Master the Bathroom Remodel

Maybe it’s because most of us spend the majority of our time in there alone. Or maybe men and women really are from different planets. Whatever the reason, when it comes to remodeling the bathroom, it can be hard for husbands and wives to agree. That’s where Patti Gardner comes in. Co-owner, with husband Lee, of Maui Marble & Granite in Wailuku, Patti spends a fair amount of her time helping clients achieve the bathroom they’ll both love.


Story by Patti Gardner

bathroom remodelWhen it comes to a bathroom remodel, it’s common for couples to disagree—and it doesn’t seem to matter whether they come into the showroom together or separately. I’ve had the nicest people come in over and over, borrowing every sample in the place before they make a decision.

Part of it has to do with sensory overload; there’s so much to look at, it can be hard to focus. But there do seem to be differences between the sexes. Men tend toward earthy colors and textures; women like cleaner looks, lighter colors, neutral shades and practical finishes. If the remodeling involves construction, men are generally better at seeing the overall picture. (Though not always! I visited friends who were building a house, and the plans called for a window above the bathroom sink. “That’s the way the architect drew it,” they said. “How are you going to shave?” I asked. They ended up moving the plumbing and the sink.)

So how to begin? I always recommend that couples look at home and remodeling magazines first, so they have an idea of what they like before they come into the showroom. From there, I can help them narrow the choices: Do they like a particular style? Are they going for a country look? What do they want the room to feel like? A spa? A Zen retreat?

I also ask what colors they like. Some colors, certain yellows, for example, aren’t great on a woman. It’s worth it to think twice about the palette for the room where you apply makeup.

One of the most common questions people have about bathrooms is what the best tiles are for floors. If it’s a condo, my first question is, “Is it in the rental pool?” If so, the best choice may be a porcelain tile that’s easy to maintain. If not, and you want an elegant look, go with limestone. If you’re looking at countertops for your child’s bathroom, consider granite rather than limestone; granite’s a little more bulletproof. On the other hand, if it’s the powder room that guests use, and you want to make it look like a jewel box, spend a little more money on the countertop and go with a pretty marble or onyx. And maybe a metal or glass vessel sink—though they aren’t practical for everyone. For example, the bathroom I use most in our home has a stone vessel sink. The bathroom Lee uses doesn’t; there’d be water all over the counters, otherwise!

Differences of opinion aside, when you get couples on the same page, designing a new bathroom can be fun. I’ll suggest a material, sketch something, and soon they’re both participating and finding common ground. Next thing you know, we’ve got a bathroom.


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