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Bathing in the Details

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ONE THING IS FOR SURE: THERE IS MUCH TO CONSIDER WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A BATHROOM REMODEL. From styles to tiles, you can spend a lot of time and energy making decisions. What homeowners need most is information, and this is where our experts can help.

Approaching a bathroom remodel can be more challenging than any other room in the house, according to John Lang, owner of Lang’s Kitchen & Bath, who suggests a good starting-off point is finding that one thing you really love in the space and then working from there. “This gives the designer a good understanding of a style the homeowner likes.”  

The bathroom should reflect the homeowner’s aesthetics, says Mike Werner, sales manager of AAA Hellenic Marble. “Whether it’s trends, looks or materials, make it right for the people using it. What makes it functional for them? What are their personal preferences?”

The best designer will marry product selections with the home’s look, says Quinn Harbright, designer for Brindisi Builders. “Also, they will help to ensure that products are ordered in proper quantities and sizes.”

Fran Isaacson, CKBR, owner of Inspiration Kitchen & Bath, says that it’s “to  the homeowner's advantage to work with a designer/contractor who can supply quality materials versus items purchased online. You never know the quality of items sold online until they arrive to the home, oftentimes broken or the faucets leak, etc. Cabinetry is best pur- chased by someone who knows the correct sizes needed for the project.” It’s also crucial to know the quality of the tile. You can never tell that of the ones sold at big-box stores.  

Experts in this industry often consider details that may be overlooked elsewhere. “Bathrooms have higher moisture than the rest of the house and having cabinetry that is built to withstand elements will look better and last longer,” says Steven Matteo, the co-owner and designer for Matteo Family Kitchens and Flooring. Cabinets using plywood built in the U.S. allow for better moisture control content whereas imported cabinets that come by ship can have issues as they acclimate to our climate.  

Product selection can also be influenced by which type of bathroom is being remodeled. “There’s a big difference between master and hall bathrooms,” explains David Cerami, CKBR, owner of HomeTech Renovations. “In the master you  usually have a tub or shower to consider. But most people no longer want the large fiberglass or whirlpool tubs. They take up a huge space and people typically don’t have time for a long bath. In addition, they are often not plumbed right. People want large multifunction showers with body sprays, bench seating and music.”

When it comes time to pick the various design elements in the bathroom, many homeowners get too hung up on what has the most staying power.

 “There are no tried and true elements in bathrooms,” says Matteo, who has been doing slate looks and textured tiles with glass accents for years, but now is finding people want tile planks that look like wood for the floor and clean simple lines for shower walls. “As the DIY trends go, so do we. Farmhouse looks are what we are seeing. Thank you Chip and Joanna Gaines for that,” he says. Also, cabinet, tile and countertop manufacturers are trending to similar colors—gray tones, taupe and similar looks.

Many homeowners want bathrooms that pop and make a statement, says Sophia Amiano, design assistant at Amiano & Son Design-Build. “Large mirrors, different colored metal faucets, accent walls, etc., have all been popular options,” she says. “One thing you can never go wrong with is a neutral palette in a bathroom, such as whites, grays or very light blues.”  

When redoing the space, consider reconfiguring. Maybe a larger shower or a clawfoot tub, and perhaps a vanity with natural stone such as marble or engineered quartz, Werner says. It’s good to use materials that seem to work with the look you want. “If you have a rustic ‘old farmhouse’ feel you wouldn’t use polished marble. You’d want a slate-look tile or soapstone,” says Werner. “Maybe look at stone accent walls in the shower or pebbles in the floor like a spa. Consider decorative accents, too. And think about seamless solid slab materials since they eliminate grout work and really enhance the project.”  

Tile in wet areas is always popular versus solid surface materials such as acrylic or fiberglass, says Harbright. “It allows  for a client to broaden the color spectrum of materials used in a bathroom, while still serving the more utilitarian task of a moisture barrier,” she says.  

 “White toilets, sinks and tubs are the best choice by far. White goes with everything,” says Isaacson. “Brushed nickel faucets are great options to hide water spots as much as possible. Darker fixtures may be harder to keep clean, depending on how the water is.” As for tile, she prefers uniform tiles in lighter tones in small spaces. “There are attractive porcelain tiles that look like marble that can be used in any design scenario, and accent tiles can always be added in for extra design interest,” she says.

 “You want features consistent with your aesthetic values. People have different tastes. With tile, there are varied formats, sizes, shapes. There are special glass panels that offer neat design details,” says Cerami. “Some black finishes on faucets can  look sharp in the right light, as do gold finishes. Free-standing tubs, vessel tubs are like pieces of art. There are one-piece, dual-flush toilets that are sleek, minimal.”

There are many new products  Amiano likes, including finishes for faucets such as different shades of gold, rose gold or newly released sleek black finishes. “I love the aged, weathered look that has been incorporated into some of the styles of tile,” she says.

 “People are using porcelain slabs, some as big as natural stone,” says Werner. They are thin, easy to work with, and offer interesting looks. And unlike natural stone, they are not porous. “They are very durable,” he says.

Lang singles out porcelain Dekton countertops which offer an array of different colors and “[are] almost bulletproof.”

AAA Hellenic Marble
West Chester, Pa.
(610) 344-7700

Amiano & Son Design-Build
Tabernacle, N.J.
(609) 268-5923

Brindisi Builders
Marlton, N.J.
(856) 985-6219

HomeTech Renovations, Inc.
Fort Washington, Pa.
(215) 987-4092

Inspiration Kitchen & Bath
Skippack, Pa.
(484) 994-2611

Lang’s Kitchen & Bath
Newtown, Pa.
(215) 968-5300

Matteo Family Kitchens and Flooring, Inc.
Woodstown, N.J.
(856) 769-2490

Photography courtesy of Lang’s Kitchen & Bath

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 19, Issue 10 (April 2019). 
For more info on House & Home magazine, click here
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