Planning ahead for a master bathroom project

Along with kitchens, bathrooms have become a popular place for homeowners to renovate. A skilled overhaul can turn a boring bathroom into a gorgeous and inviting space, with a substantial boost in the property's value that can help recoup the renovation costs.

Whether you are fitting a new master bathroom into an existing space or including one as part of new construction, you'll want to carefully consider the possibilities ahead of time. Doing so will ensure that you will be satisfied with your choices for many years to come.

Your project will be constrained by two major factors: your budget and the layout of your home. LuAnn Brandsen, writing for the home improvement professional Bob Vila, says it can be quite costly to install or upgrade a bathroom since extensive plumbing and electrical work is necessary. Know how much money you'll be able to spend, and dedicate at least 20 percent of this budget to installation costs.

Measure how much space you have available in the bathroom. Dominic Bagnato, writing for the home design site Houzz, says particularly sumptuous master bathrooms can be the size of a small bedroom, giving them the feel of a miniature spa.

If you have a lot of space for bathroom features, you'll want to give some thought to how they'll be laid out. Carla Aston, an interior designer in The Woodlands, Texas, says your eye should be drawn to an interesting object when you enter the bathroom. If this is not possible with your current layout, you may need to spruce up a closet door, vanity, or other feature.

Homeowners who are keen on having a luxurious bathroom may even want to convert another room, such as an office or bedroom, to this purpose. If so, it's best to use a space that already has plumbing available so you can minimize the construction costs.

Others may have less space to work with. There are several ways you can fit an appealing bathroom into a small area, though. While some master bathrooms include both a shower and bathtub, you may need to combine them or even just go with a shower alone. You can also consider a smaller soaking tub, which immerses the user as they are sitting down instead of reclining.

Consider how you use your bathroom before choosing your design and features. Kristen Hampshire, writing for HGTV, says a bathroom that serves as a relaxing retreat might be ideal for some people, while others will want the upgraded space to serve as a more functional place that can cater to the whole family. You'll also want to think about how long you plan to stay in the home; aging in place features, ranging from grab bars to curbless showers, will ensure that the space remains easily accessible.

Depending on your plans, you may need to take some larger structural concerns into consideration. Brian Ciota, writing for McClurg Design Build Remodel Repair of Marcellus, N.Y., says first floor additions need to be placed on a solid foundation and may reduce the size of your yard. If you are adding a bathroom to the second floor, you need to make sure that the lower floor can hold the weight of the fixtures.

Storage is typically a major concern in bathrooms, so your renovation should incorporate plenty of space to hold your toiletries and other items. Bagnato says custom-designed vanities and cabinets installed to be flush with the walls are good solutions. Brandsen says it can also be helpful to set aside a more private area for the toilet with larger storage cabinets, thus keeping the main part of the bathroom less cluttered.

There are plenty of high-end options for master bedrooms. Some you can splurge on, but others you might want to leave out to keep your bill from getting too high. McClurg Design Build Model Repair says some possibilities include multiple showerheads, heated floors, dual sinks, heated towel bars, and even radio and television features.

Any bathroom renovation should have features designed to improve safety and minimize maintenance. Brandsen says the room should be adequately ventilated, properly lit, and have a non-slip surface in the bathtub or shower.

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