The Right Fixtures for a Small Bathroom Remodel

Consider functionality, the environment and appearances when you pick a new faucet, handle or showerhead.

Posted by Linda Merrill | Jan 04, 2010
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When looking for a single thing one can do to spruce up a room, the usual answer is paint. And that is definitely true. However, if you are seeking to upgrade the look and function of a small bathroom, close on the heels of a new paint job are new fixtures. For their looks alone, new fixtures bring the "bling" to a space. But their functional aspects are just as important as their good looks.

Bathroom fixtures-including faucets, lighting and accessories-come in all prices, and there are great choices within each price range as well. Even for the budget-minded buyer, there is no shortage of products available. And whether you have undergone a major remodel or are doing a minor facelift, well chosen fixtures will certainly provide the perfect finishing touch to a space.

Choosing Faucets

Let's start with faucets. Bathrooms are workspaces, and therefore, functionality is of prime importance. If your remodel didn't include a new vanity, then you are going to be using the same faucet configuration as before the renovation (4" centerset or 8" wide spread, for example). However, within these configurations, you still have a lot of choice.

Lever Faucets for Universal Design

If anyone in your household is elderly or has any dexterity difficulties, lever faucets are the way to go. Lever faucets come in many styles and they are user-friendly for anyone who has trouble using twisting motions or who can't get close enough to wrap his hands around a standard faucet. One of the hallmarks of the Universal Design concept is that everything in the home is suited to those at all ability levels. Consider putting lever-style handles on the bathtub faucet and doorknobs, and using toggle switches to control your lights.

Consider the Environmental Impact of Bathroom Fixtures

Additionally, you can also take into consideration the environmental impact of bathroom fixtures. WaterSense is a partnership program with the Environmental Protection Agency. Low-flow bathroom faucets and showerheads can reduce water usage in a shower by 30% or more and are available at all major retailers in all price points.

Fixture Looks

Once you've made decisions based on the functionality and environmental impact of your faucets, handles and switches, it's time to think about the look. My advice is to match the fixture finishes to one another as closely as possible, especially in a small bathroom. Mixed finishes can end up looking too disjointed and unfinished-that's not what you want when you've just finished a remodel!

As far as which finish to select, that's a matter of personal preference; one is not more "correct" than another. But as a simple guide: Polished chrome brings attention to itself and can be modern or traditional-looking, depending on the style of the fixture; matte nickel is subtle and modern-looking; bronze is traditional and very low key.

When you're remodeling a small bathroom, keep in mind function, environmental impact and stylistic coordination of the fixtures to achieve a coordinated look that works well for all.

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