Planning a bathroom renovation

By Angie Kendel

We do a lot of bathroom and kitchen renovations. There is a process that makes a renovation simple, straightforward and nearly painless. There is a lot of work that needs to be done prior to the renovation starting. I prefer to work closely with our clients to determine what exactly they are looking for. I ask for pictures, samples, ideas, and anything else that will give me a clear picture of what a client is hoping the finished product will look like. We can be as elaborate or as simple as the job requires.

Step one is to determine exactly what the client wants. Do they have the space in the bathroom for what they want? Is there the potential to capture additional space from an adjoining area? Maybe there is a closet or unused space that allows us to make the bathroom larger.

We must consider plumbing as well. How easy will it be to move the plumbing? If we are relocating a toilet, we must ensure it is possible to move the plumbing to that location. The bath/shower and sink lines may need to be moved. Depending on the job, the layout and whether we are making the space any larger, there are many different options and contingencies to consider. However, it is critical to have the initial floor plan determined before we start selecting items.

Our floor plan determines what will fit in a space. We want to ensure that we select the correct size and placement for the bath, shower, vanity toilet, storage etc. It is also important to have a spacious, functional traffic flow in the bathroom. There is nothing worse than opening a pivot shower door into a walkway or backing into another door. Let’s face it, no one enjoys dancing between doors to get into or out of the shower. Where we put things is just as important as how they will be used. Keeping ease of use foremost in the design ensures a functional design that clients enjoy using.

Once we know the size of the fixtures we will have room for, we can begin the fun part of selection and design. Occasionally, a client will have all the details of what they want. However, in most cases they look to us as the expert for recommendations. This is where it is extremely helpful for the client to tell us what they like. What style they are looking for? The features they would like the items to have? This is where I want to know everything. It is also important to begin categorizing the must haves with the would like to haves. This way, as the designer, I can bring you the options that best meet your budget while still allowing your most important wishes to be met. This is also where I give you the cost of various items and you are able to choose which options are most important to you. A recent client wanted body sprays in their new shower. Their budget did not allow for the individual body jets in addition to the overhead shower and hand held wand. However, they were happy to compromise with an all in one wall system that had all the features including the body jets, at a significantly lower cost. There are so many beautiful options with tile that we are literally only limited by our creativity and budget. Vanities can be prefab store bought or customer built. A design touch I like is to ensure our fixtures match – from the same collection as much as possible. It just gives a cohesive finished look to the final design. A big part of the design process if knowing the options available and providing those options to your client so they can select what they want most.

Once we have finalized the details of the design, all items are ordered. We consider the delivery of all items when planning the actual demo of the project. We know how long it takes for permits and inspections. We know how long it takes to get walls moved and everything ready before fixtures can be installed. We do our best to coordinate the start of the project with the delivery of the items to ensure we minimize the down time in your space. This is particularly important if you do not have a second bathroom. We take this into account and ensure you have a functioning toilet every night when we leave. If the toilet needs to be disconnected to re-run lines, we give you notice so you can make other arrangements for a day or two. Depending on the scope of the project, most bathroom renos will take anywhere from a week for a simple project to 2-3 weeks for a more detailed project. The length of time is determined by the extent of the work being done.

Finishing details are something that many people overlook. We have found the more attention to detail, the happier the client. Everything from the colour of the grout to the colour of the tile edging used is something I will ask. If they do not have a preference and would like us to take care of it, no problem. However, I do not want to make the decision for the client only to find they wanted something else. We determine the paint colours after the flooring and tile colours have been selected. They are many more paint options than anything else – it is always the last item selected to ensure it will go with everything else we have chosen. It is important to put all these details together before ordering so the client can see all the items together. Ensure they like the look and are happy with the blend of materials so when installation comes they have no surprises. It is simply the vision of the final plan coming together as they expected. If you are looking for ideas for bathroom renovations give us a call at 204-668-7500 or check out our website at