When it comes to bathroom renovations, Toronto homeowners often find themselves at a crossroads when deciding between a basic upgrade and a spa-style transformation. A basic renovation prioritizes functionality, optimizing space, and updating fixtures. On the other hand, a spa-style bathroom renovation introduces indulgent features such as deep soaking tubs, ambient lighting, and high-end finishes, creating a retreat within your home. However, no matter the direction you go, incorporating adequate lighting, efficient ventilation, and robust waterproofing are non-negotiable components.
To make an informed decision for the direction to take your bathroom renovation you should carefully consider your available space, preferences, budget constraints, and lifestyle requirements. Once you have decided on your scope, there are a considerable amount of function and design decisions to be made. In this article we will review your bathroom renovation options for fixtures and finishes.
Efficient space utilization is paramount in Toronto’s often compact homes. In most cases bathroom layouts cannot be dramatically changed, only allowing for slight modifications like converting an alcove bathtub to a standup shower. However, if your current layout has wasted space or you have an adjacent bedroom or closet that can be integrated into the bathroom renovation, you may have the ability to change the layout. The important thing to remember is that the number of pieces should harmonize with the room’s dimensions, creating a balanced and visually pleasing layout that leaves ample room to move around the space.
Bathroom renovation fixture selection:
Depending on the space available, budget, and needs you will be selecting from the following bathroom elements to include into your bathroom renovation:
Bathtubs have changed dramatically over the years evolving from lower water volume steel tubs to deeper soaker style acrylic tubs that are available in a variety of different shapes. From standard alcove bathtubs to elaborate freestanding options; bathtubs can be basic or epitomize luxury in a bathroom. Some options include heated bathtubs and tubs that incorporate jets.
With hundreds of brands on the market homeowners in Toronto have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to their water fixtures. Shower kit’s equipped with multifunction valves allow you to control individual fixtures like the shower head/rain head, hand shower wand, tub spout, and body jets. These valves can also allow you to control fixtures in unison, for example running the shower head and hand shower wand at the same time. Taking it one step further you can incorporate a thermostatic shower valve which allows you to control the water pressure and the water temperature separately.
This wall or floor mounted faucet functions very similarly to a shower kit. Composed of a valve, a control handle, a spout, and in some cases a hand shower wand. These fixtures are used for either freestanding bathtubs or when a bathtub is not combined with a shower.
Vanities and bathroom millwork
Vanities and bathroom millwork ,such as storage units, can be purchased “off the shelf” or custom designed and built. Many homeowners in Toronto are opting to include a double vanity which allows couples to simultaneously wash, shave, put on make up, etc. Custom built vanities are generally more expensive than “off the shelf”.
Options include single hole, 4” centre set, 8” widespread, and wall mounted faucets. While they all do essentially the same thing, it seems like the creative juices of the manufactures have been flowing as the amount of different shapes and styles appear endless.
Toilets have also evolved over the years. Internal components have become more reliable and efficient, and the available styles, sizes and shapes are bountiful. The “right height” or “comfort height” toilet, which sits higher than a standard toilet has garnered mass popularity. Concealed trap toilets are also growing in popularity as they are easier to clean as the skirt of the toilet is enclosed. And if you really want to take your toilet to the next level consider one with a heated seat that includes an integrated bidet that dries and automatically opens when you approach it. The future is now! Check it out here.
Light fixtures are very important in the overall function of the bathroom. Incorporating a mix of potlights, vanity lights, sconce lights, flush mounted, semi-flush mounted, pendant, and LED strip lighting will not only provide the functional light required, but can add to the overall style and finish of the space. Selecting the right colour temperature can also impact the space. 2700K might be too warm (yellow) for most, while 5500K might be too cool (blue). Usually a soft white around 3000-3500K is recommended, unless you like the whiteness of daytime white, then 4000-4500K is advisable.
Items such as toilet paper holders, towel bars, towel rings, and robe hooks are common in many bathrooms. Their function and location add organization and convenience. Consider adding a glass shelf to store items or display a decorative element. Lastly, the curtain rod and shower curtain. Basic and functional these items do what they need to do without breaking the bank.
