Designing the Perfect Kids’ Bathroom

As a child, I was fortunate enough to have my own bathroom (actually, it was a Jack and Jill bathroom that I shared with the guest bedroom, but we only had guests for a handful of days out of the year). My bathroom was pink, which my parents thought was an appropriate color for a girl’s bathroom, although pink has never been one of my favorite colors. It was a very pretty but very adult-looking bathroom.

Looking back, I wonder if my parents made the right decision. How should a kids’ bathroom look? Should it reflect their style and personality? And, if it actually looks like a kids’ bathroom, how will this affect resale value? I asked some of the people known for designing bathrooms and selling homes to provide insight on this topic.

Here’s what you need to know.

Make it fun, yet practical

A colorful kids’ bathroom in Brookline, MA. Image courtesy of Eleven Interiors.

The bathroom in the photo above is shared by twin sisters, according to Michael Ferzoco, Principal at Eleven Interiors in Boston, MA. “When designing this space, we incorporated each of their favorite colors and chose to have fun by painting the clawfoot tub a bold pink color,” he says. “The result is a playful and cheerful merge of the two sisters that highlights the personalities of both.”

Everything should also be kept easily accessible. “The bottom drawers of the vanity in this bathroom fold out into stools so the sink faucets are never out of reach.” He also says that incorporating a bathtub in a kids’ bathroom is always a good idea.

Ferzoco believes that a kids’ bathroom should be fun — but says it should also be a timeless bathroom that will grow with them. “Use accents that can easily be updated, like paint, mirrors, rugs and accessories, and don’t be afraid to go bold with those elements,” Ferzoco says.

Think through your — and your kids’ — needs

A height-appropriate kids’ bathroom in the Phoenix area. Image courtesy of AFT Construction.

The bathroom above was designed by AFT Construction in Scottsdale, AZ. The company’s president, Brad Leavitt, says you should always consider the age and height of the child.  “Depending on the size of the child, you can custom build the vanity so that they will not need a step stool,” he says. “You can also customize the toe kick under the sink with a pull-out step if you prefer the taller vanity.”  Undermount, wall mount, and drop-in sinks are popular choices for a kid’s bathroom.

Another view of the kids’ bathroom in Phoenix. Image courtesy of AFT Construction.

Leavitt says it’s also important to design the bathroom based on needs. “If the kids share a bathroom while they get ready for school, we design the vanity, mirror and sink separate from the shower and water closet,” he says. “This allows multiple children to be in the bathroom at the same time.”

A rustic kids’ bathroom on a Montana ranch. Image courtesy of Sanctuary Home Decor.

Karen Snyder at Sanctuary Home Decor designed an attic bunk room and bathroom for her kids. “My goal [for the bathroom] was to create a cohesive look with the rustic design of the bunk room and to make this space kid-friendly,” she explains. “The custom designed vanity was made from locally-sourced barn wood and features a vintage style sink with double faucets.”

Snyder also added other unique elements.”I chose rusted hardware on the doors and drawers and red accents to add a bit of a western flair,” she explains. “The built-in mirror with reclaimed wood frame finishes off the vanity wall and brings the whole look together.”

Consider the value of a kids’ bathroom

If you can’t have two sinks, consider two faucets. Image: Jupiter Images/Getty Images

So, how does a kids’ bathroom affect resale value? According to Jennifer Baldinger, Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker at Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Scarsdale, NY, this is a place where you can have some fun and be creative, especially with color and tile choices. “The one feature I see buyers react to the most is having two sinks in a kids’ bathroom,” she says.

“There is no doubt it helps keep the fighting to a minimum when two or more kids share a bath, but it also keeps the space tidier.” Baldinger says Jack and Jill bathrooms are more common, and she agrees with Leavitt that double sinks and a separate toilet and shower area are trending in new builds.

Be sure to add touches of color. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

Katie Kurtz, Real Estate Agent at Engel & Völkers in Minneapolis, MN, believes that parents can get creative with kids’ bathrooms, but warns to keep them gender neutral. “For example, doing a bathroom all pink could turn off potential buyers that only have boys, and vice versa,” Kurtz warns. However, she says that neutral materials and decor geared toward kids are fine. “For example, white fish scale tiles are a lot of fun and can easily be paired with gender-specific decor based on kids in the family. Think mermaid decor for girls or sharks for boys.”

Remember that it will need to be cleaned

This Springfield, MO, kids’ bathroom has three sinks. Image courtesy of Nathan Taylor for Obelisk Home.

Newsflash: your kids are not going to keep their bathroom spotless, so you should design it with this in mind. “Kids are going to be messy, and whatever space you give them, they will cover it,” Nathan Taylor of Obelisk Home says. His advice? “Limit the surface area, make space for everything and make sure that everything is totally cleanable.” In the images above and below, you can see how Taylor designed a bathroom that fits these criteria.

Storage lockers help to keep the bathroom clean. Image courtesy of Nathan Taylor for Obelisk Home.

Taylor recommends tiling the walls to make fingerprints and dirt easier to clean. “The fewer painted surfaces, the better,” he says. “Make your life easier by putting in materials that are super durable.” Taylor warns against natural materials since they stain easily. “Use brushed materials as they don’t show all the specks from daily use.”

