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Americans' disposable income falls
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011

The Christian Science Monitor reports that Americans' standard of living has dropped to its lowest level in 50 years, with most Americans having less disposable income.

 According to the news source, the average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the recession. This means less money to spend on dinners at restaurants, new clothing and home improvements.

However, experts say that regardless of the economy, many people have continued to invest in their homes by renovating rooms such as the bathroom. For many, remodeling is cheaper than moving and can add value to their homes. In fact, Remodeling magazine's annual Cost versus Value report finds that individuals who invest in a bathroom renovation project complete with a new bathroom vanity, faucets and accessories can expect to recoup as much as 64 percent of their investment when they sell their homes. Those who add additional bathrooms in their homes can expect a 53 percent return on their investment.

Others with less disposable income have budgeted their money to improve their homes, knowing that they won't be able to afford vacations and other luxuries as often as in previous years. This has led to a trend in spa-like home bathrooms that include items such as steam showers, whirlpool bathtubs and other luxury products.



Two innovative bathroom designs have won a prestigious award from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The annual Homes for Life awards recognize designers who excel in creating spaces that work for aging-in-place and universal design.

"These creative remodels show off universal design that enhances beauty and also functionality of a home," said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bob Peterson. "The Homes for Life award winners transformed these spaces to become more stylish, while also improving ease of living and safety for the residents."

The first project, designed by Cincinnati's Marnie Renda, Brian Schwieterman and Jeff DeVol, featured a master bathroom for a woman living with Muscular Dystrophy. The project included expanding the bathroom for easier navigation and features such as a no-threshold shower, footrest for the shower seat and easy-to-use easier shower controls. The remodel also included a custom bathroom vanity that made the space more efficient for the homeowner.

The second project, designed by California's Bart Millar, was done for a family with three generations living under one roof. This bathroom remodel featured layout changes to add space as well as features to ensure the users' safety. Highlights included a bathroom vanity with a bi-level counter, a shower with a low curb, grab bars, non-slip ceramic tile, task lighting and large handles for the faucet and cabinets.

According to the NAHB, adding features that make homes safer for aging residents is common. The Journal Sentinel newspaper reports that these projects not only help ensure safety and comfort, but also increase a home's resale value.



CNN reports that a recent study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that an estimated 640 people are treated each day in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries suffered in the bathroom. More than 80 percent of these injuries are caused by falls, with many people falling while getting in or out of the bathtub or shower.

Aerosmith lead singer and American Idol judge Steven Tyler recently made headlines when he took a nasty fall in a hotel room in South America. According to an interview on the Today show, Tyler, who's 63-years-old, was suffering from food poisoning when he fell in the shower, broke his teeth and cut open his head.

According to USA Today, hotel room bathroom falls are not uncommon, especially since many feature smooth, polished marble floors that can be dangerous when wet.

"If luxury bathrooms are a risk, then it's a risk I'll take for my fancy lodging. :)," wrote a USA Today reader in response to the article.

However, staying safe at home and in hotels can be made simpler with a few changes. Experts often recommend using grab bars when getting in or out of the shower or bathtub. Ensuring non-slip bath mats are placed on slippery floors can also help individuals avoid falling.


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The trend of creating luxurious, escape-like bathrooms where homeowners can relax, unwind and de-stress remains popular.

"Today, [homeowners] are making their bathroom as nice a living space as the rest of their home - if not better," designer Suzanne Maviano told

New, high-tech items make achieving a spa-like bathroom easier than ever, especially if money is no object. Kohler's Numi toilet, for example, is billed as a luxury bathroom product with a price tag to match. The toilet that features an "intelligent auto flush" that senses how long the user has been sitting and flushes accordingly, customized seat warming, an air vent that keeps the user's feet warm, audio hook-ups, a bidet and a sensor that automatically puts the seat down when the user walks away costs nearly $6,400, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

Other items such as steam showers, whirlpool bathtubs, heated floors,towel racks and bathroom televisions can also make a bathroom luxurious, but often with a smaller price tag.

"No matter your budget, adding little luxuries to the bathroom, whether high-tech or purely aesthetic, can make a huge difference in terms of your experience," suggests


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According to a recent study by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), nearly 80 percent of Baby Boomers surveyed said they plan to age in place, which means living in their own home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of their age or ability level.

Making changes to the bathroom often makes aging in place easier for individuals of all ages. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the two most frequent aging-in-place modifications include adding grab bars (78 percent) and installing higher toilets (71 percent).

Instead of installing grab bars in a bathtub, many people opt to remove the tub altogether and install a shower with a low lip that is easier to get in and out of, which can help reduce bathroom accidents. Some even choose to eliminate the need to step over a lip of any sort and turn their space into a wet room, which features slightly sloped floors with a drain instead of an enclosed shower area.

Other changes that make aging in place possible for many include using brighter light bulbs, installing night lights, keeping floors clear of hazards and improving storage.

Those looking for help remodeling a bathroom that they can use into their golden years may consider enlisting the help of a certified aging-in-place specialist (CAPS), who is trained in designing to meet the unique needs of the older adult population and adding aging-in-place home modifications.



New vanity top options from Corian
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011

Solid surface countertops remain the top choice of consumers redecorating their bathrooms, according to the October newsletter from Kitchen & Bath Design News.

"Quartz, granite and solid surface are popular choices for topping off [bathroom] vanities, as consumers seek out easy-care and durable surfaces in the bath," the newsletter states.

Corian is a line of synthetic solid surface countertops that is widely used in bathrooms. Many people like this material because it is easy to clean and naturally resists the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew, which makes it a perfect choice for these spaces. The company also recently released eight new colors for the surfaces - basil, arrowroot, allspice, hazelnut, hickory smoke, blue spice, cilantro and clove. Their names (and colors) were all inspired by the varied hues and textures of spice.

Besides the most popular solid surface countertops of granite, quartz and synthetic materials, other options include tile, stainless steel and concrete.

According to, "aside from appearance, one should also consider price, maintenance and compatibility when investing in a bathroom countertop."


