Niche Publications

Senior Editor for Niche Publications of the Billings Gazette

It’s called a restroom for a reason.

If the kids keep knocking on the bathroom door and it’s not because you’ve been soaking in the tub for more than an hour, it’s time to take back your sanctuary.

As the room with the most privacy, your bathroom should be a place of tranquility.

Consider building an additional space for sanitation and seclusion or remodeling existing ones to ensure your bathroom is as beautiful as the reflection you see in the mirror.

Lavish lavatories

Clawfoot tubs and subway tiles are making a comeback.

Ty Nelson, owner of Ty Nelson Design and Remodel in Billings, says tile is always trending and changing.

Beveled subway tile, wood-looking tile, natural and textured stone, as well as tile in shapes like hexagons are some options homeowners are currently choosing from. If not used for the bathroom’s entire shower wall, flooring or backsplash, it can be used as an accent.

“Bringing in a linear drain can help add character to your shower and use of larger-formatted tiles,” he said.

Getting away from taupe and tan, Pinnacle Remodeling owner Jeremy Van Wagoner says bathrooms are reverting back to an older style.

But that’s not to say its features are outdated. They are anything but.

LED lighting in a shower’s soap dishes, walls and ceilings is one of many modern touches. Indirect lighting is another trend, as are backlit mirrors extended from the wall and toe-kick lighting.

Trends are moving away from vanity lights to sconces and recessed can lights in the ceiling. Van Wagoner says they have a cleaner look than swing arms.

“You can add a special element by using a bold lighting fixture or fixtures as well,” said Nelson.

Van Wagoner says it’s not as much for functionality as it is for shock and awe.

“People want something to differentiate their house from the next house,” he said. “When you spend more money on the little details, that’s what takes it up a couple extra notches.”

While subway tile is cheap, homeowners can spend big elsewhere.

Televisions, sound systems and solar tubes – a tube functioning like a skylight that is installed between the roof and ceiling – are a few examples.

Bathrooms remodeled to the nines can cost as much as $40,000, Van Wagoner said. Standard remodels range between $10,000 and $20,000 on average.

“People are spending more money in their quartz, their lighting, cabinetry, fixtures and tile,” said Van Wagoner. “The toilet is sometimes an afterthought.”

With regard to durability, tile is the best option, along with concrete or quartz countertops, Nelson said.

“The thing to know is what you are purchasing and how to install and maintain it correctly, so that it withstands its use,” he said.

Van Wagoner has only installed a few tile warmers for heated flooring, saying most homeowners don’t realize it’s an option. Heated towel racks ensure added warmth when stepping out of the shower or bath.

“It’s not like it used to be where you go to the bathroom and you’re done,” said Van Wagoner. “They want it to be an oasis. They want a reclusive getaway in their bathroom where they feel like they’re at a resort.”

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Finer function

More functional bathroom features have not been forgotten entirely. Instead, they’ve been customized.

Storage, for example, can be hidden inside columns built next to a freestanding tub. Such compartments are ideal for homeowners wanting to hide jewelry in an inconspicuous spot.

“Bathrooms always need more storage,” Nelson said. “We can add that in multiple ways: recessed shelves, niches in showers, adding linen cabinets.”

“We can also restructure a larger space, such as using other closets or areas to increase the size of the space. That is done in the beginning design stage of a remodel.”

Van Wagoner says recessed shelving replaces mounted corner shelves in showers.

“Now they’re getting bigger, almost a minimum of two feet wide,” he said.

And vessel sinks continue to be a popular statement piece on a countertop, as are concrete and porcelain troughs, said Nelson.

Van Wagoner installs just as many tub-showers requiring curtains as he does those with glass walls. He says shower curtains make bathing kids as well as redecorating an easier task than with glass walls.

Ty Nelson Design and Remodel tends to take out tubs if possible, putting a large walk-in shower in its place with multiple shower heads, rain heads, showerhead hand wands, glass walls, body sprayers and large niches. The company also replaces bathroom fans and updates those fixtures to give homeowners added flexibility with design.

While Nelson admits glass walls require more attention than tile, he says there are products to keep things clean and easier to maintain if used regularly.

Van Wagoner estimates a bathroom remodel to take two to six weeks on average depending on the project.

“Most times people don’t know what they want for sure. They have some pictures from Houzz or Pinterest, but really, so much of the experience is I go shopping with them,” Van Wagoner said. “I enjoy that part of the process.”

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