Smart Design With Suzette: Bathroom Face-Lift Or Renovation?

Curbless shower and sliding shower head. Courtesy photo


Los Alamos

Do not underestimate the time you spend in your bathroom on a daily basis. Whether you are getting ready to start your day, unwinding in a warm bath, or getting the kids ready for bed, your bathroom is an important aspect of daily life.

An updated bathroom adds substantial value to your home in the event that you would ever choose to sell. Today’s demanding homebuyers are drawn to “move in ready” and spa-like retreats; and buyers are willing to spend more money to get the features they want in a home.

Here’s something to think about. If you’re undertaking a full bathroom remodel, seriously consider outfitting it with aging-in-place features, even if you don’t need them right now.  Because they’re so well designed, they won’t be conspicuous, and if you or someone you are selling your house to need them one day, you’ll be good to go. If you can’t do a remodel, you can still retrofit an existing bathroom with some easy, yet significant fixes.

Use the Space You Have
If your bathroom isn’t large enough to accommodate a curbless shower, look for a replacement shower enclosure that fits into the tubs existing footprint and is easy to step into. Choose a color that contrasts with the floor so that the edge is easy to see.

Replace the Toilet
The seat of a standard toilet is about 14 or 15 inches above the floor. Most comfort height toilets are 17 to 19 inches high, which can make it easier to get on and off.


Recessed lighting, grab bars and handheld showerhead. Courtesy photo

Turn Up the Task Lighting
Lights in the shower should be bright enough for shaving, bathing, and reading shampoo labels. Choose a recessed light and light bulbs designed for use in wet areas. LEDs have dropped in price and once you change one, you won’t need to again for years. CFLs are cheaper, but frequent on/off cycling – common in bathrooms – shorten a CFL’s life.

Switch Showerheads
Handheld showerheads elegantly solve multiple problems. You can keep the showerhead stationary when you want to and still adjust it daily for a 6‘ 2” adult or a 4’ 2” child. Plus you also get the flexibility of a handheld for those times when the family dogs needs a bath.

Steps to a Safer Bathroom
As we age, injuries in our own homes increase and bathrooms are no exceptions. Reduced mobility, impaired eyesight, decreased muscle strength and balance problems call for adopting some common sense solutions and extra caution.

Add Grab Bars
When someone loses his balance in the bathroom, he instinctively grabs the closest thing to catch himself. The results can be catastrophic if it’s something that’s not properly attached to the wall. To support weight, a grab bar needs to be attached to the studs. Most building codes require grab bars that support at least 250 pounds.

Check Water Valves
Achy joints or arthritis can make it difficult to turn faucets and shower knobs on and off. That’s why pressure-balancing and anti-scald valves are a good idea. Most building codes require them, but if you live in an older home, your house may not have them. They’re not expensive, but you’ll need to call a plumber. The pressure-balancing valve keeps a steady flow of water in the shower when someone flushes the toilet, and the anti-scald valve keeps water at a safe temperature.


Wide tile walls. Courtesy photo

Choose Easy to Clean Surfaces
A buildup of soap scum and mildew can add a slick coating to an already slippery surface, so encourage your family to wipe down the shower and tub after they bathe. Plus surfaces that are easy to clean require less exertion. Scrubbing grout lines is a chore, so consider solid surfaces or larger tiles for your walls. Look for a skirted toilet with smooth sides.

Run Your Vent Fan
Ventilation. Moisture is your bathroom’s greatest enemy. Mold and mildew will make quick work of any renovation you’ve done so be sure to install a vent fan of appropriate CFMs for the square footage of your bathroom. The rough guide is one CFM per square foot for bathrooms of one hundred square feet or smaller. New designs are quieter and more stylish than ever and are a must have for any bathroom remodel.

Final Words Of Advice
Going “green” is not only good for the environment; it’s also good for you. Green products have great design, tend to function better, which lowers utility bills, and they’re also chemical-free, making them better for your health. Having an eco-friendly approach to remodeling isn’t just about buying new products, doing something “green” can be as simple as painting a cabinet instead of tossing it in a landfill.

Wondering how to get started? The best place to start with any remodeling project is the budget. Not only will it have a big impact on the type of materials you select for your bathroom renovation, it will also help you set the boundaries of your design. Knowing what you can really afford to spend will make it a lot easier to decide what items you want to replace and where you need to get creative!

For help with your home, contact Suzette through her website and on Facebook at