5 simple secrets to updating your bathroom

ConsumerReports.org

Bathrooms have replaced kitchens as the most remodeled room in the house, mostly because they're smaller and don't need all those pricey appliances. But poor planning can cost you more than you bargained for.

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To help you find the best materials, Consumer Reports recently tested sinks, countertops, toilets and flooring. We also talked to designers and remodeling professionals who gave us some tips on how to save and how to splurge.

Streamline the vanity. Double sinks have long been popular, but having just one gives you more counter space, saves the expense of an extra sink and faucet and because there is less plumbing involved, gives you more storage space in the cabinet.

[Planning to remodel your bathroom? Click to find the right contractor now.]

(Photo: Consumer Reports)

Choose soothing colors. Updating the accessories, such as towels and the shower curtain, and repainting the walls is an inexpensive way to bring color into the bath. Although stay away from dark green, it can give your skin a sickly hue.

Take a shower instead
. The trend for huge whirlpool baths has cooled, mostly because homeowners realized they rarely used them. Large showers are becoming more popular, especially because they provide easy access and universal use for aging baby boomers.

Conceal the toilet. Setting the toilet apart from the rest of the bathroom with a partial wall or door of its own provides privacy and also makes for a more attractive bathroom. Even if your toilet is one of those new water-saving models.

Layer the light. Overhead fixtures can cast shadows on your face when you're trying to shave or apply makeup. Instead, create layers of light, including wall-mounted sconces or other vertical fixtures on either side of the vanity.

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