Design a Master Bath for the Ages

Large Master Bathroom

What’s the number one must-have people want in a master bath makeover these days?

Large spaces!

According to Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, in 2015 30% of those remodeling a bathroom wanted to enlarge their shower by 50% or more; 19% were looking for 25 to 50% more room. Are you looking for more space, comfort, ease, and safety in a spa-like bathroom? First, you need to determine your budget.

In southern New Hampshire, remodeling a basic bathroom starts at about $11,000. For a nice master bathroom, you can expect to pay $20,000 and up. If the value of your home is in the $500,000 range and higher, expect to pay significantly more to do your master bathroom—and your home–justice.

Danahy Master AfterOf course, if you’re considering adding on a master bathroom as part of a new master bedroom suite, the cost would be more. But the investment is well worth it.

Redoing a bathroom is not for amateurs. Aside from the challenges of moving or adding plumbing fixtures, if you want to enlarge the room you have to take space from someplace else. Can you steal a few feet from a walk-in closet, or a hallway? Bump out a wall into an adjacent room? An experienced design/build team can show you possibilities (and pitfalls) you may not be aware of.

A firm foundation

Start from the bottom up. Tile floors—ceramic and stone or tiles disguised as stone—is classic. Another timeless look is a palette of black and white squares or diamonds. Newer looks include travertine marble and even wood. How about radiant (under-floor) heating? This warms the room from the floor up, makes toes feel toasty, and is more efficient. To visually expand and unify the room, particularly with walk-in showers, you can “flow” tile flooring into the shower basin.

Lighting is important, not just for tasks such as shaving. Consider recessed or can lighting to open your bathroom up, and include a strategically placed heat lamp and dimmer switches. Make the most of any natural light. Does the house layout give you a skylight option?

Binder 30 (1)Larger showers are trendy, but are you willing to sacrifice a tub? Or will the master be large enough to feature a soaker tub? For traditional or transitional homes, clawfoot and similar style tubs fit right in. Soaker or slipper-shaped tubs are deeper than but not as long as other tubs.

For that spa ambiance, nothing beats a whirlpool or air-jet tub, but they use a lot of power, water, and can be heavy and noisy. So think carefully about how much you’ll use it. Maybe a steam shower is more practical.

Vanities offer furniture-like features with feet, vertical slide-out drawers for bottles and jars, and open storage areas like cubbies. These nooks can relieve the look and feel of solid, hard surfaces, especially when rolled towels are tucked inside. (Some vanities are furniture, old dressers opened up on top for a vessel sink, for example, for a true custom piece.)

Dual sinks are the norm these days in new construction, but do they fit your lifestyle? Maybe you and your significant other rarely use the bathroom at the same time. If so, that’s valuable space you can use for something else, like more storage.

What are your privacy preferences? Is there room for a privacy wall or alcove to set off the toilet area? Some contemporary bathrooms feature curved walls that “hide” showers or toilets behind them, without walling them off completely.

Think about comfort besides style. Imagine wrapping yourself in a warm towel from a heated rack on winter mornings. Is the bathroom easy to clean? (Hanging vanities and toilets mounted on the wall free up floor space and make mopping a cinch.)

The future is now.

As the Chinese proverb says, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. What does this mean? Consider the future while redesigning or remodeling your home. According to AARP’s 2012 United States of Aging Survey, 90% of Americans, plan on “aging in place,” that is, in their home. Therefore, plan ahead when doing any building or remodeling project. That means considering the principles of universal design.

Universal design principles allow for beautiful spaces now and, looking toward the future, safety and accessibility for when you may not be as agile or strong. Maybe you may have an elder parent living with you, or you may eventually need to accommodate a walker or wheelchair.

For a major master bath remodel, consider the following carefully:

  • A master bedroom and bath on the first floor
  • Incorporating a walk-in or curb-less shower stall
  • Making sure there are no sharp edges or tight squeezes
  • Installing wider doorways
  • Lighting the cabinet toe-kick for nighttime bathroom trips
  • Touch-free plumbing fixtures
  • Scald guard on the hot water heater
  • Including seating in the shower
  • Nonslip flooring to prevent falls
  • Smooth, easy-to-clean surfaces
  • Door and cabinet handles that are easy to grip or push
  • A hand-held shower head that can easily slide down or up for access when standing or sitting.


Whether you’re remodeling a master bath for your comfort now and for decades to come, or thinking of resale value, the right details can make all the difference. Well-designed fixtures will complement your home’s style, and be functional without looking institutional—such as towel bars that are sturdy enough to double as grab bars.

The 3W Design team has plenty of experience building and performing master bathroom makeovers, so please feel free to give us a call! (603) 226-3399

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