Mirrors come in different shapes, sizes, finishes, bevelled or square edge, and with or without frames. A mirror can be purchase off the shelf from a big box store like Home Depot or Wayfair or custom cut and manufactured through a local supplier. Mirror/medicine cabinets are a great way to incorporate storage. They can even be recessed into drywall for a minimalistic design aesthetic. Gaining popularity en masse is the LED mirror. Stylish and super functional, LED mirrors give its user forward facing light that is perfect for shaving or putting on make up.
Additional bathroom options you may consideration incorporating into your bathroom renovation include:
- Shower glass
- Heated floor
- Heated towel rack
- Grab bars/safety bars
- Built-in or foldable shower bench
- Shower niche or glass shower shelves
- Steam showers
- Smart technology
Bathroom renovation finishes:
Like fixture selection, finish selection encompasses a variety of decisions to be made. In many cases, these are intertwined with your fixture selection. Think fashion for finishes and fixtures for function. Your finishes are really where you can bring your design vision to life.
Metal finish fixtures
All of your water fixtures (shower kit, tub specific faucet, lavatory faucet), bath tub and sink drain and overflow trims, tile edge, cabinetry hardware, mirror frames, accessories, and in many cases light fixtures are composed of a metallic material. This metallic material can come in chrome, brushed or satin nickel, stainless steel, matte black, matte gold, polished gold, rubbed oil bronze, and very recently, some really funky multicolour options like orange, purple, etc., and even a polished blue single hole faucet from Tenzo have hit the market. Check it out. Normally we recommend that all of these metallic fixture finish items match in a bathroom to create a unified design.
With thousands of options available, in our opinion, tile should always be the starting point when designing a bathroom. Currently porcelain tile is the material of choice due to its durability and non-porous nature. Tile generally comes in a variety of surface finishes. Matte surface tile creates traction and a more muted design effect . Gloss tile on the other hand tends to be more slippery, but gives a bathroom a sparkle and shine effect. As far as contemporary design goes, we have been using larger format tiles (eg. 24”x24”, 30”x30”, 24”x 48”) that eliminate the number of grout lines, thus producing a minimalist effect that blends the individual tiles to look like one piece of stone. Using oversized book matched porcelain tile slabs has become popular as it eliminates grout lines all together, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Check it out here.
While marble is still occasionally used in bathrooms, we do not generally recommend it. It is porous and erosional attributes are problematic, thus leading to the advent of manmade quartz. In a bathroom we generally use this material for shower curb jambs, shower niche jambs, bathroom window jambs, and of course, vanity countertops and back/side splashes. With a vast array of manufacturers and colours/styles to choose from, these stone elements can be used to blend or contrast bathroom finishes.
Millwork or cabinetry finishes definitely warrant their own blog article, but for the sake of this small blurb it is important to know that millwork material sets the tone for the overall cabinetry look. Painted MDF, laminated MDF like Thermofoil, high gloss laminated HDF, wood veneers, and solid wood all offer pros and cons. When it comes to “off the shelf” vanities you find all of the above in terms of material construction. We generally use either painted MDF or wood veneers for custom vanities, as they offer the best overall look and quality for the price.
If there are any trim considerations, it would be generally consistent with the rest of the house. Crown mouldings are always a nice touch and if there is a coffered ceiling can create a more elegant look.
Paint is often overlooked in terms of importance to overall design. Just because it is the easiest finish to redo, doesn’t mean you should underestimate its importance. Paint can unify a design by adding brightness or warmth, blending or contrasting colours that help achieve a balance (or unbalanced) overall look. Paint is the finish that completes the aesthetic. From a functional standpoint, the paint we use and recommend (Benjamin Moore – Aura bath and spa) is mold and mildew resistant, protecting the drywall from damage.
Ready to kick off your bathroom renovation but not sure how to put all the pieces together?
The key to a successful bathroom renovation is to start your journey with a clearly defined scope, budget and vision for the design and function of your space.
As an experienced general contractor we feel that many homeowners can achieve their desired look by using inspiration photos and collaborating with us on both the stylistic and technical side. However, if you don’t have the time, don’t want to be bothered, or aren’t confident in your design decision-making, then it may be a good idea to hire a designer. Designers are skilled at putting together designs that are current and push the envelope. On the flip side, they can be costly. So it is important to weigh the pros and cons and decide what is right for you. If you use a designer, it is imperative that they work collaboratively with you and your contractor. This will ensure the end product strikes the right balance between their aesthetic vision and budget/construction feasibility.
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