Reality Check | Prep Your Bathroom for Aging

Nobody wants to age but it's inevitable.  It happens to all of us.  And most people don't want to renovate their bathroom every year so it's important to consider how long the design will last and how functional it is for your lifestyle while you're going through the process.  If you're in your 50's or 60's, this might be the last renovation you plan and want to do.  Or, even if you're younger but your renovating a bathroom that you anticipate a parent might be using in the near future--maybe one that could be moving in with you...then, it would be important to consider as well.  But the thing is, a bathroom that's prepped for aging doesn't necessarily have to be ugly.  We all think of the commercial handicap accessible bathrooms when we think of "appropriate for the elderly" but it doesn't have to be.  Today we're going to discuss some easy things you can do during your next remodel that will give you a bathroom that can age with you without having a bathroom that's just plain ugly.

For starters, the shower is always the most dangerous place for the elderly because it's wet and slippery.  Not to mention the fact that standing for long periods of time can be over exerting for the body and there's a risk that those knees could give out on you.  But if we're being honest, we all get tired...not just the elderly.  And it's always nice to have a place to sit in the shower for activities like shaving your legs or scrubbing your feet.  So consider installing a shower bench in your next remodel.  It can be beautiful and convenient for the young and the old!

The other thing to consider is that, once you have a shower bench where you may be spending the duration of your shower, getting rinsed off could be an issue.  For this reason, hand held shower heads are always nice!  They make the entire shower process possible from any place in the shower and! bonus--they're convenient for cleaning!

And yes, we're going to say it too-- grab bars are a pretty big deal for showers when you're older but we will say that there are a ton of more attractive options out there than there ever used to be.  Something to consider!

Also, if possible, ditch the shower curb if you have a walk-in.  This little thing is just going to become a big tripping hazard and make getting in and out of the shower a harder task than it already is.  And trust us, the clean look is prettier anyways!

Height is important in a bathroom it can make things really convenient or really inconvenient.  The two most important places where this matters is the toilet and the vanity.  For the toilet, we definitely recommend a comfort height.  And honestly, it's nice for everyone, not just the elderly.  It makes the drop from standing to sitting much easier on the leg muscles because it's a little higher than a regular toilet.  The other place where height matters is the vanity.  A vanity that's a little higher is nice for leaning against while you're standing.  It hits a little higher on the waist and allows for less pressure on your legs.

Finally, make sure your bathroom has good lighting!  Which, again, is pretty important in any bathroom!  Dark bathrooms can be dangerous places so be sure to prevent unnecessary injury by incorporating lots of light!

2016 | Trends for the Loo

2016 is here!  Eeeekk!  So crazy!  Even though we're designers, we think we speak for most people when we say that, as soon as you take down those Christmas decorations, you're ready for some updates in your home.  The way I see it, you've run through each season with your current decorations, taken them all down to put up the fall and christmas decor and now that you've removed all of the christmas decor, it's like you either start recycling or refresh.  We're all for recycling but in this case, a refresh would be nice too. :)

If you're looking to update your bathroom in 2016, here are some trends to plan for.  Remember, it's always better to design for what's up and coming so you get more for your money!

Tile in bathrooms isn't a new thing, but it's being used a little more creatively in the 2016 bathroom.  Don't set the tile the way you've always seen it, try for something a little more creative.  You like clean, you say?  Well that's ok!  Still use a clean looking tile--white subway or a simple solid, just set it in an unexpected way!  Oversized and we mean OVERSIZED! tile is also in for bathrooms in 2016.  Going for larger in scale always makes a big impact.

We're going back to nature, folks!  The prediction for 2016 is that you'll see much more natural elements in bathroom design, from wood on the walls to more natural stone may even find nature in other bathroom elements like stone tubs.  The zen feel is where it's at!  Does that mean 2016 is a year for relaxing?! ;)

Bathrooms that feel more like living rooms.  That's right.  We've been making this move in the kitchen for a couple of years and now it's happening in the bathroom.  Bringing in more furniture pieces to make the space feel more like a living area rather than a wet area is what's happening!  That means arm chairs, ottomans, rugs...all that layers to cozy it up!

Don't worry if you've been incorporating gold and copper in your spaces--it's still sticking around for the new year.  The only difference that you can expect is more of the matte look.  There won't be as much polished brass and chrome as there will be matte gold and brushed silver.

