The Best Idea for a Small Bath?
I am about to begin a small but important bath remodel. The project is small in two ways: size and scope of work.
I’ve never measured the bath, but I bet it’s about 70 sq. ft. So, it’s not tiny, but there isn’t room for a double vanity, separate tub and shower, or a water closet–popular amenities in today’s bathrooms. And because the existing layout works, I’m able to minimize the breadth of work.
I plan to keep the plumbing, lighting, and ventilation where they are. Though I will be gutting the room, it is essentially a refreshening. I have already looked behind the drywall, and I also can see the subfloor and floor framing from the basement below, so there shouldn’t be any surprises.
The reason the remodel is important is because it’s our only bath. In other words, I have to plan well and get the job done quickly once I begin.
So, today I was surfing for ideas for everything from finishes and lighting to storage and fixtures. I found many things that intrigued me–a teak shower surround, a floating vanity, a laundry shoot instead of a hamper (which is actually a real possibility in my house as the washer and dryer are in the basement just below the bathroom), and a water-saving dual-flush toilet.
Of course, I have to temper my enthusiasm. Again, this is the only bath in the house: I want to make it special, but I have to make it functional. My budget is also much more aligned with functional than it is with special.
There was one special element, however, that I kept noticing–particularly in many of the bath projects in our own FHB gallery–and have decided is a priority worth some additional expense. That element can make a small bath feel larger, a dark bath feel brighter, and a morning feel special. That element is daylight.
With only one small, shaded window on the east side of the bathroom, behind you when you stand at the vanity, and a shower curtain blocking the already muted light from reaching inside–pretty much all bath activity requires that we flip a light switch. If I can afford a glass partition or doors to replace the shower curtain, I will go that route. But the window is in the only possible window location, and about as big as it can be. So, I’m thinking of a skylight. At the Builder’s Show last week, I saw some pretty sweet solar-powered, operable units from Velux (does anyone else make skylights anymore?).
Above the bath is attic space and since I can install the skylight myself as well as tackle the framing and finishing, the only big expense is the skylight itself. Admittedly, I have just added a lot of complexity to the project, but I think it’ll be worth the effort. If it works out as well as the projects shown here, I’ll be glad I did the extra work.
Bright White. With a small window and skylight as the sources, the even daylighting in this bath is the result of reflective white surfaces, which also yield a crisp, clean space.
Through the looking glass. This tub and shower are bathed in sunlight from the splayed skylight well above. The glass partition keeps the bath dry, but allows the light to penetrate deep into the room.
The transome alternative. This small bathroom certainly benefits from daylight and an upward view. Placing windows high in the wall also maintains privacy.
Weekend reading. Now that I've decided to put a skylight in my bath, I need to make sure I take full advantage of the light it will afford. I'll be re-reading Kathy Schwabe's piece on daylighting strategies this weekend.