Best and worst decisions you made when renovating

loves2cook4sixJune 29, 2012

I love these threads because you get so much collective wisdom in them.

The last thread reached it's limit of 150 post

We are starting an emergency bathroom remodel due to a toilet leaking while we were on vacation so I can use all the help we can get.

Right now our masterbath is gutted at the floor level and we are having to make some major decisions with very little time to do research.

So please help us out and tell us what you love, what you wish you'd done differently and what you think was either a waste of money or a really bad decision.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to previous thread

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Things I Love:

-Linen Towers flanking the vanity--upright storage space is so much more accessible and organized than drawer space
-Shallow drawers so stuff doesn't get lost underneath other items
-Kohler's new Wellworth toilet (not the classic)
-Slow close toilet seats
-My Kohler Purist Tub with Effervescence feature
-My doorless shower
-Exhaust fan timer retrofit (turns fan on by selecting a time span of 10, 20, 30 or 60 minutes) for it to run
-Antique pewter shower fixtures from Delta
-Custom shower niche with rounded overhang edge.

Things I Would Have Done Different:

-Shower bench would have been 16-18" deep vs. the 12" builder talked us into
-I would have insisted on the electrician replacing the exhaust fans with the Panasonic Whisper Quiet ones that were specifically specced in the first place.
-I wish we had used more than 1 row of the 2"x10" shower accent tile in the shower and at the doorway thresholds as a transition strip between the bath and bedroom & bath and closet. I really love that accent tile.
-I would have chosen a shower floor tile that would have allowed a flush with tile surface grout line of 1/16" or narrower. This would have allowed for unsanded grout on the floor to match the walls and the shower floor wouldn't feel as rough.

Waste of Money:

-DH will tell you the ceiling mount rainhead in the shower since he hasn't used it in months and I use it only on occasion.

Linen Towers @ Vanity:

Kohler Purist Tub & Shower w/ Niche Detail:

Accent Tile Transition Strip:

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 8:40PM
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Ours was a quick decision remodel too, but I still did a bunch of quick research. Not nearly my normal amount, but I had to sleep too :-)

-deep storage drawers in the vanity. A happy accident. All the tall stuff fits in them!
-double curved shower curtain rod, we wanted it to hang our towels on the inside rod. Works great. (only about $60 at BBB, Moen)
- Moen shower curtain hooks. They have roller balls for easy use and we got the ones shaped like a U with each end curved up. It holds the liner on the inner, longer side and the curtain on the outter, shorter side so the liner doesn't show, and it allows the liner more overlap of the tub wall. (about $15-20 at BBB)
-changed the vent fan to a fan/light combo, ultra quiet model
-switched out the vent control from a standard light switch to a timer that fits in the same space (maybe $30 or so at Lowes)
-set floor tile at an angle
-towel/robe hook next to shower, use it every day and it's so convenient
-comfort/chair height toilet with easy off seat and soft close hinges. The easy off seats make it sooooo much easier to clean!
-framed mirror
-higher vanity counter, much easier to use, though it was also a happy accident
-matching satin nickel tub drain and stopper toggle, which I found by accident after it was all done and swapped out myself. Never knew they came in different finishes, now everything matches!
-memory foam bathmat from BBB, it's like stepping on a cloud when getting out of the shower!

Would do different
-wish I had had the extra electrical run to operate the vent fan and light separate and the night light
-would have thought more about what to do where tiles meets the baseboard and the threshold to the hall
-would have recessed the medicine cabinet. So much is now in the vanity (and it's the absolute worst place in any home for meds) that a smaller one in the wall would have looked nice.
-backsplash along wall at the left of the vanity
-inspected the walls better before paint went up. The paint is the only thing that actually bothers me, the backsplash does a little when I clean, but not much.