In the same way the furniture for bathrooms will tend more toward living furniture, the lighting will be less about function and brightness and more about mood.  Layer lighting between chandeliers and sconces...maybe even rope or recessed lighting.  All of these lighting layers make a space feel more relaxing, comfortable, and homey.

Finally, be on the lookout for two shower heads in master showers for 2016.  By shower heads, we don't mean two of your typical shower heads in one shower, we mean the mix of the rain shower and the hand-held.  This combo works well for functionality--you can have a relaxing drip while also being able to rinse the shampoo out of your hair, and also have the convenience of cleaning the shower. It's visually attractive too!

Overall, we're liking what's in store for bathrooms in 2016!  Sounds like there's going to be a lot of relaxed people out there!

Small Spaces | The Bathroom

We've discussed before that the bathroom can easily get neglected.  It's often low on the design priority list.  The thing many people don't understand is that, just like bathrooms & kitchens sell homes, they often make homes special.  And the nice thing about a bathroom is that, it's a fairly small space so it doesn't always have to require a lot of money to be special.

Bathroom design can include anything from accessories and lighting to the tile work and shower surround or bath tub fixture.  These are all small but intentional opportunities to make your bathroom spectacular.  So today we're talking about ways to make an impact in your bathroom and make the most out of these design decisions.

For starters---like we always say, lighting matters!  Even if your bathroom is the builder-basic vanity and frameless mirror, tub/shower combo bathroom, you can still make an impact with your lighting.  Don't leave that silver plated exposed bulb vanity fixture up!  Swap it out for something more decorative and interesting!  You'd be surprised how big of a difference that one small change can make.

If you have a larger shower with a little more architectural detail like a standalone tub or a walk-in shower, start examining the parts and pieces that make up these aspects of the bathroom.  The tile is a huge deal in the bathroom so creating some sort of decorative element in your shower is an easy way to liven up the space.  If you have glass wall on your shower door, take them almost all the way to the ceiling!  Or, better yet, try using a smoked or grey glass shower wall instead of just the regular clear glass.

Create a feature wall in your bathroom.  This doesn't have to be out of tile either.  The vanity wall is a great place to add a little extra detail--wood planking, wallpaper, even a mural.  This creates an element of pop in the space and take the regular old bathroom up to the next level!

Don't forget about accessories!  Art and greenery can work in bathrooms too!  A well placed plant or some interesting art make a bathroom feel less like a functional space and more like a comfortable space.  When trying to find a space to hang art in your bathroom, think outside the box--a small clock over the door, a couple of stacked pieces over the toilet, even something fun (and water resistant) in the shower!  Don't overlook a place to include some beauty and creativity!

If you're up for a big change that require a little more work, go a little crazy with your tile design! Not only on the floor but on the shower wall and even the backsplash & tub surround.  Tile can pretty much work anywhere in a bathroom without looking overdone.  If you have clear glass walls on your shower, create a fun pattern on the shower walls that can be seen even when you're not standing inside the shower.  Play with lines and angles and make your shower an art piece!  Don't be scared of pattern or going bold.  Patterned tile can make a huge statement and really make your bathroom shine!

Finally, don't forget about the ceiling!  The ceiling space can absolutely be a canvas for design details.  Bring the tile all the way on to the ceiling or add a pattern with paint or wallpaper.  Even just a trimmed out ceiling with molding can add a nice finishing touch in a bathroom!

Quick Fix | Freshen Up Your Bathroom's Look

Bathroom's can be a big undertaking but they don't have to be!  Yes, you can rip out all of the tile, re-do all your plumbing, worry about pulling permits and passing inspection OR, you can make any number of quick fixes that will make a big impact without causing you fine lines & wrinkles or your hair!  If you have a large bathroom, you may have to consider doing more of these things to get an updated look, but these tips are great for powder baths, guest baths, and even a smaller master bath.

Lighting.  LIGHTING!  It's one of the easiest ways to update any space but especially a bathroom. Lighting is important in bathrooms not just for look but for function as well.  Powder bathrooms may not need the task lighting that a waster bathroom does, but it still needs something that provides enough light and style.  Flush or Semi-Flush mount lights are often the way to go in bathrooms, unless your ceilings are really high and you have room for a chandelier.  But don't forget the value of good sconces, either!  A great sconce or vanity light set into the mirror can really transform the look of a bathroom!

