Bathrooms

Get down to the gritty with this absolutely essential space in your home. Then learn how you can make it a personal retreat.

  • Bathroom Design Central
  • Bathroom Design Ideas
  • Freshen Up Your Bathroom With Simple Weekend Projects
  • Make Your Small Bathroom Look and Feel Larger
  • Remodeling or Decorating the Bathroom
  • Designer Bathrooms
  • Bring Elegance and Luxury to Your New Bathroom
  • Lighting Upgrades to Brighten Your Bath
  • Remodeling a Bathroom or Powder Room

More About Bathrooms

Ideas for Bathroom Painting, Storage, Organization and more!

The bathroom is often the smallest yet busiest room in the house. Make it work with smart storage, organization, and painting tips.

Bathroom Design Central

Your Place for Everything About Bathrooms

Remodeling or redecorating a bathroom can pay off right from the start. Your home will be more comfortable and you’ll add value to the property. If you’re thinking about freshening up your bathroom or making some major changes, you’ll want to read our articles on bathroom remodeling, renovation, and rejuvenation.

Bathroom Design Ideas

Bathrooms often get the short end of the stick when it comes to interior design. After all, nobody’s going to spend a lot of time in your bathroom, right? The problem is, it’s not true-you will. Here are some great tips for refreshing the look of your bath without breaking the bank.

 

 

Five Areas of Focus in Bathroom Design

There are five areas you can focus on to improve the look of your bathroom short of a total remodel:

  • Walls
  • Lighting
  • Vanities
  • Hardware
  • Decor

Now, let’s take a look at some bathrooms to see how it’s done.

Sample Bathroom Design Ideas

We’ve given this formerly generic bath a vintage look by installing a vessel sink that looks like an old mixing bowl. The mirror has a decorative molding, and new sconces designed in the antique style add to the charm. When it comes to antiques, substance is everything; this fire brick flooring in a herringbone pattern looks and feels totally authentic.

One of the best ways to maximize space and create a feeling of quality workmanship is to add built-in cabinetry. If you have space behind a bathroom wall, back into it with shelving: you’ll not only have a place to store toiletries, you’ll have an ideal showcase for decorative items. Another tip? Hang some artwork over the toilet to improve the view. Finally, get rid of dated, damaged or chintzy vanities. You can replace them with solid antiques. Use your creativity when it comes to furniture choices: We’ve created a vanity out of an old dresser drawer by repainting it antique white and adding crystal knobs. Instant chic!

Our second bathroom overhaul is a study in both cost-savings and utility. Instead of buying new drawers and cupboards, put drapery fronts on your vanity. This solution adds color, texture and pattern and cuts the budget dramatically.

Next up? Walls. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people leave bathroom walls a boring ivory… and these are folks whose houses literally sing with color and texture elsewhere! Not only can you use wall coverings to boost your bathroom’s style, but special paint applications and texture treatments-like this tin wainscoting-are a natural for bathrooms, which typically have less wall space than other rooms and can handle high-impact treatments. Here, we antiqued the tin with a wash of watered-down umber, and it looks fantastic. And substantive wainscoting has another use: you can add a deeper trim at the top to stack and lean items like perfume bottles and art.

 

 

For floors, affordable hotel tile is becoming popular, as is subway tile for showers.

Unusual light fixtures like this one we picked up on eBay add a funky, vintage charm. We’ve made this bathroom contemporary with nickel-coated hinges and ribbed vertical cabinet glass. Replacing tired or broken hardware fixtures earns you big-time style points, and it’s relatively easy. For example, trade in those old towel bars for hooks-hanging them is simple, and you can arrange them any way you want. Adding Euro glass to the shower eliminated the ugly metal trim, and these lovely sconces on either side of the mirror add interest… a lot better than those above-mirror bar lights that shout “80s,” right?

Remember: lighting styles change rapidly, so fixtures just five years old can look very dated. Luckily, it’s an easy area to update. Replacing old lighting with colorful, modern or elegant pendants is one way to contemporize your look; adding chandeliers over tubs or in powder rooms is another. Here, we’ve also trimmed the walls in paneled wood for a warmer effect, and added wallpaper-yes, it’s coming back-above the wainscoting.

