05/24/2012 12:56 EDT | Updated 07/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Angela and Tim's Bathroom

candice olson bathroom


I've dealt with a lot of couples over the years and most cite the battle for closet and bathroom space as one of the most frequent causes of marital discord. Dr. Phil, are you listening? As far as closets go, my clients' were fine, but when it came to their awkward, dated bathroom, this marriage didn't stand a chance! With every bathroom renovation, there are three areas that I focus on: budget, function and style.


Bathrooms are, on a square foot basis, the most expensive room in the house to renovate. If you want to test your heart's fitness, try shopping for simple bathroom faucets. Add in the cost of the required valves, mixers and trims and you may need reviving when you see the tally! Here are a few tips to help keep you upright!

-Plumbing: Unless the layout of your bathroom is really not functional, try to keep the new fixtures in the same general location. In this loft bathroom, all the fixtures were replaced and updated -- a larger tub for two, a more modern, one-piece toilet and a free-standing glass and wood vanity. The trick here is that I didn't change the location of any of them.

-Focus: Try to pick a feature in the bathroom where your money is put to its best use. When my clients' bathroom door was open, the old pink vanity was in full view to the rest of the loft. Now a gorgeous glass and wood vanity with wall-mounted faucets is showcased through the doorway. To balance out the chunk this piece took from the budget, I selected less expensive tub fixtures and floor and wall tiles.


Some mornings the bathroom seems more like a battleground -- a flurry of arms and legs all showering, drying, brushing, spraying and primping. Whether a couple or the whole family shares it, a few functional tactics will help keep the bathroom from becoming the war room!

-Storage: Vanity drawers afford more accessible storage than shelves where items are hard to reach and hidden behind doors. Also consider hanging a large, shallow, pantry-style cabinet on an unused wall -- relocate your towel bar as a door handle if your wall space is limited. I designed a full 5"-high, 8"-deep, wall-mounted cabinet for my client's bathroom. The large, single door opens to reveal enough toiletries and bath jams and jellies to stock a small store!

-Lighting: Strip makeup lights just don't give you a fighting chance no matter how good looking you are. Light sconces that flank the mirror illuminate your entire face evenly.

-Mirror: So many couples get hung up on the idea of double sink vanities when it's actually mirror space they're jostling over. This loft bathroom has a separate "her" mirror over the vanity and a "his" mirror thoughtfully located above the toilet where men spend a good part of their loo-time facing.


There's no denying the shift towards more clean-lined contemporary living spaces. The challenge in modern bathrooms is to create a space that is simple and pared down, not cold and sterile. To add warmth, try incorporating some of these elements into your renovation:

-Wood and natural materials: Wood is physically warm to the touch and adds richness and quality to any bathroom. In this loft bathroom, the ebony-stained wood vanity and tub apron actually look more like fine pieces of furniture than humble bath fixtures.

-Contrast and texture: Bathrooms are filled with hard shiny fixtures and surfaces. Introducing texture and contrasting materials adds visual interest and warmth. I used mottled mosaic wall tiles, a natural slate floor and plush cotton towels to soften the spare lines of my client's sleek bathroom.

What once was a basic builder's bathroom is now a deluxe, modern spa getaway. I may be stretching it a bit to say such a bathroom renovation is good for your marriage -- but when you're both having a luxurious soak in your new tub-for-two, you're in no position to argue!

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