I’ve done a lot of bathroom remodeling design over the past several years. And one of the first elements of each project I consider is the layout.
If you have the budget to move things around, and your fixtures aren't in the most advantageous positions, it’s always a good idea to — at the very least — explore the options the layout presents you.
Many times, in bathrooms in higher-end homes that have been designed by architects and designers, moving things around isn't all that necessary. These spaces have been architecturally laid out in a very specific way to bring drama and luxury to the space. So, if I’ve been called in to remodel one of these types of homes, my job is to re-skin the bathroom to get some up-to-date finishes and fixtures.
However, in a house that’s not quite so expensive, usually some improvements can be made. In these homes, there are large, cultured marble tub surrounds, not-so-attractive vistas, and everything is usually lined up around the room with a big open space in the middle. This was done to make the space seem larger and more luxurious and to take advantage of every square inch of wall space. However, most of the time, no real thought was given to the overall design of the bathroom.
It's one of the most important things I look at when laying out a bathroom. It's what you see first when you walk in.
To get that spa-like, peaceful, “ahh...” moment when you walk into your bathroom, you need a beautiful sight to see. That line of sight, or vista, is key when trying to set the tone and ambience of the room. After all, if my clients are going to go to all the expense and trouble to remodel a master bath then they sure better feel that “ahh...” sensation when they walk in during the project's final, grand reveal.
Typically, these bathrooms are laid out so that a vanity or closet doors are seen the moment you walk in. Other times there’s a shower or a tub. If you look at higher-end homes, architects will typically have the tub serve as the focal point, with a window situated behind when you walk in. Why? Because... Architects understand the importance of the vista.
I’ve worked on a few bathrooms where the shower was the first thing you saw when you walked into the space. Now don't get me wrong — showers can be beautiful — but, really, they're just some flat, tiled surfaces that aren't all that sensational. Unless it features some spectacular tile, they typically don’t come off as being a very impactful visual destination.
In the bathroom diagrammed below, the tub was inset into niche with a window above it, but you couldn't really see the tub that much. The homeowners wanted to get a new tub, possibly one that was free-standing. Shoehorned into a niche, the tub wouldn't get receive the value or attention it deserved, and the fact that it would have to be a really small one for ample space to surround it and make it feel purposeful, I had to suggest an alternate plan:
We flip-flopped the tub and shower, replacing the window at a higher level and making the tub the center of attention.
Now that's worthy of an "ahhhh". ;-)
Sometimes there's no possible way to change the layout and make a significant difference.
If that’s the case — a situation where you’re walking into your bathroom and all you see are closet doors — you should make those doors look amazing! Make them wood or mirrored, or make the view into the closet be beyond beautiful with closed cabinetry, an island with a chandelier above, or a mirror that reflects light and extends the space beyond.
I did just that with this first bathroom remodel you see. We made the closet doors feel special with a wood louvered style that added richness and warmth.
In this next remodel's "after" photo ( which was, btw, the remodel of my own master bath), directly across from the doors, I had a portion of a sink vanity visible. I moved the sink adjacent to the other on one longer shared vanity, and then created a seated vanity in a contrasting wood tone.
I love seeing my vanity when I peek through my open bathroom door. ;-)
When you invest in the remodeling of a room, you want a very specific, high-value return; and you want to receive it the moment you walk in the door. No, that "return" has nothing to do with money, it comes in the form of a relaxing and satisfying sensation. And it feels like this: