If you are the fortunate owner of one of Charlotte’s historic homes, you may be in need of a home remodel. Your goal is to preserve your house’s charm during the renovation process. Find out how to remodel without sacrificing any details.
When you’ve got a list of home improvement projects that vary in size, complexity, and level of importance, it can be tricky trying to figure out when to hire a design-build home remodeling contractor versus individual trade specialists or subcontractors.
When considering whether to phase your home remodel into smaller chunks, investment, disruption, and isolation are the three most significant factors to consider.
Learn about Charlotte’s housing history which is rich with a diversity of architectural styles and themes that represent popular trends.
Originally built in 1993, this bathroom was starting to show its age. Angled walls were common practice in nineties construction and this Lake Norman bathroom remodel was no exception. Luckily, the overall layout worked pretty well, so instead of completely redesigning the entire bathroom, small changes were made to maximize the space available.
If we polled everyone in Charlotte and asked them to describe their ideal shower set-up, there would be more similarities than differences. We’ve pulled together a list of the six most common requests we get for shower upgrades anytime we remodel a bathroom—whether it’s for the owners or the kids. Many of these upgrades are just expected in modern shower designs, so while not technically necessary (hence the term upgrade), we consider them standard features.
The Oxford Dictionary defines a shower as, “an enclosure in which a person stands under a spray of water to wash.” You’ve probably been in a shower that’s as basic as that at some point or another, and while it’ll get you clean, it may not be an enjoyable experience. No one wants to start their day showering in a phone booth.
For years our clients were nervous about eliminating their seldom-used tubs in favor of larger showers with better features. They were afraid it would ruin their resale value. But given the choice of a phone booth shower and a large tub they never used or a decent-sized shower with no tub, most people are going to choose the latter. If there’s room for a great shower and a tub, that’s a bonus.
Shower Upgrades: Recessed Shower Niches
Gone are the days of suction-cup accessories from Bed, Bath & Beyond. Recessed shower niches are one of those upgrades that have become standard features, even in secondary bathrooms. While there are standard-sized inserts available, we prefer to frame most of ours on-site so we can control the exact size and placement for an integrated, custom look. As a general rule we line them up with the surrounding grout joints, but it really depends on the intention of the final design. The height placement will vary based on the chosen field tile and the height of the homeowner. Recessed niches in tub/shower combos in a kid’s bathroom should start about 30-36” from the floor (you want to be able to reach them while on your knees bathing a little one), while 42-48” may be more appropriate for the owners’ shower.
Shower Upgrades: Shower Benches
Built-in shower benches are another upgrade that’s become relatively standard. Whether it’s a corner bench or a long bench that stretches across the whole shower, homeowners of all ages enjoy the peace of mind they get knowing they could easily use their shower in the event of an injury or health condition requiring them to stay seated.
For easy maintenance, a cleaner look, and a more comfortable seat, we prefer using solid surfaces to top off our shower benches. Usually, we’ll use the same quartz or stone from the countertops to coordinate the shower with the vanity.
Not sure you really want an entire bench seat? Lower corner shelves made out of the countertop material make excellent foot props for shaving. Assuming your shower is large enough, an aftermarket shower seat would be a temporary option in the event of an injury.
Shower Upgrades: Multiple Shower Heads
We could write a whole post on shower plumbing alone, but the brief version is—Charlotte homeowners expect multiple shower heads in the owners’ bath. A fixed head and a handheld on a bracket or an adjustable slide bar are most common. A handheld shower is a necessity, if for no other reason than because it makes the miserable task of cleaning the shower easier and quicker.
While it may not be worth the investment to have two heads in the kids’ bath or the guest bath, there are now a variety of showerheads and shower columns that function as both a fixed head and a handheld all in one system, eliminating the need for an additional valve. These are also great for the owner’s bath if you’ve got a tight budget. We show two different installation methods for how to tackle these at our South End design studio.
