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The Bathroom that Grows with Your Kids
Sarah Van Arsdale

Fighting with the kids at bath time is one of the less pleasant aspects of parenting. Here at Sheffield we’ve come up with a few ideas to consider in remodeling the kids’ bathroom that we’re sure will cut down on the bickering, and may even make a splash with the younger members of your household.

When you’re planning any bath re-model, first of all take into account how many people will be using this particular bathroom on a regular basis. If it’s just a half-bath for guests off the living room hallway, you don’t have to worry about getting the most out of the space; a nice sink, a sturdy toilet, and a decorative towel rack will do.

Perhaps the most difficult bath in the house to remodel is the one to be used by the kids, because it will get the most use by the biggest number of people, and by the people most likely to complain if it isn’t to their liking. You also want the bathroom, like the kids’ bedrooms, to be able to change with their changing needs.

One angle to consider is how many sinks you can get for your money. The fact that the old bathroom only has one sink doesn’t mean that it can’t have two, and not necessarily at a great cost. Check out the ultra-small sinks now available, and talk to the plumber who will be doing the work about the cost of adding the pipes so that two sinks can be accommodated.

Having two small sinks will mean you can have two small cabinets on which they stand, each with a set of small built-in drawers, and each with its own medicine cabinet and mirror hanging over the sink. Or you can set it up with the sinks sharing one long cabinet base. If you have children with very different neatness needs and abilities, going for the separate cabinets may be worth the extra cost; each child can be responsible for his or her own cabinet.

Of course, the big advantage to having two sinks is that you can oversee simultaneous tooth brushing and face washing, cutting the time of the bedtime ritual in half.

You can get even more use out of the bathroom by separating the shower and toilet from the sinks. One child can be using one half of the bathroom while the other uses the other half, cutting down on the cries of "Lemme in, I just have to wash my hands." This set up will be especially convenient as the kids’ needs for privacy grow as they get older, particularly if you have a mix of boys and girls. One child can take a leisurely bath undisturbed by the other one applying makeup at one of the sinks.

To further help the bathroom mature with the kids, install neutral cabinets, in a plain white. You can indulge your need for decorating fun by using playful drawer pulls and cabinet knobs, and by putting in towels, washcloths, and bathmats in the kids’ favorite colors and motifs. The shower curtain can also play an important decorating role, and is one item you’ll want to change every few years anyway.

As the kids hit puberty and long for a more grown-up look, it won’t be difficult or costly to replace these drawer pull accents with polished brass or colored glass, and as the kids get into their teen years, you can even treat them to the very grown-up look of monogrammed towels.

By planning ahead now, you’ll assure yourself of many years of happy bath times – for everyone.

–Sarah Van Arsdale