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Have you got a smaller bathroom that’s making you feel cramped? Not everybody has the space to accommodate a full spa bathroom with all the trimmings. A lot of us have to make do with what we’ve got available to us.
Renovating a smaller bathroom has its own set of challenges. You’re forced to get creative to make the best use of the small amount of space available. Depending on what you’d like to do with the space, you may even be able to handle a lot of the project on your own.
When do you need a pro? That depends on the scope of the work, and your own ability. If you’re happy with making some cosmetic changes, you can probably handle those on your own. I’m talking about things like installing new fixtures and towel racks, or adding a fresh coat of paint. These should be within the skill level of just about any homeowner.
It’s time to call a pro when you’re doing anything beyond what the plain eye can see. When you start working with structure, plumbing or electrical, you’ll want the expertise of a pro. While I think this is true for any part of your home, it’s especially important in the bathroom.
This is a room that will see a lot of water, and a lot of electrical work — not to mention a high potential for mould, which can eat away at your structure. If these systems aren’t balanced properly, your small bathroom could be a big disaster waiting to happen. For major projects, call a pro.
How much re-arranging are you planning?
If you’re trying to make better use of a small bathroom, you may look at the space and think that by moving around a few key pieces you’ll be able to open it up, giving you more room to work with.
What you might not realize is that the location of your toilet and vanity are pretty locked in. After all, they’ll have to work with the existing plumbing lines that are already in place. If you want your plumbing to move around, it means getting the right permits and moving around your configuration — which is a much bigger job.
So what can you do to free up some space without moving the plumbing? You can still replace the units with smaller, or floating models. This can free up some much-needed manoeuvring room. By removing big, bulky vanity cabinets, you’ll be able to open up the space — or you could use an open model that still gives you some good storage options without cramping your style with bulky swinging doors.
Replacing the tub
I get the appeal of a good, hot soak after a long day — but does your small bathroom need a tub, or would a walk-in shower suffice? In my opinion, while a home benefits from having multiple showers available — it doesn’t necessarily need multiple tubs, too.
A walk-in shower with a sliding-glass door can make your small bathroom feel more open instead of that old tub with shower curtain. You can even install a shower bench to give you space to sit while you bathe, help those of you who shave your legs, or use it as a shelf to store your shampoo and soap.
Can you expand?
Maybe the bathroom’s just too small to do anything meaningful with. If your budget and home’s layout allows, you may be able to make the extra space you need by cutting into the next room and giving that extra square footage over to the bathroom.
We renovated my son’s home a few years back and we took the existing powder room and expanded into the office space next to it. This came with a few benefits. One: We were able to create a full bathroom with walk-in shower, increasing the value of the home. Two: The office, which was located on the main floor, would be able to serve as a bedroom with ensuite bathroom should his mobility needs ever change, without sacrificing his ability to stay in his home.
Expansion is a big job — so make sure you call in the pros and get the right permits first.
To find out more about Mike Holmes, visit makeitright.ca
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