Remodeling a Small Bathroom

By Phil Benevides on Bathrooms, Remodeling

Remodeling a Small Bathroom

A bathroom remodel is consistently a good choice for your home’s value and YOUR quality of life. Often kitchens are highlighted as the most important renovation you can do in your home, which I have to agree with, BUT from a practical stand point there is a lot to be said about the bathroom. First and foremost, not everyone cooks, but everyone I know uses the bathroom!

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Your primary bathroom is not only a regularly visited room in your home but also one that you spend a lot of time in, so a renovation, once complete, can really enhance your quality of life. We have discussed some critical design and planning considerations for Small Bathrooms, and their we have highlighted American Standard as a great choice for updating your bathroom fixtures, including but not limited to Toilets and Fixtures.

A recent small bathroom renovation gave us a chance to check out some of American Standard’s newest offerings including a compact efficient toilet, stylish vanity, lightweight soaker tub, and sleek modern fixtures. We’ll explore each of these bathroom essentials while discussing why we here at Concord Carpenter trust and choose American Standard for our bathroom projects.

Additionally we’ll highlight some key choices we made while executing this small bathroom renovation. From scope, material choice, preferred solutions, design, and obviously we’ll focus on decisions related to the size of the space. So let’s jump into the planning, design, and execution remodeling a small bathroom!

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Size Matters

As we harped in our Small Bathroom Design article keeping your space open and simple is key to creating a feel of a large space in a small room. The first thing I would recommend is ditching a dropped ceiling, and tucking your venting for a ceiling fan in the ceiling joist of the room. Older homes, like the 1904 home this bathroom is in, are notorious for this since the original design did not include venting. The cheap and easy solution is to vent out the wall and drop the ceiling to hide the duct work.

Don’t clutter the Shower. We recommend simple plumbing solutions for your shower. When the wet wall of your shower can be as small as 24″ to 28″, at that size there isn’t a lot of room for complicated plumbing setups. Our ACC Plumber, Scott Robillard, from SR Plumbing and Heating recommended our client keep their shower simple and the results speak for themselves.

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Another clutter reducing feature is a shower niche, which we were able to add opposite the wet wall leaving a convenient and relatively dry area for users to store their bathroom items. We chose to continue the subway tile pattern of the rest of the shower to avoid an accent tile that would increase cost of installation and perhaps turn stale over time losing the bathrooms classic look. To maintain that classic look we took advantage of the small size of the bathroom to select high quality, period appropriate materials, like marble tile!

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Quality Materials

Much of a bathroom remodel rests on the fixtures and appliances, but tile and trim selection tie in the rest of the design. In this bathroom we waterproofed the shower with RedGard liquid paint on waterproofing over 1/2″ HardieBacker Board, we finished the shower with 3″x6″ turkish marble tile. We outsourced the bull nosing of the linear footage of tile to a local tile distributor, which saved us time and kept the design simple. I hope your seeing a trend here.

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We used a 5/8″ hex pattern tile for the floor Italian Carrera Marble, another high end material, but given our tiny 30 square foot floor space this was a relatively low overall cost and we even upped the ante with a Warmly Yours heated floor and Studio Towel Warmer powered by WeMo Switch bringing smart technology to our 1900’s era bathroom.

Remodeling a small bathroom led us to chose an American Standard Compact Cadet 3 FloWise One Piece 1.28gpf Toilet. It provides the comfort of an elongated bowl within the smaller space of a round-front toilet, perfect for our small space without sacrificing comfort and the one-piece design screams quality as one piece means fewer parts, connections, and leak points.

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A nice bonus is the Slow Close Seat and Cover with EverClean Surface. No more slamming toilet seats! Another nice to have feature is the convenient lift tab for gentlemen to easily raise and lower the seat. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the EverClean surface keeps the toilet and seat staying cleaner, longer.

