The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 16, 2013

Lather. Rinse. Redo!

Mastering upgrades for the master bath

By Lisa Shrewsberry
Lifestyles Editor

With Jeannie Richmond, Interior Designer

In interiors, remodeling the bathroom is tantamount to the classic mom reminder to “wash behind your ears” — and as neglected a chore. Yet average Americans spend more time in the bathroom in a year than they do on extended vacation (about 15 days).

If your busy bathroom is approaching 10 years or older, it may be time for a more sweeping change than swapping out a shower curtain here or a few hand towels there. Now is the perfect season to complete a bathroom makeover — before outdoor improvements ensue with the lengthening of days.

Designer Jeannie Richmond with Interior Concepts says, “It may be the smallest room in the house, but the products you use to remodel a bathroom tend to cost more,” making it possibly the second most expensive remodel a homeowner can tackle — next to the kitchen.

A thorough sprucing up, including new paint, drawer pulls, a custom shower curtain, faucets and light fixtures can cost between $3,000 and $5,000, the higher end of the same for a tiled tub enclosure and custom valances.

“Completely stripping a bathroom and starting from scratch can cost upwards of $25,000 to $30,000.”

Master bathroom remodels center around four zones: 1. tub/shower, 2. vanity and sink, 3. toilet and 4. closet and storage areas. Knowing what to upgrade within these zones, what to fix or what to replace and doing it within a budget, can vastly improve the appeal and value of a home, as well as the inhabitants’ personal experiences.

Tub Talk

- Need extra space in an older, cramped bathroom? Take out the tub! “People are opting to just use a shower and that allows them more space for storage.”

- Think glass. Choose frameless glass shower doors for a more customized bathroom. “Glass panels can also let light into a bathroom,” says Jeannie.

- Use tile around and above a shower and/or tub for a more customized feel. “Here, we just took a traditional tub and encased it in tile to make it look custom-built.” Jeannie suggests purchasing a bargain tile ($1.99 to $2.99 per sq. ft.) and selecting a more expensive glass or marble trim for the shower or tub. “You will use the more expensive trim in a smaller amount and it won’t be as pricey.”

- Fixtures by any other name…  are not the same in all homes, especially older ones. “Some older homes don’t have the right size plumbing to get enough water pressure for the high pressure rain or body spray shower heads.” Save by choosing a traditional showerhead matching your available water pressure.

- Raise the bar with custom shower curtains, starting around $300 and up. “I like to position them closer to the ceiling, with enough space for air flow.” Custom valances for over the tub are another way to splurge in upholstery without a total redo.

Vanity, vanity…

- “Granite and marble are still great in the bathroom,” Jeannie said, and since it’s generally a smaller counter space you’re dealing with, springing for the more expensive materials won’t cost the same arm and leg it would in the kitchen.

- Double sinks are ideal for master bathrooms or children’s bathrooms. For a different, more contemporary look and feel, try square cut or stainless steel bathroom sinks. “Undermounts also make for easier cleaning.”

 “The jewelry of a bathroom remodel is in the lighting and the drawer pulls (a comparatively inexpensive upgrade),” Jeannie explains. While pulls range from $10 to $25 each and are selected based on taste and décor, the best lighting, says Jeannie, is in sconces. “They help you see your face better than just bar lights.” If there’s space above, Jeannie also recommends recessed lighting as a way to change the look and feel of a bathroom while adding illumination.

The Toilet Zone

- You’ve sat on one, you’ve sat on them all? Not so, says Jeannie. “Many adults are trading out their lower toilets for comfort height, which is like sitting on a chair… they’re easier for adults, but hard for children to reach.”

- For a sleeker toilet than the old standard, consider a one-piece toilet or a behind the wall system.

- It’s OK, and necessary, to vent. Beyond the obvious bathroom benefits, proper and modern ventilation is less noisy, relatively inexpensive (less than $100 to $200 for ceiling mounted fans, the more expensive are equipped with heater, light and night light) and can eliminate the mold and mildew that wreak havoc on remodeling and design.

Want minimalist furniture? Try a custom closet …

- “If the master closet is off of the bathroom, people can basically customize it to where they only need their bed and a couple of nightstands.” Designer closets require more space than traditional closets, but they are also space savers with designer shelves and drawers for storing all clothes, shoes, belts and jewelry.

Redesigning a bathroom is less of a daunting task with the right team, concludes Jeannie. “If you get the right contractor, ideally one who is doing the work himself, and you have your plans drawn up, it should be a positive experience adding comfort and value to your home.”

For more bathroom or home upgrade tips, contact Jeannie at Interior Concepts 304-255-6808 or visit

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