Anything goes when it comes to designing bathrooms. You can create a Pacific island retreat, a getaway spa or an Adirondack lodge. Materials used in bathrooms range from contemporary glass blocks to rustic stone to pristine porcelain. There are bathroom fixtures on the market today to suit any decorating style, from Victorian claw foot tubs to an iridescent blue bowl sink. (Stone sinks in particular have become increasingly popular at our log-home expos.) Tile work contributes to your bathroom’s appearance, and you can embellish with lots of color or purely natural tones. The best thing is that anything you choose works beautifully in a log home.
Master baths tend to be larger today than in the past to allow for such amenities as a spa tub, separate glass-in shower and large vanity with sinks for tow. Your log home designer will need your input on bathroom layout and early decisions on fixtures to ensure that there is adequate space and that the home’s structure will bear the extra weight. Lighting is also an important issue in a bathroom. You’ll need task lighting over the vanity, over the tub and in the shower. Consider installing recessed ceiling lights that operate on a dimmer, giving you control over the brightness.
Guest bathrooms are smaller and simpler &mdash and, in fact, the powder room is making a comeback of sorts. If you have children, pay special attention to their bathrooms to ensure that they’re flexible enough to adapt as they get older. If there are members of the family or guests with disabilities, you’ll need to design an accessible bathroom.
Bath Tips from the Experts
We asked a number of designers and bathroom experts for tips and secrets on bathroom design. Here are their thoughts.
- Bring the outdoors in! Using natural colors and natural elements like wood and stone and tile are great ways to wrap your bathroom in style appropriate to the log home environment. If you have a lot of wood in your bathroom be sure to install an exhaust fan and window to manage high humidity levels. (Stephanie Gauthier, an interior design specialist with Wisconsin Log Homes)
- Don’t forget about windows. Privacy need not be an issue as windows can be designed to be higher if necessary. A large bank of windows surrounding a soaking tub can really create a spa-like feel. (Stephanie Gauthier)
- If budget is an issue, keep larger, private baths simple and splurge on a smaller vanity and lighting in a first floor half-bath. (Stephanie Gauthier)
- You don’t have to match all your hardware exactly. Often your showerhead may be a different manufacturer than your lavatory faucets, so don’t stress that all finishes don’t match perfectly. The word to keep in mind in all good design is: blend. (Stephanie Gauthier)
- Bathroom floors should be slip-resistant and should be made of materials appropriate to wet areas. (Kohler Inc.)
- Bathroom lighting should feature 10 percent natural light if possible. Vary the lighting for different tasks, and light from overhead as well as from the sides. (Kohler Inc.)
- Bathroom ventilation requires eight air exchanges an hour. (Kohler Inc.)
- When considering bathroom storage, locate items close to point of use and utilize "dead" space. (Kohler Inc.)
- Many homeowners are choosing to go with a doorless shower design in the master suite. This is achieved with the addition of a diverter wall to keep water spray from getting into the rest of the room. The doorless design provides easier access into the shower and eliminates the need to keep water spotting off the glass. However, it also can make the shower a bit cooler since there’s nothing to hold the heated air in. (Jennifer Hetherington, marketing manager, PrecisionCraft Log & Timber Homes)
- Properly placed mirrors have two big advantages in any bath: They’ll make the room look bigger (particularly in a bathroom with a low ceiling) and will distribute light better. Some people think the use of mirrored spaces gives a more modern "style" than most log home owners prefer. This is not necessarily so; a mirror properly placed can be so inconspicuous that it does not impart a "style" at all. Getting the most bang for your buck from useable space has always been a challenge; using mirrors can be a less expensive method of adding visual area. (Ken Whipple, Lindal Cedar Homes)
- If you have logs in your bathroom, we recommend that some protective finish be applied in order to block stains and moisture. By keeping moisture out of the logs, you prevent the growth of mold and mildew. The type of finish is really a matter of preference. If you want a low sheen that allows the logs to look as natural as possible, use a water-borne product. If you want more sheen and a slight amber hue to the logs, use a solvent-based finish. If you want some added color, you can apply an interior stain overcoated with a clear finish. (Mark Feder, Appalachian Log Structures)
- Homeowners should evaluate their bathroom plan in relation to their overall plumbing requirements. Log homes are typically based on an "open" floor plan design with beamed ceilings. This is a particularly important factor to consider when determining the location of a second-floor bath. The simplest solution is to align one bath over the other to readily accommodate the plumbing requirements. If this is not possible, then plumbing runs, soffits and chases will need to be installed to hide and accommodate the plumbing requirements. It will also be important to consider what is located below the bath in order to aesthetically hide and accommodate the above plumbing requirements. (Lynda Tompkins, Director of Engineering, Kuhns Brothers Log Homes)
- There are probably two key challenges to address when applying a customer’s desired design to an actual layout. First, too little space allowed for the desired fixtures and design. The solution for customers is to determine what is truly desired/required to accommodate their needs in relation to the allowable space for their bath area. For example, if working in a more confined space, is both a stand-alone shower unit and a tub unit required, or can a combination shower/tub unit be utilized? Second, the location of the second bath area is sometimes impractical &mdash again, if at all possible, bath layouts work best when aligned one over the other. (Lynda Tompkins, Director of Engineering, Kuhns Brothers Log Homes)
- Too much moisture in a bathroom can be a problem. The proper venting fans need to be installed according to local codes. (Janalese Warden, Marketing, Coventry Log Homes)
- A whirlpool tub in a loft-level bath is a great idea, but remember to factor in proper support designed for the weight according to local codes. (Janalese Warden, Marketing, Coventry Log Homes)