Five Biggest Bathroom Remodel Pitfalls

Dated: 02/23/2018

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#5 – Get Some Fresh Air

With so many exciting options and fixtures to pick out, it’s easy to ignore the more utilitarian elements in your bathroom reno. Failing to work in proper ventilation can lead to expensive repairs when mold and mildew set in. A sure sign you have inadequate ventilation is excessive steam clinging to mirrors and walls following a shower. Too much will require constant cleaning and start to ruin your pain and drywall.

Natural ventilation is always a plus, but not every bathroom can be along an exterior wall or where a window makes sense. In this case, look to exhaust fans to solve the issue. Just don’t skip on the fan – read the specs and reviews to make sure it moves enough air to properly vent the space (bigger rooms need bigger motors), and check to see what sound rating it has. It’ll be hard to enjoy a relaxing shower if your vent sounds like a jet engine.

Lately, check to see where and how the vent is run. Bathroom exhaust should vent out of the roof, but some homes may have exhaust running out the wall or through a soffit. In some homes, you may find the vent is improperly emptying into the attic, which can lead to mold and mildew in a harder to detect, harder to clean area.

#4 – Shine a Light on the Problem

Picture this – you’re getting ready for the day and shaving or applying your makeup. You looked great in the mirror, but then you catch your reflection outside in harsher light, only to see a spot you missed. Unfortunately, dim and improper lighting can lead to plenty of small, invisible mistakes that reduce your ability to enjoy your new bathroom.

Don’t treat lighting fixtures as a “finishing touch.” They need to be in your plan from day one. If you have natural light, take that into account and consider how much light you’re getting at the hours you’ll most of use the space. The window may let in the sun at noon, but that isn’t much help if you shower at night and you’re fumbling to find the hot water knob.

Also, don’t let form beat out function. That fixture with the Edison bulbs might look great with your décor, but if the light it gives off is dim and yellowed, you’ll suffer through your morning routine.

#3 – Too Trendy

There’s likely no room in the house where trends age worse than the bathroom. Largely free from easily changeable “soft décor” that a living room or bedroom might have, bathroom accents tend to be expensive and permanent. Anyone who fell for the black toilets of the 90’s can you tell you that much.

When planning your design, keep your metals subdued and in theme with the rest of the house, and your tile a lighter, neutral color that can work with various designs. Where you get creative is on the easily changeable details – open shelving, paint, and accents.

Also, avoid the “all white box” that was popular a few years ago. It might seem like the ultimate “neutral choice,” but it ends up being cold and sterile.

#2 – A Tight Fit

When was the last time you were in the bathroom and thought “Man, this bathroom just has too much storage?” Never, right? No one has ever complained about an abundance of dry towels and toilet paper, but turn that around and you’ll find some uncomfortable moments.

When planning, consider how many people will use the space. Is this a bathroom accessible by everyone or one that’s tied to a specific bedroom? Do you need storage for one, two, or five? Based on the items you have in your current bathroom, will they all fit in the storage you’ve selected? Is there room to grow as the people use the space grow and change? A four-year-old girl uses a lot less space than a 16-year-old.

Consider how the choices you make in fixtures affect the space and storage. While open and shelves are great for extra hand towels and air freshener, understand that most people want some privacy. This goes a step further if you have small children or guests, and need to lock up medications. A bathroom without an interior closet is already at a disadvantage, so choosing a pedestal stink with no storage only worsens the problem. A giant panel mirror is great, but that also means less wall space for cabinets, shelves, or racks.

#1 - Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

The elements of each bathroom are distributed according to the space you have versus difficult to move fixtures like pipes and windows.

A shower with a glass door may look great compared to a curtain, but is there a comfortable amount of space for the door to swing? You may want a separate tub for bathing, but is the space too crowded to support that? If not, does the tub you’ve picked suit what you need from it? Is there sufficient counter space for you and whoever else may be getting ready in the morning?

If you’re working with a designer or contractor, don’t assume they’ll know which pieces are most important to you, or how you’ll use the space on a daily basis. Communicate your priorities clearly, and be willing to make changes on the fly if you find that a layout isn’t working for you.

This might sound like the simplest piece, but understand that the choices you make at this stage are the hardest to change. Paint and tile can always be redone, accents swapped, or fixtures replaced, but moving the toilet, vanity, or shower is a mistake you don’t want to pay for.

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