There are so many bathroom-related decisions to make when you’re building a new home. Chances are, you have more than one bath — likely, two or more — and each one has different needs and different users.
While you’re probably tempted to upgrade everything in your new home, budget limitations may prevent you from doing that. It’s important to consider your needs and lifestyle and choose those upgrades you can’t live without. The key is knowing which bathroom upgrades are absolutely best to build into your new home, versus which ones are more easily changed down the line.
Bath lighting is relatively easy to upgrade later, with a small investment for fixture, installation and, possibly, a paint touch up. New lights can add more illumination, energy efficiency, (if choosing LEDs or compact fluorescents over incandescents) and definitely added style.
Installed accessories, like toilet paper holders and towel bars are also easily upgraded, and often an easy DIY project. Again, you’re probably going to have some paint touch ups to do around the new hardware, but the aesthetic improvement can be worth it. You may even get enhanced capacity with double towel bars or a row of robe hooks in place of a single towel bar.
You can also replace standard toilet flush handles with a model sporting a finish and shape that matches your new upgraded faucets, lights and accessories.
Most bathroom windows fall into standard sizes, so it’s also fairly easy to cover them on your own after you move in. I like faux wood shutters or blinds that will handle a moist shower environment.
Some cabinets don’t need knobs or pulls. Some do. Even when not required, decorative hardware acts like jewelry for your bathroom. If your selected door style calls for knobs or pulls, choose affordable options with standard hole spreads for easy, no-drill change-outs later. Three- and four-inch are the most common. Back plates are an alternative for traditional styles if you’re changing hole spreads.
You can also add some handy accessories inside your cabinets to organize toiletries and hold hair blowers, hampers and other necessities.
Another change worth considering is a medicine cabinet upgrade. There are so many new options on the market today that go far beyond the basic shelves and mirror. Medicine cabinets are a bit trickier to upgrade, as you’re going to want to find one that fits into the existing cavity, unless you want a more-involved replacement. Measure carefully and it can be a relatively simple change-out down the line.
It’s fairly easy to replace the faucets on your bathroom sinks, as long as you’re keeping the position and hole spread the same, but much tougher to do so for the tub and shower. One way you can change those is to use a trim kit from the same manufacturer that takes the same valve. Your builder can supply you with the manufacturer and model numbers when you buy the house.
When you decide which upgrades and additions make the most sense to do after you move in, be sure to factor in all related costs for having the work done. These can include a licensed electrician, plumber, carpenter, handyman, painter, materials and clean-up. Knowing what’s involved in your desired upgrades helps you make the best decisions for your schedule, budget and building allowances.
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS, MCTWC is a wellness design consultant, Certified Kitchen Designer and the author of the New Bathroom Idea Book and New Kitchen Ideas That Work, (Taunton Press). Jamie can be found online at jamiegold.net.