Bathroom Remodeling Tips and Design Ideas

Spring is in the air, and with a change of season often comes the desire to embark on a home improvement project. 

Changing up your bathroom is a great place to start to lighten your mood to match the season. Whether you’re undertaking a remodel of your primary bathroom or refreshing your downstairs powder room, the prospect of introducing bold wallpaper or sleek tile to your space can certainly spark some joy.

Before you reach out to your expert team, you may wish to do some research on your own. Coming in with a firm grasp on your budget and design inspirations enables productive and collaborative conversations with interior designers and contractors.

Keep reading for our how-to guide, complete with cost considerations and design tips to help you get the bathroom remodel or renovation project of your dreams underway.

How to Remodel a Bathroom: The Planning Stages

Before exploring trendy and timeless bathroom design ideas to inspire your refresh, let’s address a slightly more complex topic: the brass tacks of planning a bathroom remodel or renovation.

White master bathroom soaking tub
Concord Carriage House. Photo by Jessica Delaney.

How Much Does a Bathroom Remodel Cost?

The first step in any project is firming up your budget.

While the actual costs of a bathroom remodel depend on considerations like your specific needs, materials used, and square footage, primary bathroom renovations typically range from $40,000 – $100,000 and up.

How to Prepare for Your Bathroom Renovation: Questions to Ask

Before meeting with your contractor and interior design team, sit down and envision your ideal bathroom. We often encourage clients to think about their lifestyle; what features do you need to make your bathroom a functional, peaceful space in your home?

These questions can be a useful starting point:

  • How will my family use this bathroom? Is this a kid’s bathroom that must withstand heavier wear? Is this a guest powder room where you’d like to make a visual impact? Understanding the bathroom’s role in your family life can help you narrow down your list of design inspirations and materials.
  • Does the current layout of the space work for you? Does your primary bathroom have a single vanity you wish was a double? Has that toilet always been tucked too closely behind the door for your liking? Remember that changing the bathroom layout often means reworking your plumbing, which adds cost.
  • What are your storage needs? Again, the answer to this question will vary based on how you use the bathroom. A primary bathroom with an adjacent linen closet may not need additional storage space, but the poolhouse bathroom may need shelving for towels.
  • What are your design or style inspirations? One of the best things about a bathroom redesign is that, as a contained space, it’s a room where you can let your imagination run wild. Do you want to experiment with color? Would you prefer to embrace a classic scheme or incorporate more modern design elements? The world is your proverbial oyster!

Your team can shed light on some of the more technical considerations you might face in your remodel. Here are some crucial questions to pose to your experts that can affect overall cost and project timeline.

  • Where are all of the pipes and wires located? Accurate measurements of plumbing and electrical elements are a crucial early step in any bathroom remodel.
  • What is the cost and timeline to change the layout or add electrical? If you wish to update your lighting plan or floorplan, you must adjust the electrical and plumbing to match. A drastic change in floorplan may be technically challenging and, therefore, costly. Allow your contractor to set expectations.
  • Is my bathroom’s current electrical and ventilation system up to code? Certain states, including Massachusetts, have mandated bathroom electrical and ventilation standards. Your expert team can assess whether or not your bathroom will require upgrades as part of the renovation process.

Key Bathroom Components: Remodeling Tips & Design Ideas

While you may not be swinging the sledgehammer yourself, you still have a vital role to play in how the bathroom’s components come together in the remodeling process. From tile to vanities and cabinets, here’s what you should think about leading into your bathroom renovation.

Bathroom Tile

We could write a book about the finer points of selecting bathroom tile. From material choice to proportion and color to grout, there’s much to consider regarding this essential element of bathroom design.

The first question you must ask yourself is, “natural stone or manmade?” Each type of material has its pros and cons. Porcelain, for example, is durable and an ideal option for the floors of a high-traffic powder room or children’s bathroom. Glass is elegant but more delicate and slippery–a suitable choice for a decorative shower niche or eye-catching wall mosaic.

Master bath shower tile
Primary bathroom shower from Acampora Interiors’ Wellesley New Traditional project. Photo by Joyelle West.

Natural stone tiles add character to a room but often require additional care and upkeep, like sealing, to protect them from damage. If natural stone appeals but the maintenance is a deterrent, there are ways to incorporate smaller tile elements into a larger bathroom design, like a decorative backsplash.

When mixing tile patterns, we suggest a “rule of threes” approach: any more than three styles of tile in a single room can feel overwhelming.

Finally, don’t forget the grout! While traditional white grout is always an option, today’s grout comes in a veritable rainbow of colors. A bold grout choice can draw attention to a tile’s unique shape or design.

For more on the ins and outs of bathroom tile, you can read insights from our Director of Interior Design, Tricia Fortin, here.

