Understanding the Most Common Kitchen Design Styles

Today’s kitchen isn’t just used for cooking. This multi-functional space has become the favorite spot for family gatherings, parties, work and conversations over a glass of wine.

The layout and design of your kitchen must fit your family’s lifestyle. Whether you’re building a new home, planning a kitchen renovation or want to make the best choice in your house hunting process, keep these common kitchen design styles in mind.

Kitchen layouts

There are six common kitchen layouts for you to consider for your home. Some of them are space dependent, but others are designed to fit certain lifestyles and patterns of use.

One-wall

The one-wall kitchen design is typically found in small homes. Appliances are lined against one wall in the home (usually a studio or loft condo). The sink is placed between the refrigerator and the stove for easy cleanup. One downside to this kitchen layout is the limited counter space for food prep. A kitchen island can be added for more space in larger homes.

Galley

Galley kitchens have a narrow design optimized for cooking, not socializing. Restaurants often use this design for maximum efficiency when prepping, cutting and plating food. Having the kitchen open on both ends of the galley is ideal for allowing maximum light and easier access. A downside to the galley design is that there’s often no room for a dining area.

U-shape

Similar to a one-wall design, the U-shape kitchen is typically smaller in design and best suited for a one-cook family. The layout places the refrigerator, range and sink each on a different wall. These kitchens often offer limited space, so a dining area or kitchen island is usually not an option, especially in older homes.

Island

An island kitchen is usually a larger version of the traditional U-shape design. Newly built homes often feature large kitchen islands and an open-space concept, making your kitchen an accessible social space. The island is a great space for homework, food prep and a breakfast bar.

L-shape

The L-shape kitchen is a common design in small and medium sized homes. The “L” is formed by the kitchen essentials running along two walls—usually 12 to 15 feet in length for maximum efficiency. This design usually offers enough space for dine-in kitchens, but it’s not meant to be a thoroughfare.

G-shape

The G-shape kitchen design is also known as a peninsula kitchen. Think an L-shape kitchen with an attached island to one side. This design offers many of the same benefits of an island kitchen without having an obstructive piece of your kitchen in the middle of an open area.

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Hot Remodeling Trend: At-Home Dog Washing Station

With more than 60 million families across the nation owning at least one dog, it’s no surprise that the latest home remodeling trend caters to dog owners.

An at-home dog washing station not only makes caring for your furry family member much easier but also provides the dog with a safer, less stressful environment. Mudrooms or laundry rooms are great places to consider as many already have the necessary plumbing for a shower.

How much does a dog washing station cost?

Installing an at home dog washing station is similar to installing a shower or tub. You’ll need to contact a plumber if the water line and drain are not already present and a contractor to install the actual wash area. Costs vary from roughly $1,000 for a freestanding tub while a custom design can cost much more.

Shower, tub or freestanding wash basin

A walk-in shower works best for larger dogs, while an elevated tub is best suited for smaller dogs that can easily be lifted into the washbasin. A freestanding washtub is a less expensive option as it requires no tile work, but you still need a plumber for installation.

  • Elevated tub: Steps or ramps can be installed with an elevated tub. If you choose a tub, keep the depth no greater than 15 inches so you don’t have to learn over constantly.
  • Walk-in shower: The walk-in shower can be framed with an elevated lip around the base of the shower to prevent water from running into the floor. A hinged door can also be added if desired.
  • Freestanding washbasin: This option is the least taxing on your wallet and is an easier feature to remove if you desire a change.

Whether you choose a shower or tub, tile is the recommended material for easy clean-up and water damage prevention.

Best dog washing station features

As you plan out the installation of a dog washing station in your home, be sure to include these helpful features:

  • Hand-held showerhead: Make the shower head mobile so you don’t have to force your dog into one corner of the bath to be rinsed.
  • Leash clip: Create stability by having a clip you can use to tether your dog to the wall.
  • Shelf: Create an easy-to-reach area where you can set your supplies during bath time.
  • Storage: Keep your dog washing area organized while it’s not being used with sufficient cabinetry and shelfing.
  • Rubber grip mat: The American Kennel Club says dogs can become stressed on slippery surfaces. Use a rubber grip mat in the bottom of the shower or tub to provide a stable surface.
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Common Emergency Plumbing Problems and Solutions

It’s 2 a.m. Christmas Eve morning and you’ve got a burst pipe. If you thought it was difficult to find a plumbing professional to come to your home on a Friday afternoon, you know it’s impossible in the middle of the night on a holiday. It’s these emergency plumbing situations that spark the need for you to know how to handle a leaking pipe, running toilet or clogged drain.

