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Don’t Make These 11 Bathroom Remodel Mistakes
A bathroom remodel always sounds like a good idea, until you actually start to get into the nitty gritty of it. Bathrooms are huge selling points for buyers, so even if you’re not selling your house right now, you never know when that could change. So, it’s definitely that one part of the house where I absolutely recommend you hire a pro to help you with your remodel if your changes are extensive.
For instance, if you’re looking to swap out your mirror, cabinet hardware and fixtures (and you consider yourself to be pretty handy), you can totally tackle that yourself and see a big impact on your bathroom. You might even be able to make those changes to a rental bathroom if you ask your landlord first. But if any part of your plan to refresh your bathroom involves plumbing, or demo, or electrical – phone a friend! And by friend, I mean a licensed professional.
I went ahead and made all the mistakes and all the “firsts” for you guys with my first bathroom remodel years ago. As a result, I have more bathroom remodels under my tool belt than I can count (okay, I could probably count them if I took a minute or two… but you get the picture!). Now, I’m going to tell you everything I wish I knew before I swung a sledgehammer. In the second installment of my Things I Wish I Knew series, let’s talk all things bathroom remodel!
Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Bathroom Remodel
1. How important is it to start with your “Why?” before remodeling the bathroom (before any purchases or demo)?
First, let’s call it like it is: I’m a planner. I plan as much as I can and things STILL go wrong. In construction, the only constant is change, but planning definitely helps cut down on some of the “uh oh” moments. Understanding why you’re remodeling can also be really helpful. Are you remodeling for more space? For an updated aesthetic? Are you selling and trying to remodel on a budget, or is this your “forever” home? Is your bathroom structurally compromised (leaks, rot, etc.) or does it just need a facelift? Going through these “why” questions on your own and with your contractor, before you ever even start, will make your project go smoother. I promise!
2. What’s the first thing you need to consider when updating this room?
The first thing to consider when updating a bathroom (after the “why”) is what your “WOW” is going to be. Is it going to be the shower? The tub? The mirror? The vanity? I would suggest that all of these shouldn’t be the “WOW,” but just one (maybe two) of them. If all of them are the statement, your bathroom will feel overdone. Pick one “WOW” and let the rest complement that feature. For example, if you have a beautiful clawfoot tub, consider that (and maybe a really cool chandelier above it) your “WOW”. Then, let your shower tile, vanity, and bathroom mirror all be neutral enough to let the tub shine.
3. What’s the most timeless or classic material you could use in a bathroom?
That’s easy: white porcelain! A good enameled toilet doesn’t go out of style and neither does a nice clean white sink. We’ve all seen a pink sink in our day and even though it might be funky, it’s not timeless.
4. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve seen when people attempt a bathroom remodel?
The biggest mistake I see homeowners (and designers) regularly make when updating their bathroom is trying to be too trendy. There’s nothing that dates a bathroom quicker than trying to do what’s “in” during the renovation. Don’t be afraid to keep it neutral and add your style with accessories like fun mirrors, towels, and bath mats. If you must, add a fun removable wallpaper. Keep the tile timeless, though!
5. What’s the WORST material to use in the bathroom that *seems* like a good idea but actually isn’t?
Carpet! Not sure if this seems like a good idea to anyone, but I’ve seen it often enough that I have to say it. The other thing that seems like a good idea but actually isn’t is wall sconce lighting. Wait! Before you stop reading, I’m not saying not to use a wall sconce – I love a good wall sconce! But make sure it’s either bright enough, or install can lighting as well. Nobody wants a dark bathroom.
6. What’s a surefire “can’t reverse that” change in a bathroom people should know about before they consider remodeling?
Plumbing is one of those things that isn’t always easy to change. If your home is built on a concrete slab, changing the plumbing on a first-floor bathroom is expensive and tough. Before you move any plumbing, think about “why” and make sure it’s absolutely necessary.
7. Why is it important to consider resale value in the bathroom?
Bathrooms sell houses. It’s that simple. If you ignore resale, especially when redoing your primary bathroom, chances are you will regret it. I personally promise you can make a bathroom that you like, but that also appeals to prospective buyers. I’m not saying you have to sell your house, but isn’t it nice to know you can if you wanted or needed to?
8. If you had to tell us ONE thing a homeowner should definitely leave up to the pros and not attempt on their own, what would it be?
DO NOT PLUMB YOUR OWN BATHROOM. JUST DON’T. SERIOUSLY. Call a plumber and pull permits. Skipping either of these things will burn you in the end. It’s happened to me and it’s happened to my clients. NOT WORTH IT!
9. If someone could only make one change to a bathroom, which one would have the biggest impact?
Switching out the faucet and the mirror (okay, that’s two changes, but come on!) are the easiest ways to update in a bathroom remodel. If you can, changing out the countertop can also make a HUGE difference.
10. What’s the most common problem you’ve run into with ordering materials for the bathroom?
If you’re doing a bathroom remodel, chances are you want to replace the shower fixtures. But STOP AND READ THIS before you order! You need to buy new fixtures (that’s the thing you turn the water on and off with) that go with the valve that’s already in the wall. Who knew?! Ask your contractor or plumber which brand valve is in the wall (or if it’s easy to replace, which will really open up your options) so you can buy the correct pieces and not waste money.
11. Anything else you want to add?
I usually don’t buy the traditional towel holders for next to the sink. I really like using fun towel rings instead. This is a great opportunity to add a little personality to your bathroom. Here are a few of my faves:
Shop My Bathroom Faves
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