Looking for an easy way to renovate your bathroom affordably? Richmond-based designer/reporter William Weathersby tells you how.
If you have ever survived your own bathroom remodeling project, you’ll likely recall the many hours spent searching through the dizzying number of choices to select each necessary component—from your favorite faucet and tub to just the right light fixture and shade of grout. After you or your designer took care of orders and waited for deliveries, the clock kept ticking while electricians, plumbers and tile installers coordinated schedules, more than likely running late on the job, especially if a piece of the design puzzle went missing. Wouldn’t it be great if all of the elements required to build a better bath were available in one spot, then arrived on time, all at once? Now a complete bathroom delivered in a box is not just a fantasy. Bath Simple, an innovative new company based in Berkeley, California, makes makeovers easy by offering online product selection and design tools for the homeowner, then shipping the entire palette of materials and fixtures in one delivery.
“The conventional method of a bathroom renovation is highly fragmented,” says Bath Simple founder John Crowley. “There’s design, selection, purchase and installation, with very few of the players on the project team conversant in every aspect of the job. It’s akin to building a car by shopping at a plethora of auto parts shops, then hiring your brother-in-law to assemble the pieces in your garage on his own time.”
Crowley, the former director of the Innovative Construction Technology Program at MIT, was a veteran of several of his own home bathroom remodels, and found himself frustrated with the stop-and-start process of securing all of the elements necessary for the installation crew to complete their varied jobs. “It’s amazing how many tradespeople can stand around a bathtub and debate how long it’s going to delay things again to wait for some piece that’s missing.”
Crowley teamed with business partner Bill Hunscher to literally make bathroom design…simple. By visiting Bath Simple, homeowners work with an online program to “shop” hundreds of options in each element of the bathroom, organized by both style and price, with leading manufacturers such as Hansgrohe, American Standard and Caesarstone on board. (There are now 4,000 items in the Bath Simple search engine, and the inventory is growing.) With measurements plugged in, components can be coordinated to visualize how they would appear in your bathroom. A tiered range of packages offers fixtures and finishes at every price level. Materials range from about $3,000 for a typical powder room redo to $35,000 for a luxury master bath. Crowley says a rule of thumb is that the cost of labor should just about equal the cost of materials, so a full bath package might run $8,000 for materials and $8,000 for labor.
Complimentary technical and design advice is available by phone or email from Bath Simple’s in-house professional team. The company now also offers onsite design consultation in Berkeley, Seattle, Boston, Long Island, New York, and Portland, Oregon, with a rollout to other cities nationally underway. It’s building a network of affiliated interior designers, and can already offer advice on design pros and certified installers in your area.
A turnkey operation, Bath Simple can schedule an in-home needs assessment (aka “What I Hate About My Bathroom”), provide drawings and floor plans and present quotes for demolition. Products are ordered directly through the site and ship within 3-to-5 weeks. Once a delivery schedule is set, Bath Simple can arrange an onsite coordinator/contractor (or work with the homeowner’s own contractor), which greatly simplifies the process; no missing elements for you or subcontractors to fret about.
The “bathroom in a box” concept may at first seem like a marketing tease, but the concept also is a green strategy to cut down on packaging materials and costs of delivery (transportation footprints); all materials are indeed delivered in one super-size container. Plus the Bath Simple team will cart away the construction refuse and recycle old fixtures when possible as part of the package.
As for inspiring bathroom design trends, Bath Simple presents a helpful blog offering tips on everything from chic shower curtains to in-vogue vanities: Crowley himself notes that dark wood vanities with finishes such as espresso, walnut, zebrano and ebony are current style setters, and brushed nickel faucets are still running strong.— William Weathersby