Easy ways to up­date your bath­room on any bud­get

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - THE GOODS - By Debbie Carl­son Chicago Tri­bune Debbie Carl­son is a free­lance writer.

Does your bath­room need a pick-me-up? Whether you want to build a spa­like ex­pe­ri­ence with a com­plete re­model or just want to make quick changes in an af­ter­noon, new prod­ucts and tech­nol­ogy make it easy.

The 2017 Houzz Bath­room Trends Study said the av­er­age spend on a ma­jor master bath­room re­model ex­ceed­ing 100 feet was $21,000, while smaller bath­rooms av­er­aged $12,500.

Re­gard­less of whether you have that kind of scratch to throw around, here are five ways to re­fresh your bath­room, from low-cost to luxe.

Swap out fix­tures. On the su­per fru­gal side, re­place van­ity hard­ware, light fix­tures or in­stall new towel bars and/or toi­let pa­per holder, said Sarah Barnard, prin­ci­pal of Sarah Barnard De­sign, a Santa Mon­ica, Calif.-based in­te­rior de­signer.

Add plants like or­chids or ferns if you have a win­dow. Sim­ple touches can draw at­ten­tion away from ugly spots.

Shower heads. With as lit­tle as $100, up­grade to a bet­ter shower head, said Lynn Schrage, mar­ket­ing man­ager of the Kohler store in Chicago. Even renters can in­stall a bet­ter shower head and re­place it when they move.

Medicine cab­i­net. Have wig­gle room in your bud­get?

Lighted mir­rored medicine cab­i­nets can im­prove a bath­room and save space, Schrage said. Many lighted medicine cab­i­nets can use ex­ist­ing elec­tri­cal sup­plies too. Kohler’s Verdera medicine cab­i­nets and Wade Lo­gan both have LED light­ing that mimic nat­u­ral day­light.

Bathing area. Up­dat­ing the bathing/show­er­ing space can spruce up the bath­room with­out mak­ing the rest of the room feel tired, Schrage said. Tom Graham, pres­i­dent of Re­vive De­signer Bath­rooms in Lin­col­nwood, said if you’re not gut­ting the space, just re­plac­ing the shower door can make a big im­pact. Today’s doors have more glass and less hard­ware for a clean look, he said, and many have wa­ter re­pel­lents added to the glass to elim­i­nate the need to squeegee after the shower, such as the Aqua Swing from DreamLine.

Toi­let. Graham said he gets a lot of re­quests for “com­fort height” com­modes, which are closer to chair height, about 2 to 4 inches higher than the stan­dard toi­let.

Sleeker looks like hav­ing the wa­ter tank built into the wall, and the seat mounted to the wall are pop­u­lar, he said. The wall­mounted toi­lets can be placed at any height, and al­low for eas­ier clean­ing of the floor un­der­neath, he said.

Graham, Schrage and Barnard all said that there’s more in­ter­est in bidet seats, com­bin­ing the toi­let with seats that have warm­ing func­tions and sprays.

Bidet seats can be added just by swap­ping out old toi­let seats with­out chang­ing the ex­ist­ing toi­lets. Sev­eral brands are avail­able, with prices start­ing around $250.


Today’s shower doors have much less hard­ware and of­fer a sleek look to the bathing area. The Aqua Swing hinged tub door by DreamLine works well for smaller bath­rooms. $264.99, allmod­ern.com


Con­verge is a two-in-one shower head and hand shower com­bi­na­tion from Kohler. The perime­ter of the shower head de­taches to func­tion as a con­ve­nient hand shower and stays se­curely in place with mag­netic dock­ing when not in use. $125, kohler.com


Kohler’s steam gen­er­a­tor con­trol kit al­lows you to en­joy the ben­e­fits of steam in your shower at the push of a but­ton. The steam head has a built-in reser­voir for adding your fa­vorite aro­mather­apy scents. $715.85, kohler.com.


Kohler’s lighted medicine cab­i­nets de­liver op­ti­mally bright, even, and shad­ow­less bath­room light­ing that is close to nat­u­ral light. Piv­ot­ing side pan­els let you di­rect light ex­actly where you need it. $1,385, kohler.com


Wall-mounted toi­lets keep the com­mode off the floor for eas­ier clean­ing un­der­neath and a sleek look in the bath­room. The wa­ter tank is stored in the wall, which may mean sav­ing up to 9 inches of floor space within your bath­room. $713.99, lowes.com


Bidet seats are be­com­ing pop­u­lar, and sev­eral man­u­fac­tur­ers are mak­ing them to fit on your ex­ist­ing toi­let. Toto’s Wash­let heated bidet toi­let seat has ad­justable front and rear warm wa­ter wash­ing with five tem­per­a­ture and pres­sure set­tings and a heated seat with three tem­per­a­ture set­tings. $265.48, lowes.com

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