Finally, get rid of that dated wall-to-wall mirror and go for something different, with interesting moldings or a substantive, artwork-like feel.

Bathrooms are an important part of any home. They’re necessary, they’re functional, and, if you show a little ingenuity, they can be beautiful, too. I’m Anne-Marie Barton, About Home & Garden.

Designer Bathrooms

Planning Designer Bathrooms

When it comes to style, no room in the house should be forgotten. Look for ways to turn something predictable into your sanctuary. When it comes to redecorating your bathroom, go ahead and dream. Look through the magazines and find something unexpected. Today we are going to show you how you really can make your dreams come true in what we call gourmet bathrooms.

 

Selecting Special Pieces for Designer Bathrooms

We are with Casey at Ann Sack showroom. Obviously a beautiful and very unique showroom, some things we can afford and some things we can’t. But in general, over all, you can pick something you love and base everything else on that.

What about something like this? This was in a magazine and we like the feel of it. Probably can’t get every element but where can we start in a showroom like this?

  • With this you can look to some concrete vessels, nice concrete top reflecting this monolithic look.

Up close we have a vessel of cast concrete and a wall mount faucet. What does something like this cost?

  • $650 for the Faucet
  • $940 for the Sink
  • $1100 for the Top
  • $900 for the Base

Ok, now this is quite minimalistic and quite practical. Is this what’s happening these days?

  • Yes, it’s a clean look and very contemporary and open beneath. That’s a big inspiration.

So Casey, how about something like this?

  • Right here we have a beautiful free-standing tub by Michael Smith, based on a 1940’s deco Manhattan apartment style. Taking something from the past but stylizing and keeping it current yet timeless.

Timeless and it really creates a focal point obviously as it does in the magazine. So what are we into it price wise?

  • Between $16 thousand and $23 thousand depending on the finish you choose for the drain and such. So over here we have a beautifully designed, very contemporary, very clean line bath tub. It is an acrylic tub. It’s very large and very deep. Its free-standing on three side and could easily be free standing on four sides.

So not a bad alternative compared to a 20 thousand dollar tub. This one is closer to $1700 and its comfortable.

Now this is what I would call a gourmet shower, rainfall shower head above and maybe even have somebody sprays along the wall with that. What are we looking at for something like this?

  • As featured you’re around 3300.

And it looks something like what I found in the magazine. So for an extra $1200 along with $3300 for the rainfall shower head, you can have what is really termed a gourmet shower. And this is something worth basing your entire bathroom on.

Designer Bathroom for Less

Now if these items don’t fit in your budget there are some alternatives at Lowes.

Something like this a mirrored vessel sink with a wall mount faucet and vanity $1250 or even less the white vessel sink with vanity and faucet only $705. It may not be exactly what you’ve seen in the magazine but it’s the same feel and look for a lot better price.

It’s easy to do the regular stuff why not step out of the box and create a surprise for the eye.

 

 

Bathroom Design Ideas

Bathrooms often get the short end of the stick when it comes to interior design. After all, nobody’s going to spend a lot of time in your bathroom, right? The problem is, it’s not true-you will. Here are some great tips for refreshing the look of your bath without breaking the bank.

Five Areas of Focus in Bathroom Design

There are five areas you can focus on to improve the look of your bathroom short of a total remodel:

  • Walls
  • Lighting
  • Vanities
  • Hardware
  • Decor

Sample Bathroom Design Ideas

We’ve given this formerly generic bath a vintage look by installing a vessel sink that looks like an old mixing bowl. The mirror has a decorative molding, and new sconces designed in the antique style add to the charm. When it comes to antiques, substance is everything; this fire brick flooring in a herringbone pattern looks and feels totally authentic.