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Leaving the toilet seat up. Using up the toilet paper without replacing it. Leaving a puddle of water or dirty clothes and towels on the floor after taking a shower. These are all habits that may be considered annoying when sharing a bathroom with other people.

A recent survey conducted by Moen has revealed the habits that people classify as the most annoying. Topping the list was not replacing the toilet paper. More than one-third (36 percent) of respondents to the company's online poll said an empty toilet paper roll frustrates them the most.

Another annoying bathroom habit, according to the survey, is leaving clothes and towels on the floor. While nearly 20 percent of respondents said that messiness irks them, this percentage increases when individuals share a bathroom with kids. Thirty-three percent of people with children say a messy floor is their biggest pet peeve.

Men involved in the poll revealed that a cluttered bathroom vanity is sometimes annoying, with 20 percent saying that toiletries and makeup items left out on the counter makes them angry.

While old habits may be hard to break, making a few changes in the bathroom may make some of these troublesome behaviors easier to avoid. Installing new bathroom accessories, such as an easy to use toilet paper holder, towel bars and clothing hooks, can help individuals remember to change the toilet paper or hang up their clothing or towel.

Additional storage in a new bathroom vanity, shelves or medicine cabinet can also help keep the space clean and organized for every member of the family.


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A poll conducted by Moen reveals that 20 percent of men say that sharing a bathroom with someone who leaves toiletries, makeup and other items out on the bathroom vanity is among their biggest pet peeves. While women are not the only ones guilty of adding clutter to the bathroom, there are ways members of both sexes can create a more harmonious master bathroom.

"Careful design, dedicated space for each individual and a willingness to compromise can make even the smallest room feel more spacious," said Moen's Tim Bitterman.

A bathroom vanity with ample storage can help to keep clutter to a minimum. Extra shelves and cabinets can also provide a home for all of the everyday items individuals use in the bathroom.

Couples who have enough space often choose to install a dual vanity so each person has their own sink and storage space. While a lack of space may make installing a vanity with two sinks impossible, some choose to add two pedestal sinks side-by-side instead.

A bathroom faucet with a high arch can also help to make using one sink easier for couples sharing a bathroom.

Other popular design ideas for master bathrooms include installing two robe hooks for clothing and double a towel bar for towels.


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Individuals considering a bathroom renovation or those who just want to install a more efficient toilet may want to contact their city or state government to see if rebates exist.

Many locations throughout the U.S. and Canada offer consumers who replace their current toilet with a new, ultra low-flow toilet money back for their purchase. For example, the south Florida community of Tamarac recently announced that residents can receive rebates of up to $175 for replacing older, inefficient toilets with new, water-saving models.

"We'd like to replace old toilets [that use water] greater than 1.6 gallons per flush," Fran Oney, laboratory manager at Tamarac's water treatment plant, told the Sun Sentinel. "Some have five gallons per flush and those are the ones we'd really like to get. If it's more than 10 years old it should be replaced."

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption. Experts say replacing older models with a WaterSense-certified toilet can save as much as 4,000 gallons of water each year.



Designing a beautiful powder room
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2011

Unlike a full bathroom that gets lots of use every day, a powder room is smaller and usually the bathroom that guests will use when visiting your home. Design experts say that homeowners can really take chances when choosing fixtures, colors and accessories for a powder room in order to create a beautiful space they're proud to show off.

Most powder rooms average just 4-feet by 5-feet, so they offer homeowners the opportunity to make big changes without spending a lot of money. A new bathroom vanity, faucet and accessories can instantly change the look of the room. And, because it's a smaller space, many people feel comfortable splurging on more expensive items.

It's not necessary to incorporate a lot of storage space in a powder room. After all, items such as hand towels and extra toilet paper should be easily accessible for guests using the room.

As for color, design experts say it's okay to experiment and go bold.

"Select a deep, dramatic hue for the walls," Kohler's Lynn Schrage advises via "Don't be concerned about closing in this small space. An intense wall or ceiling color can make a dramatic impact in the room and add an element of surprise off the hallway."


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White remains a popular color in bathroom design. White bathroom vanities, sinks, bathtubs, toilets and tiles are widely used in traditional, antique, modern and contemporary bathrooms.

One of the reasons the hue is so popular is the fact that it is often associated with purity, health and hygiene, interior designer and color consultant Barbara Kalis told

"It looks so clean," Kalis told the website. "And that's what we do in bathrooms, we get clean."

However, design experts say it's important to choose your whites carefully, as some can be warm hues and some can be cooler.

"[All] colors are either blue-based or yellow-based, and whites are the same," Kalis told the website.

Those planning to incorporate a splash of another color in a predominantly white bathroom need to choose items that work best with the white. For instance, a blue-based white will look best when paired with blues, blue-greens, blue-reds and purples. A yellow-based white looks best with oranges, yellow-reds and yellow-greens.

Those who want to stay more monochromatic may want to combine different textures and patterns into the space to help avoid a stark or cold feeling.

"Layered textures and materials give any space a rich look," according to


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While many people design new bathrooms to achieve a retro feel, others are forced to work with what they have to update an outdated bathroom.

Many in this group are dumbfounded about how to make their spaces look, feel and function better without spending a lot of money. This is especially the case with those who have bathrooms filled from top to bottom with brightly colored porcelain tiles and accessories.

Experts say that giving these retro bathrooms an update doesn't always have to mean gutting them and starting over. Instead, changing out a few key pieces can help to tone down the look and make it more modern.

"One option is to replace just the sink and toilet and leave the tile and tub intact," advises. "A white toilet and a simple vanity can freshen up the look of a retro-feeling bath without the hassle of a full renovation. Plus, newer models of toilets are much more water-efficient."

Installing a new bathroom faucet that has a retro style but functions better along with new lighting fixtures and bathroom accessories can also instantly modernize a tired, old space.

Design experts also suggest painting the walls as a simple and effective way to give a room a new look without spending a lot of money.


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Maximizing bathroom storage space
Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Regardless of their personal style, many homeowners embarking on a bathroom renovation project strive to create a clean, uncluttered space. Choosing the right bathroom vanity is crucial to achieving this look, as experts say a piece that offers flexible storage options including drawers and adjustable interior shelves can help make or break a design.