Make it durable and safe

Durable materials are essential. Image: Achim Sass/Getty Images

He also recommends using smooth hardware, since it provides fewer places for germs to settle. “Also, don’t use hardware with open ends since your kids’ clothes get caught easily on everything,” Thomas says. “And always use vessels with overflow drains.”

According to Ferzoco, another advantage of using durable surfaces is that it will keep the bathroom looking newer longer. “Also, make sure to use slip-resistant tile for the floors to prevent slips and falls — a textured porcelain tile works well,” Ferzoco says.

Don’t neglect high-end finishes. Image: phototropic/Shutterstock

Leavitt adds, “You should definitely install plumbing fixtures catered to high use.” The 2019 faucet trends can provide plenty of inspiration. “Quartz is one of our favorite finishes for children, and I also recommend darker grout on the tile floors.” Leavitt says he also likes to have a little fun with kids’ bathroom. “Try to add a whimsical or unique detail for the child.”

Learn everything you need to know about light bulbs so you can pick the best one for your home. Image: united photo studio/Shutterstock

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For over a century, Americans have used electricity to light their homes. And that’s meant a recurring purchase: light bulbs. But if you’re still using incandescent bulbs in your home, it’s time for an upgrade.

Today there are new, more energy efficient options. And even if you don’t care about your energy consumption, you’ll want to know this: these new light bulbs can save you money in two ways. First, their minimized electricity usage means you get lower utility bills. Secondly, they last longer so you’re not shelling out for new bulbs nearly as frequently.

Think a few bulbs here and there aren’t that big of a deal? Think again. ENERGY STAR reports that the average American household has 70 (count ’em, 70!) light bulbs. And all that lighting can use more energy than your refrigerator, dishwasher and washing machine put together.

So what are you waiting for? Use this guide to light bulbs to figure out which energy- and money-saving option is best for your home.

Incandescents are over. Image: Ezume Images/Shutterstock

Incandescent light bulbs

Let’s start with the most basic light bulb: incandescents. These have been super handy in the last dozen or so decades. But they’ve served their purpose and it’s time to put them to bed.

Why? ENERGY STAR estimates that the new ENERGY STAR-rated bulbs use a whopping 70 to 90 percent less energy than incandescents. But wait, there’s more! They also last at least 15 times longer. This all averages out to about $55 in savings per bulb.

Still not convinced to move away from incandescents? We get it. Incandescent alternatives used to be known for their harsh, cold light. And here at Freshome, we know that lighting is important. But even our team is moving to other types of bulbs. No, we’re not just sacrificing form for function. Turns out, you aren’t the only one who hated that cool, bright light — and manufacturers listened. Today, there are tons of incandescent alternatives in warm white and soft white. They’re even dimmable!

So get on board. There’s no time like the present, especially considering the sale of residential-use incandescent bulbs will be pretty much completely banned by 2020.

Fear not! You’ve got a couple of other fantastic options.

LEDs can brighten indoors and out for a fraction of the cost of lighting with incanescents. Image: alexandre zveiger/Shutterstock

LED light bulbs

Light emitting diode, or LED, bulbs are the front-runner incandescent replacement. They started pretty pricey (we’re talking three figures), but you can now grab an LED bulb that gives off the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb for just a couple of bucks. And you’ll get a lot of bang for that buck, considering LED bulbs generally last between 20,000 and 50,000 hours. That means they’ll last decades in the average household.

Another perk of LEDs: they don’t emit heat. So you can safely touch them without hurting yourself and your AC won’t have to work overtime to keep your house cool. That might not seem like much but, again, we’re talking 70 bulbs a house on average. That radiant heat adds up.

If you want an LED that’s truly going to maximize your savings, look for ENERGY STAR-rated LED light bulbs. The package will be marked with their blue square logo.

CFL bulbs are affordable while still delivering energy efficiency. Image: amasterphotographer/Shutterstock

CFL light bulbs

LEDs certainly have their perks, but they do come with a price. If you’re looking for a more incandescent-comparable price, compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, could be for you. Back in the days of expensive LEDs, these were the go-to for people looking to choose more energy efficient lighting. But they’re also to blame for some of the association of non-incandescent bulbs and harsh, white light. Because, yes, they are fluorescents. And some people didn’t like the idea of having their sterile office lighting follow them home.

Fortunately — like their energy-efficient ally, the LED — CFLs have changed. You can now find them in warm white and soft white. CFLs usually last around 10,000 hours (still pretty impressive) and have a signature spiral shape.

Colored LEDs can help you set different moods in different spaces. Image: alexandre zveiger/Shutterstock

The future is now

Why stop there? With its long history of innovation, now that the light bulb has solved its energy use problem, it’s onto bigger and better things. Today, you can get voice-activated bulbs that your digital assistant (e.g., Alexa, Google Home) can turn on and off for you. No more getting out of bed to turn off the light at night. If that’s not luxury, we don’t know what is.

There’s more, too. You can get LEDs that change colors with a few presses of a button. Mood lighting, anyone?

When it comes to choosing the perfect light bulb for your home and your wallet, you’ve got options. Steer clear of those pesky incandescents, look for an ENERGY STAR logo and you’ll pull in some savings while doing your part for the environment.

Now that you know which light bulbs to use, you can start working on the more fun part: choosing fixtures and placements for them. You could even DIY if you’re feeling crafty. After all, you’ll have all those pocketed energy savings to spend on supplies. Let there be (energy efficient) light!

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