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August 01, 2010

Fixing for a bath

The fixings for a sumptuous bath

Pepper Rodriguez

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When I’m out traveling and staying at hotels, one of the first thing I look forward to is enjoying the fine refinements of their deluxe bathrooms, especially in those snazzy boutique hotels. That feeling of pampered luxury is what I, and everyone else, seems to be looking for in the bathroom nowadays.

It’s hard to go back home when you think of your own leaky old faucet. But it is easy enough to recreate this feeling of spa-like serenity and it doesn’t have to be a million-dollar renovation job, it can start with a simple switch of your bathroom cabinet pulls.

No one understands this more than Jackie Rainforth, president of Rainmakers Marketing Group, the Calgary-based sales agency representing American Standard, Crane, Fiat, Showerite, Eljer, Porcher and Jado products in the province of Alberta.

“The bathroom is the jewel of the home, it is where people can express their design creativity and their personality for their own enjoyment,” Rainforth says.

Jerry Huettman, a business development leader at the upscale Restoration Hardware, agrees. “More and more, clients are re-creating the experience of luxe born from recent memories of travel to posh hotels and spas, while realizing an investment in the bath adds great value to the resale of their home. Beautifully co-ordinated ‘suites’ of bath hardware, lighting and vanities help achieve this goal,” he says.

Rainforth adds that today’s bathroom has to be as decorative as it is highly efficient; environmental and economical with a splash of the ‘wow’ factor. “It is the one room in the house that can really provide a sanctuary, a retreat from the hassle of everyday life — so you have to make it as relaxing as can be.”

With 20 years professional sales experience in the plumbing and construction industries, Rainforth’s Rainmakers Marketing Group brings the best of commercial and residential plumbing materials to the marketplace. “Representing some of the world’s leading plumbing manufacturers, our faucet and fixture line up includes price points from entry level to grand luxury,” she says.

She enumerates four major points of consideration when choosing your bathroom fixtures: 1. They have to work well; 2. Low maintenance and easy to clean; 3. Its impact on the environment; 4. Price.

“First of all, they have to work well, toilets have to flush efficiently, faucets have to be more resistant to leaking. They should be easy to maintain and clean — there are new toilets now with anti-microbial glaze. Low-flow taps and showers and dual flush toilets are popular for their respect of the environment. Price is the last consideration — updating the look of your bathroom can cost from a few hundred dollars to thousands.”

What one has to remember though, is that matching hardware fixtures is important if you want to retain a cohesive look to your bathroom. Chrome taps cannot be matched with bronze towel bars, and things like that. “It would be nice if you can stick to one style of hardware, brushed chrome or nickel pulls with chrome taps. You also want to maintain a singular look be it modern or traditional,” Huettman says.

Rainforth points out that transitional designs are all the rage now. “Like the name implies, transitional designs fall somewhere in-between classical and modern designs, they’re not too old fashioned and not too avante garde either,” she adds.

Restoration Hardware carries a wide selection of bathroom hardware and fixtures from classical to contemporary styles. Popular is the Asbury Collection that ranges from bathroom faucets, lighting, towel rods and mirrors. Asbury features  knurling details and classic lines that speak to high function and substance. The collection features solid, non-corrosive drop-forged brass, with hand-polished, richly plated finishes. The store also offers lifetime limited warranty on their popular washerless ceramic valves.

Popular at American Standard is the Verdi shower system that offers three distinctive systems each ideally suited to the needs of today’s time sensitive homeowner. Verdi delivers energizing invigorating performance while adding a true element of transitional design to virtually any bathroom décor, Rainforth says.

At the heart of each Verdi System is the forged brass half-inch Sequential Thermostatic Valve with built-in check valve and stop and a reversible thermostatic ceramic cartridge with integral stop, which is ideal for back-to-back installation.

Newly arrived  in Calgary is Spain’s Roca, the leading global bathroom brand. It is being distributed by ah! the art of hardware. Roca’s cutting-edge designs are as flawless as they are functional and ah! proprietor, Jeanne Milne, says they are really excited about this very contemporary line of bathroom fixtures.

“Roca is well-known all over the world for their very contemporary, European designs that have a very broad appeal,” she says. “They are sleekly designed and very efficient.”

Popular are wall-hung units that, not only look amazing, but are efficient space savers as well. “They’re easy to install and perfect for condos or anywhere else that have limited space,” Milne adds.
No need to let your bathroom design go down the drain when you can easily spruce it up into your own private spa

Tips to stage your bathroom
Home staging specialist and realtor Julie Dempsey gives the DOs and DON’Ts in bathroom staging

Make the BEST of what you have. The BIGGEST thing a buyer will look for in a bathroom is CLEANLINESS — but I want to raise the bar to the top; it’s time to set the stage to make your ordinary bathroom and transform it into a retreat.

Imagine being a hotel guest checking in for a self-indulgent weekend, how would you feel when you step into the bathroom and notice the faucets have lime and calcium build up, and the caulking around the sink is discoloured and mysteriously missing in sections. Naturally you start to wonder how clean your shower stall and even your bed will be. The same is true for a Buyer looking to purchase a home where they can live and dream.

It’s easy to make the best of what you have, even if it’s just your basic bathroom. We aren’t going to focus on the big items like the tub, toilet, floor, counter or sink — it makes money-sense to work with what we’ve got and change only what we can afford.

Remember that people are drawn to shiny things; in the bathroom the shiny things are the light fixtures, faucets and hardware. How do yours compare? Does your fixture provide enough light (at the very least make sure all the bulbs are working), are your faucets from 1982 or so cheap you’re embarrassed? Remember that light often makes a room feel bigger. You don’t want fluorescent, glaring light — everyone looks at themselves in the bathroom mirror, and if they look ugly from that super honest light, they may not be impressed with the home. Consider adding a dimmer to help create a mood.

If your faucets can be cleaned up so they shine-shine-shine, you can probably work with that, otherwise spend the $120 at Home Depot and get something notable. Wowing your buyer’s can cost as little as $6.00, you can buy expensive-looking hardware for your cabinet doors that look like a million bucks.

Is your bathroom “Builder Beige”? This could be the perfect canvas for you to create a jewel-box of a bathroom. Consider painting this room a rich, relaxing color that invokes a sense of warmth and luxury.

You want to create the bathroom as place to unwind at the end of the day, so add vanilla scented, white candles, plush hotel towels (throw out the old, bristly ones) and splurge on fabulously packaged bath products (FPBP) that are color coordinated to your room. Place a sprig of eucalyptus in a vase in the shower next to your (FPBP) you can add romance & luxury with fresh cut flowers or a simply stem of orchids.

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