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Designing a Basic Bathroom

Bathrooms and kitchens are the most frequently remodeled rooms in the home. When upgrading your bathroom, we offer the following advice for your consideration.

Walls - You can choose from paint, wallpaper, tile, or brick walls (or you can blend two or more together). Avoid tiling the entire wall, as it will appear to shrink the size of the room. Use a waterproof surface around sinks, showers, and tubs (because of splashing) and toilets (because of water condensation in summer), and, if you use paint, make sure it is a washable surface (steam is notorious for depositing greasy body oil around the room).

Floors - As with walls, there is an array of flooring choices. Ceramic tile is the material preferred for cost, durability, and ease of care considerations, but marble and other natural stones have somehow taken on the image of luxury despite their difficulty to maintain. Avoid wood, carpet, and any other surface that will absorb water.

Lighting -
Although spotlights are dramatic, bright, even lighting is far more practical for getting a good look at yourself while you are washing and dressing. While florescent lights are economical, light color temperature is important, too. The wrong color light will make you look pale or over tanned and can dramatically skew a women's application of make up.

Mirrors - Having at least one large mirror is essential. It should be located so that you can get close to it (without leaning over a deep counter) as well as so that you can stand several feet away from it. A second mirror, positioned so that you can use it with the first, is very helpful for seeing views from the side and behind. A full length mirror is a nice addition but not required so long as you have one elsewhere in the house. However, do not use too many mirrors (or mirrored surfaces): mirrors can give the illusion of space, but too many mirrors will leave the bathroom vacant.

Fixtures - Pick a style for your sink, toilet, and bath/shower that blends with your faucets, towel racks, and (if tiled) walls. Colored fixtures can be very effective, but you may find that you tire of them after a year or two, which perhaps makes white or beige a better choice (you can always use the walls, floors, and towels to inject color). Don't skimp on the quality of cabinets and countertops;

pick cabinets with strong hinges and good drawer mechanisms. Just be careful not to jam too many cabinets into the bathroom (keep the room spacious; plus, the bathroom is one of the most humid rooms in your house, which makes it a less than desirable storage area). Lastly, plan for adequate ventilation with a good quality bathroom fan.

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