Luxurious and profitable enhancements for your bathroom
For just a few hundred dollars you can make some surprisingly luxurious improvements to your bathroom.
For a few thousand you can have heated floors, glass tiled walls or elegant showers worthy of a mansion.
When we asked some of the remodeling world's most renown pros how they'd add a "wow" factor to the average bathroom, they turned us onto the secrets of high-end homebuilders and interior designers.
Their ideas go beyond what you'll find on the shelves at your local Lowe's or Home Depot, and are sure to bring a new level of craftsmanship and sophistication to most homes.
Those improvements will boost its value, too. An annual survey by Remodeling Magazine and the National Association of Realtors shows that every dollar you spend upgrading a bathroom comes back to you when it's time to sell.
Here's what to look for, and where to find it:
A vessel sink is a high-end look that can transform a bath from functional to fabulous. You'll see a limited selection of them at home improvement stores, but that only scratches the surface of what's available.
Get a broader view of what's available from the Faucet and Sink Connection.
"If you want to make a wow factor, you need something people will come out and talk about what they've just seen," says Ed Del Grande, master plumber and host of DIY Network's television show Ed the Plumber. "A vessel sink really is a conversation starter."
While an ordinary drop-in sink or a solid surface vanity top might run $100 or so, the starting point for vessels sinks is at least twice that amount and can run to $1,000 or more.
Plus, you'll need a different vanity top and, depending on the sink, you may need to open the wall to install special faucets. To keep costs down, look for a sink that can accommodate a surface-mounted faucet so that you can use existing plumbing.
Faucets are a big part of your bathroom design and there is no shortage of options. You can go ultra contemporary or farm house rustic, Tuscan villa or urban industrial.
There is a nice selection at www.plumbingsupply.com. Prices start as low as about $140 and top out near $380, depending on the fixture and the finish. Manufacturer Franz Viegner is a favorite with kitchen and bath designers.
"You don't even have to change the sink right away," Del Grande says. "The new trend is accessories to match the faucet, so now your bathroom has a look that ties together, with the same trim on the faucet as with the towel and toilet paper holder."
As master baths have gotten larger, one of the designer features that have appeared are warming drawers for towels, like this one from Dacor.
They're like the warming drawers found in ovens to keep cooked food toasty, but they're designed for fabric. Prices start at about $600.
"Heated warming drawers are certainly a nice niche addition," says John Filippelli, managing editor for Melville, NY-based Kitchen & Bath Design News.
If you don't have the space or the budget for a warming drawer, a towel warming rack is a good alternative. They're also great for drying out swim suits. A budget version from Warmrails start as low as $39, or you can go the designer route from Wesaunard for $1,200 and up way up.
Speaking of toasty, radiant heated floors from manufacturers such as Warmly Yours are a popular luxury option.
"Radiant floor heating is growing more popular," Filippelli says. "People can enjoy a nice warm floor, especially in the winter, after soaking in their tub or enjoying a shower."
They don't look any different than a regular floor because the heating coils are under the tile, but you'll sure feel a difference on a cold morning. A radiant heat system costs about $750 for a 6-foot by 8-foot bathroom.
There is literally no end to the available options for bathroom flooring and walls. Tile and marble are popular choices, and you can use them in so many ways.
"If you can't afford the whole floor, do a row of accent tile," says Sharon Hanby-Robie, interior designer, author, speaker and resident home decor expert for QVC. "Mosaic tiles are big."
Glass tiles like these add a luxury touch to the walls, either as an accent border or wall covering and can be found at Mosaic Source for about $23 per square foot.
For the truly fabulous and outrageously expensive take a look at heat-activated tiles that change color with the temperature from Moving Color. The 4-inch by 4-inch tiles are $25 each, or $199 for a square foot.
Forget about shower heads with a few different spray patterns. Today, taking a shower practically qualifies as a spa treatment. Custom showering is hot, with programmable thermostats to dial in preferences of individual users. Multiple shower heads are common.
One of the newest items on the market is Kohler's WaterTile shower sprays, which sit flush on the wall or ceiling and deliver a soaking without any shower head at all. One of the neat features is that they can be put exactly where you want them. They're available online starting at about $100 each (you'll need a plumber to install them, though), and most people install at least three of them.
Now, if you really want to spend a boatload of money, Kohler hasn't forgotten about you, either. For the shower fans, they offer the BodySpa waterfall, which is like standing under, well, a waterfall. Cost: $1,589 and up for the waterfall, and about another $3,000 for the pump to run it.
For everyone who ever filled up the tub to the very top, Kohler has its Sok overflow tub for two, a bathroom version of the infinity pool, where the water goes right over the side. It can fill from the wall or the ceiling; plan on spending between $5,000 and $10,000.
For another version of custom showering, try this description on for size from Hansgrohe for its Pharo Helis Showerpanel. "More than just a shower, Pharo creates a serene sanctuary, enhancing health and well-being, transcendent and unforgettable. ... Each Pharo Showerpanel IT is an individual masterpiece of graceful design that transforms your bathroom from the ordinary to the sublime in a few single steps." Prices start at about $2,400.