12 Remodeling Tips for Your Master Bath Retreat

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Shortly after we completed our guest bath renovation project, our garage became a storage facility for 5 types of tiles, 2 colors of grout, door trim, baseboards, spare dry wall, and an assortment of gallon paint cans and paint brushes.   As those of you who’ve done DIY home improvement projects, it’s a best practice to err on the side of caution and order more than you’ll need.  For example, we ordered the recommended 10% extra of tile which was to cover the waste from cutting tiles and the occasional breakage.

With supplies readily available, we were anxious to design our master bath retreat.  What was originally a project to tackle in 2 years, soon became a project to start in 4 months.  In this week’s post, I’ll share with you the actual SmartDraw diagrams used from the brainstorming, planning, to execution stages of the remodel project.  To get started we used the same approach we did with our guest bathroom.  The steps we took can be found in a previous post, “3 ‘Must Have’s’ for Planning Your Bathroom Renovation.”

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OUR ORIGINAL MASTER BATH

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SmartDraw Tip: In order to have SmartDraw automatically calculate the area of an object, you must first select the object.  Navigate to the Design Ribbon’s Dimensions control.  In the Show Dimensions dialogue box, navigate to the Area Display section.  Click the radio button next to The Area of the Shape option.  Click OK.  The results will appear in the center of the object you originally selected.

Tip #1: DO YOUR RESEARCH

We looked at the space and knew it was underutilized.  For inspiration, we turned to a number of resources: websites, home improvement television shows, and showrooms specializing in bathrooms and kitchens.  We gathered samples, researched the maintenance and care of different types of materials, read tons of reviews, and conducted price comparisons.  As a newly married couple, we were all about doubling the function of the space so we selected Option B.  We doubled the sinks, shower heads, towel racks, vanity lighting, mirrored cabinets, and storage.

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SmartDraw Tip:  The Symbol Libraries automatically default to a library that is relevant to the template you have selected.  To create the above diagram, select Floor Plans – Residential in the Left Panel of the Category Screen.  Then, navigate to Bathrooms.  In the Template Preview, select from Room Outlines, Standard Room Outlines, or Custom Floor Plan.  Simply click and drag symbols from the Library into the Work Area.   

Tip #2: PARTICIPATION PAYS OFF

To off-set some of the cost, we negotiated with our contractors to allow us to take ownership of some of the tasks.  We were responsible for painting the room, painting the door, installation of the door, base boards, trim, towel bars, hook, and toilet paper roll holder.  Our offer to work side by side with our contractors proved to be invaluable.  The crew began to coach us, giving us pointers and advice on other DIY projects that we were tackling.  At one point, they not only helped my husband update our electrical wiring in our garage, they helped us install dry wall throughout the garage.  We “paid” them with pizza, beer, and some Filipino food on several occasions.

Tip #3: USE ELEVATION DIAGRAMS

Once we reviewed the potential floor plan options with our lead contractor, we switched gears and relied heavily on the use of elevation diagrams.  This allowed us to re-image the space as well as communicate what we had envisioned to our contractors with accuracy.

Elevation diagrams

SmartDraw Tip: To locate the Bathroom Elevation Template navigate to the Floor Plans – Residential category, select Bathrooms.  Use the scroll bar to navigate to the Bathroom Elevations Template Preview area, select the Blank Bathroom Elevation Template or one of the samples diagrams provided.

Tip #4: USE INCHES, NOT FEET

When discussing the details of the design, I noticed our contractors refer to measurements in inches, not feet.  At the tile showroom, the salesperson referred to 12″ by 24″ tiles opposed to 1′ by 2′ tiles.  So, I converted the elevations diagrams into inches for consistency.

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SmartDraw Tip: To modify the scale of a diagram, navigate to the Page Ribbon.  In the Scale drop-down menu, select Custom.  The Set Rulers And Grids dialogue box appears.  In the Scale section, enter the appropriate values.  Click OK.  

Tip #5: PLAN FOR THE UNKNOWN

Before “demo day” was scheduled, we were required to have all of the materials purchased and on-site.  Although we had done our research and placed orders on-time, there were unexpected delays that were beyond our control.  We took advantage of the delayed start date by using this time to move from our master bedroom into the guest room.   This is where we would live for the duration of the project.

Tip #6: DIAGRAMS PROVIDE DIRECTION

One of the things I noticed early on in the project, was that our lead contractor used the diagrams as instructions for the crew.  He would tape up the diagrams that were relevant to that particular day’s tasks.  By including the exact measurements and placement of elements in the room, we were able to communicate our expectations effectively and efficiently.

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SmartDraw Tip:  Although there is an extensive Symbol Library, there are occasions in which you may not find the exact symbol you need.  Know that you have the option of creating your own.  In this case, the Library did not have a symbol for an adjustable handheld shower head.  In the diagram above, I simply combined a black door handle and a light fixture turned vertically.  To create the actual symbol, I placed the two symbols in the appropriate position by using the rotation control.  Then I navigated to the Design Ribbon and selected Group Objects (Ctrl + G).

