Top 5 Bathroom Design Pet Peeves

How to fix bathroom design mistakes

By Mimi Fong

In my work as a design professional, I see the same bathroom design mistakes repeated endlessly. Some of the mistakes are merely annoying, while others are downright problematic. If you're building a home or considering a bathroom renovation, keep these "pet peeves" in mind to save yourself considerable heartache and expense.

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1. Window in the shower

It's common to have a window on the shower wall for good reason: a window lets in light and provides ventilation when mechanical ventilation isn't permitted or possible. The height of the window is critical. When the window sill is too low or too close to the showerhead, water splashes and settles there. Many people also use the window sill for storing shampoo and soap. These bottles act as a dam and prevent water from draining and evaporating. Over time, mildew and mold start to grow—an unsightly and unhealthy problem.

Solution: Avoid setting the window too low or too close to the shower spray.

Ideal solution: By-pass window located high on wall to allow maximum light and ventilation while providing privacy.

2. Broadway-style light fixtures

These fixtures are great at lighting faces in a backstage dressing room, but they are too harsh in a residential bathroom. Imagine stepping into your bathroom first thing in the morning only to be hit in the face with blinding lights. Not a pleasant way to start the day.

Solution: Choose light fixtures with shades to softly distribute the light and illuminate your face evenly. If you can't have lighting at the same level as your face, select fixtures that distribute light downward as much as possible so you can clearly see yourself in the mirror.

Side lights with frosted glass shades at face level provide optimum lighting for daily routines such as shaving.

3. Toilet in plain view

Many bathrooms have the toilet placed in direct line of sight for all to see. This is unattractive and bad feng-shui, which holds that your fortune will be flushed away if the toilet faces the door. Placing a toilet center stage also leaves the user feeling vulnerable, especially if the bathroom is large.

Solution: It is a better design aesthetic—and more comfortable for the user—to showcase a beautiful vanity and tuck the toilet into a less visible, more private corner of the bathroom.

Here are some more key elements of a well designed bathroom.

4. Centered shower drain

The shower drain serves an important dual role: draining water and trapping unwanted debris, such as hair, to keep the pipes clear. Many contractors like to place the drain in the center of the shower. This is less-than-ideal positioning. Your feet are likely to block part of the drain, slowing the drainage process, and if you're not fastidious about cleaning the drain every day (and who among us is?), then you'll be stepping on a drain full of hair.

Solution: It is a simple matter to have the contractor place the drain off-center, provided it doesn't alter how the pipes are laid.

5. Insufficient exhaust

Bathrooms generate most of the steam a home produces. Expelling this moisture should be the number one priority in any bathroom. Without effective exhaust, other materials in the room—such as wood and even cosmetics—will begin to break down, and mold and mildew will grow rampant.

Solution: When designing a bathroom, make sure to have enough exhaust and air circulating to keep moisture levels low.

Only after you have addressed these fundamental design issues should you begin to think about whether the green glass tiles in the bathroom match the drapery in the bedroom!

Get some pro tips for handling a DIY bathroom renovation.

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