Bathroom Remodeling Tips

Our new retirement bathroom

Inn keeping consultants have the answers for all your bathroom upgrades

Byron and I were laughing the other day when we realized we have remodeled over a dozen bathrooms in our tenure of being inn keepers at Brewster by the Sea and the Captain Freeman Inn. We started out with small remodels that cost under $3,000 and went up to $30,000 with some of our more luxury remodels that were basically starting from scratch and stripping the entire room down to studs. We have learned quite a bit along the way – having many tips to share with you in our consulting business- Waterfall Associates. The steps outlined below are filled with useful information to get you started.

11 steps to create the perfect bathroom

  1. Decide on your budget-

This is probably the most important step in your bathroom remodel. What are your goals and what monies do you have put aside for this project? Sometimes a small budget can make a huge difference in your revenue stream or plans to sell- case in point – we had two older baths at our first inn that we wanted to refresh. For under $3,000 we transformed two bathrooms by updating the vanity and replacing the toilet. We were able to raise the room rate by $50 per night and sold our beloved Brewster by the Sea a few months later. Later in our inn keeping career we had two bathrooms that needed a total remodel as both were leaking and were very dated with corner whirlpool tubs. We estimated that we could increase the room rate by $75 per night with a spa like bath. We were able to accomplish this with a $25,000 budget for each bath which paid our monies back in 2 years.

2. Choose the scope of your bathroom remodel

For most of our bed and breakfast bathroom remodels we kept the basic design of the previous bathroom in the same location to keep our costs down. In several of our more extensive remodels we tore down walls, changed the location of the toilet, tub and vanity. For the picture above we had a very large floor plan to work with so we added a beautiful double soaker tub with a separate shower – the perfect scenario, but in many cases the space is smaller and you just want to keep the space simple and functional with a small vanity and walk in shower.

3. Create your design

We always did our own design, drawing our thoughts on paper and later measuring before we went to the tile store. Nowadays, many of the design tile houses will come to your business or home and measure for you.

4. Decide if you have room for a tub and whether it is a whirlpool or soaker tub

This is always the age old question for inn keepers. When we first started out, whirlpools were very popular. Today soaker tubs are more popular with double ones being key for romance and expanded revenue. If you are limited in space, a walk in shower is always better then a tub with shower combo.

5. Plan your lighting careful

This is so important and often overlooked. Natural lighting is always preferred and if you have the space add extra windows (making sure there are adequate privacy blinds) We frequently added sky lights to our designs as they were perfect in a bath- adding sunlight with no privacy issues.

Extra artificial light is always needed and be sure to pay attention to where the light switches are. You should always have a switch as you walk into the bath that illuminates a mood light with several other fixtures for the vanity, tub and shower. Think in terms of layers with dimmer LED’s for ambiance and soft lighting at head level at the vanity. Some modern vanities have built-in lighting that provides pure, broad-spectrum light that gives your skin a natural appearance. Avoid harsh light sources and bare bulbs. Don’t forget that some guests like to read in the tub. If room we also liked to have a small chest in the bath for extra storage and also the top surface could have a romantic lamp.

6. Every bathroom needs to be vented!

Bathrooms are naturally prone to dampness and mold which is not a good scenario in the bed and breakfast business. If your bathroom has a shower or tub, most building code requires adequate ventilation. We always purchased the fan/light model that was the most quiet. Cheaper ones can be very noisy and some guests leave them on for our hours disturbing their neighbors. In our last high end remodel we went an extra step and purchased a brand that had a separate motor that was installed in the attic.

7. If your budget allows- add luxury items in your bath remodel

High end features sell rooms. We found that over and over again. In our last four remodels we always added heated floors and heated towel racks, We also had some fun with adding chandeliers and wall mounted vanities to add a more modern or industrial feel. If you have room it’s also a nice feature to have double vanities. We installed two over the years and many guests commented on them.

8. Buy Quality fixtures

I actually should put this one first as it’s probably the most important part of your remodel. We have learned the hard way that all of the cheap bathroom fixtures from Home Depot and Lowe’s are cheaply made and will come back to haunt you. We liked to purchase our bathroom pieces from Signature Hardware, or Build.com and usually swayed towards Kohler . They have nice designs, the plumbers like to install them and they last for years.

Be sure to specify high-quality, non-porous tile in your design. Porcelain is usually a good choice.

Avoid cheap particle-board cabinets that can quickly swell and fail in damp environments. Likewise, choose solid wood trim over MDF.

Most porcelain sinks and cast-iron tubs, even less expensive ones, will hold up well, but avoid cheap fiberglass or acrylic surfaces.

Invest in high-quality plumbing fixtures with solid brass mixing valves; they will last a lifetime, whereas cheap plastic fixtures will likely fail within a few short years.

9. Remember the little things

We loved hooks and had them on almost all of our doors. We even extended the hooks to wall hooks for towels, if space allowed. It’s also important to make sure you you have counter space for ladies makeup, and if your vanity space is not enough, consider adding a small table in the bathroom. Also plan out your towel racks. There should be space for hand and bath towels.

Many B&Bs have chosen to use pedestal sinks as a space-saving option for smaller bathrooms. Look at these with a critical eye. Do your guests have room to set out supplies and cosmetics? . .

Now with a few suggestions for your bathroom are you ready to tackle a bathroom remodel?

10. Think about accessibility now, before you get in a jam

This is such a hard discussion as we have stayed in many handicap rooms and have been not so pleased with the bathrooms. Different states have different laws and you should check that out first.

Both of our bed and breakfasts had many stairs to reach our building and we were just not handi-cap accessable so we never made our bathroom remodels to include this details. The laws are changing quickly so you may want to take the following precautions:

Accessibility doesn’t necessarily mean adding in grab rails today. Instead, you can add blocking behind the drywall to support grab rails in the future. A walk-in, curb-less shower is also a beautiful option that provides the added benefit of being accessible. 

11. Keeping your new bath clean

With all of the Covid concerns it’s easy to add many bleach cleaning products. We found very simple detergents did the same job and did not cause harm to our fixtures or tile. Check out a previous blog for leaning tips.

Let us help you design your bath

We are always here to help and know through our 17 years of remodeling inns the best designs and products to look at. Feel free to call Donna or Byron for a free consultation from Waterfall Associates- the most down to earth bed and breakfast consulting service out there. We know from experience what works!.

Donna- 508-246-6924

Byron- 508-247-7502

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