The first step is to decide what is the main purpose of your remodel. Are you looking to add extra space, upgrade the bathroom, improve security, make changes for health reasons or just to improve your living space? Is there room to expand or redesign the existing floor plan? Get input from all members of your household to find out their wants and needs. Be sure to consider the short- and long-term implications of your renovation decisions. For example, will your choices increase or decrease the house's resale value?
As you make your observations, write down your daily routine on paper. The best way to evaluate the functionality of a space is to create a clear picture of what works and what doesn't work. As you do this, be sure to note all obstacles that now keep your current bathroom from meeting your needs. Start to look closely at how you and your family use the bath. Note traffic patterns and how accessible the important features are to all family members. It is important to decide what you want to change most and what you can keep or update later. Question everything. Don't overlook the obvious.
Look through magazines and save photos of rooms, products and floor plans that catch your eye. Collect fabric, wall covering and surface samples. Visit design centers and manufacturer/supplier showrooms. Don't limit yourself to what you think you can afford at this point. Build an idea file of the things that appeal to you. The idea file will help you create a context, a look and feel that best reflects your personal tastes and will act as a stimulus and constant reference point for your plan.
You've seen what you like. Now you're getting a sense of how the things you like coincide with how you actually use the space. The next logical step is to look at what this will cost. Money is always an object, so this is a good time to determine how much you want to invest in your bathroom. What is the total amount you are willing to spend on your bathroom remodeling and how much can or are you willing to borrow? Establishing your priorities early will help decide where to spend the money.
DON'T do it yourself. Remodeling a bedroom, dining room, or family room is very different from taking on the challenge of a bathroom or kitchen remodel. A specialized designer should be brought in to figure logistics, suggest proper materials and make a functional and cost efficient room that specifically reflects your taste, style, and personality. This is NOT a do-it-yourself project!
DO think of resale value. You may be happier than ever in your home, from the location, neighbors and the town to your property, you may think you've settled for good - but don't be too sure! Sometimes being too 'unique' means regrets down the road, so especially for your first remodeling project, we suggest sticking to the basics and putting thought into what others would like about your bathroom, as much as you. Someone else might own it one day and you'll want to make sure you can recoup your investment!
DON'T overspend! Set a budget at the beginning of your project, including room for additional charges, and don't go over that amount - no matter what! Be proactive and figure out what you want during the months leading up to the bathroom renovation. If you want more than you can have, make a conscious decision to pick one or the other based on necessity and future projects, if one can or can't be added down the road.
DO pick a qualified professional. Make sure they're qualified; ask to see past projects and/or a portfolio and discuss your budget. It's also a good idea to ask for references. Pick a designer that satisfies your taste and style most. You should never be persuaded to do anything you don't like or that's too high-end for your budget. A good designer will work closely with you until your dream bathroom comes true!