1. Low-flow toilets do not have to mean low-performance toilets. To alleviate low-flow woes, select a toilet with a glazed trapway that measures 2 1/4 inches or larger. Keep in mind that a good toilet may cost $150 or more.
2. Soaking tubs — often sized to accommodate two people — are the focal point of many rejuvenated baths. To ensure plenty of hot water, the National Kitchen & Bath Association recommends a water heater with at least two-thirds your tub’s capacity.
3. Locating a dressing room and short hallway between the master bath and bedroom lets an early riser shower and get dressed without disturbing a later sleeper.
4. Instead of tearing out an old tub, you can reface it in a day with an acrylic liner. At $850-$1,000 for an average tub, refacing costs less than full-blown remodeling jobs that disturb plumbing, tile, and flooring.
5. Shower benches and shelves don’t have to be elaborate or require a large shower. A piece of tile cut into a triangle and mounted a few feet off the floor in a corner can store shower supplies or give you a leg up when shaving.
6. Faucet choice is more than simply a function of styling. Finish quality, valve quality, and warranty length should factor into your purchase decision. Solid-brass fixtures, such as the chrome-plated Soho Manor faucet, cost more but last the longest. Zinc is durable and less expensive but will corrode when the plating wears off and water reaches the zinc. Plastic-bodied faucets are the cheapest and least-durable option. Lifetime finishes, such as Delta’s Brilliance, Moen’s LifeShine, and Jado’s Diamond, that rebuff oxidation are most likely to stay shiny over time. Kohler has a handful of Vibrant finishes designed to fend off scratches, corrosion, and tarnishing.
7. If you dream of a makeup area in your remodeled bath but can’t find the space, sacrificing a double vanity in favor of a single sink with a separate makeup area is a trade-off many people have no trouble living with.
8. Artificial lighting from above often casts shadows that make shaving and applying makeup a challenge. If your light fixture must dangle over the mirror, choose a small track system that diffuses light uniformly across the mirror and throughout the space. Mirror-flanking swing-arm lamps also cast light conducive to grooming.
9. Wall-mount faucets are gaining popularity both as a stylistic complement to minimalist design and above-counter basins and as a way to free countertop space for personal items.
10. Even in showers shared by multiple users, everyone can enjoy a customized spray. Many high-end shower systems offer a single-control, programmable, push-button module for selecting water temperature and specifying the operation of showerheads, body sprays, and pulsation intervals. For more affordable customization, try handheld showers and slide bars that make shower height optimal for every user.
11. Partial walls offer a way to create seat seclusion in baths too small to allow a dedicated water closet.
12. Many homeowners are choosing luxury showers over whirlpool tubs because the showers take up less space, don’t waste time filling up, and provide multiple types of water massage.
13. When choosing paint for a bath, remember that latex paints are easy to use, quick-drying, and durable. However, oil paints are sometimes preferred because of their superior adhesion and stain resistance.
14. Above-counter basins and vessels are today’s hot choice for adding elegance to otherwise ordinary vanities. These sinks work equally well in baths with contemporary, traditional, Asian, and eclectic personalities. Note that vessel sinks require higher backsplashes and taller or wall-mount faucets.
15. The flexible design options of open showers continue to inspire homeowners. If you choose this kind of shower, plan abundant ventilation at the shower entry to prevent humidity from afflicting bathroom surfaces such as the vanity.
16. Squeezing laundry features into a bath lets you wash clothes right in the room where they tend to pile up. A stacked washer and dryer unit is a space-savvy way to make a bath double as a laundry room; these units require a space about 27 inches wide and 27 inches deep.
17. Some whirlpool tubs and power showers require a plumbing upgrade. Designer or European fixtures often require 3/4-inch pipes instead of the standard 1/2-inch. If you buy a luxury shower, which can use 9 gallons of water per minute, you may need to buy a second water heater as well.
18. Flooring options. In a recent National Association of Home Builders survey of customer preferences, prospective homeowners ranked the following materials as their top choices for bathroom flooring: 53 percent ceramic tile, 31 percent vinyl, 7 percent carpet.
19. Wood can work in bathrooms. Wood tubs and sinks are possible thanks to special stabilizing and polishing processes, epoxy resins, and the use of water-resistant woods such as teak. Check each product’s fabrication process and warranty. Wood is also a flooring option, but you’ll need to prevent puddles and expect some shifting of planks.
20. Wall color plays a vital role in determining whether your bath lives large or small. Soft, airy hues open up a room significantly, while flashier, rich tones are a sure way to shrink a space.
21. The design concept of work zones is as practical in baths as it is in kitchens. Thinking of bath space in terms of a toilet area, bathing area, and sink area leads to plans that let multiple users use different parts of the bath concurrently.
22. Elongated toilets are considered more comfortable than round ones, but they occupy more space.
23. Claim adjacent space. If you’re looking to grow your master bath, you might not have to look far. Designers often turn to seldom-used closets and bedrooms when seeking space for a bath expansion.
24. An easy way to add luxury to a bath is by installing a radiant floor heating system, which costs $4-$6 per square foot. Adding a timer lets you set the heater to provide a warm surface for the first footsteps of the morning.
25. If you’re adding the relaxing power of a steam shower to your bath, the key is finding a place for the steam generator, which requires its own cold water and electrical supplies and drain. The generator must be within 50 feet of the shower but can be located in a closet, vanity, basement, or heated attic. Costs vary based on installation and shower features, but Dan Reinert, vice president of sales and marketing for the Sussman Corp., which manufactures MrSteam and MrSauna, recommends allocating an additional $2,500 to a bath project that will include a steam shower.