If you are renovating a basic bathroom, you will often be up against the fact that previous owners of the home may have cut corners to save money — where simply having something that works took precedence over any kind of elegance. In this part of our bathroom renovation series, we’ll go over several individual features of modern bathrooms and how they might affect what you plan on doing.

Lighting

With lighting, your choice of fixtures will make a lot of difference in how your bathroom “feels”. Simply by updating fixtures that work with your mirrors, you can make a dingy dark bathroom into a beautiful one.
Recessed pot lights in the ceiling are often used for a minimal look that fills the bathroom with even, uniform light. There are many options for energy saving compact fluorescent and LED bulbs to be run with these fixtures.

Wall vanity lights are used next to mirrors in front of the sink to illuminate the person using the bathroom. These fixtures are generally used so you can see your face while minimizing unflattering shadows. There are many options for these that can give the bathroom its own character.

Other options like track lighting, chandelier-type hanging fixtures and other lamps are not generally used in bathrooms installations, but sometimes can add a really nice and unique effect.

Medicine Cabinets and Storage

Adding storage is always something you should think about before you get started. It’s a good idea to look around the existing bathroom and see how everything is currently stored. Is it sufficient? You may want to add storage above the sink with a medicine cabinet. Many are available in stores and are installed by cutting out a section of drywall and mounting the unit to studs. This can be an inexpensive upgrade.
A similar idea can be applied to other storage options. Framing out storage nooks in walls can be very useful for the storage of towels, sheets or other items. If your bathroom is located next to a mechanical or storage room, cutting recesses in the walls can be a good idea because you don’t have to worry about what it will look like in the adjacent room.

Sinks

You have a few options for this. If storage is important to you, then it can be a good idea to get a cabinet style sink — commonly available at places like Rona or Home Depot for a few hundred dollars. These can hold things like your bathroom supplies, but they have a larger footprint than just a simple free-standing sink. These look good and might be a better option for a hallway bathroom or half-bath where space is tight.

Bathroom Fans

All bathrooms require a fan venting to the exterior of the home. Although it may seem like a small detail, planning out ventilation for your bathroom can avoid the build-up of excess humidity from the bathroom — which will eliminate the chances for mold or mildew to grow. The proper ventilation time for a bathroom is 15 minutes. Consider installing an inexpensive timer switch for the bathroom fan, so you can select the amount of time for the fan to run. Bathroom fans can tend to get loud and wear out if they are left on too frequently, so installing a timer will also have the benefit of extending its life. This is ideal because then you can’t leave it on too long which might lead to excess heat loss in the winter.

If you have a problem with people forgetting to use the fan, you can also consider having it wired to the same circuit as the main lighting.

Flooring

An older bathroom that was built on the cheap will most likely have a linoleum floor. This is one area where a few hundred dollars for an upgrade can really go a long way.

There are many tile options for bathrooms that won’t break the bank. Aside from looking great, tile can also have the benefit of being less slippery than linoleum when wet.

In-floor heating under a tile floor is also something that can make a bathroom warmer and nicer to use. This is more of a luxury than a necessity, but can be a nice addition to the project. You will probably use it only when you will be in your bathroom for more than 10 minutes because they do take some time to heat up, so it’s not commonly done on half-baths. These are usually wired with a wall timer to ensure they don’t get left on for too long as they tend to use moderate power.

Heating

With their hard floor and minimal air circulation, almost everyone in Calgary is familiar with how cold bathrooms get in our homes in the winter months. For heating, there are a few things you will want to consider. First, a bathroom heat duct is essential. If your ceiling space is limited due to lighting, an exhaust fan, or bulkhead, you can use a smaller 4" circular diffuser which can be closed or opened by twisting it.

With a little planning and careful consideration, you can have a great bathroom renovation that satisfies your family’s needs for years to come and can add value to your home when it comes time to sell it. If you have any questions about this article, please leave a comment to the discussion.