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Updating Your Old Home's Bathroom

Mary Butler

Old homes have so much character that even their small, outdated bathrooms can seem quaint. That is, until you've used your old home's cramped bathrooms enough to be fed up with them. Lathe and plaster walls, old tile, old plumbing and lack of space can make remodeling a historic home's bathrooms daunting.

But once you've decided enough is enough, there are many period-appropriate options for updating your home's bathrooms in a way that is functional, eco-conscious, and cost-effective.

Green Remodeling Tip #1: Consider Adding Space
If you've got an old house, chances are, its bathrooms are small. One way to add elbow room is by expanding the room into a neighboring linen closet or bedroom. Not only can you improve your everyday quality of life, but you can also add to your home's resale value. According to Remodeling magazine's annual "Cost vs. Value" report, an average bathroom remodel costs $15,899 and can net a 75 percent return on your investment. Updated bathrooms can also set your home apart from your neighbors (or ensure you're keeping up with them). And if your remodeled bathroom is roomier than most, that's always an added bonus.

Green Remodeling Tip #2: Consult a Professional
Bathrooms and kitchens get heavy use, which is why in the design world there are people who specialize in designing and remodeling these two rooms only. Consider hiring a licensed designer to plan your remodel, even if you're planning to do the labor yourself. Architects and interior designers know what problems to anticipate, have built relationships with reliable contractors, and are educated on the latest and greatest products.

Green Remodeling Tip #3: Recycle and Reuse
One of the best things about old homes is they have good bones. While your bathrooms might have their faults, they most likely also have their pluses. For instance, wood cabinets and porcelain claw foot tubs can be refinished to reclaim their former luster, as can wood floors and antique fixtures. Reuse what you can and recycle what you can't.

Green Remodeling Tip #4: Integrate New and Old
If you're worried modern, eco-friendly products don't match your old home's period décor, don't despair. Every day, green product choices grow. Sure, a duel flush toilet won't reflect your home's age. But it should certainly look fine with your pedestal sink and porcelain tub.

About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

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