DEAR TIM: The bathroom cabinets I saw at the home center are not going to work for me. I have dreamed up a clever L-shaped design for my new bathroom, and I need bathroom vanity cabinets that are crazy sizes. Is it possible to buy these as well as bathroom wall cabinets? What else can I do to make my bathroom appear as it is indeed one-of-a-kind? I want to splurge, so don't hold back on any of your ideas. Connie B., West Salem, WI
DEAR CONNIE: I get really frustrated when people ask for me to do a brain dump of all of my ideas, but am only given precious few words to do so. Books have been written about bathroom remodeling, cabinets and design possibilities, so I have my work cut out for me.
First, you absolutely can purchase any custom-sized cabinet you need. You can get special widths as well as depths. The depth of the cabinet is very important, especially in an L-shaped design. Smaller bathrooms don't always have the width to allow standard-sized cabinets to be used in this configuration. You will probably discover you need to use a cabinet or several cabinets that are only 15 inches deep.
Be aware that bathroom cabinets are also available in kitchen-cabinet heights. A 34.5-inch-tall cabinet allows you to have a 36-inch-high finished counter height if you use granite or some other material that is 1.5 inches thick. Many people have come to appreciate higher bathroom cabinets and tops.
Several high-end cabinet manufacturers produce a wide variety of accent trim pieces that allow you to make the cabinets look like furniture. Imagine an accent piece of wood that resembles a twisted rope. You can have that trim piece applied to the cabinets to hide the seams between two separate cabinets. This look can be stunning.
Consider custom shelving that rests on the countertop on either side of the sink. This shelving can act as a giant frame around a tall mirror that makes the bathroom seem 30% larger than it actually is. Some bathroom cabinet manufacturers will make this shelving for you, while others will supply you with the needed material that has been stained and finished to match the cabinetry. A good finish carpenter should be able to assemble simple shelves in one day or less.
Consider natural stone for the countertop and the floor. You can buy granite tile squares that compliment the color and texture of the cabinets you select. Don't hesitate to look at painted cabinets as well as natural wood cabinets. Painted cabinets that have a slight accent glaze can really go a long way to help you achieve your ultra-custom look.
Pay attention to detail when it comes to your bathroom plumbing fixtures. There are high-quality faucets available in traditional or sleek contemporary designs. I personally love the new polished nickel finishes. The color of the polished nickel finish is regal. I think you should also be aware that certain faucet manufactures offer a complete line of trim fixtures that match the faucets. You can get towel bars, toilet-paper holders, shelves, etc. all in the exact same design and finish.
Don't forget about your walls and ceiling. All too often people seem to overlook wallpaper. Wallpaper, in my opinion, can create a mood and feeling that adds to the elegance created with the cabinets, countertops and flooring. Be sure to use a new non-woven wallpaper. These wallpapers do not expand when the adhesive contacts the paper. This feature allows you to easily remove the wallpaper from the wall and reattach it if there is ever a need to do a plumbing or electrical repair behind the wall.
Consider a wallpaper mural for the ceiling, if it fits into your overall look. Modern adhesives will allow the mural to stay attached to the ceiling, especially if you use the proper-sized ventilation fan to remove moist air created during bathing or showering.
I love the bathroom exhaust fans that are located in the attic space away from the bathroom. They are extremely quiet and vacuum copious amounts of air from the bathroom through insulated flexible piping. This air must be piped through the roof or sidewall of your home. Do not allow it to escape into the attic space.
Create a unique design using different-colored granite or tile on the floor or even the shower wall. Use these wide-open spaces as a place to express the look and feel you want. Modern ceramic-tile wet saws allow a craftsman to easily cut pieces of tile or natural stone into any number of sizes and shapes. If you do not have a creative bent, think about hiring a designer to transform the floor or wall into a masterpiece. I guarantee you it will get compliments from anyone who sees it. But if no one does, you get to enjoy it all by yourself!