Baths of the past emphasized practicality over aesthetics. They were small, sterile spaces that served their purpose, nothing more. Remember the outhouse or the privy? Though function is still a top priority, today’s homeowners want baths that are more luxurious. They may even come with all sorts of modern amenities, including televisions, music systems, even a coffee maker.

The trend today is to make the bathroom an extension of the rest of the home, while at the same time creating a place for family members to escape the rigors of modern day living. The decor you choose plays a role in helping achieve this balance.

Doing It Right
To make your bath a space you’ll always treasure, design it so everything is at the ready and keep safety in mind. It’s important to have easy access to items like towels and soap. “You want to have things at point of use,” says Jim Krengel of Kitchens By Krengel. “Think of times you’ve been at a hotel and you step out of a shower to get a towel only to find that it’s all the way across the room.” Along those same lines, be sure to provide enough towel racks and hooks for accessories. A good place to keep towels is on shelving that sits over your toilet.

Make sure you don’t install your vanity too low. Otherwise, you’ll bend over a lot when washing and grooming. Provide for a medicine cabinet. “For years, before the 1970s, everybody had a medicine cabinet,” Krengel says. “Then at some point, it went away. People didn’t pay any attention to them, but they really missed how handy they are for keeping small items. You don’t have to have a traditonal medicine cabinet, but they are nice to have.”

It’s also nice to have toilet paper at the ready. You’d be surprised how many people fail to plan ahead for the location of the toilet paper holder and end up regretting it. “It’s kind of a funny thing, but a lot of times you have to be an acrobat to get at it,” Krengel explains. “It should be 8 inches in front of the toilet seat and 26 inches off the floor.”

Safety is always an important consideration. Grab bars can prevent falls. “Most people associate them with hospitals, so they don’t want them,” Krengel says. “But they’re so important if you have a child in the tub or if there’s an older person in the household. And everybody at one time or another has either fallen or almost fallen in the shower while washing their feet or shaving their legs.”

Other precautions you can take: install non-slip tile and temperature and pressure balancing showers. “Make sure you have one that regulates the water temperature so when somebody flushes the toilet, it doesn’t pull all the cold water away from the shower and you end up getting scalded,” Krengel advises.

If you’re going to have a jetted tub, avoid steps. “They may look elegant, but they’re slippery,” Krengel says. “Unless you’re absolutely certain you’re going to use a jetted tub, you probably shouldn’t spend the money on it.”

The full article, which offers tips on bathroom location, size, fixtures and more, can be found in the March 2004 issue of Log Home Design Ideas.