Starting a Bathroom Remodel

Learn about bath types, choosing a layout, budgeting, space planning and hiring contractors


By: Kristen Hampshire

It's a spa getaway, a calming retreat, a small slice of serenity where you can shut out the world and exhale. We're not talking about an exotic resort, here. The bathroom—that room with a toilet, bathtub, sink and shower—is an ideal space to create a happy place you can visit a few times each day without ever leaving your home.

In fact, the bathroom might be the only room in the house where you safely can lock yourself inside for a half-hour to escape the noise of life, stress of the day, and potentially the hubbub that's happening right outside that door (ahem, parents of small children).

That said, "bathroom" seems a misnomer for a space where such quality time can be spent. And beyond the master bath, there are functional family bathrooms—the full bath—and convenient three-quarter bath layouts with toilet-sink-shower amenities. The tiniest space of all, the powder room, or half bathroom, can be a pint-sized showcase of your personal style. And you can really play up the drama in a guest bath.

When it comes to the bathroom, there's a whole lot going on in a relatively small space. "Bathrooms are becoming so much more than a room that takes care of a function," says Brian Johnson, principal, Collaborative Design Architects, Billings, Mt. "I compare it to how a TV room has evolved into a home theater with surround sound."

Amazing Bathroom Renovations

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Contemporary Bathroom: Combine Old & New

This beautiful space designed by Vincente Wolf achieves an underwater atmosphere with seafoam green glass walls. By combining vintage touches with modern elements, the designer created a unique space that is contemporary yet timeless.

A Touch of Romance in the Bathroom

This sumptuous bathroom has a center panel tub, onyx inlays, carved moldings, a fireplace and delicately embroidered drapes. The tub is centered in the French door entry and has a view to the Juliet balcony. The added accessories, such as the perfume bottles, flowers and tufted bench, give the space a romantic feel. Design by Lori Morris

Feng Shui Bathroom

The curved cabinets, tub deck and glass block walls lend a soft feng shui feel to this room. The tub sits below a large window that overlooks the backyard and is surrounded with beautiful tiles in soothing shades of tan. Design by Gail Drury

Photo By: Designer, Gail Drury

Luxurious Master Bath

This master bathroom has Italian honey onyx walls and the floors are accented with white onyx to create an impressive and impeccable look. The arched ceiling and oversized mirror helps the space feel open. Design by Joan Chan

Simple Yet Luxurious Style

With a sliding glass window that opens to a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, this infinity tub is the perfect place to relax. The spa-like space combines slate-stacked stone with teakwood and other, darker woods for a minimal yet luxurious look, designed by Nicole Sassaman.

Beach House Bathroom

This beach house bathroom has an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. With a tub-side fireplace and a flat-screen television, the space feels luxurious and relaxing. Design by Moor Ruble Yudell

Simple Elegance in the Bathroom

This bathroom has a simply elegant style enhanced by soft lighting, candles and other romantic touches. The dark-stained vanity, mirror and tub deck complement the light-colored walls, and the subdued color palette enriches the relaxing vibe in the space. Design by Lisa LaPorta

Photo By: Designer, Lisa LaPorta

French-Style Bathroom

The sculptural, custom-designed bathtub is the center of attention in this space. The elegant French-style bathroom also features beautiful mirrored cabinets and a sparkling chandelier. Design by Andrew Skurman

It’s All Black in the Bathroom

This space is found in an all-black loft in New York. There are only curtains to close off the bathroom area, so it’s less of a functional space and more an extension of the homeowners’ art gallery, adorned with pink and yellow neon signs and a Gucci bicycle. Design by Stefan Boublil

Moroccan-Style Bathroom

This space is a Moroccan paradise, designed for lounging and bathing by California-based Chris Barrett. Formerly a bedroom, this room was transformed into a relaxing escape. Every tile on the wall was hand-cut in Morocco and the plaster ceiling was designed to incorporate Moorish symbols into the architecture of the room. There is also a custom-designed, wooden canopy over the extravagant bathtub.

