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From mundane to modernized: Your primary bathroom remodel guide

Bathroom Remodeling

by LB Gabriel Posted on October 25, 2021

If you spend each morning sharing a sink with your partner, staring at a pink toilet, or climbing into an outdated bathtub, it might be time for a primary bathroom remodel. And, trust us, this home project is definitely worth the price of admission.

Primary bathroom makeovers can maximize space, improve energy efficiency, and even increase your home’s value. Most buyers don’t want to see a long to-do list when they’re looking at a home to purchase; they want to be able to picture themselves enjoying the space and having a touch of luxury at their fingertips.

Looking to become a pro of the primary bathroom renovation? Here’s what to expect, how to prepare, and some top-notch bathroom remodel ideas.

A before and after of a primary bathroom remodel

How much does it cost to renovate a large primary bathroom?

If money is no object, you can sink (pardon the pun) a lot of money into a primary bathroom remodel. Labor is around half of the overall cost, and fixtures can run in the thousands, especially if they’re on the high end.

estimates that the average primary bathroom remodel costs around $18,000. This includes the price for a tub, shower, double vanity, cabinets, and fixtures. It also takes the larger square footage — compared to your home’s other bathrooms — into account. To keep the budget in check, you’ll need to do your research, create a plan, and stick to the schedule. Our home remodeling checklist has some tips for making this happen.

Let’s also take a moment to talk about the difference between a primary bathroom renovation and a remodel. While you can use either word interchangeably and have the meaning understood, the two do differ in price and scope.

  • A renovation fixes damage and updates the look and feel of a room.
  • A remodel changes the size, structure, or layout of a room.

As you can imagine, remodeling is often more expensive than renovating because it can involve changing the electrical functionality, plumbing, wall locations, and more.

Construction happening on a primary bathroom

Can I remodel my primary bathroom myself or should I hire a professional?

A primary bathroom remodel isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a small room, but it has some big elements to it (more on that in a minute). That being said, there are some smaller tasks you can take on yourself if you want to be part of the action and save a little money.

  • Flooring: Removing flooring and replacing it with vinyl or bathroom tiles takes some concentration and elbow grease, but it’s something that can be handled by many homeowners.
  • Painting: Changing wall color is a simple task that only takes a few hours to complete.
  • Cabinet installation: If you’re not doing custom cabinetry work, you can most likely pop your bathroom cabinets and countertop into place.
  • Toilet installation: While removing a toilet can require some plumbing knowledge, putting one back in place is a heavy but fairly simple task.
  • Cosmetic changes: Installing shelving, mirrors, artwork, and other aesthetics are great DIY projects.

You can do some of these things on your own, or you can work alongside a contractor if you want to divvy up the to-do list. The PODS Blog has some great hiring recommendations for finding the right person or team to handle the job.

Talk openly with your project team if there are aspects of the remodel that you want to handle, such as buying your own tub, replacing your fixtures, or installing the sink. Your contractor will go through the repair estimate with you, letting you know if your time is well spent on these projects or if it’s more effective to roll them into the overall cost.

Keep in mind that plumbing, electrical work, drywall, and other construction tasks are tough to handle alone and require years of training and knowledge. And it may seem like you’re saving money by doing things yourself, but if you make a mistake, it can often cost more to repair the damage. If you want to knock down walls, reroute plumbing, or change wiring, it’s best to consult a professional.

Using a PODS portable storage container for a remodeling project

What do I need to do before the primary bath remodel begins?

Before the remodel begins, you’ll need to clear your primary bathroom and possibly even tear out elements and fixtures. That’ll probably require packing up some boxes and finding space for everything else that’s removed from the primary bath.

To prevent creating a mess in other parts of your house, you might want a place to put everything like a PODS portable storage container kept in your driveway. Keep it there as long as you need to, and use the extra space to store your things and organize your tools and equipment, keeping everything out of your way (but within arm’s reach).

A sauna in a bathroom

How do I redesign my primary bathroom?

Sometimes you know you want a refreshed space, but you don’t know how to make it happen. If you’re looking for inspiration, we love turning to the experts. But if you want a more customized approach, here are some questions and thoughts to consider.

  • How do you use your primary bathroom? Is this for a married couple with grown children, or will the whole family be crowding into the bathroom every morning to get ready? If you have a lot of people in the space, you may need a tub and a shower, more storage space, etc.
  • You may only be thinking about what parts of your primary bath need to change, but ask yourself what’s working. What do you like? If something can stay the same, it’ll save time and money.
  • What are your storage needs? If you’re cramming towels underneath the sink or piling toiletries on the countertops, consider building a small linen closet or incorporating shelving.
  • Are you a tub or shower person? Tubs take up a lot of space. If soaking isn’t your cup of tea, use the square footage for something you’d enjoy more. Mini sauna, anyone?
  • If you have the space, do you want some little extras, like a separate toilet area, vanity seating, or attached closet? The primary bathroom doesn’t have to just be a four-walled square.

The pandemic has caused us all to spend more time in our homes — and many of us realized that our homes needed some work. People want to relax and recharge in their space, and nowhere is that more needed than the primary bathroom. A quick look at the latest trends show that modernization, minimalism, and personal comfort are the name of the game.

A primary bathroom
  • Larger showers and tubs: What’s more impressive than seeing a large shower with multiple showerheads, towel hooks, and steam options? People are wanting to bring that upscale hotel feel to their own primary bathrooms, and a big shower or soaking tub is the most popular way to make it happen.
  • Quartz countertops: Not only is quartz easy on the eyes, but it’s also scratch- and stain-resistant. It looks like marble but costs less and can handle more wear and tear. Bonus points for its nonporous surface, which is less susceptible to bacteria growth.
  • ENERGY STAR® toilets: Toilets are by far the in your house, with older models using more than six gallons per flush. To prevent wasting water and money, many people are replacing their fixtures with energy-efficient models that reduce water usage.
Heated flooring being installed
Underfloor heating system being installed
  • Heated flooring: Nothing feels better than a long, warm shower. And nothing is worse than turning off the water and stepping onto a cold bathroom tile floor. Take away the temp shock with heated flooring.
  • Going green: This time, we’re not talking about environmentally friendly bathroom solutions (although, that’s always a winner in our eyes). Literally, green is a popular bathroom color because it evokes feelings of calmness and harmony. Sounds pretty nice, right? We don’t suggest slathering the walls in an avocado hue, though. A nice subtle bathroom tile pattern, basin, or decorative touch will get the job done.

No matter your reason or your goal, a primary bathroom remodel is a great way to enjoy your home to its fullest. You deserve to have a space where you can reinvigorate yourself after a long day. Put in that steam shower or upgrade your tub to the model with massaging jets. Pick and choose the elements that appeal to you, and you won’t regret it.

LB Gabriel is a freelance writer who lives with her husband, daughter, and Golden Retriever in Memphis, TN. A frequent PODS blog contributor, she's a sucker for any tip she can find on downsizing, cutting clutter, or minimalist living. When she's not on a deadline, you can find her on a tennis court or golf course.

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