One of the best ways to maximize space and create a feeling of quality workmanship is to add built-in cabinetry. If you have space behind a bathroom wall, back into it with shelving: you’ll not only have a place to store toiletries, you’ll have an ideal showcase for decorative items. Another tip? Hang some artwork over the toilet to improve the view. Finally, get rid of dated, damaged or chintzy vanities. You can replace them with solid antiques. Use your creativity when it comes to furniture choices: We’ve created a vanity out of an old dresser drawer by repainting it antique white and adding crystal knobs. Instant chic!

Our second bathroom overhaul is a study in both cost-savings and utility. Instead of buying new drawers and cupboards, put drapery fronts on your vanity. This solution adds color, texture and pattern and cuts the budget dramatically.

Next up? Walls. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people leave bathroom walls a boring ivory… and these are folks whose houses literally sing with color and texture elsewhere! Not only can you use wall coverings to boost your bathroom’s style, but special paint applications and texture treatments-like this tin wainscoting-are a natural for bathrooms, which typically have less wall space than other rooms and can handle high-impact treatments. Here, we antiqued the tin with a wash of watered-down umber, and it looks fantastic. And substantive wainscoting has another use: you can add a deeper trim at the top to stack and lean items like perfume bottles and art.

For floors, affordable hotel tile is becoming popular, as is subway tile for showers.

Unusual light fixtures like this one we picked up on eBay add a funky, vintage charm. We’ve made this bathroom contemporary with nickel-coated hinges and ribbed vertical cabinet glass. Replacing tired or broken hardware fixtures earns you big-time style points, and it’s relatively easy. For example, trade in those old towel bars for hooks-hanging them is simple, and you can arrange them any way you want. Adding Euro glass to the shower eliminated the ugly metal trim, and these lovely sconces on either side of the mirror add interest… a lot better than those above-mirror bar lights that shout “80s,” right?

Remember: lighting styles change rapidly, so fixtures just five years old can look very dated. Luckily, it’s an easy area to update. Replacing old lighting with colorful, modern or elegant pendants is one way to contemporize your look; adding chandeliers over tubs or in powder rooms is another. Here, we’ve also trimmed the walls in paneled wood for a warmer effect, and added wallpaper-yes, it’s coming back-above the wainscoting.

Finally, get rid of that dated wall-to-wall mirror and go for something different, with interesting moldings or a substantive, artwork-like feel.

Bathrooms are an important part of any home. They’re necessary, they’re functional, and, if you show a little ingenuity, they can be beautiful, too. I’m Anne-Marie Barton, About Home & Garden.

Bathroom Makeovers in a Weekend

Simple Ways to Add Sparkle to Your Bath

You don’t have to endure a whole bathroom remodel to enjoy a fresh look. If your bathroom feels dull and dingy, there are a number of things you can do in a day or a weekend to really perk things up.

Without spending a lot of money, you can freshen up your bathroom with organization, fresh color, updated lighting, and good accessories.

And every one of these ideas will help to really make a difference in the look and comfort of your bathroom.

Get Rid of Clutter

This first project won’t cost a cent, but will yield great results. Take everything – yes, everything! – out of your drawers and cupboards, off counters, and out of the medicine cabinet or vanity. It should look the way it did when you moved in. Choose only the must-have’s and find the most convenient place to put them. Anything that is not essential should go out. The point here is to get rid of anything that you don’t really need. Read our article on organizing and storage tips for your bathroom for some great ideas.

 

 

 

A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

Once you’ve decided what you cannot live without, decide what you need to get it organized. You can find great clear plastic boxes, bins, drawer dividers, and clear cosmetic bags for things out of sight. For items that will stay on the counter, find decorative storage items to enhance the decor.

Out – of – Sight Storage

Consider installing a plastic-coated, pull-out towel bar inside your bottom cabinet. It will be a great place to hang cleaning rags and damp washcloths or drying hosiery. Use turntables to minimize storage for tall bottles of hairspray, toothpaste, or shaving cream. See-through boxes and pull-out drawer units are handy.

Add Towel Bars

You really can’t have too many towel bars in a bathroom! They’ll discourage dumping used towels in a pile on the floor. If you have extra wall space, put one there. If you can have a towel bar for each member of the family, each person will know their towel is fresh and personal. Or consider hanging a bar behind the door or over the toilet. Be sure the bar is placed so that any towels will not hang over heating vents. Hotel-style towel racks are available in home improvement or bath decorating stores. The extra shelves they provide can display colorful, thirsty towels.