Photo By: Designer, Chris Barrett

Country-Chic Bathroom

This bathing beauty is a traditional space with a large central antique bath and sinks. The light yellow walls are paired with the clean white fixtures to create a relaxing country escape, while touches of gold and an ornate wall mirror add a bit of luxury. Design by John Barman

A Touch of Tuscany Style

This extravagant bathroom gets a Tuscan feel from earth-toned elements, such as the warm yellow walls and dark-stained cabinetry. The bronze free-standing tub is the focus of the room, below an ornate chandelier and an embellished ceiling. Photo by Gene Northup of Synergy Sotheby’s International Realty. Design by Thom Oppelt in Texas

Photo By: Designer, Thom Oppelt

Elegant Bathroom With a Tuscan Touch

A dramatic gauze canopy crowns the tub in this romantic bathroom. The space also features lead-glass windows, an elegant chandelier, travertine marble and heavily textured wallpaper in vibrant Tuscan colors. Design by Jackie Glisson

Photo By: Designer, Jackie Glisson

Romanesque-Style Bathroom

This extravagant bathroom features marble tiles and columns, which add a Roman feel. The details, such as the chandelier over the tub and the gold bath and shower fixtures, enhance the room's beauty. Design by Alan Hilsabeck Jr.

Photo By: Designer, Alan Hilsabeck Jr.

Despite its importance, the bathroom is still often the smallest space in a home. "But the bathroom is the second most vital and expensive part of the house," Johnson says, noting that the kitchen is the largest investment. Johnson says most of his clients spend between $175 to $225 per square foot, and the cost of remodeling goes up from there depending on the appliances, fixtures and finishes you choose. Splurging for a flat-screen television that hides behind a two-way mirror? You'll pay for the luxury, but it could make your morning rush-hour in the bath feel less harried. Coffee makers, fireplaces and furniture are also finding their way into master baths. There are seemingly no limits.

Bathrooms With Luxury Features

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Attention to Detail

Splurging on high-end fixtures and custom finishes, like gold and crystal accents, is a beautiful way to add a touch of luxury and romance to a bathroom. Design by Peter Salerno

Room to Lounge

Bathrooms are becoming more than a place to bathe. Today's homeowners are turning their bathrooms into relaxing sanctuaries, complete with furniture, televisions, fireplaces and more. In this Moroccan-style bath designed for lounging and bathing, a custom chaise sits on an antique Oushak rug. The wall is covered in hand-cut Moroccan tiles, and the tub features a custom-designed wood canopy. Design by Chris Barrett

Photo By: Designer, Chris Barrett

High-End Bathroom Materials

Different sizes of Carrara marble for the bathroom floor, shower and vaulted arch above the tub infuses Old World opulence into the space. Design by Mark Williams


Heated Floors

Nothing says luxury like stepping onto a warm tile floor after a hot shower or bath. Radiant heating mats can be placed below tiles for a reasonable price — about $600 or less in a small 5x9 bathroom. Image courtesy of WarmlyYours

Photo By: Warlmy Yours

Cozy Fireplace

A fireplace tucked in the wall by the tub creates a warm and inviting place to relax and unwind. The classic gray and white color scheme makes the space interesting and beautiful. Design by Steve Appolloni

Photo By: Olson Photographic LLC

Walk-Thru Shower

Behind the tub, an interior window reveals the two-person shower, which can be entered from the zero-threshold passages on each side of the tub. The space combines sleek, simple elements with upscale touches like the the patterned metallic wallpaper and bronze fixtures. Design by Oakwood Homes

Photo By: Photo Credit: HDR Homes

Chromatherapy Bathtub

Colored lights are said to be therapeutic, so manufacturers have started making showers and tubs that diffuse feel-good light into the water. Kohler's Sok tub allows you to bathe in eight colors — a full spectrum of light — for an experience that's both relaxing and invigorating. Image courtesy of Kohler

Toasty Towels and a TV

Heated towel racks and a flat screen create a relaxing environment in any bathroom. The freestanding rack ensures that your towels are warm and dry after soaking . Plus, they keep towels fresh longer by reducing mildew and allergens. Design by Audio Video Interiors

