Local designer shares trends and tips for bathroom upgrades

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Mar. 29—Any experienced home buyer or seller will tell you that one of the big ticket items when it comes to houses is the bathroom. But why do we care so much about them?

Scott Skinner, an Anniston-based decorating consultant who has been doing residential and commercial design work for about 20 years, said it's because the bathroom is the area where we start and end the day.

"Bathrooms are where you collect your thoughts and enhance yourself," Skinner said. "They can become expensive, but with careful planning and the correct fixtures and finishes, you can have the space of your dreams."

Whether you're looking to transform your bathroom into a completely new oasis or just give it a subtle facelift, these trends and tips are sure to give you an inspiration boost!

What trends are you seeing in bathroom renovations?

—A lot of freestanding tubs. People are also wanting larger showers, and sometimes that means taking out the built-in tubs to make room. A lot of times, the built-in tubs are under obscure decorative windows, and you can include the window into the new shower (creating a new tile surround).

—Two freestanding his and hers vanities (not just your typical pedestal sinks) instead of one long one.

—Medicine cabinets are making a comeback. Not your hang-on-the-wall ones, but cutting into the wall. I've had a cabinet guy make a frame (then add in a mirror) to match the vanity. This can create a custom look.

—A lot of going back to classic timeless designs. Classic doesn't mean boring.

—Natural elements playing into a bath design. Tans and cream whites with hints of natural.

Tub to walk-in shower conversions seem to be gaining popularity. Is that something you've seen or done before?

Yes, but I think it depends on your needs, long-term or resale. I have designed some wet rooms which include the shower and tub in the same area of the bath. One thing to consider is a curbless walk in shower. They are great for when you have a glass front and sides.

If someone wants to renovate their bathroom, what do you suggest they start with?

Take some time to plan. I know that sounds basic, but you wouldn't believe how many people just start using all of their "likes" without making sure they flow. Write down all of your needs from storage of personal items to towels and water bottles. There are many variables in a bathroom design, so we need to make an outline: measure and scale out the room, then plan lighting accordingly (wall sconces or vanity lights?). Don't forget ceiling lighting. Think about unique features to set your space apart.

When I meet a client about a bath remodel or refresh, you have your hardscapes like flooring, cabinetry and wall structures, and softscapes like countertops, lighting, mirrors and fixtures. We want to look at what's the most cost effective right then, but always make sure that when you come back later to do a little more you haven't wasted money or hurt the overall design.

Are there any DIY projects that you would suggest to a homeowner looking for some quick and easy upgrades?

You can change your light and vanity fixtures (don't forget to support your local lighting and plumbing stores). Have some fun with mirrors. One time I collaged a client's kids' pictures around a mirror frame, added their favorite color, and the outcome was they had their own sink space. Also, something as simple as changing towels can make a difference. Add some color in those natural baths.