Tip #7: BE MINDFUL OF RESALE VALUE

I stand at a whopping 4’11,” while my husband is 5’9″.  We could have easily tailored the master bath’s features to meet our height requirements.  However, we would risk the appeal to potential buyers or future tenants.  We made  the following design decisions to not only meet our current needs but for resale value as well:

  • The vanity mirrored cabinets included adjustable glass shelving and were installed at an average height.  To meet my needs, I simply adjusted the shelves according to my height.
  • The doors of the cabinets open in opposite directions so our site lines of one another are not obstructed when we’re getting ready.
  • The adjustable handheld shower head was installed with it’s lowest point at a comfortable height that I could reach but the highest point for an average height person.
  • The two shower benches have been designed to comfortably accommodate my height, while still being useful for an average height person.
  • The rain shower head and massage handheld shower head are two day spa elements that we were on our “must have’s” list.

Tip #8: DESIGN FOR EASY MAINTENANCE

Several design decisions were made in an effort to lessen the amount of maintenance:

  • We chose not to have a shower door.  Benefit: Less glass to clean.
  • We had 12″ x 24″ shower tiles installed, opposed to smaller tiles. Benefit: Less grout to clean.
  • The vanity has two undermount sinks.  Benefit: Counter tops can easily be wiped down. Debris can be swept into the sink.
  • Accent tiles were installed higher than the height of the shower head wall mount.  Benefit: Accents tiles in the shower area have little to no contact with water, which requires minimal cleaning.
  • The width of the shower, places the two niches beyond the direct spray of the two shower heads.  Benefit:  Niches have little contact with water, which requires an occasional wipe down.

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Tip #9: MANAGE MOISTURE

You’ll note that the pony wall, or half wall, is completed by a glass wall that doesn’t reach the ceiling.  This design decision was to accommodate for the amount of steam generated by the shower.

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SmartDraw Tip:  By design, SmartDraw is set to use what is referred to as Snaps to ensure diagrams have clean lines. When creating a diagram, you may want to either position or rotate an object in a particular way in that the system does not allow.  To bypass the default setting, select the object you wish to rotate.  Navigate to the Page Ribbon, deselect the check box next to Use Snaps.  When you rotate the object, you’ll notice that it rotates smoothly. Once you have rotated the object, it is a best practice to repeat the steps to return to the default settings.  

Tip #10: BE ABLE TO MOVE FREELY

The two angled benches are intentional in design.  Not only are they appealing to the eye and add interest to the space, they also provide more surface area of the floor.  Thus, preventing the individual in the shower from stubbing their toe.

Tip #11: PLAN FOR SUPERSIZED PRODUCTS

Buying items in bulk can be a great way to save money.   As proud warehouse shoppers, we designed the “His & Her” niches to accommodate two 40 oz sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner.   Our contractors were impressed by some of the details we incorporated into the master bath, this was definitely one of them.  The depth and width of the niches were also designed to store other items, keeping the benches and floor clear.

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SmartDraw Tip: Labeling photographs or elements of a diagram can prove to be a challenge.  In order for text to standout, the background needs some contrast.  Transparency was used to create the label in the above photo.  In the Home Ribbon, select a shape from the Shape drop-down menu.  Drag it into the Work Area.  In the Ribbon’s Fill drop-down menu select the appropriate color, in this case, White.  Navigate to the Fill drop-down menu again, then select the appropriate value in the Transparency bar.  By changing the percent of transparency the label can still display the background while provide sufficient contrast for the text to be easily read.

Tip #12: PLAN FOR ROUTINES AND THE UNEXPECTED

Having “His & Her” electrical outlets installed were a must for the design of the master bath.  My husband and I have our individual electrical tooth brushes as well as other items that routinely require charging.  We placed the outlets to the right and left of the two cabinets for several reasons: (1) they are not openly visible, (2) they do not interfere with the overall appearance of the vanity especially the accent tiles, and (3) they can be easily accessed when needed.

In addition to the vanity’s two electrical outlets, we also included one to the lower right hand side of the toilet.  We could use it for our free standing towel warmer or if we, or any future owners of the home, wish to upgrade the toilet to a bidet.

As a precautionary measure, we had bullnose trim that was made of the same materials as our floor tile installed behind the vanity.  This design choice would help protect the walls from potential water damage from the vanity or shower area.

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SmartDraw Tip:  You’ll note that the light fixtures, cabinets, and faucets are in perfect alignment.  The His & Her electrical outlets align perfectly with the bottom of the cabinets.  You can easily achieve this by first selecting the objects, with the last object you select as the “target.”  Navigate to the Design Ribbon’s Align control and select the appropriate option.

OUR NEW MASTER BATH RETREAT

We absolutely love our new master bath retreat.  Increasing our shower area to more than 3x’s the original size was one of the best design decisions we made.   In addition to the time spent in the structural design of the master bath, we also invested time in lighting design.  Read more in How to Enhance Your Bathroom Lighting.  The information can be applied to any room in your home.

We hope these remodeling tips will help you get started in designing the master bath retreat of your dreams.

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