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Common Bathroom Renovation Mistakes, and What To Do Instead

Styling selections in the Primary bathroom of our Whole House Modern Transitional project by Houston residential interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

Are you dreaming of renovating or at least updating a bathroom in your home? Before you start this project on your own, have a peek at a few mistakes that are really common for DIY or first time renovation projects. You'll save yourself a lot of headaches, time, and money knowing these things to consider ahead of time!

Secondary bathroom of our whole house renovation project we lovingly call our Modern Texas Transitional project by Houston residential interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

Not Thinking Through Storage For Your Lifestyle

When it comes to planning and designing cabinetry, I think that people really underestimate the power of deep drawers versus cabinet doors. These can be pulled out farther than opening a door and having to reach in, sometimes on your knees, to grab what you need. Designer tip: you can design them to look like single drawers when really they're double height drawers that can hold taller aerosol cans or cleaning supplies easily.

If you're someone who uses hair tools, don't forget to have electrical plugs installed within vanities or drawers so these tools can have a permanent home, off the countertops and out of sight!

Nothing is too small or too weird to consider - walk through your daily and weekly routines to see what you really need to keep close by in the bathroom, and plan for them accordingly!

Sacrificing Function for Style

You can absolutely have beautiful, amazing hard finishes in your new bathroom, but the way the space is laid out is just as critical to consider. Take this example from real life that I recently saw in a real estate listing of a newly renovated home- don't be the person that picks the most beautiful stone and materials, and somehow ends up with the toilet in full view from the entry door of the bathroom! Whoever buys that house will be in plain sight of that toilet as they lay down on their bed every night. #pleasedon'tdothis

Not Taking Risks

I always like to think of powder bathrooms as little jewel boxes because of their size. If there's some crazy thing you want to do, or a fun color or wallpaper you want to use, this is the place to go for it!

No time for being bashful - you can absolutely go big in a small space to make an impact, and put a smile on anyone's face who uses the room!

Wonderful welcoming wallpaper in the powder bathroom of our Whole House Modern Transitional project by Houston residential interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

Don't Skip the Scale

Tile ratings are very, very important - do not assume that a tile can be used in every application, like a shower floor as well as a wall. Traction for floor tiles is critical, especially when water is involved, so smaller scale tiles in a shower floor are common to use (not to mention for proper drainage).

Liking a tile doesn't mean you should use it in all scenarios, so be careful and watch those ratings!

Fun puppy dog wallpaper in our Whole House Half House renovation project by Houston residential interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

Using the Wrong/No Ventilation

Exhaust fans may not be the sexiest thing about a bathroom renovation, but they are absolutely essential to plan for! If you, your spouse, or your kids are fans of long, hot showers, you need one running!

When we redid our secondary bathrooms, we opted for an exhaust fan with a motion and humidity sensor just in case *ahem* someone doesn't remember to turn it on during their shower. Humidity is no bueno in a bathroom - mildew and peeling paint can happen quicker than you think! We've also used exhaust fans on timer switches that run for up to an hour.

Using Too Many Different Materials

Too many different tiles, wallpaper, or multiple finishes can be overwhelming to the eye. I like to keep my max at 3 for different hard surfaces in a larger bathroom!

Not Hiring a Professional/Not Checking Referrals

As much as love a good DIY project, I will always say hiring a professional is so worth it! Where to get referrals for these professionals? Ask friends and family or neighbors for recommendations. But as always, check them out online before proceeding as well as asking them for referrals and reviews from previous clients. Always do your due diligence!

Location is Everything...Especially the Shower Controls

Have you ever wondered why shower controls always seem to be directly under the shower head? It's something that may not ever have occurred to you, but it's one of those default decisions that doesn't necessarily raise any flags during the design process because it's so readily accepted as the norm.

Raise your hand if you get wet every time you try to turn the shower on! Consider installing the controls on the opposite wall near where you would enter the shower to avoid getting wet! (Of course, confirm with your plumber that this is even possible before you order new fixtures since every situation is different).

The glorious Primary bathroom of our Whole House Modern Texas Transitional project by Houston residential interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors featuring elongated subway tile, gorgeous gold shower faucets and fixtures plus a duo of double duty shower niches.

Forgetting the Little Details and Standard Clearances

Contractors look at me like I'm crazy when I say I want to be on site when the last details like towel rings and toilet paper holders get installed, but we don't play around with little details at NLI. While we provide printed and electronic drawings for our projects with exact measurements, nothing beats being there on installation day to visually confirm where these pieces feel the most comfortable for our clients.

And don't forget about door swings and drawer clearances! Hallways with multiple doors that open into the same area can become a nightmare, and having one or two open could block access to storage or walkways easily. Don't discount the power of the pocket door y'all!

Designer tip: Take your renovated space from drab to fab by adding special touches with fun door hardware and cabinet hardware, as well as lighting.

Lack of Layered Lighting

The older I get, the more lighting I want in every room! I love recessed lights when done correctly and layer other ambient lighting such as chandeliers, pendants, sconces and picture lights and my favorite, table and floor lamps. As long as you nail the correct color temperature and output of the bulbs, you'll have yourself a room that truly lights itself from within to greet guests.

Designer Tip: I don't love above-the-mirror lighting in a bathroom because they tend to cause shadows, but mirror-flanking sconces or integrated LED mirrors are truly a gift for those of us who don't have the best eyesight anymore!

Thinking You Have to Do Light and Bright

A dark and moody bathroom is such a vibe - don't be afraid to make a statement y'all! Whether it's wallpaper or hard finishes such as tile or countertop material, you do you if dark is the way you want to go. My advice: if you love it, go for it and find a way to incorporate it into your space.

Dark and moody wallpapered powder bathroom of our Whole House Modern Texas Transitional project by Houston residential interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

I hope these tips help your next project move more smoothly. If you're looking for expert planning and guidance with the design of your next bathroom or kitchen project? Whether its a renovation project or you're dreaming of furnishing and decorating your home this year, just know we're here to help. We’re currently booking new projects for start dates in mid to late summer and early fall, so chat with us sooner rather than later!


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