How to Plan for the Perfect Bathroom Remodel

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Bathrooms are one of the most popular home remodels–and for good reason. Your bathroom is the place where you start and end the day. You might want it to be relaxing and spa-like or energizing and fun, but you definitely want it to be beautiful and functional. Bathroom remodels also net some of the highest ROI of any home improvement project. Remodeling’s Cost vs Value Report for 2024 finds that in our area, a midrange bathroom remodel can expect to recoup 70.3% of money spent. And an updated bathroom is always a selling point for potential buyers. If you’re ready to start remodeling your bathroom, make a potentially overwhelming process easy by following these steps.

Make a List

Start your renovation plan with a brainstorming session. Gather everyone who should have a say in the bathroom design (your partner, kids, etc) and make a Needs vs Wants list. What features are must-haves and which ones are nice-to-haves? Do you love a soak in the tub at the end of a long day? Maybe an oversized tub with jets tops your list. Will two or more kids be sharing the bathroom? A double vanity might help when it’s time to get ready for the day. Maybe you have to replace a shower (the need) and you love the look of tile (the want). Setting the needs and wants down in black and white will help you know your priorities when it comes time to start the remodel.

Determine the Level of Remodeling You Want

Will this be a basic or light remodel where you replace the vanity, lighting, and paint? Will it be a more comprehensive project that includes replacing all the bathroom elements but leaving them in their original place (thus keeping the same footprint)? You may want to move the plumbing and electric in the bathroom and shift the location of the toilet, sink, and shower. Or a complete renovation might be what you want: moving walls, changing the size and shape of the space, and starting from scratch. Talking with your designer and contractor is helpful here; they will have some ideas and solutions you may have yet to consider.

The ideal layout for your bathroom will be impacted by several factors:

  • Who will be using this space? Is it a primary bathroom, a guest bathroom, or is it one your kids will use?

  • How many people will be using this room? Will you have multiple people getting ready for the day together, or will it be a private space for one?

  • What styles do you love? What do you want the bathroom to look like and feel like?

The Wet Area

In a bathroom, the wet area means just what it sounds like: the part of the room that will get wet. It includes the shower and bathtub. When planning your bathroom renovation, you’ll need to decide if you want a shower only, a shower/tub combo, or a shower and stand-alone tub. 

Since the wet area makes up the largest part of most bathrooms, what you want in that space will help determine the size and layout of the room. If you have older family members, plan to age in place in your home, or have mobility challenges–or if you just like the look–a curbless, walk-in shower can be a great choice. And replacing a tub with a spa shower is a great way to increase the value of your home.

The Dry Area

If your bathroom just needs a little facelift, refinishing your vanity is a great place to start. If you decide to do a more thorough remodel, consider replacing your vanity with something that fits the space–and your needs–better. You can upgrade to a vanity with a marble or granite counter and sink. You can make a single-sink vanity into a double, or change the style of a dated vanity.

Consider your mirror as well. Do you want a bigger one? One over each sink? What style will work best in your space?

Finally, do you want the toilet moved? Do you want a separate toilet room? Or are you happy with its current placement? Replacing your current toilet is a good idea when remodeling a bathroom. Consider getting a high-efficiency dual-flush toilet to make your bathroom more environmentally friendly.

Lighting and Ventilation

Good lighting is a must in a well-designed bathroom. You will likely want bright lights over the vanity as well as softer lighting to facilitate relaxation. Having lights on separate switches and even installing dimmable lighting will give you plenty of options. The lights you choose can blend into the bathroom design or stand out as focal points. 

While not the most interesting part of a bathroom remodel, a good exhaust fan can make a world of difference. Without one, you can wind up with mold and mildew, peeling paint, and even damage to your drywall. You want a fan that is powerful enough for the size bathroom you have. Your contractor can help you find the right one.


There are so many great options to choose from for your bathroom floor. Take into account the rest of your home’s flooring and what style you like. You want something beautiful, durable, and waterproof or water resistant. Some possibilities include

  • ceramic tile

  • porcelain tile

  • marble

  • slate 

  • luxury vinyl plank (LVP)

  • luxury vinyl tiles (LVT)

Storage and Outlets

In a bathroom, like in a kitchen, storage is at a premium. You always want to plan for as much storage as you can. You can use open shelving, a bathroom closet, drawers or cabinets in the vanity, medicine cabinets, hooks, and more. One smart solution for smaller bathrooms is to use recessed storage where possible. Use niches in showers and build recessed shelving into the walls. 

Think about outlet placement. You can place outlets on walls that are next to the vanity, or even inside the vanity drawers or cabinets. You may end up wanting more outlets than you initially thought. Talk through this with your contractor.


Generally, bathrooms are painted with eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss paint. This is because the glossier the paint, the tighter the paint structure. And the tighter the structure, the less likely it is that water will be absorbed into the paint and damage the wall underneath. If you have your heart set on the velvety finish or flat or matte paint, you can still achieve the look you want with specially formulated bathroom paint that is designed to withstand moisture and humidity.

Choose a light color to make a small room feel bigger, or a dark color to achieve a moody or dramatic look. Light neutrals like gray-green, gray, and off-white can make your bathroom feel like a relaxing spa. If you can’t decide, go with a fresh white and add pops of color with towels, rugs, and accessories!

Ready to Get Started?

It takes a lot of decision-making to plan a bathroom remodel. If you need some help coming up with the best design for your space and needs, we’d love to help. Our team provides expert help with every part of the renovation process from designing to executing to handing over the keys to your finished home. If you’re located in the Virginia, DC, or Maryland area, contact us today, and let’s start making your home everything you want it to be.

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