Ask the Expert

Worthwhile bathroom splurges

Q: We want to renovate our outdated master bathroom to feel more luxurious and relaxing. And while we’d like to keep costs in check, what do you recommend as some worthwhile splurges?

A homeowner can create a luxurious and relaxing master bath while keeping costs in check with the use of colors, lighting and heating or by rearranging the space. Light-colored neutrals, whites or creamy whites give a soothing feeling of elegance and expansiveness. Start with a simple field tile then add custom tile “bath jewelry” in strategic places or add a mural over the tub. Embellish with a tile chair rail to cap the field tile, backsplash and window border. Hang crown molding at the ceiling and tall baseboards at the floor. Warm floors are decadent, so adding radiant heat in a faux-marble tile or LVT floor is nice. Lighting is an essential focal point and you can find beautiful fixtures in every price point, shape and finish. A custom sound system infuses serenity in the bathing experience.

If space allows, separate the soaking tub and the shower, creating a walk in shower area, with or without a glass door, or add a floor-to-ceiling glass door system to form a sauna. Enhance the shower experience with body jets, a rain showerhead and hand-held heads for adjustability and cleaning. A bench, lit from below, offers a place to rest, and built-in accessory cubbies and baskets allow harmony. Heat lamps and heated towel bars, which can be electric or attached to a hot water baseboard heating system, add comfort. Plan for two separate sink areas with ample counter and storage space, then add novelty cabinet hardware, such as crystal or porcelain.

To further enhance the ambience, consider a fireplace. There are many easy-to-install gas and propane models available, and if you can install it at the end of the tub or in a wall between the master bath and the bedroom, it would be the ultimate splurge.

Carolyn M. Foelsch, CKD, CBD, CAPS, CGP, is the owner of Kitchens & Baths by Design, and has been a kitchen and bath designer in Fairbanks and Interior Alaska since 1994.