Photo By: HOWARD TUCKER 216-696-4616

Spa-Style Bath

Luxurious stone floors and a glass wall accented with soothing candles make this bathroom a spa-like escape from everyday life. A flat-screen television adds an extra touch of luxury. Design by Lori Carroll & Associates

Morning Bar

A morning bar, which can include a coffee maker, a mini refrigerator, a sink, a wine chilling drawer and more, makes a typical day in your master suite feel like a stay at a high-end hotel. In this bathroom, a convenient bar is located just steps from the tub and spacious vanity.

High-Tech Traditional Bathroom

Made to resemble a traditional wood-burning stove, this bathroom's gas fireplace can be controlled via remote and complements the classic claw-foot tub. Design by Amy Levine-Hammer

Photo By: Designer, Amy Levine-Hammer

Destination Wall Murals

You don't need a passport to escape, just a relaxing bathroom retreat. The bath is positioned to enjoy the view of French doors leading outward to the master's covered deck space and a beautifully painted mural of a European countryside. Design by Saddleback Interiors

Adjacent Dressing Room

A closet or dressing area flowing off the master bathroom is a luxurious and convenient feature. This layout allows one person to get ready in the bathroom while the other enjoys undisturbed sleep in the bedroom. Design by Lori Dennis

Walk-In Shower

Today's homeowners are expanding their showers and adding luxury fixtures and other features. In this walk-in shower, a rain showerhead provides a spa-like experience, while stone walls lend a high-end look. Design by Lori Carroll & Associates

Two-Person Jacuzzi

A two-person Jacuzzi tub and a muted color palette turn this bathroom into a relaxing retreat. The wall-mounted television adds an extra touch of luxury. Design by Vanessa DeLeon

There are certainly parameters to your budget and expectations for return-on-investment. That's where this Bathroom Planning Guide comes into play.

Full Bathrooms

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Family-Friendly Bathroom

Full bathrooms often have to accommodate multiple family members plus overnight guests, so an ultra-functional space is crucial. This bright and spacious bathroom is equipped with a bathtub, a glass-enclosed shower and dual sinks. The large vanity offers plenty of room to store toiletries, while the open shelving above the tub provides additional space for towels. Design by Gail Drury

From: Drury Design

Space-Saving Shower

A shower/tub combo is a great space-saving feature for a full bathroom. This bathroom's shower and tub are enclosed with a frameless glass panel, making the space feel larger. The mirrored medicine cabinets provide extra storage space, while oversized lime green glass tiles add pizzazz to the room. Design by Celia Berliner

Tons of Tile

Tile is durable and easy to clean, making it a practical surface for busy full bathrooms. This guest bathroom features a mix of ceramic tile on the floor and walls with a glass mosaic border. Design by Erica Islas

Bright Idea

Designer Andreea Avarm Rusu made this full bathroom feel twice its size with an all-white design. Large glass wall tiles are paired with a glossy lacquer vanity cabinet. The Carrara Gold marble countertop adds an elegant touch.

Functional Elegance

This full bath is both practical and beautiful. Wide-plank hardwood floors and a furniture-style vanity add a rustic touch to the space. The vanity offers ample storage space, which is supplemented by the two medicine cabinets. Design by Lori Dennis

Vibrant Kid's Bathroom

For the children's bathroom in HGTV Green Home 2010, designer Linda Woodrum used chair-rail striping to pull together a color palette of bright tango orange and hearts-of-palm green. A pedestal sink is located just outside the door, allowing other family members to wash up while the bathroom is occupied.

Photo By: Eric

Classic Meets Contemporary

This hip teen bathroom takes traditional elements, such as black-and-white tile and a claw-foot tub, and brings them up to date with bright pink walls. Custom cabinetry built next to pedestal sinks hides electrical outlets and provides adequate storage and counter space. Design by Cindy Aplanalp

From: Cindy Aplanalp

Space-Saving Features

In this full bath, designer W. David Seidel made the most of limited square footage with a shower/tub combo and a pedestal sink. A triple-door medicine cabinet adds much-needed storage space.

