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Our Advice to Remodelling a Bathroom in Washington, DC

Marble floors paired with a rustic wood vanity and grey tadelakt walls in a primary bathroom

If you’re living in Washington, D.C., and are ready to begin a bathroom remodel, congrats! Remodeling your bathroom is an exciting decision that requires ample preparation, and you’ll want to set yourself up for success during this process. The more prepared and organized you are before you dive into such a project, the better, and as an interior designer, I’m here to provide guidance on the main factors to consider as you begin. 

Remodeling versus Renovating a Bathroom in Washington, D.C.

What’s the difference between a bathroom remodel versus a renovation? Typically a remodel refers to instances in which you are not reworking the footprint of the room in any way. This means that you are not moving walls, making a space smaller or larger, and the like. Alternatively, a renovation describes a more involved scope of work, such as relocating a bathroom to a different part of the house, making it more spacious, and beyond. 

Identify your Top Priorities Prior to Your Bathroom Remodel

You’ll want to ensure that your bathroom reflects your specific needs and preferences. For some, this means incorporating heated floors, for others a steam shower or freestanding soaking tub is a must. Do you require a double vanity with lots of storage, or would you rather your vanity be more minimal in design? Are you interested in having your bathroom reflect a specific design style, such as the mid-century modern aesthetic, or do you crave a more eclectic looking space? Take time to identify the features that matter most to you in the bathroom so that you can make sure you prioritize those in your budget. 

Determining a Bathroom Remodel Budget 

What does it cost to remodel a bathroom in Washington, D.C., Bethesda, Chevy Chase, or Kensington? When working with a skilled expert, bathroom interior design is not inexpensive. Most designer-led bathroom renovations start at $30,000 for labor and material, and we have seen plenty of primary bathroom projects total $60,000 to $80,000. Some websites will claim that remodels start around $5,000, but this means there is not a designer or architect involved but rather everything is orchestrated by the homeowner and a handyman. If a magazine-worthy bathroom is what you crave, you’ll need to expand your budget beyond this $5,000 range. If you are working with a tight budget you can certainly still repaint the bathroom, purchase some new fixtures such as lighting, a faucet, a medicine cabinet, and the like from sources such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, and replace some but not all of the room’s large pieces, such as the toilet, vanity and bathtub. A key component to keeping costs down is maintaining the room’s existing layout and simply swapping in new fixtures in the exact same size and location. 

The larger your bathroom remodel budget, the more you can have fun with the details and amenities. You can include features such as heated floors, a steam shower, low iron shower glass doors (in lieu of a shower curtain), skylights, and more. 

A higher budget means you can also weave in interesting materials and play with their application. Past bathrooms we have designed have included terrazzo from Italy, hand-applied Tadelakt, floor to ceiling zellige tile, and more. 

Grey and white primary bathroom design featuring earthy materials

Other Factors Involved in Your Washington, D.C. Bathroom Remodel 

Now that you have a better understanding of what you can achieve with various budgets, you can focus on some of the more exciting elements of a bathroom, which include the following: 

SIZE: Does the existing layout work, or is it too small/quirky to work for you? One of the best investments can be reworking the layout, and you can always save a little by spending less on materials

STORAGE: Is there ample storage? Designing a custom vanity or other storage solutions might be just what you need.

AMENITIES: Do you have room for a standalone soaking tub? Is this important to you? We have completed plenty of bathrooms where we skip a tub all together. Don’t incorporate something because you think you should, if you are more of a shower person, then save some money and skip the tub. 

Labor Involved in Your Washington, D.C. Bathroom Remodel

When starting your bathroom remodel, at a minimum you need licensed and insured trades who can pull plumbing and electrical permits. We recommend having a licensed general contractor oversee the project, as these professionals do this type of work routinely and will be well positioned to help you when issues arise. Bathrooms are complicated, and it is very common to find hidden surprises in the walls or with the pipes. You want to be prepared for this and have a team in place who can navigate this process for you. 

Insider tip: When we are enlarging or changing the layout of a bathroom, we always like our contractor to start with a demo probe. We have him punch a few strategic holes in the wall to make sure there are no major impediments to our new design plans. If there are, we find out very early in the process, saving our clients precious time, money and stress. 

If you’re ready to kick off your very own Washington, D.C., bathroom remodel, we’re here to help. You can always begin by scheduling a design consultation before launching into a larger project with our team. 


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