Hooks for Hanging

If you don’t have enough room for another towel bar, how about a decorative hook or two for hanging a robe or towel Install it near the shower, on the back of the door, or near the sink. They won’t take up a lot of space, but will still get things off the floor.

Add a Small Piece of Furniture

Even if your bathroom is small, you could probably find room for a small shelf or chest. A large bathroom could use the storage space offered by a cupboard or armoire. Even a small chair would come in handy! Any piece of furniture will help to soften the space of a utilitarian bathroom and add style, color, and warmth.

Freshen Up the Floor

A simple new colorful rug can work wonders! Or if the flooring is really bad, consider either covering it a with large cut-to-fit bathroom rug, peel-and-stick tiles, or even paint!

 

 

 

 

Organize a Cleaning Kit

Gather some bathroom cleaning supplies and store them together in a handled tote under a sink or in an upper cupboard. Get smaller size spray bottles if space is an issue. Install child-proof latches if you have small children in the home.

Make Your Small Bathroom Look and Feel Larger

You Don’t Have to Build an Addition to Your Home

Unless you live in a custom-built home with a luxurious bath and dressing room, you probably wish your bathroom were larger. Without adding any more square footage, you might feel less cramped if you use some of our tips to make your small bathroom look and feel larger.

It’s true that a small bathroom can feel cozy and intimate. But it can also feel claustrophobic and depressing. Depending on your decorating style, it can be quiet and sophisticated, charming, or sparkling like a jewel box.

No matter what style you decorate your small bath, though, it will always be a small bath.

But with a bit of visual magic, color change, and lighting, you can transform your small bath into a cozy retreat.

A bathroom is a very special space, but the theories about space enlargement apply here as to any other room in the house. Use some of these decorating tricks to make your bathroom look and feel larger, even if it stays the same size.

Select Colors for Serenity

Pale, soft color schemes tend to give the illusion of more space. I’m not saying that the small bath has to be pink, but avoid strong, exciting colors. Use the bright for accessories and towels, but select pastel tones, neutrals, and whites for backgrounds. “Cool” colors give the feeling of serenity.

 

Brighten Up the Room

Without taking up any counter space, you can add extra lighting to “open up” the look of your bathroom and add interest. Recessed can lighting can be installed into the ceiling and focused on any work space. Wall sconces or a countertop lamp will add warmth. More expensive alternatives for bringing more light into the room would be skylights, larger windows, or Solitudes.

Trade a Large Vanity for a Delicate Pedestal Sink

A vanity cabinet provides nice storage under a sink, but takes up lots of floor space in a small bath. Replacing the vanity with a pedestal or wall-mounted sink can be fairly inexpensive. Your bath will definitely feel more open. Find alternative storage space with a small shelf or organize a nearby linen closet. When you remove the vanity cabinet, you’ll probably have to repair the flooring.

Cut Back Anything That Sticks Out

Even the smallest piece of furniture or accessory that sticks out into the room can stop where your eye goes and make your room seem to “shrink”. Remove wall shelves, hanging racks, or decorative accessories on the walls that cut into the room and make it look smaller. Of course, you may need some of the pieces for comfort and their usefulness, but if the room feels bigger without them, think of some other way to supply the space you need.

Remodeling Your Bathroom

 

The smallest room in your home will undoubtedly require the largest number of professionals to remodel. A plumber, tiller, electrician, flooring installer, painter and cabinet installer will be called on to transform your bathroom—unless you’re terribly talented, handy, and patient.

If you see the bathroom as strictly utilitarian, you may choose to do a superficial cosmetic redecorating job. But if you’re adventuresome, this smallest room in your home can showcase the design of your wildest creativity. Colors or patterns you’d be afraid to use in another room can shine in this private area. And materials that would be prohibitively expensive in a larger area will fit into the bath budget.