We understand that not every plumbing emergency will be something you can fix on your own, but knowing how to prevent further damage may save you some cleanup time and cash before the professionals arrive.

Plumbing Emergencies & Solutions

Running Toilet

Fixing a running toilet is much easier than you might think. Start by testing the flapper: Push down on the piece and if the water stops, you’ve found your problem. Replace the flapper with one of the same style.

If the flapper isn’t to blame, check the fill tube connected to the overflow pipe. The water level may be set too high. If water is going into the overflow tube, adjust the float until the water is about an inch below the tube.

Leaking Pipe

If you have a leaking pipe, turn off the water supply immediately. Allowing even a small amount of water to pool can cause serious damage to your home.

If the leaky pipe has a threaded connection, disconnect the pipes, dry the threaded surface and apply either Teflon tape or Teflon pipe joint compound. These materials will reduce leaking at plumbing joints.

Burst Pipe

Depending on the size of the leak, you will need to use different materials. For a pinhole size leak, use duct tape to stop the leak until a plumber arrives or you can replace the piece of piping. If the break in the pipe is large, use a piece of rubber against the opening and secure the rubber with a sleeve clamp (you will need to buy a clamp that fits your pipe).

Dripping Faucet

You may not consider a dripping faucet a plumbing emergency, but consider this: just three drips per minute results in more than 100 gallons of water lost over 12 months. Use this water drip calculator to determine how much water (and cash) you’re losing to a leaking faucet.

Blocked Drain

Cleaning a blocked drain doesn’t require a bottle of chemicals. Grab some rubber gloves and a wire hanger or a plunger and get to work

If the problem is with the toilet or kitchen sink drain, use the plunger, completely sealing the rim of the plunger cup to the toilet bowl or sink for maximum effect.

If that doesn’t work, bend a wire hanger to the appropriate angle to grab or clear the blockage. This method also works for bathroom and shower drains. Hair and other material can build up in pipes over time, so using the hanger to remove the blockage rather than a chemical to push it further along in the pipes offers a better long-term solution.

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Designing a Bathroom That’s Safe for Kids

shutterstock_65999068Having young kids in the family brings a world of joy and energy to your household, but with little ones running about you must ensure the safety of your home.

Every year dozens of children in the United States drown in the bathtub, making the bathroom a priority for a safety overhaul. Add dangerous cleaning products, slippery floors and scalding hot water to the mix and you’ve got one small room with a host of serious hazards.

Poison Prevention

While ultra-harsh chemicals should be removed from bathroom cabinets entirely, even regular cleaning or beauty products present a danger.

Install cabinet and drawer clamps to stop kids from reaching into areas where potentially poisonous materials or sharp objects are stored.

Get a Grip

Place non-skid mats outside the tub or shower enclosure and adhere non-slip strips on the floor of the bathing surface.

Grab bars make it easier for kids to get in and out of the tub.

Protect Little Fingers

A quiet-close toilet seat offers a pair of benefits. The slow motion close action keeps tiny fingers from getting pinched and also foils older kids from slamming the seat down.

Plug all outlets with plastic safety guards.

Temperature Control

A smart shower system allows you to preset water temperatures to levels that are safe for children.

A number of different faucet technologies are available on the market which serve the same purpose:

  • LED lights warn users when the water is too hot to touch.
  • Touchless faucets with temperature memory.
  • Bathroom faucets that slow flow when water temperature exceeds dangerous levels.

If using a traditional bathroom faucet, be sure to select one that works with a single handle that is easy to reach. This provides children more control over water temperature and prevents them from only turning on the hot water.

Reach for the Sky

A short stepstool helps kids reach the sink or toilet without having to reach. This small boost helps prevent falls and makes the bathroom more user-friendly.

The Magic Wand

If your kids have a hard time sitting still while bathing, consider switching from a traditional shower head to a 2-in-1 or hand shower. The flexibility of a hand shower makes it easier to bathe children with less fighting and less hassle.