I'm pretty happy overall, not bad for about one week notice. Should be able to see most, if not all, of these in the pics below.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 9:39PM
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Decisions that make me happy:

~ Sticking to our/my vision of what the room should look like even as I'd see pictures of other lovely rooms that were very different from ours.
~ Building architectural interest with an elliptical arch soffit and columns around the tub
~ Keeping the colors neutral and using just our purple and tan/gold towels for accent color (I decided against the matching purple rugs and purple countertop accessories because I didn't want to draw attention to those items.)
~ Granite counters instead of marble (I thought I'd never find a granite I could love as much as the Paradiso marble that I originally wanted but I love the Moxura granite that we chose. I knew that I would constantly be worried about all of my products etching the marble counters.)
~ Choosing porcelain tile instead of travertine. ( I love our Edimax ~ Materia Forte in Bronzea because it blends so many neutral shades... tan, taupe, gray and cream. I love the mix of warm and cool tones. And I love that I don't have to worry about it. We have some travertine deco accent tiles and skirting /base molding so I did get my natural stone look too!)
~ Making our frameless shower door glass full height to the soffit at the ceiling (I worried that it would feel too steamy and claustrophobic but it's soooo nice and cozy.)
~ Not settling for the usual shower door installation but instead going with a pivot hinge on the full-height door; mitered glass and a single uchannel and silicone for the pony wall glass. (The less hardware seen, the better, to me.
~ Asking the shower door pros to custom-order the sculptural handle I had seen elsewhere.
~ The shower layout that we agonized over, especially the two big niches and the shape of the shower seat.
~ Using granite on our niche shelves, shower seat and curb and the doorway threshold.
~ Being willing to change our stain color choice on our custom Amish-built vanities when they came in much darker than we had specified. (He was perfectly willing to take them back to his shop, three hours away, and restain everything but we quickly realized that they were actually better in the wrong color than what we had first chosen!)
~ Designing upper cabinets with a lighted valance and then installing outlets in those cabinets so everything can be in its place and out of sight.
~ Having our cabinetmaker remake the valances when the size and proportion were just not right. (They had made them exactly as we asked so this was an unexpected delay and additional expense, but necessary.)
~ 36" tall vanities (34 1/2" cabinet + 3 cm granite)
~ Soft close vanity drawers and full-height sink base doors.
~ Putting every single light source on a separate dimmer switch (I love to adjust the lights to suit my mood and time of day)
~ Polished nickel finishes (love the warmth vs chrome) and then mixing in some brushed nickel for variety (and because my sconces and shower control didn't come in polished nickel!)
~ Replacing our casement windows with a pair of double hung windows so that we can get fresh air and still have our privacy.
~ Designing towel cubbies on either side of the tub
~ Using large (18" square) tiles on the floor set on the diagonal and including travertine accent tiles.
~ Designing the tile layout for the shower walls so that our 12" x 18" tiles could be set with a 1/3 offset that would continue around the corner. (No one else might notice but I love this detail!)
~ Realizing that we could expand into an adjacent closet and dead space to allow us to have a vanity in our water closet
~ Learning that drywall is one of the easiest and cheapest things to fix.
~ Not giving up, despite a very long 12 months!

Things that make me happy:

~ Pottery Barn Clarissa chandelier (It looks sparkly and impractical and I just love it!)
~ Sigma ~ Alicante polished nickel faucets (These really are the jewels on my vanities)
~ NuHeat heated floor (And we haven't even gone through our first winter yet!)
~ Moen I/O Digital electronic shower valve (I was skeptical at first but I LOVE this! It has pushbutton control of all 3 showerheads plus personal preference presets for everyone in the family)
~ Toto Rendezvous sinks WITH Sanagloss (I just swish them with water and they always look clean!)
~ MTI Harmony whirlpool/airbath combo tub (Ahhhhh!)
~ Solatube skylight (Love the natural light in our windowless water closet)
~ Countertop accessories from Target ~ Fieldcrest Luxury ~ Glass & polished nickel (I can't believe how little I paid and how expensive they look and feel)
~ Cabinet hardware ~ Restoration Hardware ~ Mason 4" drawer pull & Schaub ~ Empire knobs (I am so pleased with the quality and how well they complement the other elements in our room.)
~ MicroDry towels from BB&B (They are so soft, plush and absorbent)