New homes are being built with special attention given to luxurious, large bathrooms with multiple sinks, toilet and bidet, separate tub and shower stalls, custom tile work, and closets to die for. But most homes offer minimal space and leave lots of room for imagination, dreaming, and adapting.

The necessities of a bathroom include sink, toilet, tub and shower. Everything else is frosting on the cake. But sometimes the frosting is the best part!

One of the first things you’ll consider when thinking about a bathroom remodel is the tub or shower, and your choice will make a huge impact on the overall success of your project. Do you dream of a sunken whirlpool tub for leisurely soaking? Does your Victorian home require a claw-foot tub with a hand-held brass showerhead? The least expensive alternative is a pre-molded fiberglass unit which incorporates both shower and tub.

The next most important selection you’ll make is the toilet. There are almost as many choices for toilets as there are for sinks or tubs. If you want a vintage look, you can choose a pull-chain flushing mechanism. If you want ultra-modern, how about a remote-controlled model? There are models with a built-in bidet for saving precious floor space. Toilets are available in many styles, designs, and colors and can be selected to coordinate with your décor.

You’ll save a lot of money if your remodeling plan can utilize the existing plumbing for both the toilet and tub. If you select a new larger tub, will walls have to be moved to install it? There are things to think about besides what looks best.

Designer Bathrooms

Planning Designer Bathrooms

When it comes to style, no room in the house should be forgotten. Look for ways to turn something predictable into your sanctuary. When it comes to redecorating your bathroom, go ahead and dream. Look through the magazines and find something unexpected. Today we are going to show you how you really can make your dreams come true in what we call gourmet bathrooms.

 

Selecting Special Pieces for Designer Bathrooms

We are with Casey at Ann Sack showroom. Obviously a beautiful and very unique showroom, some things we can afford and some things we can’t. But in general, over all, you can pick something you love and base everything else on that.

 

What about something like this? This was in a magazine and we like the feel of it. Probably can’t get every element but where can we start in a showroom like this?

  • With this you can look to some concrete vessels, nice concrete top reflecting this monolithic look.

Up close we have a vessel of cast concrete and a wall mount faucet. What does something like this cost?

  • $650 for the Faucet
  • $940 for the Sink
  • $1100 for the Top
  • $900 for the Base

Ok, now this is quite minimalistic and quite practical. Is this what’s happening these days?

  • Yes, it’s a clean look and very contemporary and open beneath. That’s a big inspiration.

So Casey, how about something like this?

  • Right here we have a beautiful free-standing tub by Michael Smith, based on a 1940’s deco Manhattan apartment style. Taking something from the past but stylizing and keeping it current yet timeless.

Timeless and it really creates a focal point obviously as it does in the magazine. So what are we into it price wise?

  • Between $16 thousand and $23 thousand depending on the finish you choose for the drain and such. So over here we have a beautifully designed, very contemporary, very clean line bath tub. It is an acrylic tub. It’s very large and very deep. Its free-standing on three side and could easily be free standing on four sides.

So not a bad alternative compared to a 20 thousand dollar tub. This one is closer to $1700 and its comfortable.

 

Now this is what I would call a gourmet shower, rainfall shower head above and maybe even have somebody sprays along the wall with that. What are we looking at for something like this?

  • As featured you’re around 3300.

And it looks something like what I found in the magazine. So for an extra $1200 along with $3300 for the rainfall shower head, you can have what is really termed a gourmet shower. And this is something worth basing your entire bathroom on.

Designer Bathroom for Less

Now if these items don’t fit in your budget there are some alternatives at Lowes.

Something like this a mirrored vessel sink with a wall mount faucet and vanity $1250 or even less the white vessel sink with vanity and faucet only $705. It may not be exactly what you’ve seen in the magazine but it’s the same feel and look for a lot better price.

It’s easy to do the regular stuff why not step out of the box and create a surprise for the eye.

Top Design for an Elegant New Bathroom

Design Your Own Personal Sanctuary

It’s important to think about the bathroom design as much as about the bathroom fixtures. If you’re thinking of remodeling your bathroom, consider adding elements of comfort and elegance. Transform your cold, dreary bath into your own personal sanctuary.