"There remains a growing demand for vanities that make a personalized statement while offering flexible storage that can be configured to the needs of the user," states the October newsletter from Kitchen & Bath Design News.

However, the vanity isn't the only option available for those looking for storage options in the bathroom, according to Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Medicine cabinets, linen closets and shelves can also add much-needed storage space in these rooms.

Smaller items such as makeup, hair accessories and cotton balls can be stored in different sized containers so they stay together and help avoid clutter. The magazine suggests repurposing items like glass jars and coffee tins to use as storage vessels - simply cover them with a pretty fabric or paper to make them look like they were purchased at a great boutique.

The publication also suggests making your storage spaces work for you by keeping them close at hand.

"Think about the things you use every day and those you use only occasionally," states an article on "Plan your bath storage so the items you reach for at wake-up and lights-out are the easiest to grab."



Whether you want a traditional, modern or contemporary bathroom, design experts from Kitchen & Bath Design News say that furniture-like bathroom vanities remain in high demand.

"Consumers seem to be particularly interested in stand-alone vanities that look and feel more like furniture, with stylized legs and elegant yet understated detailing," according to the October newsletter from the publication.

Other trends in bathroom vanities include pieces that offer flexible storage options such as adjustable shelving, darker finishes and the use of solid surfaces such as quartz and granite as vanity toppers. Cleaner lines that help achieve a more uncluttered look in the space is also on-trend.

"Consumers seek out personalized pieces that offer the look and feel of furniture, with scaled-down detailing that keeps the space looking clean, casual and comfortable," the newsletter states.

Luxury also remains a trend when it comes to choosing a bathroom vanity and renovating the entire room. According to, spa-like amenities that allow users to feel like they can relax and unwind in the privacy of their own homes remain popular.

"[Homeowners] are making their bathroom as nice a living space as the rest of their home - if not better," interior designer Suzanne Maviano told "People are really enjoying their homes these days. Even though they spend a lot of time at work, when they are home, they want to feel like they’re walking into something amazing."


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Choices abound when it comes to choosing a sink
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Installing a new bathroom vanity can undoubtedly change the look of a bathroom. However, some people may choose to keep their existing vanity and give the room a makeover by adding a new sink.

"Even if you haven't done any shopping yet and just have a rough idea of what you want, the sink you'd like to find is probably out there," designer Julia Diaz told Better Homes & Gardens. "A few years ago, some of the major companies started creating sinks that looked like they could be hanging in a gallery somewhere. When I was little, you'd go into someone's bathroom and there would just be a white, round sink. Today, the white, round sink is the exception."

Experts say it's important to learn a little about the different types of sinks available before making a decision. Above-mount, drop-in and vessel sinks are all common in today's bathrooms. One benefit to choosing a sink that is mounted on top of a vanity countertop is that it elevates the sink and can mean less bending and more comfort, especially for tall people.

It's important to note that sinks are not just round or oval anymore, either. They are available in different shapes, colors and finishes to complement any décor.

The only limitation, according to experts, is plumbing. According to, it's important to make sure that a sink is compatible with your faucet.



While creating a beautiful, clean bathroom at home is easy, many would be hard-pressed to find a public bathroom that they would categorize the same way. However, Cintas Corporation, which provides restroom supplies to businesses throughout the country, has named the top restrooms in America.

The 10th annual "America's Best Restroom Award" has been given to the Field Museum in Chicago.

"[They feature] sufficient stalls and sinks, as well as eco-friendly automated bathroom faucets and hand dryers," a press release on the award states. "The women's restroom has a special nursing room with a door, sink and small sofa for mothers. The restrooms also feature a family-friendly "tot area" with smaller toilets for its littlest guests. Additionally, Museum displays are featured inside the restroom for a fun, educational flair. The restrooms are cleaned every hour to ensure the facilities are in tip-top shape for the 3,500 visitors the Museum welcomes each day."

Other winners include the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Virginia; the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts in Arizona and the Snowbasin Ski Resort in Huntsville, Utah. The full list of winners can be viewed at

The public voted for their favorite public bathrooms via Cinta's online survey to name the winners. Over the last decade, the contest has attracted tens of thousands of voters.

"We like to think of this contest as an entertaining way of drawing the public’s attention to the very important issue of restroom hygiene," said Cintas' Rich Bing. "People don't think about this issue until they walk into a poorly kept restroom, and then it matters. After that, the odds are they won't be back."



Making your bathroom a true escape
Posted on Monday, October 24, 2011

Larger bathroom spaces combined with the trend towards spa-like, luxury bathrooms in which individuals can relax, unwind and rejuvenate has resulted in new products that make these rooms more than just functional spaces. Bathroom vanities with furniture-like styling, deep soaking bathtubs, whirlpools and state-of-the-art steam showers can instantly transform an ordinary bathroom into a unique, beautiful and tranquil space.

Many who design bathrooms with luxury in mind also look for other ways to make these rooms more inviting for their users. Steam showers often include spa-like options such as aromatherapy, CD connections, iPod hookups, telephone receivers, timers, benches and acupuncture massage.

Others incorporate music into a bathroom by installing sound systems complete with waterproof speakers. These speakers are often the same ones that are designed for outdoor use and can withstand the high humidity of a bathroom environment.

According to, speakers such as the Algonquin speakers by Axiom are ideal for bathroom design because they feature award-winning sound quality and won't be affected by moisture. In addition, they are made with plastic-covered gold-plated binding posts that won't rust and are available in four different finishes to match any bathroom décor.


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Whether they want to watch the news and hear the weather while getting ready each morning or plan on relaxing in the bathtub while watching their favorite show, many people planning a bathroom renovation project are incorporating televisions into their designs.

According to Better Homes & Gardens, there are many ways to install a TV in a bathroom - nestled in a built-in cabinet, mounted on the wall, out-of-the-way on a special corner bracket, inside a cabinet or on a shelf. The most important consideration is whether it's able to be viewed when needed.