~Toto ~ Guineviere toilet (The Sanagloss helps but, of course, it still needs cleaning. The problem is it has too many contours inside the bowl so it is a pain to clean. Even the tank lid has a lip around the edge making it just a little more difficult to clean. My husband and the plumber felt it was a PITA to install. But, I do love the soft-close lid and the one-piece skirted design.)
~ Sigma handheld showerhead (It's heavy because it is all metal and it has no adjustments, just a fairly mild regular stream.)
~ Our travertine skirting/base molding isn't flush with the shower tile so I'm paranoid about keeping that lip clean/dry.
~ I didn't know about rectified tile before ordering ours. I really love our tile with its rustic/distressed appearance and edge irregularities but part of me wishes that we were able to have the skinny grout lines. (We've made a point to choose a rectified tile for our teenage son's bathroom!)
~ Runtal Solea 34" tall towel warmer (I love the towel warmer and it works great but because it only heats where it touches, we're upsizing to the 53" tall model.)
~ We couldn't decide/agree/afford the planned fireplace for one end of our tub so for now we have a tabletop firepit... it's just not the same!

Sorry, as I read back through this, I guess I'm gushing about this room... I suppose you could say I'm still in the honeymoon phase!

Threads like these were extremely helpful to me along the way so I hope some of my reviews might help someone else.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our before and after pics

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 12:11AM
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williamsem--You did wonders with your space! I love your shower curtain, too! Would you mind sharing where you got it and do you happen to know the manufacturer and style? Also, as I read through your post a second time I noticed the comments about keeping your meds in your bathroom--you may want to reconsider--the latest MD & pharm consensus is that the bathroom is not the best place for meds due to temp changes and steam factors. It can affect the stability and integrity of the meds as well as the efficacy. Something to think about... :-)

treasure--always love seeing your gorgeous bathroom again and again! It's like a luxurious spa!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Mydreamhome, first of all you are absolutely right about meds, I'm so glad someone else here posted that! I realize my post was poorly worded, I meant that because meds shouldn't be stored in the bathroom and so much other stuff went in the vanity now, I could have used a smaller cabinet that was recessed (because there was not much to put in it). I am forever trying to get people to get meds out of the bathroom!

Thank you for the kind words on the remodel, it was a very sudden and stressful processes. If you saw the before pics from my thread several weeks back, that is indicative of the rest of the house, a big sea of beige. I actually stop in the bathroom and smile every now and then when the rest of the house gets to me! Kitchen next...

The curtain is from BB&B. I no longer have the package since I purchased it in February, but the tag says Christy, and the reciept says "Lotus Blssm S/C 89010456490". I had a hard time finding one I liked, finally found this one!

I love treasuretheday's room too, every time I see it I want to move right in! Then I think about cleaning it all, and for me that helps me admire from afar, i'm just too lazy for a fantastic bathroom like that. And I agree that that chandelier may be a lot, but it is fabulous and really adds to the room. The whole thing is gorgeous!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 12:14PM
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We finished most of the work about a month ago and are still in the "being critical" stage. We also need to decide what goes on the walls,.

What we'd do again that others have already mentioned
* Heated floor
* Wonderful shower door handle (we stole the idea from TreasureTheDay)
* Electronic shower valve. Really appreciate the easy on-easy off-pause feature. I especially like the ability to pause the spray in mid-shower to shampoo hair.
* Deep vanity drawers (as someone said; the bottles all fit!)
* Rectified porcelain tile with the 1/16 grout lines.

What we'd do again that's different
* Against the tile store's recommendation, used an "industrial" tile in the shower that mimics the look and feel of our concrete sink.
* The steam shower!
From Bathroom

* Wall hung toilet (set at comfort height). So much easier for cleaning around and under -- though expensive to install.
* Cladding the tub and toilet area with wood instead of tile. Saved money (materials cost + installation) and love the look.
From Bathroom

* Extra deep soaking tub. Looked and looked for one that would let the water come up to my shoulders.
From Bathroom

* Skylight - AND paying extra for the rain sensor option. That's already saved us serious clean-up headaches.
* Recessing the mirror in the wall to give us a shelf above the sink for tooth brushes and often used toiletries.
* Concrete sink.
From Bathroom