Starting From Scratch

When planning a complete bathroom renovation there are several decisions that will make the space kid-friendly today without sacrificing the long-term design:

  • Avoid countertops with sharp edges. Choose a material that is beveled and curved at the corners.
  • Install extra storage up high where young kids can’t reach. Use these cabinets for razors, scissors or potentially dangerous chemicals.
  • Lay non-slip tile.

Bathtub Safety

Many parents believe there is no harm in leaving a child unattended in the tub for just 1 or 2 minutes. After all, they’ll hear splashing and crying if there’s any trouble. But in truth, drowning is a silent killer. Victims make almost no noise at all. Until a child is old enough to bathe on their own, they must be under your watchful eye from start to finish.

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How to Remove and Prevent Limescale and Other Water-Related Nuisances

shutterstock_561372949Hard water, while not a health risk, presents a number of concerns to homeowners as it causes mineral buildup on pipes, plumbing fixtures and heating systems over time. If your home is affected by limescale, regular cleaning and preventative maintenance will be required both for aesthetics and to protect your plumbing systems.

Diligence & Regularity

The key to keeping tabs on limescale in your home is to not let calcium deposits get out of control in the first place. Thicker limescale deposits become exponentially more difficult to remove. Cleaning fixtures as soon as water stains start to appear will require a lot less elbow grease.

Commercial vs. All-Natural Products

Another advantage to nipping your limescale problem in the bud early is the ability to use all-natural solutions instead of harsh chemicals.

For lighter stains, a solution of white vinegar and water or lemon juice will dissolve and remove deposits. The longer you leave the cleaning agents to soak the better the results.

Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Given that heat is a contributing factor to limescale buildup, the elements of your hot water heater are particularly susceptible to calcium and magnesium deposits. Elements coated in these minerals perform poorly, are inefficient and eventually fail. When left untreated for too long, deposits in your tank will cause rattling and banging.

Routinely flushing your water tank is an important preventative measure to remove mineral particles before they can adhere to vital parts:

  1. Shut off the electricity or close the gas line.
  2. Wait for the water to cool. (Run a load of laundry, take a shower or wash the dishes to speed up the process.)
  3. Close the cold-water intake valve.
  4. Connect a hose to the drain valve and empty the tank safely outside your home.
  5. Once empty, remove the hose, close the drain and open the intake valve to refill the tank.
  6. Turn the electricity or gas back on. Reignite pilot light if required.

At a bare minimum, your tank should be flushed twice per year. Repeat more often in areas where water is especially hard. Remove electrodes and soak them in white vinegar 4–6 hours to prolong the life of your water heater.

Cleaning Household Appliances

Most appliances can be cleaned by simply running vinegar or lemon juice through the system.

  • For dishwashers and washing machines, simply pour a concentrated solution in where the detergent usually goes and run as normal.
  • For electric kettles and coffee makers, heat the solution and allow it to soak overnight.

Kitchen & Bath

Soaking rags in vinegar and wrapping them around taps and faucets is a great way to remove limescale. To clean screens or showerheads, tie a plastic bag filled with cleaning solution around the end of the fixture and allow it to soak overnight.

For toilets, sinks and tubs, you may need a commercial grade product to fully remove stains. In severe cases, a pumice stone will help remove thick deposits.

A Full-Scale Solution

Investing in a water-softening system is perhaps the most reliable method for controlling limescale throughout your entire home. A water softener works by exchanging “hard” ions of calcium and magnesium with softer ions, usually sodium.

Over time the system will run out of sodium ions, however, and need replacement.

While maintaining a water-softening system certainly carries a cost, the cost-benefit analysis usually shows long-term gains in a lack of damage to pipes, plumbing fixtures and household appliances.

As an added bonus, soaps and detergents are more effective when applied with soft water. Following the installation of a water softener, homeowners report cleaner dishes, cleaner clothes and a more pleasant bathing experience.

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Tips for Planning a Powder Room

shutterstock_548922013Putting in a half bath is one of the most common renovation projects. It’s an easy way to add value to the price of your home and a convenient addition for older homes not equipped with a powder room for guests.

Having a dedicated guest bathroom offers several benefits:

  • Easy to keep clean: Be ready for visitors at a moment’s notice.
  • Maintains privacy: Who wants to worry about company seeing your dirty clothes and prescription bottles?
  • Design freedom: A small bath allows you to splurge on materials or go with an outside-the-box theme.

