Beware of the projects brought on by the new year! The holiday season is quickly coming to an end and with the end of the holiday season comes a new year, 2016 to be exact. This new year comes with new bathroom and kitchen trends, trends that will come and go and trends that have been with us through the tests of time. This may be the year to dive into that bathroom and update it from the 1970s and bring it into a timeless new look or a look that will function like the spa bathroom you have always wanted. I am currently trying to psych myself up to renovate the bathroom in my house. The wife throws ideas at me pretty regularly which I am quite used to it in my line of work. Sometimes I wonder if we can just wait it out and that 70s bathroom with the olive green with gold fixtures will be back in style and be the hottest trend and I won’t have to work after a long day’s work. In fact, I recently just looked at a new color green that a jacuzzi tub, toilet, and sink came in. It wasn’t avocado green, I’ve seen avocado green, it was a brighter greener green, like the new grass that sprouts from grass seed.

The important things my wife needs to have in a bathroom are not as important to me. I am all about the guts and comfort while my wife is about aesthetics. First I don’t care if I’m standing on linoleum, concrete, or tile, just as long as my feet are warm and I have a warm bathroom. There are many new and old heating products out there that will allow me to have a warm floor or radiant heat in my bathroom to make it more comfortable. Electric heat mats or hydronic heat tubing laid in an aluminum coated underlayment would do the trick quite fine. I would also like to have a heated towel bar in the bathroom to add even more comfort to the room and a heated towel would be nice on a cold winter morning after a shower. Upgrading the heating in your bathroom may be the added comfort that I want but I also have to understand that the price tag to add or upgrade the heat in my bathroom may put it out of my budget or I may have to scale back on other features or finishes in the bathroom. Electric heat mats involve electricians and new circuits in a bathroom. In-floor hydronic heat involves plumbers and there are a couple of ways to go about getting heat into the floor with channeled sub-floor or bedded in concrete.

If changing or upgrading to infloor heat is not in the budget there are a few things you can still do to upgrade the heating in the bathroom. First, as I mentioned above there are towel bar radiators that could be swapped out for the old baseboard. The radiators act in the same way as hydronic or hot water baseboards but they look like an old fashioned radiator only with towel bars added. The radiators could really add that classic look but also gives it a little function too. Another option would be to upgrade or purchase new covers for the baseboard heating already in place. The option of replacing the baseboard covers is the easiest on the pocket book.

Another non-aesthetic item on my list is ventilation. I need a dry bathroom. I like a hot steamy shower but when I’m done with the shower I want to be able to see the mirror and shave (which is a weekly event for me).  Good ventilation is key to a clean and healthy wet area such as a bathroom. The air in a bathroom should be able to be completely changed out in 20 minutes. I like my bathroom fans on a timer so when I walk into the bathroom to take a shower I press the 60 minute fan timer button and I don’t have to think about it again. When I walk out of the bathroom the fan remains on and exhausts the air needed to make it fresh and dry. I don’t have to return to the bathroom to turn off the fan so it’s not running all day while I’m away at work. An equal alternative to the fan timer switch is a fan on a humidistat. With a humidistat the fan turns on at a set humidity and turns off when the humidity has returned to normal.

I need light in a bathroom. Natural light is great but artificial light will do as long as there is enough of it. The fixtures don’t matter as much to me as they do to the wife but I really like to have the bathroom light and bright. Task lighting around the vanity is important to help with shaving and flossing. Task lighting should also be in the shower or bathing area so that legs can be shaved and arm pits washed. I would shave my legs if I was a world class swimmer but I’m not, so I don’t. Area lighting or ambient lighting throughout the bathroom is important also, especially if it’s just a quick pit stop to visit the water closet. Accent lighting can be used as a night light or mood lighting for a relaxing bath. Lighting is very important at the guts stage of a bathroom remodel because you need to know where wiring is needed and how much wiring is needed.

These items are the important bathroom remodeling items to me so that I am comfortable before and after a long day at work. In the upcoming article I will start to tackle the other items that make up the aesthetics of a bathroom. Items like flooring, finishes, and fixtures.

Greg Stopher has over 16 years of experience in the construction field and earned a degree in Construction Technologies from the University of Alaska – Southeast. His company, Stopher Construction, LLC, is a general contracting company specializing in remodeling, custom finishes, additions and new home construction projects. He can be reached at 907-321-2350.