, which won’t limit water pressure to an ineffective minimum. Low-flow faucet upgrades are quite possibly the most reasonable and affordable water-efficient solutions you can add to your home, and you’ll cut down your household’s water consumption drastically with this alternative.

These days, there’s no need to be wasting water in your home. With the availability of these eco-friendly alternatives, you can cut down your water usage dramatically and save yourself a great deal of money over time. So, if you’re tired of excessively high water bills or are concerned about the environment, consider these water-efficient appliances and start making a difference in your home today.

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