Once you’ve got a powder room, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one. Here are a few ideas for planning the perfect half bath for your home.

The Essentials

The powder room is a unique space in the home in that bigger is decidedly not better. A half-bath shouldn’t be spacious. It should be just the right size. Shoot for 3 to 4 by 6 to 8 feet with 5×10’ as a maximum.

Always include all three critical elements: toilet, sink & mirror. You’re better off going with a tighter fit than foregoing a small vanity.

Conserve Those Inches

For room dimensions on the small side, opt for a traditional toilet as opposed to the more modern elongated bowl. Saving three inches can make a world of difference and comfort isn’t as important in a bathroom that’s only used on occasion.

Remember that the sink is only there for a quick wash of the hands. You’re better off going with a basin that’s fancy and small. Try to maintain a minimum of 24 inches in front of the sink.

Go Bespoke on Storage

A vanity with cupboard and drawers is not a powder room requirement, but it’s nice to have a place to store extra toilet paper, hand soap and perhaps cleaning products or a plunger.

Instead of trying to squeeze in a pre-built vanity that just doesn’t fit right, commission a custom cabinet to best take advantage of limited space. It’s a small investment that pays big dividends.

Splurge With the Details

Dress your powder room to impress. With so few square feet to decorate you can afford to upgrade the flooring, wall covering, lighting and fixtures.

A gorgeous vessel sink and high-end faucet can really set the tone for a relatively low cost compared to what a standard room renovation looks like.

A Boost of Extra Privacy

Given that a powder room is generally located near the living room or dining area to accommodate guests, consider adding additional insulation as a buffer against sound.

  • Cellulose insulation can easily be blown into wall cavities if you are not replacing the drywall.
  • Use Type X 5/8 inch fireproof drywall as it’s denser and more sound resistant.
  • Seal with acoustic caulk.
  • Wrap pipes before closing the wall. The same material used to protect against freezing also absorbs sound.
  • Install a door sweep and/or door gasket.

Speaking of privacy, try to aim for discrete door placement. Ideally the toilet will not be visible with the door open.

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Top Plumbing Myths & the Truth Behind Them

shutterstock_162994757Hot water to wash grease down the drain? Lemons to freshen up a smelly garbage disposal? A brick in your toilet tank to lower your water bill?

Classic plumbing myths that are not only false but can cause damage and cost you money.

In this post, we’ll debunk these old wives’ tales and more.

Melting the Fat Away

Let’s start with our first myth. That hot water dissolves grease and helps it to flow down the drain.

Not true.

Heated fat will actually do the opposite, sticking to your pipes and creating a layer of oily grime that slowly chokes your pipe over time. Hot water mixed with grease will cause clogs, not prevent them.

Solution: Ideally, fats & oils should be disposed of in the garbage can and not the sink. If you do plan to pour them down the drain, always run cold water so that the grease congeals and washes away in it’s solid form.

And Now on to the Lemons

The smell of freshly squeezed lemons is absolutely wonderful – but there are two reasons why citrus in its natural state shouldn’t be used to freshen a stink garbage disposal.

  1. While pleasant, the odor is temporary. Instead of dealing with the root cause, you’re simply masking a problem that will return in a day or two.
  2. Lemon juice is acidic and can corrode through the blades or moving parts of your disposal unit.

Solution: Soap & water. You can also save up your eggshells from breakfast and run them through the grinder to clean debris off the blades.

More Fun with Garbage Disposals

  • Here’s a doozy. Run ice through your disposal to sharpen the blades. Nope, that doesn’t hurt anything but it certainly won’t do any sharpening.
  • All food waste is safe to go through the garbage disposal. Sure, only if you want to damage blades and cause clogs! Hard materials such as bone should never go into your disposal and tough rinds and peels (banana, orange, watermelon) shouldn’t either.

 Things that Don’t Belong in the Tank

Back to this idea about keeping a brick in the toilet tank to cut down on water usage. Over time, as the brick deteriorates the particles can damage your flapper and cause a leak.

One too many bricks will displace so much water that you might not get a full flush – leading to potential clogs and double flushing.

But worse than a brick are chlorine tablets. This tall tale meant to keep your bowl smelling fresh will lead to rusted out toilet parts in less than a year.

