What Makes A Bathroom Functional?

Posted on: 16 March 2015

If you've spent even a single hour watching home improvement television you've heard the word "functional" bandied about like a beach ball at a concert. It seems like no one on those shows has a single "functional" room in their entire mansions, and at first you might think "You spent three quarters of a million dollars on that house, how on earth could your bathroom be anything less than amazing?" Then you watch them try to get ready in the morning and you realize how uncomfortable it looks. If you're considering a bathroom remodel, here's what you need to know about what makes a bathroom work for everyone in the house.

There is no price limit on non-functional bathrooms.

You can spend millions of dollars on a home and still have a bathroom with major design flaws. Those flaws are borne of creativity without experience. When designing a bathroom layout, some designers have a hard time envisioning the bathroom in use. Some throw back to previous eras, where people didn't have electrical appliances in the bathroom, or bathe very often. They don't put in enough storage, they put in a pedestal sink without any counter space, or they use old fashioned subway tile on the floors, making them extremely slippery when wet. These design elements might look great, but end up making you miserable.

Space is at a premium.

The "spa-like" bathroom is making an impact on design choices these days, but most folks would still prefer the square footage of their house be in rooms in which they spend more time. A bathroom that is 5 feet wide by 7 feet long is considered a decent size for a shared bathroom. With so little space, a designer has to be very careful how he or she places fixtures, making sure to leave enough room for more than one person to get ready in the morning, and enough clearance for long limbs to avoid bonking into walls and fixtures during routine bathroom activities. 

The use value of the small space is also important. Adding storage under sinks, in small nooks and crannies, and having a medicine cabinet with storage are all important in creating a bathroom that functions for modern families. 

Materials matter.

Deciding to renovate your bathroom is a huge undertaking, but one of the best parts is getting to pick out what materials go into it. A few things to keep in mind when choosing flooring and wall options for your bathroom:

  • Bathrooms should never be carpeted. Mold thrives in moist areas, and carpets in bathrooms are prone to being constantly moist. No one functions well with the smell of mold in their nostrils, so going with a hard flooring choice like laminate or tile is your best bet.
  • Choosing a hard floor is wise for the prevention of mold, but you will want to be careful not to get anything that will be too slippery when wet. Finished ceramic tiles are extremely hazardous in bathrooms, so many experts recommend porcelain for use in bathroom flooring.  
  • Using matching tile for the walls in the bathroom makes it look great, and can help prevent water damage to underlying structures, but make sure to use water-resistant grout. Failing to do so can lead to the deterioration of your tiling job, and mold growth or damage to the wall beneath.

There is a lot to consider when you're undertaking a bathroom renovation, but making sure your bathroom functions for your family is easier than you might think. Consider layout, how you usually spend your time in the bathroom, and make wise choices about bathroom accessories fixtures and finishes, and you'll have a bathroom to envy.

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