We had the walls and ceiling of our small bathroom boarded and plastered while we left about 40″ from the floor to add distinctive style with a paneled wainscoting finish. We used a combination of 3/4″ and 1/2″ MDF to create our panels and used a 3/4″ pine molding to dress up each panel. The MDF is a great choice for paint grade finishes as it is extremely stable, making all the stiles and rails easy to produce, and you can ensure they won’t warp or cup on you.

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Overall our choices for each material, each bathroom solution, and each fixtures contributes to the style of bathroom. Even if one choice does not follow in line with the conceptual continuity of the room it can look out of place. Now I’m not a huge fan of utilizing designers for smaller remodels, but I try to think like one. But more importantly I try to think like the homeowner and ensure the decisions made are the best for their long term interest. So ultimately a contemporary design can come back to bite you when trying to sell your home 7-10 years from now.

Style Updates that Stand the Test of Time

American Standard maintains a diverse line of fixture styles that are built well and allow remodelers and homeowners alike to achieve the look they’ve been dreaming of. Again when remodeling a small bathroom, we try to use period appropriate materials, so for our early 1900’s home we juxtaposed sleek modern fixtures that share the bright chromes of the era’s high end finish with the marble tile of its day.

We chose the Serin Series for it’s simple design and chrome finish. To add a touch of luxury to our small shower we replaced the conventional shower head with a single wand and slide bar, keeping the tight space functional and adding a unique feature without gobbling up too much space on our wet wall, per our plumber Scott Robillard. Taking advantage of American Standard’s deep catalog of products we were able to select a wand that matched our overall fixture design theme.

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Another showcase of our bathroom remodel is the Retrospect Console Table Vanity with Chrome Legs. Again this style reflects the age of the home, but the chrome legs allow the rest of the rooms modern chrome fixture to tie in nicely with the space. In addition to the fixtures, we added modern chrome hardware and accessories throughout the bathroom like Restoration Hardware Sconces and a Warmly Yours towel warmer.

Availability & Convenience

Regardless of whether we are remodeling a small bathroom or working on another major renovation I try to avoid making choices that tie to me a high lead time item, whether it be cabinets or some other custom product. Sourcing material, products, and fixtures that are local and reliable save time and money. I try to use materials that are carried by large box stores so in a pinch your not stuck ordering or waiting for something that you could shoot down the road and pick up. American Standard is a great example of this concept.

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Remodeling a Small BathroomAmerican Standard products are so well proliferated in the US market that finding a supplier of parts is really convenient for your plumber or general contractor. A popular pluming supply store Ferguson Supply has plenty of convenient locations in and around the Boston area, but regardless of your location Ferguson is such a large company that stocks many of parts and accessories your plumber may need. So emergencies and last minute mix ups can be rectified quickly with little time lost and ultimately money saved!

Again American Standard’s extensive product line makes it feasible to get an Acrylic tub with fiberglass reinforcement, that makes for a durable and LIGHTWEIGHT tub. Having to get 4-6 workers to haul a ceramic tub up a few flights of stairs is just nuts in a lot of these tight stairwells in old homes like this. So having the option to get a two man lift tub was refreshing, convenient, and not only saved time when it came to install, but certainly saved some backs!

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Overall we are consistently happy with the quality and results we get from using American Standard products, local distributors, and high end materials. That’s why we will always refer our customers to evaluate the options from American Standard before committing to unnecessarily pricey options, which leave room in the budget for other high end finishes, like marble tile and Warmly Yours heated options. Not to mention the homeowner can afford to remodel right, like running venting in the ceiling and waterproofing with high quality material.

If your going to be remodeling a small bathroom we hope this article has helped you with your design, execution, and material selection! Thanks for trusting ACC for best practices in the remodeling industry.

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About the author

Phil Benevides

Carpenter / Assistant Editor

Phil is a 28-year old Air Force Veteran who decided to transform his passion for construction and home improvement into a career. Inspired by his Grandfather who built his home from the ground up with his bare hands in Portugal, he received his formal training in Carpentry at the North Bennett Street School in Boston, MA.Phil continues to grow his skills as a carpenter and leader, while exploring new products, methods, and tools!

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