Classic Kid's Bath

Kid's bathrooms don't always have to feature bright colors and juvenile decor. This children's bathroom feels youthful yet timeless with beadboard wainscoting and subway tile walls in a soothing shade of gray. The cabinets, lighting and plumbing fixtures were all custom designed. Design by Alicia Friedmann

Spa-Like Appeal

Originally built in 1904, this full bathroom now features a clean and modern Asian-inspired design. Designer Thomas A. Conway paired a classic freestanding bathtub with a sleek, glass-enclosed shower. Blue tile walls lend a soothing look to the space.

"We are finding with people's requirement for customization and ways to experience spa-like benefits in their home, they are willing to pay for those benefits if it increases the value of their home or if it contributes to their well-being," says Diana Schrage, senior designer for Kohler.

Three-Quarter Bathrooms

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Add Interesting Yet Subtle Texture

Clean lines and an open look bring a transitional style to this bathroom. The wall is all the same color and size tiles, but the bottom third is a bevel edge tile while the rest is flat tile, adding texture to the space. Photography by Terrance Williams. Design by Lauren Jacobsen

Photo By: Designer, Lauren Jacobsen

Bathroom Shelves for Open Space

The narrow trough-like sink saves space and makes this small guesthouse bathroom appear longer and larger. The shelves below the sink also add openness and storage space. The white pebbled floor provides texture, and the light-green shower tiles add a pop of color. Photo by Young-Wolff Photography. Design by Erica Islas

Photo By: Designer, Erica Islas

Add Classy Details for Character

Custom sconces and oversized crown molding give character to this bathroom designed by Kenneth Brown. The glass shower doors and counter-to-ceiling mirror keep the space open and make it appear larger. Photo by Mayer and Bowden Photography

Photo By: Designer, Kenneth Brown

Use Complementary Tiles for a Striking Space

This bathroom features a performance shower with floor-to-ceiling marble tile and a frameless shower. The bathroom, designed by Shane Inman, also has a custom-designed vanity with a tiled backsplash that complements the shower.

Photo By: Designer, Shane Inman

Refreshing Bathroom Colors

This spa-like bathroom consists of chamomile tea-color glass tiles that create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere. The colored tiles complement the white lacquer vanity and the mirrored medicine cabinet adds luminosity to the space. Photo by Becket Logan. Design by Celia Berliner

Photo By: Designer, Celia Berliner

Tie Together Different Patterns

Silver-blue paint, black-and-white marble floor tile and subway wall tile add retro charm to this bathroom designed by Amy Bubier. Although this space incorporates many patterns, such as the vase and tiled floors, the simple color palette makes it work.

Photo By: Designer, Amy Bubier

Upscale Finishes Add Luxury

Upscale finishes make this guest bathroom luxurious. A beautifully textured custom-made concrete countertop and shower bench are combined with wenge wood cabinetry, gray porcelain tile and large glass tile to provide a simple but multilayered space. Design by Velvet Hammerschmidt

Photo By: Designer, Velvet Hammerschmidt

Small Space, Spa-Like Feel

This bathroom, designed by Linda Maglia, is both modern and traditional with limestone counters and Carrara marble tiles. The white cabinetry and toilet balance out the darker shower tiles, giving the space a spa-like, relaxing feeling.

Photo By: Designer, Linda Maglia

Use Patterns for Modern Space

Textures and patterns add visual interest to this modern space, while the clean lines of the fixtures allow the tilework and wood tones to become a focal point. Design by Vanessa DeLeon in Edgewater, N.J.

Photo By: Designer, Vanessa DeLeon

Elegant Prints

This traditional bathroom is sophisticated and stylish with an embossed silver-and-bronze wall covering that complements the decorative mirror and light fixtures. Design by Trish Beaudet

Photo By: Designer, Trish Beaudet

We'll help you set goals for your bathroom remodel, personalize the space to suit your needs and inspire you with designs that appeal to all tastes. With any bathroom remodel, budgeting and space planning are critical first steps: developing a financial plan and a design blueprint for the bathroom. Learn how to deal with ventilation, conserve water, organize the layout and make decisions on the vast array of fixtures. We'll walk you through the process step-by-step in this guide.

