Want to know the secret of family harmony? It’s pretty simple: Minimize shared bathrooms.
If you buy a house that features a master bath en suite, along with another full bathroom, consider yourself lucky, even if that second bathroom needs a ton of TLC.
Whether you’re about to embark on building on an extension or contemplating a total overhaul of your space, now’s the time to make smart choices about your children’s bathroom.
According to the National Association of Remodeling Industry’s 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, if a bathroom upgrade is tackled properly, homeowners will recoup up to 57% of the cost upon resale.
We asked real estate agents and designers to weigh in on creating a space that works for your growing family.
Use classic—and large—tiles
Trust us, you don’t want to be redoing this bathroom again in five to 10 years, so it’s a good idea to choose neutral materials. That means forgoing whimsical tile inlays that will quickly go out of style, says Kim Trouten, a Realtor® and designer with Allen Tate Realtors in Charlotte, NC.
Trouten advises a larger tile for the floor, either a 12-inch by 24-inch rectangle, or a 16-inch or 18-inch square.
“The larger the tile, the bigger the space will look, because there will be fewer grout lines,” Trouten says.
Opt for nonslip tiles if you have small children, adds designer Amy Strang, owner of Amy Strang Interiors in Scottsdale, AZ. Those little feet are likely to jump out of the tub and race across the room.
And consider extending the tile upward to cover the areas behind the toilet and sink, which will not only streamline the look of the room, but also means less wear and tear on the drywall.
“Another alternative would be shiplap or sheets of bead board that you can buy at a home design center,” says Trouten. “If you do that halfway up the wall, that’s a really effective way of creating style in the bathroom, plus it also makes everything a lot easier to clean.”
Speaking of cleaning, it’s best to go with an epoxy grout, which is more expensive but impervious to staining, Trouten says. If you opt for white or off-white tiles, use a darker, soft gray grout.
Say no to Disney princesses
Photo by EnviroHomeDesign LLC
Forget embellishing the bathroom with Disney characters that appeal to your wee ones today, and focus on making your child’s bathroom a blank canvas, adds Brie Fowler, a Realtor® with the Fowler Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Erie, CO.
That means neutral colors for flooring, countertops, and fixtures.
“Kids change so quickly within just a couple of years. They might want to have princesses or frogs when they’re 3 to 5, but by the time they’re in middle school, you have to change that out,” she says, adding that a light, bright, and Mickey-free bathroom will also appeal more to buyers when you eventually sell.
If you want to inject some personality into the space, Strang suggests incorporating playful accessories such as shower curtains that can be easily swapped out for more sophisticated items as kids get into their tween and teen years.
“Choose fun wall art or some cute towels while the child is young, which still allows you to have a classic bathroom space with interesting touches,” she says.
Keep the peace during tooth-brushing time
Photo by Bonin Architects & Associates
Do yourself a favor if you’re swapping out an existing vanity or building a bathroom from scratch: Put in two sinks, says Trouten.
“If you’re going to have two or more people using that bathroom, the cost of an extra sink, if there’s space, is well worth it,” she says. Plus, she adds, buyers overwhelmingly prefer bathroom vanities with two sinks.
Make it simpler for children to keep things organized
Photo by Sullivan, Goulette & Wilson Ltd. Architects
When it comes to storage options for a children’s bathroom, more is more, insists Trouten. You can never have too many places to hang wet towels, washcloths, and bathrobes.
“You definitely need as many hooks as possible, because inevitably, kids are not going to put things back neatly,” says Trouten.
“We have found that using vanities that have more drawers than cabinets makes it easier for kids to get to things,” she adds. “You can always assign a drawer to each child.”
Floating vanities allow space underneath to stash bath toys, diapers, and supplies in baskets that can easily slide in and out, says Fowler, who also suggests buying double-duty pieces for kids’ bathrooms.
“It’s always nice to have a bench with a lid, where you can store extra kid stuff, so that the space feels less cluttered,” says Fowler.
Carve out more storage space
Photo by Dick Clark + Associates
If you’re building from scratch or remodeling, consider building in some storage solutions. For example, you could have your contractor use 2-by-6 lumber instead of 2-by-4s for the framing, and then create a 5-inch niche in the wall, suggests Trouten.
“You can either install cabinet doors on that and use it as a medicine cabinet for toiletries, or you could just have open shelving,” she says.
If you have a full vanity that sits on the floor, make every inch count by tucking in custom items, adds Strang.
“Sometimes, people will build little stepping stools into the toe kick that you can just hide away and pull out when the child needs it,” she says.
Build in some privacy, too
Homeowners who are redoing or building a Jack and Jill bathroom with doors going into two bedrooms might want to consider putting the toilet in a separate room with a sliding door, suggests Trouten.
“That’s going to allow two people to use the bathroom at the same time,” she notes. “Pocket doors are the most practical, because they slide into the wall and take up less space.”
Rethink the bathtub
Conventional real estate rules used to dictate that every home have at least one bathtub, but that thinking is changing, says Trouten. Homeowners with older children often opt to put in a shower instead.
If you do want a tub, don’t choose one that’s very shallow, she suggests, and be sure to install a handheld faucet that makes cleanup a breeze.
Incorporating kid-friendly features that will work for years is the smartest way to invest your renovation dollars. Unless, of course, you enjoy redoing rooms every five years…