Dreaded Wet Wipes

Every plumber’s worst nightmare.

Homeowners intrinsically believe that wet wipes, paper towels, makeup removal pads and tampons are safe to flush down the toilet.

You may get away with it for a while but all of these items will eventually cause a backup if you push your luck.

Watch Out! Exploding Water Heaters

While a banging hot water heater can certainly give you one heckuva fright, the truth is that no matter how loud it gets there’s no danger of explosion.

The rumbling and banging is caused by hard water sediment settling on your heating element. As hot water is prevented from rising by the calcium & lime deposits air bubbles form and rise to the top. These bubbles expand and cause the tank to pop.

While not dangerous, a hot water heater that is making a lot of noise is much less efficient and can use more gas or electricity to heat the same amount of water.

Solution: Drain your hot water heater periodically to flush sediment. You may need to repeat several times to remove enough from the tank for the noises to stop.

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Discover the Benefits of Hiring Online Interior Design

shutterstock_427241281Every homeowner dreams of one day hiring a professional interior designer. Someone with extensive industry knowledge and the expertise to craft each room in your home to suit your personal tastes and needs.

The problem is that even for homeowners with a sizable renovation budget, a traditional interior designer doesn’t come cheap.

But thanks to technology, the cost of contracting a truly talented designer has plummeted to prices that you wouldn’t believe.

Not only is hiring online design help more affordable than ever, it’s easier, faster and, since it’s all done over the computer or with your smartphone, you can hire anyone in the country—or world for that matter!

4 Distinct Advantages

Along with massive cost savings, there are a host of other benefits to be gained from hiring an interior designer online:

  • No time commitments/restraints. With no need to schedule in-home visits both you and your designer can work on your own schedule and at your own speed.
  • Better prices for materials/furnishings. A professional designer will be more adept at stretching your renovation budget in ways you might not have considered.
  • Flat fees. Paying a traditional designer by the hour can add up. Flat fees ensure that your final price is the same as your quoted price.
  • Quick feedback. Designers who work online are able to multitask and manage many clients at one time. It’s easier to keep up on communication when you’re not driving around town from job site to job site.

How it Works

The basic process is roughly the same, regardless of which website you go with. After signing up you’ll first be asked to take a design quiz online. Questions are intelligently arranged to determine your personal design tastes.

Depending on your design style, a list of designers best suited for your project will then be recommended.

Once you have chosen a designer it’s time to upload photos and take measurements of each room you’d like to have professionally redone. All of this is completed with nothing more than your smartphone and a tape measure.

This is also the point in the process where you’ll provide customized information such as furniture you’d like to keep, specific colors or materials you’d like to see included or excluded and so on. For your kitchen and bath, it’s possible to pick out your favorite fixtures from the Consolidated Plumbing supply showroom and request that they be featured in the plans.

From here, what you receive in return varies from company to company and along different price levels. A low-end package might include 2 concept boards and a list of materials suggestions while a fully-customized plan will feature full renderings of each room including furniture placement and even a single in-home visit depending on your location.

Be sure you understand prior to purchase what level of service you have chosen.

Platforms to Consider

Four popular websites are paving the way in the online interior design industry. Take some time to get to know each platform as they work a little differently. Some designers charge by the room and others by the hour, and you can get package deals for your entire house or even pay $100 to have multiple designers vie for your business with sample ideas for one room in your home.

 

How Do I Purchase the Materials?

Designers will always suggest products that can either be found locally or via a third party vendor that will arrange for delivery.

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Most Frequently Asked Plumbing Questions

shutterstock_118647286Professional plumbers hear certain questions over and over again.

Let’s get you up to speed on home plumbing basics by covering the most frequently asked about topics.

Why does my drain get clogged?

Slow drains and stubborn clogs are two of the most common recurring plumbing issues faced at home.

Most blockages in the kitchen can be prevented by paying more attention to what you wash down the drain. Even a garbage disposal unit shouldn’t be a replacement for a trash can.

In the bathroom, however, clogs will form slowly over time through normal usage. Hair, oils, shampoo, soaps and other body products leave residue over time that need to be periodically washed away. Read this helpful pipe maintenance post for cleaning tips.

How can i get more life out of plumbing fixtures/equipment?