Half Baths and Powder Rooms

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Bold Wallpaper Patterns

The graphic wallpaper adds dimension to this small black-and-white powder room. Photo by Hale Photography. Design by Jennifer Jones in San Francisco

Powder Room Stripes

A rich faux stripe finish and elegant botanical artwork on the walls give this powder room a traditional feel. Design by Loretta Willis

Photo By: Designer, Loretta Willis

Simple Elegance

Sophistication and understated elegance are found in this powder room. The bamboo walls shine in this space alongside simplistic countertops. Design by Chris Johnson

Minimum Color Palette

The upholstered walls in this small powder room bring warmth and texture to the space. Don't bring too much texture though; keeping a minimalist color palette helps maximize small spaces. Photo by Terrance Williams. Design by Lauren Jacobson in Studio City, Calif.

Photo By: Designer, Lauren Jacobsen

Small Space, Big Design

This powder room boasts a midcentury modern design aesthetic characterized by clean lines and bold color contrasts. Design by Vern Yip

Photo By: ERICC BB

Mediterranean-Style Powder Room

This powder room, designed by Bonnie Sachs, has a Mediterranean feel. Jerusalem stone with modern glass elements from Italy create a combination of visual and tactile texture and vibrant color.

Photo By: Designer, Bonnie Sachs

Regal Accents

The chair rail and wood paneling add formality to this powder room. The traditional wallpaper print, in combination with the gold accents in the frame, mirror and faucet, create a classic space. Design by Thomas Conway

Photo By: Designer, Thomas A. Conway

Tile Wall Powder Rooms

This space, designed by Andreea Avram Rusu, uses the same color glass tile throughout, but the lower half is sandblasted and the top half is glossy. A cast concrete sink and stainless steel toilet add classiness, and the flowers in the corner complete the look.

Photo By: Designer, Andreea Avram Rusu

Beautifully Aged Powder Room

This space achieves a Mediterranean appearance with a warm wall finish. The walls are faux-finished with plaster relief arabesque motifs scattered about. A soft glaze washes over the wall to give it an aged feel. Design by Joseph Pubillones in Palm Beach, Fla.

Photo By: Designer, Joseph Pubillones

The Element of Surprise

The detailed vessel sink complements the warm red walls. The walls are embellished by a gold leaf design, adding an element of surprise in this powder room. The oversize mirror above the vanity works with the diamond-shaped mirrors on the back wall to make the space seem larger. Photo by Cynthia MacDonald. Design by Kim Smart

Photo By: Designer, Kim Smart

Organic Colors

This powder room brings the outdoors inside with reclaimed wood cabinetry, plants and pebble-covered walls. The sconces add a bit of sparkle. Design by Lori Dennis

Photo By: Designer, Lori Dennis

Mirrored Walls

A mirrored wall makes this powder room feel twice as big, and the bold artwork enlivens the small space designed by Andreas Charalambous.

Photo By: Designer, Andreas Charalambous

Wood-Paneled Powder Room

This bathroom, designed by Gail Drury in Glen Ellyn, Ill., takes advantage of some wasted space in the adjoining room. The three openings are framed with wood panels to match the frames on the back wall.

Photo By: Designer, Gail Drury

Vanity Appeal

The open washstand with porcelain sink from Walker Zanger creates a beautiful focal point for this well-detailed powder room. Design by Kathy Geissler Best; photography Matthew Millman

From: Kathy Geissler Best

Photo By: Matthew Millman

African-Inspired Details

Wood-lined walls, leather vanity, chiseled-limestone counter, slate flagstone flooring and natural branches are some of the elements used to create a rustic atmosphere and evoke a cultural context.

Photo By: Photo Credit: Suki Medencevic

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