If you have a “sky’s-the-limit” budget, think crystal chandelier, gold plated faucets, marble flooring, and stained-glass windows.

Sophisticated – Soft – Elegant

While many home interiors are going more simple, bathrooms are getting the royal treatment. Elegance, softness, and sophistication are the keywords for bathroom decor.

Hand-made Italian tiles, custom-constructed and fitted hand-rubbed wood cabinets, and sparkling crystal light fixtures are just some of the items people are spending top dollar to get.

The bathroom is forgotten no longer. It’s your personal sanctuary, and should be treated with special touches.

In new construction, bathrooms are getting larger. Combined with dressing areas and walk in closets, some bathroom areas are bigger than the adjoining bedrooms. Add to that oversized bathtubs, separate showers, gym equipment, and sauna rooms, a bathroom is becoming a destination place in homes.

In many remodels, homeowners are tearing down walls, eliminating small bedrooms, and creating giant bathrooms with special amenities such as telephones, televisions, lounging chairs, and a fireplace.

Homes with young children may not be suitable for installation of Italian marble countertops that would be damaged by little fingers and crayons. Usually these top-of-the-line items are reserved for master bath suites. But many luxury elements are appropriate for any home.

Read below about the leading choices for luxury and convenient bathrooms. Decide what you could do to really transform your bathroom from a utilitarian stop-off spot to a tranquil, elegant retreat.

  • Cabinets

Custom cabinetry is designed to provide maximum storage, eye-appeal, and convenience. Tall cabinets on either side of the sink area offers eye-level storage for bathroom necessities. Electric plugs installed inside the cabinets help hide ugly appliance cords. Extra-deep drawers offer out-of-site storage for tall bottles.

Even a small bathroom will look larger with mirrored walls or cabinet doors. For a really elegant look, have the mirrors framed in gold- or silver-leaf frames. Both artificial light and natural light will be reflected and the room will be brighter.

To add floor space to a narrow room, consider having cabinets cut shallower than usual, and bump out the counter area around the sinks. A Pullman-style bathroom will look more interesting without a long, straight line of cabinets.

If your space has room, consider having the countertop installed at two heights. The lowered area can serve as a dressing table. You might even have a whole wall of cabinets built in to store towels, rugs, and bathroom necessities.

  • Tile

While many bathrooms have laminate or solid surface countertops, ceramic tiles of all shapes and styles are the choice of the day. For any variety of looks and durability, choose glass, ceramic, stone, or metal tiles

Even in ceramic tiles, there are many painted or embossed styles to choose from. These are especially useful to create a border around an area, a chair rail design, or to frame a mirror or cabinet. You can also scatter hand-painted or embossed tiles at intervals on a wall to create texture and color.

A word of warning if you’re decorating on a budget: decorative tiles are sold by the piece. Before you go shopping, measure the space you’re going to tile so that you know how many tiles you’ll need. If you’re doing a shower enclosure or countertop, the number adds up. And then multiply the number of tiles by the price per piece, and the number gets big quickly. Remember to add in edging pieces, corners, and borders. An extra dollar per tile could mean a lot of dollars extra for the whole room!

Lighting Upgrades to Brighten Your Bath

Make Your Lighting Work for You

Brighten Things Up a Bit

If your bathroom is too dark, there are several options.

  • If you have a 3-light fixture, would changing to a 5- or 7-light fixture give the light you need?
  • Select a higher watt bulb if the fixture can accommodate it.
  • Add additional light fixtures or recessed lighting.

Change Light Fixtures

If there’s just no solution with the fixture you have, replace it with one that allows for more light. This is a good opportunity to choose one that enhances your decorating theme and fits the style of your bathroom. You might get a fresh look and more light by simply replacing the glass globes from frosted to clear.

Add an Outlet When I remodeled my bathroom, I wanted the tile and walls to be clear of electrical outlets. So I had my electrician install the electrical outlets inside the wall cabinets. I keep my personal coffee maker and curling plugged in all the time. It’s a great convenience and keeps all the dangling cords and appliances out of sight.