Shower & Bathtub

The shower or bathtub is the main focus of any full bathroom. But with dozens of styles, finding the right one begins–as with all of your design selections–with your needs.

A primary bathroom may have two bathing areas: a large, luxurious bathtub for unwinding with a good book and an oversized standing shower.

A children’s bathroom might have a deep bathtub that serves to contain any splashing.

Your en suite guest bathroom, which might be more compact than your primary bath, might be served by a standing shower with glass doors to make the space feel more open and airy.

Aesthetics play a secondary role in your shower and bathtub selection. The overall architecture of your home often dictates the proper style. In an antique home, you may opt for a clawfoot tub to echo the original details of the space. If you are building a new modern, minimalist home, you may incorporate a standing shower with concrete tile and recessed lighting overhead.

Bathroom Vanity & Cabinetry

The first step in selecting the correct bathroom vanity for your space is determining the number of sinks you need. A primary bathroom or shared children’s bedroom might call for a double vanity. A guest bathroom will likely be a single vanity. And a narrow powder room might have no vanity at all but rather, a corner wall-mount sink.

Master bathroom vanity
Wellesley New Traditional. Photo by Joyelle West.

Your bathroom cabinetry needs will also vary based on bathroom type. A powder room near your home’s entryway will likely require minimal cabinetry–just a place to store some cleaning essentials and toiletries. In contrast, a primary bathroom might incorporate cabinetry for your beauty products, bathrobes, towels, and more.

Custom cabinetry is often the best option in bathroom spaces, which can include irregular dimensions, especially in the older more historical homes we see so frequently throughout New England.

Bathroom Sink & Toilet

The last on our list of significant bathroom fixtures are sink and toilet selections, which are really contingent upon a bathroom’s floorplan.

For primary bathrooms with ample space, a sink with a wide, deep basin is a luxurious and much more comfortable option. Small powder rooms may require a narrow vanity or perhaps even a pedestal or wall-mount sink.

Powder room with corner sink and patterned wallpaper
Charming historic homes often feature smaller rooms and call for creative, space-saving design solutions, like wall-mount sinks. From Acampora Interiors’ Concord Carriage House project. Photo by Jessica Delaney.

Today’s toilets run the gamut, from the traditional to the high-tech. Smart toilets feature motion sensors to automatically open and close the lid, a nightlight to guide you in the dark, and a heated seat that offers comfort on frigid New England nights. 

Of course, there are many fine more traditional toilet options available, often with environmentally-friendly features like reduced water usage.

In smaller spaces, you should consider your toilet proportions. The rounder the toilet bowl, the smaller its footprint, which makes them ideal for cozy powder rooms in antique homes.

Bathroom Fittings & Fixtures

Toward the end of your bathroom renovation planning process, it’s time to set your sights on the smaller bathroom fixtures and fittings. While these details are not as physically large as the sink vanity or bathtub, they can have a powerful impact.

In a bathroom, these are the significant fittings and fixtures to consider:

  • Plumbing fixtures: These include your sink faucet and shower head and dials.
  • Cabinetry hardware: These are the pulls and knobs you select for your vanity and any additional storage pieces or millwork.
  • Functional fittings: Towel racks, toilet paper holders, and hooks for robes or other bathroom accessories fall under this category.
  • Mirrors and medicine cabinets: What bathroom is complete without a mirror? You may opt for a standalone mirror in a powder room or a medicine cabinet with a mirror in a full bath.

The style of the fittings and fixtures you choose will influence the feel of your space. Brass fixtures and hardware may lend a midcentury modern flair to your bathroom. Ceramic cabinet knobs offer a more rustic or antique vibe. A mirror with crown molding suits a classic or traditional space.

The sheer number of fixture and fitting options can become overwhelming, so we recommend narrowing your search by defining your preferred interior design style first. And, of course, your interior design team is here to lend expert guidance in these very matters!

Bathroom Wall Color

Another element that can have an outsized impact on the overall feel of your bathroom is your choice of wall color. When selecting a paint color, there are literally thousands of hues, so you are limited only by your imagination! We recommend an easy-to-clean semi-gloss finish for bathrooms.

For your primary bath, a whisper grey, calming blue, or serene white might be the peaceful option you seek.

For half baths, you may wish to select a color or wallpaper that packs a punch. These small, contained spaces are the perfect place to take a design risk–often to winning effect, like in these two spaces from completed Acampora projects.

A bathroom remodel or renovation project is an exciting way to refresh your home. With so many exciting elements involved in the planning and design process, you have ample space to express your unique style in the room. Coming into early planning discussions with your needs and desires already considered can help you collaboratively create the bathroom of your dreams.