Shower Upgrades: Decorative Grab Bars
Many of our clients intend to age in place as part of their active and healthy lifestyle. Decorative grab bars that coordinate with the rest of the plumbing suite provide safety in the shower without sacrificing style. Falls can happen at any age, so it’s a comfort knowing there’s something to grab if you slip. They’re also the perfect place for wet washcloths or bathing suits to drip dry.
Shower Upgrades: Curbless Showers
Whether aging in place or just after a cleaner look, curbless showers are also gaining in popularity. The first four shower upgrades are minor in terms of the financial investment required to include them in your shower design, but a curbless shower requires a very strategic design and a decent budget. To drain properly, the shower drain must be parallel to the shower opening and the floor must slope to allow water to flow properly. Depending on the layout of the bathroom, this may not be feasible in an attractive way. Half walls are a great way to hide the build-up of the floor to allow for a one-directional slope.
When done properly a curbless walk-in shower allows for wheelchair access, and at the very least it eliminates a possible tripping hazard.
Shower Upgrades: Steam Showers
If you’re looking for the ultimate luxury shower upgrade, a steam shower is about as close to a spa experience as it gets. Steam showers have been proven to help our bodies detoxify and relax among other health benefits. Whether you steam first thing in the morning to wake up, after a hard workout to relax your muscles, or before a long soak in the tub, you’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
Steam showers come with a larger price tag due to the extra material and labor involved to fully enclose the space—plus the cost of the actual generator. Typically, we’ll drop the shower ceiling or build a dropped header with a pivoting glass transom over the shower door. In either scenario, it will require more glass and tile than a standard shower. Don’t forget you’ll want a built-in bench to sit on while steaming and a really powerful exhaust fan to get the steam out effectively once you’re finished.
Shower Upgrades: Other Options to Consider
Regardless of how fancy you want your finished shower, there are a few other things to consider:
- We highly recommend glass coatings for keeping your shower glass looking new for years, especially if you have hard water.
- Integrated towel bars in the shower glass are also a nice option when there isn’t enough wall space for a conveniently placed towel bar.
- Decorative framed enclosures are gaining in popularity as homeowners and designers search for new ways to make bathrooms interesting. While not appropriate for every space, they can really add a wow factor to your shower design.
Whether you’d like to incorporate one or two of these upgrades in your redesigned shower, or all of them, we’d be happy to speak with you about your options. Schedule a call with us today to get started!
Background on tile and wood look porcelain or wood tile bathrooms
Tile became a mainstay in American bathrooms about a century ago due to its rugged, sanitary nature. While tile trends have certainly evolved and will continue to do so, one of the more recent innovations we’ve utilized over the last several years is porcelain tile that looks like wood.
Natural wood gives a beautiful, organic, and unique look to home design which is why it’s still the number one flooring choice of Charlotte area homes. The natural imperfections and variations of hardwood add interest and visual appeal, bringing subtle texture to your spaces and unifying more open floor plans.
Natural wood isn’t always the best choice for bathrooms or other wet areas like laundry or mudrooms. Because wood is porous and apt to cup when exposed to water or significant humidity, the general guidance is to avoid putting it on floors or walls in bathrooms. Some people do it anyway and are diligent about water spots and ventilation, but most people avoid it to be safe.
We were excited when the first faux wood tiles appeared on the market around 2013, but the selection was limited. With new advancements in technology and manufacturing, the industry has boomed since then, and you can now get the natural wood look without the hassle of natural wood maintenance.
High quality and excellent selection mean the sky’s the limit in applying wood look porcelain tile! Porcelain tile that looks like wood is resilient, water-resistant, and so similar in appearance to the real thing, it is tempting to reach out and touch it to make sure it’s tile.
Grout lines and tile rigidity are what give it away on close inspection. Still, for durability and resistance to moisture, it’s a fantastic option for bathroom floors, shower or accent walls behind tubs, and messy spaces like laundry rooms and mudrooms.