Extending the lifespan of your water heater and fixtures is best done through the installation of a water softener system. Conditioning your water leads to less damaging scale build-up.

Why is my toilet running?

A toilet that won’t stop running is generally a sign that you need to replace your flapper.

But sometimes the chain simply needs to be readjusted so that the rubber sits properly on top of the flush valve.

Simply remove the lid to your tank and flush to investigate whether your flapper is creating a seal. If the flapper appears to be seated correctly but the toilet continues to run, the rubber is damaged and you need a new flapper.

Another possible cause of a running toilet is that the water level is set too high. If water is flowing into the overflow tube, adjust the float until the water level is approximately 1 inch below the top of the tube.

Why are we running out of hot water so quickly?

Declining hot water heater performance is usually attributed to scale build-up that prevents the heating elements from working properly or from complete element failure.

Pro Tip: Another cause for running out of hot water is simply that your hot water heater is not large enough for your household.

What causes a faucet to drip?

Most leaky faucets can be easily repaired by replacing the washers. To avoid washer damage in the future, turn off faucets gently and smoothly.

Why is my hot water heater leaking?

In most cases a leaky hot water heater means it’s time to buy a new one. Most leaks are caused by the inner tank rusting through and there is no way to repair this damage once it is done.

Extend the life of your water heater by replacing the sacrificial anode rod before it rusts away.

Are chemical drain cleaners safe to use?

Not really.

Chemical drain cleaners can cause damage to your drain pipes that lead to much bigger problems than dealing with a clog.

Use all natural bacteria & enzymes to clear clogs, even if you need to be more patient when waiting for the product to work.

What should i do in the event of a major water leak?

At the first sign of a major water leak you need to shut off the main intake valve at the street.

Some valves require a special tool to be turned. Remember that the time to purchase this tool and locate your main intake valve is right now –not when a pipe has burst and water is filling up your home.

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8 Must Haves for a Truly Designer-Quality Bath

GettyImages-497127908Upgrading to a sumptuous home spa can transform your daily routine. Instead of the bathroom being a place to bathe and “do your business,” it becomes a space to relax, get away and escape from stress and worries.

And while a lavish soaking tub, rainwater shower head and soothing body sprays are the first luxuries you’d think to include in your design scheme, not all designer upgrades are so obvious. Here are eight ideas to elevate your bath to the next level and beyond.

1. Elegant Tile

High-quality paint, laminate or wallpaper can absolutely replace low-quality tile. But no wall or floor covering can hold a candle to the sophistication of high-end tilework. Tile is smooth, classy and luxurious. Plus, floor to ceiling coverage means you won’t have to worry about splashing water on the walls.

2. High-End Toilet

On the surface it may seem wasteful to spend money on an expensive toilet when those funds could be used for upgrading “fun” pieces such as lighting or plumbing fixtures.

But you likely only feel that way because you’ve never owned a high-end toilet. A quality toilet won’t leak, is easier to clean, continues to look new for years to come and provides simple lines for a more contemporary look.

3. Custom Vanity

Whether you refurbish an antique armoire with vessel sinks or invest in a custom-built masterpiece, no designer bathroom will ever feature a stock vanity. Along with lighting, the vanity is one of the few pieces in the room where you can get truly creative and think outside the box.

4. Heated Floors

In-floor radiant heating ensures your home spa getaway stays cozy 365 days a year. The technology is surprisingly affordable, especially given that this heating technique is very energy efficient.

5. A Feature Wall

Choose a wall, any wall, and make it pop. If money is no object, consider a gorgeous stone slab. Other options include a tile mosaic or floor to ceiling mirrors.

6. A Touch of Nature

A potted plant or fern adds warmth to your bath and makes the space feel comforting and inviting.

Depending on your climate, a small cactus or bonsai tree are great options that require very minimal care. Some homeowners simply adore the smell of fresh cut flowers from the garden.

7. Statement Lighting

A well-planned bathroom lighting scheme balances the need for ambient, task and accent lighting. But a luxury designer bath features a fourth element: A statement making chandelier or pendant hung purely for aesthetics.

8. Unlimited Storage

A lavish bathroom needs plenty of extra space to store oversized fluffy towels, bathrobes, candles, essential oils, bath salts and all the extra goodies you need to unwind and escape.

You may not equate storage with luxury but it’s hard to relax in a room filled with clutter!

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