Many suggest special fog-free bathroom televisions for use in these high-humidity areas. According to, LCD bathroom television sets should be waterproof and come with a waterproof remote control.

Televisions are also available hidden inside of mirrors and mounted onto bathtubs. According to, products such as the Baden Bath DVD bathtub make relaxing and watching a movie while bathing simple and easy.

"[The bathtub] features a flat panel television screen which folds down, a DVD player, a CD/AM/FM stereo system with dual remotes, and is even equipped with a cooler for wine or your favorite beverages. The tub also features ten whirlpool jets and a heater to keep the bath water hot for the duration of your bathing experience."

True luxury!


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A beautiful bathroom vanity can serve as a focal point in any bathroom, regardless of style. However, those who want to create a so-called shabby chic look in their space should choose an antique vanity and layer many different elements in as well.

"Vintage décor is a heritage-inspired, layered look that consists of new and old and bringing it all together," HGTV interior designer Lisa LaPorta told "You can have heirloom items, brand new pieces, thrift store finds, antique store treasures, you can put it all together beautifully as long as you let it reflect your personality. You can be as fun and whimsical as you want or as subdued and quiet and historical as you want."

While many choose to refurbish a true antique vanity to achieve this look, there are also countless new antique-styled vanities available online and in stores. These products offer the vintage look that fans of this style want with all of the benefits of a new bathroom vanity. recently introduced a new line of chic bathroom vanities by Italian bathroom furniture and accessory brand Etrusca that fits this style perfectly. They feature a graceful floral relief pattern that will surely create a focal point in the space.

"Choose your countertop, hardware and mirror to complete the style - chic luxury, contemporary cool or a look entirely your own," advises the website.


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Much like a beautiful bathroom vanity, the mirror you choose for your space can serve as a focal point in the room. And, because it is used each day by every member of the family, a mirror can be the one of the most looked-at pieces in your bathroom.

Installing a new mirror, along with other new bathroom accessories, is an easy way to instantly update the look of a room. But design experts say that homeowners can breathe new life into their existing mirrors as well by repairing imperfections and adding a new frame.

A product called MirrEdge makes adding a frame to a plain mirror simple and inexpensive. In just a few minutes, the kit can help transform a plain unappealing bath or vanity mirror into one that will change the whole look of the room. This do-it-yourself mirror framing system can also be used to cosmetically conceal deterioration that appears over time on the bottom and edges of mirrors.

The system works on mirrors that measure up to 60 by 60 inches. For smaller mirrors, the framing can easily be cut to size. Kits are available in dark cherry walnut, vibrant royal oak and white dove with color coordinated corner plates so they can match the décor and color in any bathroom.



Bathroom vanity trend going strong
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2011

The trend towards creating beautiful and functional bathrooms through the use of furniture-like bathroom vanities is continuing, according to interior design professionals.

"It's standard that vanities look like pieces of furniture," Houston-based interior designer Donna Vining told "It's been that way in Europe forever. It just took some time for the trend to hit the States."

No matter what their personal style is, experts say that homeowners are increasingly choosing these freestanding vanities for bathroom remodel projects and new construction. These pieces help many create a refuge from their busy, hectic lives and also help them make larger bathroom spaces unique and efficient.

"The furniture look is most definitely appropriate for these [larger] bathrooms," a spokesperson for the American Society of Interior Designers, Deborah Burnett, told "I see armoires, upholstered chairs and vanities that are true pieces of furniture rather than built-in cabinetry."

While there is no shortage of stunning bathroom vanities with furniture-like styling to choose from, some manufacturers are now offering homeowners the option to custom design theirs. reports that Dura Supreme has released a line of freestanding vanities that can be configured in a variety of ways and are available in different woods, finishes and styles to match any desired look.


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Individuals who are completely remodeling their bathrooms or those who just want to add a few new elements to update their space have a wide variety of styles and finishes to choose from when deciding on a bathroom faucet. And, design experts say that choosing the right faucet can influence the entire look of a bathroom.

HGTV interior designer Lisa LaPorta says that a faucet is an important design choice when it comes to a bathroom renovation project, as it can often serve as jewelry for the space.

"It's really important to bring metals, or what I like to call house jewelry, into your rooms," LaPorta shares on "This is a great way to add sculpture and drama to an all simple design."

Newform's new Faucet Natura brings an extra design element to any space it's used in. According to, this new item is a hybrid product that combines a smooth modern faucet and a sleek useful container in one. In the bathroom, it can be used to store a toothbrush or hold a flower and add a splash of color to the space.

Unique products like this one can really add a special touch to any bathroom.



Bathroom faucet makers awarded for water-saving products
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bathrooms are by far the largest water users in the home, accounting for more than half of all the water that families use indoors.

Installing more efficient bathroom faucets, shower heads and toilets can help those planning to remodel their bathrooms and those who want to save money and resources by conserving water. WaterSense labeled fixtures use significantly less water without sacrificing performance.

The EPA has named Delta faucets one of its WaterSense partners for 2011. More than two-thirds of the company's products are WaterSense labeled, making it easy for consumers to save water without sacrificing style or functionality.

Kohler has also earned praise from the government agency for its efforts in helping consumers conserve water. The company has received an Excellence Award for strategic collaboration in water-saving efforts.

"Kohler has a large stake in the availability of clean, safe water," said Rob Zimmerman, water conservation and sustainability manager for Kohler. "Our company understands the ongoing importance of educating homeowners about reducing water usage."

Specifically, the company received the award for its efforts in promoting and publicizing its WaterSense-labeled plumbing products with displays at nearly 900 wholesale showrooms and 500 other retail locations.

According to the EPA, since the launch of the program, WaterSense labeled products have helped consumers save a total of 125 billion gallons of water and $2 billion in water and energy bills.



HGTV designer Lisa LaPorta has joined forces with kitchen and bathroom faucet manufacturer Pfister to share tips on how homeowners can achieve a desired look in their homes.

LaPorta offers her expertise on four different styles via the company's website,

To achieve a classic elegant bathroom, LaPorta suggests a color palette that includes earth tones or rich hues like golds and reds. When choosing bathroom faucets, she suggests those with a bronze finish.