Mirrors.  Speaking of mirrors, remember--not every mirror has to be a builder-basic, frameless mirror tacked to the wall.  Give your bathroom some character by hanging a mirror (or set of mirrors) with an interesting frame.  Don't be afraid to go big an chunky or high with your mirror.  One of our favorite vanity looks is a mirror that goes all the way from the vanity to the ceiling and fills the entire wall.  Stick your sconces in that!

Tile.  Of course floor tile can make a huge impact. And if you're ok with getting into the demolition and construction of replacing your floor tile, we guarantee it'll make a big difference, but it doesn't always have to be such an undertaking.  A bold backsplash tile behind the vanity or a great mosaic in the shower can add some punch to a bathroom as well.  So when you're weighing the costs, consider too, the fact that less tile properly placed in the right space can be well worth the money! 

Accents. Even in if you can't replace something in your bathroom, another way to freshen it up is by incorporating some interesting accent.  Again, we always say, use one big key accent rather than a bunch of little items.  One big orchid on the counter or one great piece of art.  Both of these things can bring in color without costing a lot of money or taking up a lot of space!

Fixtures.  Finally, if you're up for it, new fixtures can absolutely freshen up your bathroom.  This can be anything from a great pedestal sink instead of your standard vanity to a architectural standalone tub to a fully glassed in shower.  These fixtures are key elements in your bathroom so updating even one can make a huge impact and give your bathroom space an update that will last for years to come!

In the Know | Sinks

Thinking of updating your bathroom sink?  Or just interested in the different sink options that are out there and want to know some pros and cons?  Today we're discussing benefits and disadvantages of a variety of sink types.  Read on to figure out which sink is best for you and your home!

We'll start with a few of the more common sinks: undermount, over mount, and pedestal.

The undermount sink is convenient for a number of reasons--it provides a clean look by being mounted under the counter therefore there's no rim showing that clutters up the counter top.  It's also easier to clean.  The rim of a an over mount sink can catch water around the outside edge but an undermount minimizes this by allowing you to sweep water and any other debris directly into the sink instead of allowing them to puddle around the outside edge.  Undermount sinks can be a little more expensive, so you have to determine if the cost is worth the convenience, and they're also really only options with a solid surface countertop.

The over mount sink is less expensive than the undermount so you'll definitely save money going with this option. These sinks are versatile and easy to come by.  They work well with pretty much any countertop surface since the rim of the sink itself is what keeps the water from and come with a variety of rim types. Unfortunately, the cleaning issue does arise with over mount sinks. Water easily pools and grime catches around the outside edge so you have to be very intentional about keeping the surface around the edge of it clean!

Pedestal sinks are very common in smaller bathrooms or powder baths.  These types of sinks provide an interesting architectural detail that isn't always an option with undermount or over mount sinks.  Pedestal sinks come with a variety of decorative details as well.  Unfortunately, there is no storage with pedestal sinks--probably the number one disadvantage.  They also present a cleaning issue since there is often a gap between the wall and sink where the plumbing is.  Again, you'll have to decide if the pros are more valuable to you than the cons.

Some of the other more specialized sinks that you may be considering include a wall mounted sink, a vessel sink, and a semi recessed sink.  These sinks are going to be a little more expensive but also have their own advantages and disadvantages!

The wall mounted sink is definitely a space saver!  Since it's mounted directly to the wall, there's no need for a base or cabinets, so it's a great option for small spaces!  This goes for the plumbing too--it's all hidden in the wall behind the sink!  These types of sinks offer a very contemporary, streamlined look that could be the perfect look for your bathroom!  On the other hand, though, no cabinets means no storage space.  So if you're one of those homeowners who needs all the storage they can get (which, let's be honest, most of us are), then this might not be the sink for you.

The vessel sink became popular a number of years ago and still has it's place among bathroom designs.  These sinks make a great showpiece in any bathroom.  They hold lots of water and come in a variety of materials.  A nice design detail, if we do say so ourselves!  The disadvantage of these sinks, though, is similar to that of an over-mount....the outside isn't as easy to clean.  You can't simply brush water back into the sink because it's sitting on top of the counter.  Because of their positioning, you also have to consider the height of your countertop.  With a sink that sits higher up, you want to make sure access to the bowl is realistic!

What's your sink preference?  The more practical, relatively less expensive options or the more designer-looking, maybe less practical, more expensive ones?!