What can you remodel in winter? Take a look

This Asian-inspired half-bath converts a tiny footprint into a warm retreat, with rich woods, gold accents and sleek detailing (submitted photo)

Many homeowners think they've "missed" remodeling season once the leaves fall. And, if you're opening holes in your home's exterior or building patios, that may be true.

But bathrooms are still fair game in winter. You most likely have more than one, so it's OK to have one that's a work in progress — or maybe you've been thinking of adding another.

And it's a popular project, especially because updated bathrooms add value to a home.

According the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, a recent profile study of its 7,000 member companies revealed that 81 percent of projects are upgrades to existing bathrooms.

Even tiny spaces — like the half-bath pictured — can have a huge impact.

The original bathroom, which was similar to many found in existing homes, benefited from an East-meets-West revamp.

Like kitchens, cabinet colors are going dark, making sinks, lighting, and window and wall treatments pop. The sculptural aspect of the freestanding sink bowl is also popular.

Plus, Asian-style interiors evoke an image of serenity and tranquil calm. This style is a popular choice in bathroom design as it evokes a peaceful spa-like setting. Contemporary bathrooms accomplish this by blending colors found in nature with clean, contemporary lines that create a sense of harmony and balance.

Jackson Design of San Diego won a 2014 National CotY Award for the Asian-style bath pictured above. The project featured a wall of tile in deep hues of ebony, gold and dark brown to create an earthy backdrop illuminated by gold leaf lighting.

The lights use a cable system with weights so people can adjust the height to their liking. A curved mirror framed in rustic wood hangs above an arced onyx sink on top of the free-standing vanity.

Light is brought in through a fixed window with obscure glass as well as a simple black entry pocket door fitted with Shoji-style panels that save vital space as well as echoing the vanity cabinet doors.

While trying to plan for Asian-style interiors, balance is often the key defining aspect. In addition to finding the right harmony of not just the colors, it's important to use different textures and elements. Adding glass partitions, natural stone decorations, wooden floors, bamboo blinds and a few organic textures, as well as the use of both natural and lighting fixtures, is also critical.

Bathroom renovations typically open the space to bring in light, and many use nature-inspired design elements such as stream showers with multiple showerheads and floors that mimic river pebbles. Some even add built-in audio and TV.

A bathrooom remodel is considered one of the better returns on investments. Costs can vary, depending on whether the footprint of the original bathroom is maintained or plumbing lines and electrical wires need to be moved. Experts estimate that homeowners reap about 65 percent payback from a bathroom remodel.

NARI experts are seeing a range of bathroom remodeling projects with master suites ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 that involve a complete tear-out of everything, rearranging of fixtures, new double vanities, tub, shower and commode.

But hall bathrooms and powder rooms are usually about $15,000, when the footprint of the existing space is used.

What items should you consider splurging on — especially as the thermometer starts to drop?

Well, just try to get a Minnesotan away from her heated floor tiles and towel racks come January.


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