Apply Wood Grain Porcelain Tile as Flooring in Your Bathroom
Before selecting tile flooring for the bathroom, consider how you typically use the space. Large-format tiles with a smooth, shiny finish get slippery when wet. Do you get water on the floor when you step out of the shower or tub? Is the bathroom used by children who may be less aware of their splashes and drips? If the answer is “yes,” then a tile rated for wet areas is ideal, but the additional texture is even better. Because adding texture to the tile makes it look more realistic, most wood look porcelain tiles are especially slip-resistant.
Minimize the Grout
If you want the spacing of your porcelain tiles to resemble actual wood, it’ll be essential to select a style that has a rectified edge, meaning it’s perfectly straight and square. Usually, you find rectified edges on higher-end, premium-quality tiles.
Unfortunately, due to the long, plank-like nature of wood look tiles, most have a natural tendency to warp ever so slightly, making tiny grout joints impossible if you do not rectify the edge. Designers typically use ¼” spacers, but they vary based on each manufacturer’s recommendation.
If tiny grout joints are vital to you, make sure to bring this to your bathroom design lead’s attention so they can pull selections that would be more appropriate for that type of installation. Selecting a complementary grout color similar to the tile will also help them to be less noticeable.
Get the Look You Like with Less Maintenance
Natural wood is beautiful, but it has a life cycle. It will need to be refinished, repaired, or replaced eventually. Refinishing is an involved process that’s best done every 10-15 years as part of a larger home remodeling project. But for those high-traffic or wet areas that get heavy use, digital technology makes it possible to duplicate the look of any wood so you can use tile instead.
Installing porcelain wood look tiles makes for less maintenance over the floor’s lifetime. No resurfacing, refinishing, waxing, or shining is required. We always recommend using a high-quality grout with a built-in sealer, so you don’t have to worry about periodic resealing either.
The increasing popularity of wood look porcelain tiles is driving demand for higher-end options. Some more expensive product lines come with a greater variety of grain patterns, making them look more like natural wood. Whether you want something that mimics bamboo for a contemporary look or a rustic reclaimed style for your modern farmhouse, there are options for both and everywhere in between.
Shower Wall Application
Wood-look tile accent walls are a great way to add texture to any space, but the contrast between that and sleek plumbing fixtures makes it especially effective in a bathroom remodel. Because it’s tile, there’s no need to worry about the expansion of the pieces due to high humidity like you would if you installed natural wood on the wall.
Project by Jeff King & Company via Houzz
Porcelain wood look tile opens up a whole new world of design options for bathrooms and wet areas in our clients’ homes. The sizeable linear format lends itself well to several different tile patterns, and fewer grout lines mean it’s easy to keep clean compared to a subway tile or mosaic.
Open Your Mind and Bathroom to Wood Porcelain Tiles
The importance of a well-functioning master suite cannot be understated. After the kitchen, the main suite is the second most important space in your home. And just like the kitchen, the master suite is critical to a homeowner’s overall health and well-being.
To be at our best in a world that demands more from us than ever before, it’s imperative that we have a private, quiet space to rest, to nourish our bodies, and to begin and end our days in a way that promotes optimal health.
A Unique Master Suite Update
This couple wanted to create a unique master suite that not only reflected the style of the rest of the home but incorporated an international flare. While the design elements of a home’s more public spaces should flow to create a sense of continuity, private spaces like master bedrooms and bathrooms are a great opportunity to try something a little unexpected – like the graphic white and gold wallpaper they selected for the bathroom.
By redesigning the two spaces we were able to maximize storage and natural light within the existing footprint, expand the shower, and simplify the traffic flow. Plantation shutters were replaced with motorized roman blackout shades for optimal sleep. Two windows in the bedroom were replaced with bedroom French doors to provide access to the outdoors and allow more light into the bedroom during the day.
The solid bi-hinged bathroom doors were exchanged with frosted glass French doors to maintain privacy while allowing light from the large bathroom window to spill into the rest of the bedroom.
By optimizing for storage and natural light, and incorporating a balanced design throughout the entire master suite, our clients now have a unique, award-winning space that offers a relaxing retreat to start and end each day.
When you’re ready to makeover your master bedroom, give us a call at 704-759-3920. Schedule a call with one of our project developers to discuss next steps.