We always say, “Details make the difference.” And in a bathroom, those details make the difference between a functional but boring utility space, or a comfortable and luxurious room to relax and pamper yourself.
We’re always mindful of our clients’ budgets, and we won’t push unnecessary features that are going to break the bank, but we do have a list of nice “want-to-haves” that we regularly recommend. For the most part, these aren’t budget-busters, and we feel they’re well worth the extra expense that they do add to a remodeling project.
Here are some of our favorite bathroom bonuses:
We’ll start with what’s typically the most expensive item on this list, as it requires sinking the drain pan below the floor of the bathroom to create a seamless transition into the shower. Depending on the structure of the house, it’s not always possible to include, but it’s a very nice feature when it can be done.
Why do we feel it’s so worthwhile? For starters, most people love the clean, uncluttered look of it, especially when it’s paired with frameless shower glass.
But it also provides extra safety, allowing users to walk into the shower without having to step over a curb. This is especially important if you’re designing your home for aging-in-place, as the combination of the raised curb with a wet, slippery floor can create a major tripping hazard for people with limited mobility. With the addition of a wide opening and a shower seat, a curbless shower can even be accessible for a wheelchair user.
Handheld Showerheads on Slide Bars
For the ultimate in showering luxury, you could add multiple showerheads and spray options, including a rain shower mounted in the ceiling, body sprays, and maybe dual showerheads for shared showering.
However, not everyone has the space, budget, and water pressure needed for all of those options. If you can fit in just one showerhead, we always recommend that it be a handheld on a slide bar.
Here’s why: First, handhelds function just like fixed showerheads, and are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. You don’t have to actually hold them in your hand to use them – just leave them on the bracket and position them at an angle that’s comfortable.
Handhelds can also include multiple spray functions, from a soft diffuse spray to a concentrated massage spray, allowing you to select the pressure that’s most comfortable for you.
But handhelds also offer features that you won’t get with a fixed showerhead. We love their adjustability, especially when they’re mounted on a slide bar. If multiple people share the shower, they can each bring the showerhead to the perfect height for maximum comfort, rather than having a fixed showerhead that’s too low for the tallest user and too high for the shortest. And the brackets that hold the showerheads can be adjusted both side-to-side and up-and-down, providing infinite angles for directing the spray.
And then, of course, there’s the actual handheld function: You can take the showerhead off the bracket and direct it exactly where you need it, whether it’s to rinse the bottom of your feet, or to wash a dog, or whatever.
We’ll sometimes even include an extra hook for the handheld on a wall opposite the main slide bar. You might want this, for example, if you have a shower bench where you occasionally sit to shave your legs, and want the handheld close by for rinsing. For this, you’ll probably want to consider a handheld with a water-saving “pause” button, which allows you to stop the flow of the water until you’re ready to turn it back on.
Handhelds for the Tub, Too
Why a handheld shower spray for the tub? First of all, because it comes in handy for cleaning, allowing you to spray down the tub and thoroughly rinse off any cleaning products. (And if you only take baths on rare occasions, it’s nice to be able to give the tub a quick rinse to get rid of dust before you fill it.)
A tub handheld is also nice to use while bathing. For example, if you want to use bath salts or oils, but you also want to wash your hair, a handheld allows you to wet and rinse your hair without dunking your head in the bath water.
This is another somewhat pricey option, usually costing upwards of $1,000 for installation. But if you’re already replacing your existing bathroom floor, it’s definitely worth the little splurge to add under-floor heating.
Why we love it: Because programmable thermostats mean the bathroom floor is already toasty warm when you first get up in the morning. Because the ambient heat of the floor keeps the whole bathroom at a comfortable temperature, which means you can save energy by turning down your home’s central heating. Because you can decide how much of the floor you want heated, whether it’s just strategic areas such as in front of the vanity, or every inch of the floor – even in the shower.
And you can even use the floors to heat more than just your body. Throw your clothes or a towel on your heated floor while you shower, and they’ll be warm and ready for you when you get out.
A New Ventilation Fan
Most people wouldn’t think of this as a bonus item for adding luxury to a bathroom, but you’d be surprised at what a difference new fans can make. We end up recommending them on almost every bathroom project, because it seems that most people are just getting by with the cheap, noisy, inefficient fans that were installed when the house was built.
If you avoid turning on the fan because you can’t stand its annoying rattle, you’re probably allowing damaging moisture to build up in your bathroom. Or maybe you have family members who turn the fan on and then forget to turn it off, wasting electricity.
Our recommendation is to spend a little extra money to get a super quiet fan on a timer. Just push a button and it stays on for a pre-set amount of time, and then turns itself off.
We don’t use as many customized cabinet options in bathrooms as we do in kitchens, but we do have a couple of recommendations for maximizing your bathroom storage with after-market inserts.
One is a hair-dryer pullout, which mounts inside a sink cabinet and provides handy storage of hair dryers, curling irons, brushes, and other awkward-to-store bathroom accessories.
Another handy add-on if you’ve got the cabinet space for it is a pull-out clothes hamper. There are several versions available, with most including a plastic or canvas hamper that can be removed for transferring clothes to the washing machine.
We could go on, but these should give you a good start on creating that spa bathroom you’ve always wanted!