"Bronze is a really great finish that feels aged and traditional but is somehow new," she said on

She also suggests carrying the metal finish throughout the room on door hardware, bathroom vanity hardware and light fixtures to reflect light and add richness.

Those who prefer a more sleek, clean and modern look may prefer a crisp contemporary style that employs a monochromatic color scheme in shades of white, tan or grey and includes simple details on bathroom furniture and fixtures. Installing bathroom faucets with a stainless steel finish and sleek design helps to add drama.

Another modern look, which LaPorta calls modern metropolitan, also features clean lines but infuses pops of bold color and shimmer with bathroom furniture and fixtures.

Individuals who want an antique, shabby chic or vintage décor style in their bathroom can achieve the look by layering multiple textures, styles and materials. An antique bathroom vanity paired with an old-fashioned looking faucet in a brushed nickel finish is ideal for this look.



Fix or replace an old, leaky toilet this month
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It seems that October is a busy month for the bathroom industry. The National Kitchen & Bath Association has declared it National Kitchen & Bath month. It's also National Toilet Tank Repair Month.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water a day. National Toilet Tank Repair Month serves to remind people that a toilet that is leaky can be wasteful as well as annoying.

While most leaky toilets can be fixed rather easily, some plumbing experts recommend hiring a professional to assess the problem.

"Loose levers, faulty flappers, flush valves, fill valves and valve seals are popular causes of water wasting which may raise your water and sewer bills," said plumbing expert Scott Mann."Ensure the peak performance of your toilet with a simple tune-up, you will save water, money, lots of aggravation and probably sleep better at night knowing you implemented an intelligent economic plan."

Those who want to ensure their toilet isn't leaking as well as make their toilet a more efficient commode may consider installing a new toilet.

According to the EPA, replacing an older model with a WaterSense-certified toilet can save as much as 4,000 gallons of water each year.



Whether your bathroom décor is modern, contemporary, traditional or antique, it should feature a mirror. After all, the room is used when applying make-up, styling hair, shaving, brushing teeth and doing other things that are made much easier when you can actually see what you're doing.

Some people choose a bathroom mirror that mounts directly onto the wall, while others prefer one on the outside of a medicine cabinet for extra storage.

They are available with and without frames, in different shapes and with colored accents. No matter what your personal style preference is, there is a mirror that will complement your bathroom.

Experts say that a mirror placed over the bathroom vanity is important. According to the Galway Advertiser, even in a small space, a large mirror is acceptable and can actually help create the illusion of a bigger room.

Adding a mirror into a bathroom or another room can also help make it brighter by reflecting light. In darker bathrooms, a lighted vanity mirror can help to make getting ready in the morning easier.



Adding a powder room to your home
Posted on Monday, October 17, 2011

Adding a powder room - or half bath - to the main floor of your home is a project that can increase the value of your home and provide much-needed additional bathroom space for your family.

According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), a powder room can usually be easily incorporated into the layout of the home without a lot of structural changes. Closets and unused spaces, such as areas under a staircase, often work well for these projects. While a large space is not necessary, considerations should include plumbing, heating, soil-line access and building codes. recommends that potential spaces for a powder room should measure 3- to 4-feet wide and 6- to 8-feet long.

Unlike full bathrooms, powder rooms can look beautiful and luxurious with just a few design elements. A stunning bathroom vanity or pedestal sink can serve as the focal point, no matter how small the space is. Other necessities include a toilet, sink, faucet, lighting and mirror. also recommends including a small table for a purse as well as a coat hook to make the space easier to use for guests.


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One of the most popular trends in bathrooms is creating luxurious, spa-like spaces that help people relax, unwind and decompress from their busy and stressful lives.

While many people embark on a bathroom renovation project to transform their space into a retreat-like environment, experts say a few changes can make the transition easy, effective and less expensive than a total renovation.

One of the easiest things to do is install a shower panel or other new shower head to make every shower a more relaxing and enjoyable experience. According to a recent report from, the popularity of these products is rapidly expanding and is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2017.

Even in total bathroom renovation projects, showers are often replacing bathtubs. Design experts say that many people enjoy taking showers rather than baths. Other factors that have contributed to the popularity of showers include the fact that they are quicker and more efficient than baths and that they use less water.

Installing a shower panel, rain or other new shower head can help instantly upgrade a shower and give the entire bathroom a more luxurious feel.


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October is National Kitchen & Bath Month
Posted on Friday, October 14, 2011

October may be the ideal month to start planning a bathroom renovation project, as it is National Kitchen & Bath Month.

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) designated October as Kitchen & Bath Month in 1982. According to, "with children back in school and families not yet overwhelmed by the flurry of activity around the holidays, October is the most popular time of year for homeowners to remodel their kitchens and baths."

Those who want a complete bathroom renovation that includes a new bathroom vanity, flooring, faucets, bathtub, shower and accessories, or those who just want to update certain elements of their space may use the distinction as a perfect excuse to begin planning their project.

Whether you plan to design your new bathroom on your own or enlist the help of a professional, experts say there are several steps involved in planning your project. They include defining the scope of the project, finalizing a budget, shopping for and choosing products and coordinating the installation.

Design ideas are easy to find online, in magazines and books as well as at stores that specialize in products and accessories the bathroom.



Making a bathroom comfortable and welcoming for guests
Posted on Thursday, October 13, 2011

Whether you have overnight guests once a week or once a year, ensuring that your bathroom is welcoming for visitors is an important consideration when planning a bathroom renovation.

Design experts at Better Homes & Gardens magazine say that rooms that will be used by guests should feature a relaxing color palette and a spa-like feel. After all, it's important for those visiting to feel comfortable while they're away from home.

In spaces that will be used by the whole family or those that will only be used by guests, design gurus say it's important to keep a few things in mind, including adequate lighting, storage and efficiency. A room that's too small for a bathroom vanity that includes under-the-sink storage or a linen closet should be prepped before visitors arrive. Using baskets to display and store rolled up towels, washcloths and other bathroom accessories ensures that guests don't have to search for the things they need, according to

Keeping your personal toiletries out of sight when sharing a bathroom with guests is important as well. Lifestyle expert and author Mar Jennings told that purchasing a special set of white towels to use when guests are visiting is a good idea.

