several question about mostly diy 'spruce up' of full bath (long)

mamattorneyJune 30, 2012

I have a full bath that was the only "un-updated" room in the house we bought in 2005. Granted, now most of the updates are 10 years old, but they still look current.

We may move in a few years and while we bought the house with the bath looking as it does, I think it would help if we spruced it up a bit. I'd prefer to do it now where we can get a few years enjoyment out of it and to spread out the costs of "getting the house ready to for sale" expenses that I know will come up later. I have no desire to change any plumbing.

Things I know I will change:

The countertop and sink.

The sink faucet

The tub surround - change to tile

The fixtures in the tub/shower combo.

Things I may or may not change

The floor

the lighting

the vanity cabinet

the tub

If you got through all that, here are my questions:

1. I don't care which kind of faucet/handles the sink or the tub has and since we will be replacing the counter and sink we have all types available to us, so for resale purposes, are three piece spread faucets, centerset 4 in. faucets or one piece faucets most popular these days? Also, in the tub, should I go with one piece for the on/off and setting hot/cold or two?

2. I'm leaning toward either engineered quartz or Corian for the counter top. Is this a bad idea since it's about the same cost for granite? I am an infinitely practical person and I like the maintenance level of Corian and the antimicrobial properties of quartz. Our kitchen is Corian - chosen for us by previous owners - and we've been happy.

3. Simple undermount vs drop in sink. Which are more popular? Again, I don't have a preference. It's a pretty basic bathroom - not too traditional, not too modern.

4. Tub surround - this we will hire out. The tub/shower combo currently has an acrylic tub surround. I have no idea what is underneath, but I'd like to change it to white tile. Subway, maybe? What is a ballpark cost for the labor on something like this in a major metropolitan area (Chicago)?

5. the tub. The tub is a cast iron tub. It's not shiny new, but it's clean. Will a new tile surround make the tub look crummy? Should I just replace it?

6. The vanity. The vanity appears to be a custom built in. It's outdated and has 3/4 inch face fronts and semi overlay cabinets. The doors are hanging slightly crooked these days. It's currently painted white. I'd like to keep it white and was thinking of just ordering new wood doors to update it rather than try to build/find a 66.5" vanity. I know the doors will likely cost more than a new 60" vanity, but I like the wall to wall look of the built in. Is this like putting lipstick on a pig since the vanity itself is probably from the 50's? Particularly because I will have to use overlay hinges on the doors - none of the European ones will work with the large face frames.

7. Lighting. I have no idea why, but this bathroom has can lights in a bump out above the vanity. I've never seen this before or since. They are fine for lighting purposes, but strange. Should I have the cans pulled out and more "bathroom-y" fixtures put in. This seems like it will cost a lot of money and might be wasteful, but it's such a bizzare look, I wonder I should just make it more normal looking.

If you got through all of this - thanks! If you can help in any way, I look forward to your response!

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First off, if at all possible, I'd suggest posting pictures so we can get a better idea of how the room looks.

My thoughts...

1. I think that the 3 piece widespread faucet is the way to go for an updated higher-end look. Likewise, I prefer the separate hot & cold controls for the tub.

2. I've been hearing that granite is becoming passe (this is pretty interesting to me because I just put nearly 3 slabs in my masterbath). I loved Corian more than granite for a long time but now I feel that IT looks dated. (I think I'm usually one trend behind!) In your situation, I'd look for quartz, particularly if you can find a remnant to make it more affordable. We're putting quartz in our son's/guest bathroom and was able to find exactly the material that we wanted for just $900 (85" vanity with 2 sink cut-outs). It would have been cost-prohibitive if we had to buy the whole slab.

3. If you go with Corian, your sink would probably be integrated. If you decide on granite or quartz, I'd definitely suggest undermount sinks. (We found a really reasonably priced Toto undermount sink with their Sanagloss finish and I'm surprised at how much I love them!)

4. Subway tile is such a classic that it would be hard to go wrong with it. Not sure what labor would run but definitely get several estimates.

5. If it's a good quality tub in good shape, I'd try to keep it. I have no experience with having tubs reglazed but perhaps that's an option to restore the finish(?) I'd probably not try to match the tile exactly to the tub to help keep it from looking crummy by comparison... look for something that would compliment it instead.

6. If the interior and drawers are in really good shape, it may be worth saving. A picture would help here.

7. To me, lighting is such an important element in a bathroom... and it is also relatively inexpensive for such a large design impact. If you consider it a bizarre look, chances are a potential buyer would too so I'd probably bite the bullet and redo it. If you could post a picture, that would really help.

Hopefully others will have more suggestions!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 5:44PM
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For the doors, try They make unfinished custom size doors and drawer fronts for VERY reasonable prices. I used them on some built-in linen cabinets I built, and they worked great.

And I agree: post pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: inexpensive doors

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 7:29PM
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Pictures I can do! I didn't want to add any originally because my post was so long.

The bathroom is 8' x 7'

Here's a shot of the bathroom as seen from the door.

Here's a shot of the vanity. The top is laminate. Another thing I've never seen in a bathroom. I should mention that the vanity is only 18in deep. This nonstandard depth is another reason I'd like to save the shell if I can.

Here are the vanity can lights.

Here are a couple of the tub with the bisque surround

For completeness, here's the toilet area -next to the tub. I'm thinking of ordering doors for the storage area, maybe leaving the bottom shelf open

And finally, my favorite part of this bathroom. There is a full door linen closet in the hall and someone was clever enough to put a second door inside the bathroom that opens to the side. The smaller door is the laundry chute - another feature I love since my laundry is directly below in the basement.

So there you have it. Sorry the colors are so inconsistent. I guess it's just the flash on the camera. The sink, toilet and tub are all white, even though the toilet doesn't really look it.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 7:37PM
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I should say that I've made some changes since 2005.

When we bought the house there was flowered wallpaper on the walls, the vanity was an ivory color, the hardware was brass, and the can lights were covered in really dated glass globes.

The gray paint, bright white cabinetry and chrome accessories/can light surrounds were my way of trying to modernize and still match the gray laminate counter top.

I actually like the gray walls - so no badmouthing the color! Just kidding, I'm pretty tough so you can tell me it looks terrible!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 8:17PM
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I think the vanity looks fine with those doors, but changing out the hinges and knobs would update it nicely. The upper cabinets next to the mirror and the linen closet doors would probably look better if they matched the vanity or door to the room.

I like the lighting! Very clean. If it's not enough, can you add some sconces on the side walls? I can't tell if there is any overhead light or light in the tub area, but if not putting in a quiet vent fan/light combo would be something to consider.

Definitely doors over the toilet.if that's not a toilet that needs replacing, I would still suggest chaining out the seat for one with the easy release mechanism for easy cleaning and slow close lid. They are pretty reasonable and it is so much easier to clean!

I like the tub, but once you tile I think it would be very hard to change it out, but someone with more knowledge can weigh in on that. It might be helpful to keep some extra tile in the event the tub needs replacing, I'm pretty sure that would result in some damaged tiles. Sterling also makes some really nice tubs with tile-look surrounds, they are made of some sort of proprietary material similar to acrylic. We have had one for several months and love it! Plus no grout to clean.

I love the double access closet and laundry chute! Those are awesome features.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:16AM
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