Do-it-yourselfers can reap big savings with recycled or lightly used fixtures and building materials. Habitat for Humanity operates about 400 ReStores nationwide, which offer salvaged materials at half off home-center prices. One caveat: Many contractors won't work with salvaged items, or homeowner-supplied materials in general, because they don't want to assume the liability if something goes wrong. That said, if you're doing your own work, you can find anything from prehung doors to acrylic skylights to partial bundles of insulation. (To find a ReStore near you, visit habitat.org.)
There are certain regulations that must be followed for proper ventilation in your bathroom. Not only is it code, but it is also better for your health. Without proper ventilation, things like aerosol sprays will be left to stagnate the air. Over time, this would make it more and more uncomfortable to use the bathroom. Most bathrooms remodeling requires some form of ventilation, either through a centralized system or through the installation of the window. Shower doors, panels, and screens need to leave ample space for ventilation. The steam that builds up during a hot shower an permeate the air to the point where it becomes difficult to breathe. During a shower, you need someplace for the steam to escape, and ventilation helps circulate fresh air into the room. Besides, there should always be enough space for clearance during an emergency. In some cases, custom shower solutions offer you the ability to have a glass transom that can be tilted open to release steam and other particles in the air. Adding a fan to the bathroom boosts your bathroom’s ventilation capabilities. If you already have a fan installed, you may want to add a second one depending on the size specifications of your bathroom.
Look at your countertops next. “Limited counter space is always problematic in tiny bathrooms,” Maykut says. Often, you're left with nowhere to set a cup of tea or lay down your curling iron. One creative solution for gaining space is choosing a custom countertop. While most bathroom configurations place the vanity next to the commode, Maykut suggests “extending a narrow ledge of countertop along the wall behind the toilet.” This otherwise wasted space is just right for a supply of tissues or an assortment of toiletries.
Even in a cosmetic remodel, there can be an opportunity to enhance the function or money-saving capability of your home. When ripping out an entire room, for instance, this may be the perfect time to add insulation to the walls, upgrade your electrical panel or add additional light or electrical fixtures. The key is to think ahead to how you will use the room, and take advantage of cosmetic updates to enhance the structure of your home.
Keeping the walls and trim light doesn’t mean you have to settle for an absence of all color or personality, though. Maykut recommends injecting color into the bathroom through the accessories you choose. Bold red towels and a soap dispenser in a matching shade will energize a small bathroom without overwhelming it. Add texture and color to the floor with a patterned rug. Should you tire of the look of your bathroom down the road, this color strategy makes updating easy: All you have to do is switch out your textiles and accessories to create a whole new look and feel.
Having a floor heating system that can be laid under the tile in the shower is a nice add-on, not only is it more comfortable ambiant air temperature, but the feel of warmth on normally cold tile in the morning is a nice change that you will certainly enjoy. It’s important to ensure that the heating system you’re going to get can be used inside the shower. For those who are interested in this type of bathroom, it is ideal to consult a professional who would help you plan the layout.
To have the best chance of success, and to help in the budgeting process, make a master checklist of items you need, from administrative tasks like permits, right down to rollers for the paint. It’s helpful to separate the list by items you have, and items you need to purchase. In the case of tools, making a list can help you decide which tools you can rent to save on costs versus purchasing new.
If your walls are in such rough shape that it would take a painting contractor days of filling and sanding to make them ready for the roller, consider using materials such as Texturglas, from Deerfield Beach, Florida— based company Roos International. A breathable, nontoxic wall covering made of fine glass filaments, Texturglas has a similar look and feel to the fiberglass matting used in auto-body work. It's available in a variety of surface patterns, takes paint readily, and is designed to be installed right on top of existing surfaces, adding strength while covering up dings.
But why scale back a project or forgo that Viking range? No, what you need to do is get your dream at a price you can afford. And not by cheaping out, either. With some strategic thinking about design, materials, and timing, you can cut costs without cutting corners. On the following pages, we'll show you the ways, from the big (knock down the house and start over) to something as small as choosing a wall sconce over a recessed light. But another universal truth about renovations is that every little thing adds up. So save a little here, save a little there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.
Until a few decades ago, all bathrooms were small—most were no larger than 5 feet by 8 feet, providing just enough room for a tub/shower combination, vanity, and toilet. You might think that the smaller the bathroom, the more challenging the remodeling, because how can you create openness and space without tearing out any existing walls? Luckily, homeowners who plan to work with what they’ve got may find that smart choices in colors, fixtures, and amenities can make a small bathroom look and feel larger than its actual square footage. We asked Joe Maykut, a product manager for Sears Home Services, to share with us the design tactics that work best for homeowners stuck with small bathrooms—and boy, did he deliver. If you’re itching to remodel your bathroom, the following eight tips will help you make the most of your small space.