"White towels just represent hospitality," Jennings told the website. "When you are trying to make people feel comfortable, white makes you think of a beautiful hotel."

Other important considerations, whether your bathroom is newly remodeled or not, include cleaning before visitors arrive and providing a new bar of soap and other toiletries, as well as items such as a plunger, extra toilet paper and a night light.


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Tips for a master bath renovation
Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When it comes to designing a master bathroom, experts say it's important to remember that the space will most often be used by two people. According to Better Homes & Gardens, "efficiency is just as important as comfort," especially in these spaces.

Many people choose to install a double bathroom vanity to maximize storage and give each person their own space for getting ready. No matter what type of style your bathroom is, there will be a double vanity available to complement your décor. When space is available, some choose to install two single vanities or two pedestal sinks separated by shelves or a cabinet to add additional storage.

Better Homes & Gardens reports that many master bathroom renovations often include installing a dedicated water closet to house the toilet and provide privacy. Those who don't have enough room for this type of change may consider installing a partial wall to block the toilet from view.

Individuals planning a master bathroom makeover don't have to sacrifice luxury, either. Many steam showers and shower panels are available to be programmed for two separate users. And some people choose to install a larger shower - big enough for two people - rather than a bathtub.


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Choosing the right toilet for your renovation project
Posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Many people planning a bathroom renovation focus on choosing a beautiful bathroom vanity, bathtub or faucet for their project before choosing a toilet. However, experts say choosing the right toilet can be one of the most important decisions homeowners will make.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), toilets are the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption. Those renovating a bathroom or who simply want to do something in their existing bathroom to help conserve water should consider installing a new toilet, as replacing an older model with a WaterSense-certified toilet can save as much as 4,000 gallons of water each year. The fact that these toilets use less water doesn't impact their performance.

Other considerations individuals looking for a new toilet may have to think about include oval versus elongated bowls, single versus dual-flush models and gravity versus pressure-assisted toilets.

Budget is also a major consideration for many. Experts say one-piece toilets are often easier to clean but can be more expensive and harder to install.

Others may want to think about purchasing a toilet with a lined (insulated) tank, to help prevent condensation - or "sweating" - during the summer.



Many people planning a bathroom remodel often choose a style that reflects their personality and the look of their home and go from there. Common style choices include modern, contemporary, antique and traditional. However, design experts say that mixing and matching is okay and can result in unique, interesting spaces. recently highlighted a bathroom that combined a rustic looking room - complete with exposed wood beams and a fireplace - with modern white bathroom fixtures. The contrast between the two styles helped create a beautiful room.

"The clean, white palette, the cool porcelain and the contemporary minimalist look of the sink, tub, toilet and bidet are an unlikely but ideal complement (or contrast?) to this earthy bathroom with a Zen atmosphere that promotes wellness, meditation, rejuvenation, and of course, good taste," according to the website.

Design experts call spaces that mix different style elements eclectic. suggests those who want to create an eclectic bathroom should create cohesion with color and focus on design details by adding accessories like wall sconces, glassware and linens, as these items help to make a big difference in a room's design.

Overall, those who want to mix and match styles should remember to use their instincts by pairing items they love to create a unique space.



Programmable showers: The wave of the future?
Posted on Monday, October 10, 2011

Bathroom design experts confirm that luxury is a major trend when it comes to planning a bathroom renovation. However, a variety of new products help consumers go beyond simply luxurious with their makeovers.

"The bathroom is the last refuge for relaxation," Paul Flowers, head designer at German bathroom fixture manufacturer Grohe, recently told "It is an emotional room that not only serves the purpose of cleansing, but also is a place to escape the hectic pace of the day."

Beautiful bathroom vanities, faucets, whirlpool bathtubs and steam showers help homeowners transform their rooms from basic functional areas to luxurious, spa-like retreats. Extras such as aromatherapy, CD connections, iPod hookups, telephone receivers, timers, benches, acupuncture massage, fluorescent mood lighting, ceiling rain showers, multiple shower jets, body sprays and foot massages help take steam showers beyond just a place to wash up in.

Grohe's Flowers says that programmable showers are the next big trend in luxury bathroom design products.

"These systems can be set for a vitalizing shower in the mornings and for relaxation in the evening, and extras such as lighting and music will help add mood," reports


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Design experts say the current economy and housing market has many homeowners opting to renovate bathrooms, kitchens and other rooms in their homes rather than move out.

"Lives continue to be hectic and stressful, and the home is viewed as a respite - a place for relaxation and gathering comfortably with friends and family," writes Kitchen & Bath Design magazine's Anita Shaw in the publication's October issue.

While many are choosing to improve their bathrooms by installing new bathroom vanities, sinks, faucets, bathtubs and showers, they are also choosing to work within their current space, rather than expand.

"Clients are definitely making do with the space they have so they don't have to make as large of an investment," Ken Czarnecki of KSI Kitchen & Bath told the publication. "They won’t be moving with the housing market as it is, so they want their homes to look great, and they want improved functionality. But, the project needs to be kept within a reasonable budget."

Some homeowners choose to work with a professional to achieve the bathroom of their dreams. However, others do it alone by first choosing a focal point, such as a vanity, and going from there.

Experts say being creative is often the key to a great space, especially when trying to incorporate more storage into an already small area.



While many people choose to install a more efficient toilet in their home to help save water and money, Japanese toilet manufacturer Toto has unveiled an ultra-efficient toilet that's built onto a motorcycle.

It's called the Toilet Bike Neo and it apparently serves a purpose. Waste collected in the toilet helps to fuel the three-wheeled motorcycle. The vehicle also has some high-tech extras, according to

"The rolling toilet can play music, write messages in the air using residual light imagery and talk," according to the news source.