Add a Lighted Switch

Install a lighted switch for greater convenience. When you wander into the bathroom at night, you’ll know just where the light switch is.

Install a Pair of Wall Sconces

If your bathroom doesn’t already have them, consider installing a pair of wall sconces on either side of the mirror. If there’s not enough wall space, the electrical holes can be drilled right through the mirror. The fixture should be installed so the light bulbs are just about eye level. Be sure there is electrical power near your installation point before you start drilling into the wall. You might need to consult a licensed electrician about this addition.

Set a Lamp on the Counter

If your bathroom vanity has enough countertop space and an electrical outlet handy, place a small table lamp there. Keep the lamp a safe distance from the water source. A decorative lamp adds a warm charm to the room and serves as a nice alternative to a night light.

Remodeling a Bathroom or Powder Room

How to Get the Job Done

Steven Pollack is the owner of Bath Plus, an importer of exotic hardwood bathroom vanities. He offers this advice and help on issues you’ll face when you decide to remodel your bathroom or powder room.

When you decide to remodel your bathroom, or add a completely new one, many decisions have to be made before you drive the first nail. Your first decision does not have anything to do with the bathroom’s design, though that’s where a significant number of people will start.

Whether you opt for a turnkey project, self contract, or a do-it-yourself project, remodeling a bathroom to reflect your personality and design is a great upgrade to your house, loft, townhouse or condominium.

Getting the Remodeling Job Done

Your first decision needs to be whether you’ll hire a contractor to produce a turnkey job, whether you’ll act as your own contractor, or if you’ll do the work yourself. Since there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach, let’s take a quick look at them.

Choosing a Turnkey Project

Most people choose this approach. If you don’t have the physical ability or knowledge to tackle a major remodeling project, or you simply prefer to have someone else do the work, a turnkey project, also known as design/build, is for you. The term means exactly what it says: you hire a contractor to do the entire project including, in many cases, designing it. When all the work is done, you turn the key and walk in.

What Does the Contractor Provide?

The most important benefit of having a contractor on the job is having peace of mind and a single point of project responsibility.

A good contractor has the skills and knowledge to handle everything from tear-out to installing the last piece of plumbing. He arranges for the electrician, plumber and any other tradesmen needed for the project, acquires all necessary permits required by the city or county, and co-ordinates work schedules so there’s no wasted time. And because he is responsible for the entire project, he also gets the blame for any problems that might develop.

In many municipalities, even though the contractor obtains the permits it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure the correct permits were pulled.

The main negative of hiring a contractor is that there are many bad contractors who will abandon the final few items in the check-off list in exchange for giving up the nominal holdback amount stated in the contract. Often the cost of completing these final details is more than the holdback amount. This fact motives an unscrupulous contractor to abandon the project and leaves the homeowner with the responsibility for getting a handyman to complete the final detail work.

The proper remedy for project abandonment can be negotiated in the contract language. This will help to avoid later litigation. Contact a local attorney if you are not comfortable negotiating the contract terms yourself.

Finding a Contractor

You can start looking for a building contractor by opening the phone book yellow pages and randomly select one based on the size of their add Of course, this is the riskiest method. There are better ways.

Get referrals from friends or family who have hired contractors for their projects. Were they happy with them? Did they have any problems? Was the work completed on time and on budget? Did they clean up the area at the end of the project or not?

You can also check with your local Better Business Bureau. This will be helpful if the contractor you’re interested in is a member. However, membership is voluntary. Not all complaints against contractors are filed with the Better Business Bureau. While it’s a good idea to check the Better Business Bureau, it should only be used with other checks.

Spend some time on the internet. Check out a site like Angie’s List, where prior customers rate local contractors.

Visit upscale home remodeling showrooms. Spend the day at a Home and Garden show. Spend time on the telephone with contractors listed in the phone book.

Finally, trust your instincts. If you get a feeling that something is not right about a contractor you’re talking to, it probably isn’t. Remember, it’s your money, and quite a lot of money, and you should feel comfortable with your final choice of contractors.