Bathrooms often pose the most difficult challenges when it comes to renovations. The limitations of space make it hard to feel free in choosing design elements; and the fact that we spend a smaller fraction of our time in the bathroom than in any other room in the house can make it hard to justify spending the money that quality bathroom renos demand.
So, perhaps not so surprisingly, a shift is occurring where people are actually treating the “tub ‘n’ tile” room as more of a refuge in which they can enjoy spending time; a place to pamper themselves after a long day that is well suited to bathrooms’ new mantra – “Indulge!”
The bath as spa is moving into reno-consciousness, and it’s showing up in a variety of ways – from the overall impact of the décor to the choice of soaker tub to the selection of floor tile.
“People are moving to a spa environment,” said Paul Coker of Innova interior design. “They’re returning from trips where they’ve experienced body-jets, steam rooms and the calming elements of nature.” And it’s those effects that they are trying to recreate in their own homes.
The question is, can you achieve that look without the need to mortgage the house to create it?
“You can get a tremendous amount done to turn your bathroom into a luxurious room for around $5,000,” said Jade Allen, co-owner of DirectBuy. “You can get fixtures, a new shower, even a Jacuzzi tub. Some people come in looking for specific brands, others are more concerned about money, but people can get any need taken care of.”
Bathroom makeoverFor those with a bit of space to play with, setting up separate areas for a soaker tub and for the shower space is important to create a feeling of lavishness, said Allen. Large rainshower heads in shower areas that have barely-there enclosures, soaker tubs with one-piece surrounds, and vanity sinks as opposed to
pedestals all add to the comfort that people are now looking for in what has traditionally been a purely functional room.
While what goes in the room is obviously crucial, what goes on the walls is as important in achieving the right feel. You can get tiles that look like leather, porcelain, silk or linen, said Tracy Wheeler of Powerhouse Tiles. These days, according to Wheeler, the look is moving toward a cleaner, more linear edge that results in a more classic look.
“People are considering wainscotting, a chair rail, a mosaic floor,” said Wheeler. “Think Jackie Kennedy; the ’50s and ’60s era.”
Shapes are changing, too. The tiles have moved from the standard four-inch by four-inch square to rectangles up to two feet by four feet.
“The taste of the consumer is becoming more adventuresome, so it makes it more fun for us,” said Wheeler.
The key issues to keep in mind when looking at bathroom tile is the difference between the durability of wall and floor tiles (floor tiles can go anywhere because they are designed to be tough); and the type of backing that’s going to be needed to hold the tile in place. A larger tile, 12 inches by 16 inches, for example, might need a special backing to hold it to a wall, as opposed to keeping it in place on the floor.
Bathroom makeover”That’s where choosing a good installation company comes in,” said Wheeler. “Get detailed, written estimates. No estimates over the phone or ballpark figures.”
The reason for a site visit by an installer is that they should be able to identify possible problems in floor deflection. Should a house begin to settle a little, the floor might twist, causing tiles to crack.
“We’ve seen that in as little as two months,” Wheeler said, adding that scrimping in this area of a renovation can lead to really major headaches. “Tile is not the type of thing you want to be redoing every two weeks.”
Along with considerations for cost and quality, consumers wanting to create a special retreat in their bathroom are still concerned about environmental issues. Those calming elements of nature aren’t going to feel too calming if you’re wondering which old-growth rainforest tree had to be cut down to make your cabinets.
As consumers renovate, they’re constantly asking the green questions, said Coker. “In the past, we would have to initiate the conversation, but now, people are much more informed. It means people are more open to investigating new options.”
Some of those options include water-based, non-VOC-off-gassing stains and grout; bamboo floors that are baked, not stained; recovered-glass countertops; and PaperStone vanities that use 100 per cent post-consumer recycled paper. Yet another way to make yourself feel good at the end of the day.