According to, the motorcycle is only a prototype that is meant to raise awareness about water conservation. It will take to the streets of Japan over the next few weeks to help achieve this purpose.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption. Experts say individuals who are renovating a bathroom or those who just want to save money by improving their water-efficiency should consider installing a new toilet, as replacing older models with a WaterSense-certified toilet can save as much as 4,000 gallons of water each year.



Making water conservation simple
Posted on Friday, October 7, 2011

While many people choose Danze bathroom faucets for their beauty, they are often doing something good for the environment by installing these fixtures as well. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), many Danze faucets are WaterSense labeled, which means that they use about 20 percent less water than other models, without sacrificing flow or performance.

Experts say that installing a new bathroom faucet is among the easiest ways to improve the look and efficiency of the room. According to the EPA, retrofitting a bathroom with WaterSense labeled faucets can help an average household save more than 500 gallons of water each year. Also, since these water savings will reduce demands on water heaters, households will save energy.

Although it seems like a simple solution, many people are hesitant to install more efficient faucets.

To make water conservation easy to achieve, manufacturer PF WaterWorks is unveiling a "Home Water Conservation Kit for Dummies" at the 2011 Greenbuild Expo in Toronto, Canada. The kit includes a WaterSense labeled easy-to-install showerhead and WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucet aerator. These plumbing fixtures will provide immediate savings with payback in just a few months, according to the company.

Those interested in improving the water efficiency of their bathrooms can visit for a listing of faucets and other plumbing fixtures that are WaterSense labeled.


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Virginia residents considering a total bathroom renovation or those who just want to improve the appearance and efficiency of their current space may consider doing some shopping this weekend. The state is holding its annual WaterSense tax-free holiday weekend from Friday, October 7 through Monday, October 10 and is waiving the usual 4 percent sales tax on water-efficient items.

The exempt WaterSense items include bathroom faucets, faucet accessories and toilets.

Buying WaterSense-certified items can help homeowners not only improve the look of their bathrooms but can also help them save money and make their homes more efficient.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, replacing an older toilet with a WaterSense-certified model can save as much as 4,000 gallons of water each year and more than $90 per year in reduced water utility bills.

Retrofitting an entire bathroom with WaterSense labeled bathroom faucets can help an average household save more than 500 gallons of water each year. Also, since these water savings will reduce demands on water heaters, households will also save energy.


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According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption. Experts say individuals who are renovating a bathroom or just want to save money by improving their water-efficiency should consider installing a new toilet. Replacing older models with a WaterSense-certified toilet can save as much as 4,000 gallons of water each year.

While many companies at the 2011 Greenbuild Expo in Toronto, Canada, are showcasing sustainable, eco-friendly products for the bathroom, one insists its products truly make every flush count.

"Caroma's message and belief that one flush can make a difference in the world is taking hold across North America and we are excited to be bringing our message back to Greenbuild," said Caroma's Derek Kirkpatrick. "If one person were to use a high efficiency toilet for one year, they'd save almost 330 gallons of water."

Caroma and many other companies are showcasing the latest designs and innovations in toilets for homes and businesses. The company's Sydney Smart 305, Somerton Smart 270 and Invisi™ Series II wall-hung toilets all feature the dual flush system, which uses less water for liquids and more for solids.



Luxury and sustainability are two of the most popular trends when it comes to choosing bathroom vanities and other products for a bathroom renovation. Companies such as Native Trails, an eco-chic fixtures and furnishings business, are showcasing the best of their offerings by combining these two trends at the 2011 Greenbuild Expo in Toronto, Canada. 

Native Trails is featuring bathroom vanities made from reclaimed and sustainable wood that seamlessly complement their line of recycled, artisan-crafted copper sinks at the expo. Among the company's products is a vanity crafted from bamboo, which is one of the fastest growing plants on earth and a popular green building material due to its strength, durability and aesthetically pleasing grain.

"The next step for green building ushers in a whole new era of awareness and innovation to the design and construction industry," said Naomi Neilson Howard, CEO of Native Trails. "As it evolves, we continue to explore contemporary and inventive ways to bring elegance and thought provoking aesthetic to sustainably crafted staples in the home."

Individuals interested in incorporating eco-conscious products with beauty in their homes should consider seeking out products that are made using sustainable materials, such as bamboo, as well as water-efficient bathroom faucets.

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While many people remodel their bathrooms to improve the aesthetics of their space, others are embarking on renovation projects to make their rooms more water-efficient.

American Standard is debuting some of its most innovative new products at the 2011 Greenbuild Expo in Toronto.

"Water savings is just the beginning," said Jeremy Cressman, vice president of commercial products for American Standard Brands. "Our technology leadership delivers great value in everything that matters from improving room aesthetics to simplifying installation and maintenance."

Among the new products being introduced to the market are the Ciencia™ solid surface shower wall and base system, which can be installed over an existing shower, the Lucia™ wall-hung sink, which is compact for use in small bathrooms and the Studio® dual flush toilet, which offers users the choice between a standard 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) for solids or a reduced 1.1 gpf for liquids. These toilets are also WaterSense-certified and use 20 percent less water while still providing superior performance.

The Greenbuild Expo, which runs through October 7th in Toronto, Canada, showcases the latest in innovative products and services for businesses and homes.


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Most people wouldn't describe the bathrooms at a Major League Baseball stadium as innovative. However, innovative may be a word that the New York Mets and their fans can use when talking about the bathrooms at Citi Field.

"The restrooms had to be both durable and sustainable, all while providing game goers the most gracious experience possible with aesthetically pleasing, reliable products," said Kohler's Phil Boggs.

The stadium's bathrooms feature Kohler bathroom faucets and fixtures that not only look better than your average public bathroom, but help to save a lot of water when used by 41,000 fans each game.

Conservative calculations estimate that Kohler’s water-saving faucets and fixtures save one gallon of water per person, per game. Over the course of 81 games with the stadium at 75 percent capacity, Citi Field could save over 2 million gallons of water annually - that’s equal to a lifetime of drinking water for more than 50 people.

