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The 4 Dos and Don’ts of Small Bathroom Remodeling

Ready to give your bathroom a facelift? A remodel is a great way to transform your space into a relaxing, functional space that suits your needs and style. Even if you don’t have the budget for a full-blown bone remodel, there’s plenty you can do with a few hundred dollars and a bit of can-do attitude. But before you start coming up with all those brilliant small bathroom remodeling ideas, keep these dos and don’ts in mind to help your project go smoothly.

The 4 Dos of Small Bathroom Remodeling

Starting on a positive note, here are the remodeling tips that get a big thumbs up!

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Get Inspired

Just like a painter getting ready to create a masterpiece, your bathroom is a blank canvas. But before you even dip your brush in the paint, it’s important to get inspired first.

Inspiration is the first step to any creative endeavor. If you know what you like and, just as importantly, what you don’t like, you can go into the project with a clear vision of what needs to be done. Wandering down home improvement store aisles grabbing whatever pieces catch your eye is a recipe for a hodgepodge bathroom once all is said and done.

Before taking on any home improvement project, do some research and find small bathroom remodeling ideas that speak to you. What styles do you like? What mood are you trying to set? Scour the internet and watch plenty of HGTV to find inspiration. Once you have a vision about what you want to create, it’s time to get started!

Plan Ahead

Once you have a few small bathroom remodeling ideas, piece them together into a comprehensive plan. The more detailed, the better!

Starting a remodeling job without a plan is a recipe for disaster, though you might be surprised at how often it happens. Without a clear idea of what you want to do, you could lose track of where you’re supposed to be in the process.

Having a detailed plan of everything you want to do and the order you want to do it before you start ensures you can complete the remodel efficiently and with fewer problems. Plus, it’ll also help you stay on budget!

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Think About Lighting

When planning a small bathroom remodel, it’s easy to think about the big things like sink faucets, flooring, and fixtures. But there are plenty of small details that often get overlooked, especially the lighting.

Lighting is one of those things taken for granted during home improvement projects. You know every room needs light, but you don’t really think about it much beyond that. However, bathrooms need to be functional. You can’t do much in a dark bathroom!

Think about the areas that need specific illumination:

  • Bright lights over the sink and vanity
  • Soft ambient lights for an even glow throughout
  • Accent lighting on decorative touches to add depth to the space

Even once you create a lighting plan of where you want to put specific lights, you also need to think about which bulbs to use. Soft bulbs are great for ambient overhead lighting, while brighter bulbs are great for work areas like above the mirror.

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Light can make or break a bathroom remodel, so make sure you include it in your overall plan!

Expect the Unexpected

You might have all your small bathroom remodel ideas nailed down, but there’s always a chance (near-guarantee) that something will go wrong. From small problems like breaking materials to major issues like a burst water pipe, it’s always a good idea to expect the unexpected.

When building your remodeling budget, be sure to include a “rainy day” fund. This contingency can help you pay for unexpected expenses and issues without breaking your overall budget.

Most experts suggest putting aside between 5% and 20% of your remodeling budget to cover potential problems. The smaller the project, the less you can set aside. If you’re only slapping on a new coat of paint, there’s not really much that can go wrong.

The 4 Don’ts of Small Bathroom Remodeling

Want your remodel to go smoothly? Whatever you do, avoid these four “don’ts” when you’re ready to take on your project.

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Go Over Budget

This might seem like an obvious don’t, but it happens way too often. There’s always that super cool faucet or light fixture you didn’t know you needed. Yes, it’s super expensive, but it would just look so good in your new bathroom! Right?

Bathroom remodels can easily get out of hand, so it’s important to actually set a budget and STICK WITH IT.

Before you start any project, come up with an amount of money you’re willing to spend. Then, build a remodeling plan and break it down by item along with the cost of each item. You can also categorize each item into “wants” and “needs.” If you ever need to come up with some extra money in the budget, you can cut some of the wants and let your bank account breathe easy.

Once you build your budget and plan, stick to it! It’s always tempting to go off-plan and grab a few extra things that catch your eye in the home improvement store or online, but do your best to avoid it. If you absolutely need something that wasn’t a part of your plan, go back and alter the rest of the plan to stay on budget. There’s nothing worse than checking your bank account after a remodeling project to find nothing left.

As always, don’t forget to add your contingency fund for any problems that might rear their ugly heads. Remodeling issues happen fast and can quickly blow your budget. Include a contingency to make sure you can stay on track, no matter what happens.

Skimp on Important Features

Just because you want to stay on budget doesn’t mean you should take the cheap route. Yes, you might be able to do more with a limited budget, but you won’t really enjoy the changes you make—and isn’t that the entire point? There are just certain parts of a bathroom remodel that you shouldn’t skimp on.

When deciding where to splurge, think about how often you use a feature. For example, you shower every day (or most days, at least). It’s the place you go to relax after a long day and enjoy some time alone. If it’s such an important part of your daily routine, don’t skimp! Get that top-of-the-line showerhead that massages you from all angles.

Choose Style Over Function

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Of course you want your bathroom to look nice, but not at the expense of usability. When coming up with small bathroom remodel ideas, remember to think about functionality first and style second.

Many homeowners scour online sites and home improvement stores in search of the best looking features and fixtures. Unfortunately, many of those “cool” items don’t work as well for your needs as other items.

The best way to avoid “pretty faces” that won’t work in your bathroom is to think about your needs. For example, waterfall sink faucets are all the rage. They create a unique look and feel for any bathroom. However, waterfall faucets are just that: waterfalls. They use gravity instead of pressure to make the water flow. If you’re remodeling a bathroom where people brush their teeth, the pressure won’t be enough to even clean off a toothbrush! You might have the coolest water faucet on the block, but you’ll be frustrated every morning and night when you go to brush your teeth.

Whenever you’re choosing functional items for your bathroom like water fixtures, cabinets, or hardware, don’t get blinded by the styling. Think about whether it’ll actually work for your needs, then pick the prettiest one—not the other way around.

DIY When You Shouldn’t

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Bathroom remodels can be complicated. Even smaller projects can get technical quick. If you’re not confident in your abilities to perform a certain task, don’t! It’s always best to hire a professional to take care of projects that require specific knowledge or expertise.

Yes, it costs money to hire a professional, but it could actually help you stay on budget in the long run.

Imagine you want to replace your sink faucet. You’re not quite sure how to do it, but how hard could it be!? You undo a couple bolts under the faucet and disconnect the water lines. Water sprays everywhere and damages your bathroom subfloor. Now you have to hire someone (or attempt another DIY project) to remove your flooring, replace the subfloor, and install new flooring. And, that still doesn’t fix the faucet!

Now imagine the alternative. You hire a professional to replace your sink faucets. They come in, do the work in an hour or so while you sit on the couch, you write them a check, and you can continue with the project. No fuss, no mess, and everything is completed correctly on the first try.

Which one sounds easier?

If you’re not sure about a project—or if it’s complicated, like moving water lines or running electrical wires—it’s always best to hire a pro. Some projects might even require permits or licensing. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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