Whether you're doing cosmetic changes or a complete remodel, carefully plan your bathroom project. You'll save time and minimize unwanted surprises.
Two factors really determine the extent of the project: available space and budget.
A "full-blown" project -- instead of changing a few items at a time -- is really the most efficient way to remodel a bathroom. But it's also messy, inconvenient and challenging.
It requires a do-it-yourselfer to do framing, plumbing, electrical, drywall; or, at least hire a plumber or electrician to do that work.
A full remodel is also a problem when there's no spare bathroom. Arranging for temporary accommodations is a big consideration.
Estimate the costs of fixtures, cabinets, pipe & fittings, lumber and finish materials. Budget the expensive materials carefully and try to use existing materials where possible.
Consider using an architectural drafting service (not mechanical drafting) to help develop your plans and create detailed, working drawings.
One of the hardest remodeling challenges is designing a functional, appealing bathroom in a small area.
Every remodel job is different, so it's hard to discuss specifics here, but a common solution is to borrow space from an adjoining room.
Draw a detailed floor plan to see where space can be gained. A plan may also be required by building officials, but it's a great way to formulate workable ideas, arrange fixtures, and diagram mechanical runs.
Getting waste pipes from the soil stack to fixtures (with proper flow) can be a real chore and slightly altering a fixture's location on the plan may save you a lot of work.
Features to think about:
Access: usable for an "8 to 80 year old" person, door opens inward and away from fixtures, non-skid flooring, smooth & rounded countertop and tub deck edges, grab bars for tubs, low whirlpool deck & steps.
Convenience: double-bowled vanity, separate tub & shower units, adequate natural lighting, easy-to-clean floors & fixtures, good ventilation source, partition wall for sink/toilet/tub separation.
Storage: some counter space or shelving for toiletries, towel bar/hooks, temporary laundry space, a non-shared drawer for each family member.