While this large-scale project illustrates how much water - and money - can be saved with efficient bathroom faucets, homeowners should know that changing their faucets is one of the easiest ways to make their home more efficient and improve the look as well.



A simple, yet innovative product may help keep peace in households divided over whether to leave the toilet lid up or put it down - especially in the middle of the night.

The "Johnny Light" is a soft green night-light that attaches to the toilet seat and is activated by a gravity switch any time the seat is lifted.

"The greenish glow in the toilet bowl reminds users to put the commode seat down and helps eliminate the 'annoying fall-ins'and late night splashes that aggravate so many women," states the product's website.

It is easy to install without using any tools and it's compatible with most toilet seats. In addition, the company who makes the product says that it is also proving helpful for many parents who are trying to potty train little boys, as it illuminates the target and helps them learn where to aim. Others say it can help individuals of all ages, especially seniors, avoid middle-of-the-night falls because it emits light.

The Johnny Light requires three "AAA" batteries, which are included with the purchase of the device.



These tattoos are not permanent
Posted on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Redecorating a bathroom can be an expensive and time-consuming process. But a new product gives homeowners a simple way to instantly change their bathroom décor without a lot of time or money involved.

Toilet tattoos are removable appliqués for the toilet lid. Made from electrostatic vinyl film, they easily stick to the commode in three easy steps - just peel the backing, put it in place and smooth it out.  In addition, they are removable, reusable and hygienic, as they can be wiped clean when necessary.

In addition to installing a new bathroom vanity, bathtub or making other big changes in a space, this product allows homeowners to make a style statement that can be changed whenever they'd like.

Designs include animal prints, fleur-de-lis, holiday and seasonal themes as well as monograms and designs for kids, such as ladybugs, rainbows and princesses.

"I wanted to decorate my toilet in a creative, modern and clean way, but soon realized that toilet décor products had not changed for decades," Toilet Tattoo founder Celeste Massullo told "So I created Toilet Tattoos to give consumers a contemporary and simple choice to decorate their commode."



Not your average bathroom
Posted on Tuesday, October 4, 2011

While many older bathrooms were designed to be utilitarian rather than beautiful, today's bathrooms often blend stunning design with efficient use of space and products. Whether homeowners plan their bathroom design on their own or enlist the help of a professional designer, creating an easy-to-use, luxurious space that reflects their personal style is now easier than ever, thanks to a large variety of products available.

Many designers suggest choosing a bathroom vanity first when planning a new bathroom design, as the vanity serves as a focal point and will dictate the entire feel of the space. Interior designer Jerry Jacobs says that the vanity can be anything but average.

"I believe that vanities are like sculpture, however with obvious functions in them. That is why I don't have preconceived ideas for them and simply come up with what the room and client inspire me to do," he said.

Jacobs says that the placement of the vanity in the bathroom can also impact the overall feel of the space.

"I've gone to the trouble of redesigning the whole space not only for the basin, but for the whole of the project and that's given me the opportunity to come up with some unique spaces."

Whether you strive to create a traditional, modern, contemporary or antique bathroom, there are thousands of vanities available in stores and online that will help make your vision for a beautiful room a reality.



Installing wainscoting in a bathroom is an ideal way to add style and character to the space. However, some people worry that the wood will not hold up well in the moist, humid environment of the bathroom.

There are other options to achieve the clean look of traditional wainscoting without the use of wood, however. A company called Plastpro makes a vinyl wainscoting product that is 100 percent moisture-resistant, so it prevents problems with mold or mildew that can occur in high-moisture areas of the home, such as the bathroom. It also protects sheetrock, keeping walls from warping, corroding and rotting, according to

"For contractors, architects and homeowners looking for a simple way to enhance and protect walls, installing vinyl wainscoting is an effective solution," said Franco An, president of Plastpro, Inc. "Our advanced technology has allowed us to manufacture a unique wainscoting that's not only strong and affordable, but looks fabulous."

In addition to being easy to clean and maintain, An says that the product is easy to install using a three-step process.

Whether or not homeowners are planning an entire bathroom renovation that includes installing a new bathroom vanity, bathtub, toilet and faucets, installing wainscoting can be a great addition to a space.



Choosing a bathroom faucet
Posted on Monday, October 3, 2011

Installing a new bathroom faucet is a quick and easy way to change the look of a bathroom without spending a lot of money. However, some people may be a bit overwhelmed at all of the options available when they start to shop for a new one.

According to, there are three steps that make choosing a new bathroom faucet simple. First, it's important to choose one that is compatible with your current plumbing. Faucets are available in single-hole, centerset, wall-mount or widespread styles. Once it's determined what type is needed, it's also important to measure how far apart the holes are.

The next step, according to the faucet manufacturer, is to choose how many handles the faucet will have as well as the handle style. It's important to think about who will be using the faucet on a daily basis when making this decision. Kids, for example, may have a harder time operating a faucet with two handles and may be better able to use a lever handle.

The final step involves choosing the finish. There are many faucet finishes available to fit in with any bathroom décor including polished chrome, brushed chrome, polished nickel, brushed nickel, brushed bronze, gold and oil-brushed bronze. Choosing one that complements your bathroom accessories can help to make the room seem more cohesive and provide a finished look.



Design experts suggest creating a design plan around the person or people who will be using a space in order to make it as aesthetically pleasing and efficient as possible. When it comes to designing a bathroom for a teenager, creating a space that reflects their personality, likes and style may be important.

As is the case with any bathroom, it's important to choose a bathroom vanity, bathtub, faucet, shower and toilet that will work well in the room and will meet the primary user's needs. For instance, when choosing a new bathroom vanity for a teen girl, it may be important to choose one that allows for a lot of storage for items such as brushes, make-up, hair products, nail polish and other toiletries.

As many teens will not want their space to look too childish, it's often important to get them involved in choosing items for their new bathroom. Whether they pick an overall theme, a paint color or a shower curtain, most will enjoy having a say in their bathroom's décor.

For those who will not be embarking on a total bathroom renovation, an existing bathroom can be made more teen-friendly by adding extra storage with shelves, baskets and bins, painting the walls and adding decorative accessories.


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