Design Trends

Creating Beautiful Baths in the DC Metro Area

pink bath

Photo Credit


The Washington Metropolitan area is filled with beautiful homes.  We live in a thriving community where our home can be our greatest asset.   Yet in many homes, behind one door, there lurks a danger, an asset reducing presence.  It’s the dreaded Pink and Black bath.  Measuring only 5’x7’, featuring pink tiles with black trim, ancient faucets and a rust stained tub, this bath has reduced your potential profit, and makes you cringe every time you open the door.  It’s time to make a change and protect your asset while creating a room you love to enter.  It’s time to remodel that bath.

Having designed baths for over 30 years, I have seen the styles come and go.  The 80’s were a time of rich colors like Navy and Raspberry.  Kohler set the trend and offered tubs and toilets in every color of the rainbow, and the tile industry designed tiles to match.  It was bold and beautiful, but it was a trend.  Like all trends, it faded away, leaving more baths to be remodeled.  In the 90’s it was all about Almond.  Everything was beige.  The tub, the tile, the walls, we were on beige overload.  This left even more baths to be remodeled.  As we entered a new era, we took a turn for the better.  We went for a cleaner look with more White, enhanced by a subtle color palette throughout the bath.  It was the beginning of the spa bath.

Despite its small size, remodeling a 5’x7’ bath can be more expensive than you think.  Behind those ugly walls, and under that grimy floor, lies plumbing that may be original to your home.  If you only remodel the surface of your bath, you leave behind a failing infrastructure that will not only damage your new bath, but that leaking pipe will ultimately damage everything in the water’s path.  If you want to protect your asset, you need to address all of your bathroom’s needs.

When remodeling a bath, all of the tiled walls and all of the flooring should be removed.  The plumbing within the bath is then replaced, installing new water supply lines and drains.  Then we start putting the bathroom back together.  New electrical outlets are installed with GFCI protection, the vanity light is replaced, as is the switch.  It’s the perfect time to install an exhaust fan and insulate the exterior walls for moisture resistance.  We then check the “bones”.  Any wall studs or floor joists that have experienced water damage and are weak are replaced, giving your bath a solid foundation.  Only then can we close up the walls and begin installing your spa bath.

Kohler spa tub

Photo Credit Kohler


Let’s start with the bathtub.  For that true spa experience, bathtubs come in a variety of types and sizes.  In your 5’x7’ bath, a 60”x32” bathtub is the better fit.  You can increase the depth from the old 15” up to 20”, add whirlpool jets or air bubbles, or both.  There’s even aromatherapy and colored lights for a true spa experience.  Keep in mind that the cost of these features are not just on the bathtub’s price tag, but also the added electrical requirements of these features.   Most often, our tub is bright white, design flexible, and also less expensive than color.

From there we select the toilet.  Now available in a taller Comfort Height, with the best seat and bowl Elongated, the top selling color is white.  There are styles to fit any design, from ultramodern contemporary, to vintage Victorian and everything in between. Today’s seats are offered with soft close lids and quick release for easy cleaning.  Although today’s toilets are 1.6 gallon or less water flushed, the technology has improved greatly, offering things like aqua-piston and dual flush.

With storage a big concern in a small space, add a vanity.  Your vanity can enhance your bath’s style depending on the door style and color.  For vintage charm, look for a more furniture look, with detailed doors and decorative feet.  Hardware adds style too, so select a knob or pull that fits the feel.  The vanity top should be made to last.  A simple white bowl under mounted in a White Carrara marble top creates a classic look, especially with a shiny chrome bridge faucet.  If you crave a more modern look, wall hung vanities with clean lines and a white porcelain top make your bath look streamlined.  A simple single-hole faucet completes the look.

Tile comes in an abundance of colors and styles from natural stone, durable porcelain, simple ceramics, and gorgeous glass.  Tile can take your bath from functional to fabulous.  Having worked with tile for many years, I recommend a little bit of both.  Since tile is made to last a lifetime, mixing function with style is my preference.  For that vintage style we still use the classic 3”x6” white subway tile, but we add a little jazz with decorative inserts of glass or marble accent borders.  The look can also be achieved using 3”x6” tiles of natural stone in White Carrara on the walls and decorative marble mosaics on the floor, like the classic basket weave.  But be aware, marble needs to be sealed and it does scratch, so it needs to be maintained.

One of the greater advancements in tile has been in porcelain.  Once designed for use in commercial applications, porcelain tile has been recreated for the residential market.  With their durability and strength, porcelain tiles are oversized, 12”x24” and larger, for a bath with clean lines and less grout.  Whether you are going for a contemporary look or a more transitional style, the larger tiles work wonders in a small bath by creating the illusion of space. There is little maintenance to the tile, and with the advances in stain resistant grout, a tiled bath is no longer a cleaning nightmare.

The final touch are those things that define your style, the accessories.  Towel bars, the vanity light, your mirror or medicine cabinet, towels and a shower curtain, they are the “jewelry” of your bath.  These pieces add color and style that reflect you.  A clean white bath with the colors of water complete the spa experience.  If you are fun and funky, add bold red walls and a “pop art” shower curtain to energize your bath.  The beauty of accessories is that they are changeable.  When you want a style update, repainting the room and changing up your accessories will refresh you bath without remodeling.

5x7 remodeled hall bath

Photo Credit Merrick Design and Build

Remodeling your bath can be a big undertaking. At Merrick Design and Build, we can help you design your new bath, and build it.  Call us today at 301-946-2356 to begin Remodeling Your Bath.

by, Peggy Card
Kitchen and Bath Designer
Merrick Design and Build Inc. 

Want to talk to our team in person?

Give us a call at 301-686-7323 to schedule an appointment