Right now, it’s more important than ever to avoid mistakes that waste time and money – and this is particularly true in the bath. Indeed, this past year, many kitchen designers have seen an unexpected increase in demand for bathroom projects within their practice, caused, most likely, by clients delaying their kitchen projects in favor of what they perceive as a smaller project: the bathroom.
Previously, I’ve suggested how to combine interesting materials in these adult retreats. This month, we’ll tackle easily overlooked fixture and fitting details which can lead to profit slippage on the job site and project delays.
The Vanity Area
In many master bathrooms, the vanity cabinet height may be different for two adult users. This variance in counters impacts the plumbing rough-in for the faucetry, as well as countertop backsplash detailing. It can also impact design elements planned for the wall surfaces of the bathroom.
Running a continuous wainscoting material around the walls of a master bathroom can give the space a unified look. The height of such a design element is determined by the finished splash height behind the tallest vanity. When setting the dimension, it is critical to plot the line around all elevations to make sure the surfacing does not intersect windowsills, electrical switches or outlets. You need to lay out wall-mounted lavatory faucet rough-ins or glass vanity shelving in relationship to the wall surfacing decoration as well.
Mirror and light fixture locations are next. The vanity/pedestal area planning continues up the wall, placing recessed surface-mounted mirrored cabinets. There are many bathroom vanity ensembles that offer a vanity cabinet with coordinating wall units, incorporating both surface-mounted and flat mirror cabinet combinations. Additionally, single decorative mirrors are oftentimes specified above a two-bowl vanity.
Both of these scenarios require special attention to light fixture placement. Whether you actually sell the light fixtures or not, the project will be much more successful if you make sure the light fixtures are specified and placed before the mirror specification is completed.
Consider the two decorative mirror scenarios: Will you have four lights (two on each side of each mirror) or two overhead fixtures? If you are planning two overhead fixtures, visualize the fixture shape above square mirrors or oval ones. If the mirror is mounted on a recessed cabinet, overhead lights become more complex because fixtures cannot “drop” over the mirror.
Alternatively, when using side-mounted fixtures, the center of the fixture should be dimensioned as the center of the light source (bulb) within the fixture. You then convert that design centerline to the actual rough-in for the electrician. Architectural Graphics Standards lists the average person’s eye sight at being 3" below their overall height. Your client’s height should be used when centering side lights on a wall.
Designers are combining decorative pedestals or consoles with free-standing, mid-height storage cabinets or other types of built-in bathroom cabinetry. Once again, matching the faucet to the drilling of the pedestal or console table is an important place to start. Make sure your plumbing subcontractor knows the piping will be exposed behind a pedestal or under a console table. Finishing the piping and having a good looking eschution plate on the wall around the drain line is important to specify – and charge for.
On a final note – it is most important to carefully match the faucet’s shape and design with the lavatory specified. Check the shape and size of the interior bowl configuration. Compare this information with the trajectory pattern (the water flow direction as it comes out of the faucet spout). Where will the water stream hit the lavatory side/bottom? If you have a mismatch, the water will spray back on the user. Make sure the shape of the spout makes it easy for the user to get both hands under the water spray.