bathroom counter, mirror and toilet
Planning a new bathroom or remodeling an old one is hardly a no-brainer. Doing it right involves becoming an expert on using space safely and efficiently. You also have to choose from a dizzying array of sinks, toilets, tubs and other products. And we aren't just talking large baths — the smaller the room, the more you need to come up with creative solutions that maximize its function. Unfortunately, space planning and choosing fixtures are where most bath blunders occur. To help you avoid them, we asked prominent bath designers to share their expertise. Here are the five areas where bath plans often go awry, as well as some guidelines that will keep yours on course. Showers and Tubs
First, determine whether you really need a tub. Especially in small baths, you're often better off tearing out a little-used tub and replacing it with a larger, more luxurious shower. "If you don't have time to take a bath, why have a tub, especially in a second bath?" asks kitchen and bath designer Daniel Lenner, of Morris Black & Sons in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Kitchen and bath designer Greg Rawson, of Richard's Kitchen & Bath Center in Muncie, Indiana, echoes this point: "A spacious, fully featured shower is more practical." If you want to make the shower accessible under any circumstances, keep the shower floor on the same plane as the rest of the bath, and eliminate the curb. Shower seats are another way to make showers comfortable and safe for bathers of all ages. Make the seat at least 12 inches deep, though 15 inches is optimal. If a seat takes too much space from the shower, create a niche or ledge where bathers can rest one foot while washing or shaving their legs. But, Lenner warns, don't count on recessed ceramic soap dishes for this function; they're too small and can't support the weight. Finally, locate the niche 14 to 18 inches above the floor, depending on the height of the bathers, according to Rawson. Also try to include both a traditional and a handheld showerhead. Handheld units, which start at less than $50, are ideal for rinsing out shampoo, bathing children, washing pets and cleaning the tub. They're also useful if you can't shower fully due to an injury or surgery. If you choose only one showerhead, opt for a handheld unit. Buy one that attaches to a vertical pole and slides up and down to serve users of all heights. If you include multiple showerheads, be sure the capacity of your water heater is large enough for the increased demand for hot water. If you still want a tub, don't plan an additional step up to get into the tub — you'll end up with a bigger step down. And avoid sunken tubs. "They're too easy to fall into in the middle of the night," Rawson says. Whirlpool tubs are another area where bath plans often founder. If you install one, note where the motor is located and plan an access panel or order a tub with a removable skirt. "If the motor needs service, you don't want to rip out a wall or pull out tile," Lenner explains. A simpler solution is to create an access panel within a bedroom closet if the tub shares a common wall with one. You'll also find these large, wide tubs easier to clean if you install a handheld shower on the deck along with the tub filler. Remember, before buying any tub, carefully measure the doors and halls on the way to the bathroom to be sure the unit fits through them.
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