How Much Does a Bathroom Remodel Cost? Interview with Designer Lindsay Cerilli

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Roomhints sat down with the fabulous designer, Lindsay Cerilli, founder of Cerulean Concepts to dig deeper into understanding how much does a typical bathroom remodel cost. Cerulean Concepts is a full service interior design and project management company in Austin, Texas.

Interview with Lindsay

1. How much does a typical bathroom remodel cost?

Determining a budget for a bathroom remodel can be quite a broad task because of the amount of electrical, plumbing, and structural work that could be required. A more common bathroom remodel involves replacing plumbing fixtures and finishes like cabinets, countertops, and tile.

When taking on this more common type of bathroom remodel; the average costs can vary significantly based on geographical labor costs and level of finishes. On average, the bathroom remodel projects I have worked on have been in the $30k range. It has been proven that spending this type of money for a bathroom or kitchen remodel will typically bring back a good return on your investment.

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2. What are some ways to save on costs?

There are a lot of ways to save on bathroom remodel costs; over the years I have had to get pretty creative on the behalf of my clients to give them the overall look that they wanted for a price that they could afford. The easiest way to save money is to use a remnant for your countertop-these are also referred to as “rems” in the industry.

A remnant is the leftover portion of a slab that was used on another project. To look for a remnant, you should visit your local countertop fabricator’s shop. By selecting a remnant, you will be paying for the material that will be used for your project, opposed to paying for an entire new slab of material.

Hint: If using a remnant countertop for your bathroom remodel, choose your remnant piece first before you decide on any other material colors like cabinets or tile. It is a lot easier to find complementary cabinets and tiles to work with your remnant countertop, rather than the other way around!

Mirrors are another way where you can save on costs. Look for decorative bathroom mirrors at your favorite home décor store. Mirrors often go on sale and the pricing will typically be significantly less than using a custom glass and mirror company. Instead of using one giant piece of glass often referred to as “plate glass” which either gets glued or clipped to the wall; try finding individual framed mirrors to be placed centered over each sink for a more elegant look.

Another way to save money

Look into the different options for shower enclosures. This is a great way to save on the cost of a bathroom remodel. Frameless showers are appealing to many of the clients that I work with because the glass is supported by small hinges rather than a distracting bulky frame above head and along each side. Most shower glass fabricators have a few different options to achieve a frameless look without having to pay for the high price tag.

I find that the “true frameless” shower enclosures are more expensive than the shower enclosures that are supported with a slender channel on the sides connecting the glass to the wall tile. These lower cost shower enclosures are referred to as “semi-frameless”.

Tile can be one of the most expensive aspects of a bathroom remodel, especially if you choose decorative tiles. If you are going to use mesh-mounted decorative tiles, make sure to use them thoughtfully. Since the majority of these mesh-mounted tiles come on a 12×12 sheet, your tile installer will be able to get more linear feet out of each piece of mesh.

Also, if you design your deco band in factors of 12, they can be cut easily. (i.e. You will get 6 linear feet if you design a 2” high deco band opposed to only getting 3 linear feet if you design your deco band as a 4” height.) Lastly, to save on tile costs, you should consider using a ceramic tile over a porcelain tile for the walls. Ceramic tiles are regularly available and less expensive than porcelain tiles (I talk more about this below!)

Walls and Floors

3. Best materials to use for the walls and floors?

If you have started the journey of researching tile for your bathroom remodeling project you have probably already come across the price difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles. Rest assured- the higher price point on porcelain is worth it! Bathroom remodels can cost a lot but this is worth the extra money.

I recommend using a full-body rectified porcelain tile on bathroom floors because porcelain tiles are made to be denser and thus a harder product than a ceramic tile. This means less chipping and cracking. Rectified porcelain tiles are also the best option for your floors if you are trying to achieve small grout joints. For wall tile, I recommend using a ceramic to save on costs since bathroom walls undergo far less traffic than do bathroom floors. If you want your bathroom walls to sparkle by reflecting light, a glossy finish wall tile will do just the trick! Plus, glossy wall tiles do not require as much elbow grease as matte finish tiles do in order to keep clean.

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Tiles & Lighting

4. Small tiles vs. large tiles?

The size of your bathroom should directly affect the size of tiles that you use. The larger tiles will make your bathroom feel smaller because so few tiles will be taking up the majority of the space. The rule of thumb I like to use is the width of the selected floor tile should be no larger than ¼ of the bathrooms overall width. To create a more custom feel for your bathroom, try mixing up the sizes between the floor and the wall or use smaller tiles in different patterns like an offset pattern or herringbone pattern.

5. Best lighting options for a bathroom? 

Lighting is very important when it comes to bathrooms. I like to layer the light sources by using a few different types. When possible, having natural lighting from a window is always beneficial! Around the mirror, I suggest dimmable wall sconces that project the light both from the top and the bottom.

The dimming function is perfect for when you need to adjust the fixtures to the maximum light for make-up application but need to turn them down a smidge if you start getting overheated while using heated tools on your hair. One of my other favorite tips for bathroom lighting is to use a combination exhaust fan/waterproof recess can for above your tub or shower area. This will eliminate the unsightly look of an exhaust fan and will also provide an additional light source to your bathroom.

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Secret hints

6. Secret hint you have learned that always helps to improve a bathroom design?

Your bathroom will stand the test of time if you select tiles, cabinets, and countertops that are neutral in color and timeless in design. These also will not increase the cost of your bathroom remodel. You can change the wall paint color and bathroom accessories to be on point with the current trends. My favorite way to incorporate some extra flare into a bathroom is by replacing the matching 4” countertop material backsplash with a 4” mesh-mount mosaic tile. With the right mesh-mount tile, this can be relatively inexpensive and easy to replace if the trend changes over time.

7. Great place to purchase bathroom accessories?

I love Gatco bath accessories; they have a variety of fresh styles that complement all types of plumbing fixtures and are offered at a great price! You can purchase Gatco bath accessories at many of your favorite home stores including Wayfair, Amazon, and Home Depot.

Lets talk about cabinets!

8. Anything else you would like to add.

Out of all of the finishes that go into a bathroom-remodeling project, cabinets typically have the longest lead-time from placing the order to delivery. It is important to think in advance about the type and the amount of storage you will need in your new bathroom remodel and cost by comparing it to your existing storage situation. The more storage the better, so try incorporating as many drawers as possible into your cabinet plans. By thinking of these cabinet decisions in advance, it will eliminate having to make such important decisions on the fly and will allow you to meet the deadline to get the cabinets ordered.

To get more hints and ideas from an interior designer, upload a photo of your room to the Roomhints App.

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