How to Remodel Your Bathroom without Getting Overwhelmed

Planning to liven up the loo? Here’s what to focus on.

By Darren Davis December 19, 2017 Published in the January 2018 issue of Seattle Met

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Image: Haris Kenjar

Beige tile. Fiberglass tub. Track lighting on the ceiling. These are the symptoms of an old bathroom needing a big face-lift. But turning the john into a master bathroom doesn’t need to be an overwhelming campaign. Turns out you just need to be realistic with the space, prioritize the right design elements, and let go of certain expectations (looking at you, claw-foot bathtub). Two local design pros help get things started.

The experts: Heidi Caillier, Heidi Caillier Design; Sam Adams, Cherry Design and Build

Quiet Light

“Think of bathroom lighting as the room’s earrings,” says Caillier. Meaning, they should gently adorn the space, not make a big statement. She generally prefers unobtrusive in­tegrated lighting and sconces (pictured above). If you’re going with a drop pendant light, just make sure it’s central to the room and not near the vanity where it will feel weightier. 

Shower Time

Glass shower doors make both the shower and the whole room feel spacious, says Caillier. Frameless glass doors, which anchor directly to the wall without a metal frame, are the pricier option, but they’re worth it. Anything is better than a cheap shower door, says Adams. “Even a rod and a shower curtain.”

Clean Contrasts

Caillier stresses the importance of varying design elements. If opting for a more ornate faucet, balance it with a simple mirror and midcentury sconces. Don’t be afraid of bold contrasts between the floor and cabinetry, and mix up materials and weight. “If you’re doing something with print on the tile, go subtler on the countertop.”

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Image: Haris Kenjar

Bye-Bye Bathtub

It’s the dream born out of countless Pinterest boards, but stand-alone bathtubs are a big investment that leave an equally big footprint on a floor plan, says Adams. “And you’ll use it maybe four times a year.” Put that money instead toward refined details like a custom-tiled shower pan.

Where to Put the Towels?

Always prioritize storage, even if it means going with just one sink to free up space in the vanity. But keep in mind that sometimes the best storage option might be a hallway linen closet. Towel hooks are also a must; just don’t put them on the back of the door, says Adams. “I always end up ripping those out.” 

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