More so than with any other room, remodeling your bathroom can increase your home's resale value.
In fact, a moderate-sized bathroom remodel, which costs about $10,499, brings a 102 percent return on your investment, according to the 2005 Cost vs. Value Report published by the National Association of Realtors in REALTOR Magazine and by Hanley Wood in Remodeling magazine.
But before you look to magazines and TV for ideas, it helps to know what flies in this area.
Paint is the cheapest upgrade you can make. "Spa" shades are popular, as are pure, clean hues and warm, earthy colors, says Christy Haag, an interior designer at Teschner's Decorating Center in Pittsford. She suggests the following colors in Teschner's C2 paint line: the light-turquoise "Mykonos," the soft, earthy green "Jute" and the gentle, sandy gold "Pilot."
Jeff Underwood, manager of Hadlock's House of Paint in Victor, says Benjamin Moore's "Dry Sage" and "Raisin Torte" are popular, along with the paint line's historical shades like "Tyler Taupe" and "Lenox Tan."
Wainscoting - that paneling that goes halfway up the wall and is often painted white or off-white - is as hot as ever. You might even try taking it three-quarters of the way up the wall and finish it with a bull-nosed border.
Haag says a new trend for powder rooms is wallpaper. Go for something large-scale, timeless and classic, perhaps in a tone-on-tone pattern (a white design on a different tone of white, for example). Haag suggests checking out designs from Thibaut.
Counters and floors
Cultured marble and solid surface materials like Corian are the two most popular choices for countertops, says Joe Preston, office manager for Upstate Bath Systems in Victor. But cultured marble is gaining because it often sells for about half the price of the solid-surface materials. For a sharp-looking combination in the cultured marble, Preston suggests a granite-colored countertop with a sink in the same color.
Also very popular are vessel sinks, or bowls that sit on top of the counter, says Mark Potter, spokesman for Norbut Construction in Henrietta.
When it comes to floors, Preston says the two hot picks are ceramic tile or laminate. True, the tile look is a lot richer, but it's more expensive and, because of the grout lines, more maintenance when it comes to cleaning. Tongue-and-groove laminates, which offer tile looks and are becoming more popular than wood for floors in bathrooms, are perfect for the moist air and can go right over the existing floor. And you don't have grout lines, so you can clean them with a damp mop.
As for new faucets and cabinet hardware, Preston says to go for brushed-nickel. Chrome is also hot, as is oil-rubbed bronze.
Potter says more Rochesterians are also asking for electric floor heating, which can be easily installed in cement under tile or stone floors.
Cabinetry and trim
Space is often scarce in bathrooms, says Preston, so people are adding toilet toppers, banjo counters (which extend along over top of the toilet) and free-standing linen cabinets (bumped right up against the vanity, so the counter and the vanity look like one unit).
As far as the wood itself, Preston says maple is the most popular lighter choice. Oak is out. When it comes to darker woods, he says cherry paired with white counters or other elements is beautiful. Also very popular is the painted look, in white or off-white (called "biscuit").
Tubs and showers
"There's a lot of tub-to-shower conversion," says Preston. Customers are replacing the existing shower stall-tub combo with a big walk-in shower. Often they'll take the tub right out, although for the sake of resale value, it's recommended that you leave one tub somewhere in the house, like the guest bath.
To avoid mold and mildew, and because it looks great, the walls of these new shower areas are often floor to ceiling, in either tile or the less-expensive, just-as-nice and easier-to-clean acrylic, which can mimic tile, stone or other materials.
These new showers, says Preston, come with standard bypass doors or a tall frameless glass enclosure, which makes the room seem bigger. Sometimes they'll have a custom door built around a seat. Other times, a knee-high wall will be added around the base, which allows for a shower curtain instead of glass. Higher-end add-ons, says Potter, include multiple shower heads, body spray towers or even steam and aroma units.
Such a conversion costs about $4,000 to $6,000 and takes at least a couple days for professionals to complete, says Preston.
If people do keep their tub, they're opting for deeper or wider models. Potter notes the prevalence of deep-soaking overflow tubs, which let water slowly drain over the tub edge into a catch basin. The next step beyond that is "infinity" tubs. Kohler has one called "SA[para]k," in which the catch basin water is reheated and recirculated to the tub in the form of massaging bubbles.
"Lighting is the essential ingredient to creating a desirable bathroom," says Potter. "People can do so much more than a light switch for the vanity and one for the shower. Plus, lighting is a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade your bathroom."
He advises installing dimmer switches and recessed ceiling lighting over the sink.
Wall sconces on both sides of the mirror are also making a comeback, says Preston. In the vanity area, you can also add a halogen lighting unit in brushed nickel.
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