What we didn't do right
* Lighting. We painted the walls & ceiling fairly dark colors and didn't take that into account when selecting lighting fixtures. We need more up lighting.
* Bought the Kohler DTV electronic valve instead of the Moen I/O system that has flow control (the Kohler doesn't). Here's a case of not doing our due diligence.
* While we like the recessed mirror, we now need a mirror that's closer to our face for our aging eyes! Probably will install a small one on the wall adjacent to the sink or one of those pull-out wall mounted types.
* Shower size. It's the same as our previous one: 45 x 72. We like the size, but it seems to take forever to squeegee all that glass after each shower. On the other hand, it is large enough to easily accommodate the bench when we use it as a steam shower. Life is full of trade-offs.
* Not using our regular plumber.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 3:29PM
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Kashmi, I love those lights! I was so close to using them and was concerned about having enough light since they would have been the major light source. So sorry to hear you need more light, but at least I can stop longing for them as they did end up being not enough.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 4:13PM
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Williamsem, We, too, thought they would be enough. After all, there are 4 100w bulbs, right?!

The issue for us is that the ceiling goes from 7.5 feet at the back shower wall to just over 11 feet for the wall with the lights. Since the lights only shine light down, there's nothing to light those last extra feet. During the day, the skylight makes the issue moot, but at night that top triangular space is like a black hole.

Thus, the lights put out a lot of light, just not enough for a room with a high, sloped ceiling and dark green walls!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Do you have room for a single sconce pointed up on each side? They are very nice shades. I even spent a considerable amount of time opening every single shade on the rack to find 4 perfect ones with similar lines before my gut feeling won out. So pretty!

Oh yeah, um, back to topic...I guess we both learned to plan lighting better, you needed more, and it seems I could have had what I wanted if I knew more (though I still don't know enough to pick fixtures).

    Bookmark   July 1, 2012 at 10:49PM
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A good idea. We do have the room, just not sure we'd like the look -- DH is more into form than function. But Justice Design does make a couple of different sconces in the same line; we should look into that.

BTW, loved your "not every kitchen/island" comment on the Kitchen side of GW.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 9:19AM
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We are about to start a DIY master bath reno so this post is very timely for me!

mydreamhome - can you tell me what the subway tiles in your shower are? Brand/color? I'm looking for something similar. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 12:46PM
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I hope it came off as funny as intended, not snarky! I've just read that in several threads and felt it would be funny.

One thing I wish I had added to the bathroom was an outlet behind the toillet or under the sink if nearby. Seems like those fancy seats that spray water like a bidet are catching on and that's a little harder to retrofit once everything is finished. Always nice to have the option!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 3:26PM
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Great advice here. Thanks. I will definitely be paying lots of attention to lighting and electricity.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 7:10PM
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So many beautiful rooms! Thanks everyone for sharing. Kashmi, I'm shopping for a soaking tub with clean lines like the one you've selected. Could you share the brand and name? Are you happy with the material, in terms of heat retention and ease of cleaning? Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 12:35PM
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Lbrook: Yes, I do love the tub. The manufacturer is Jason International. The tub is the Carrera oval. The three tubs in the Carrera line are made of a solid surface material in a matte finish.

The surface is very smooth and holds the heat well. Just the other night after a day of doing battle with weeds, I spent just under an hour soaking in the tub.

Because of the relatively straight sides, it's easy to clean. The GC and plumbers all said to get a stool for getting in and out of the tub, but I have no problem just stepping in and out. I'm only 5'4" and not as limber as in my younger days, but it still is not an issue.

Because no stores near us had the tub on display, I had lots of conversations with the Jason folks. They were very good to deal with -- even sent an engineering drawing that showed the angle of the tub back.

The list price is quite high. A local plumbing supply company sold it to us for just above half that, however.

If you have questions about it, I'd be happy to answer them. I think I've sat in every tub out there! Good luck in your search.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 4:33PM
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Thanks, Kashmi. I wasn't familiar with Jason tubs - will put that on my list. Need to make a decision soon; hubby is ready to start the demo!

Enjoy your beautiful bath.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2012 at 10:34PM
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