Designing Modern Bathrooms

Designing a modern bathroom can be fun and functional. An open window isn't enough ventilation to protect your bathroom wallcoverings, wood cabinets, and even your home's insulation, so put an exhaust fan on your must-have list early on. Fan-only units can be unobtrusive if you recess them into a soffit or ceiling; fan/light combinations are practical -- you can choose from regular lighting or heat lamps.

Once you've experienced a heat lamp after your bath or shower, you won't ever want to be without it! Kids and older people who feel the chill even more will really appreciate it, too.

A wall heater in the master bath and an infrared heat lamp located safely in the ceiling of a kids' bath will keep everyone toasty. For European-style pampering, consider a freestanding or wall-mounted towel warmer, either electrical or hooked to your home's hot-water heating system. If you've got the room, a fireplace in the bathroom is the most luxurious warming method of all.

You don't need a conventional, built-in fireplace with a chimney, because several manufacturers offer ventless fireplaces that are convenient as well as romantic.

Underfloor radiant heat, either electrical or from hot-water pipes in the floor, is another luxurious treat: Since heat rises, there are no chilly spots in the room. But whatever you do, don't even think about a portable space heater!

Beyond these basics, the sky's the limit for what your bath can include: a built-in TV with VCR, a state-of-the-art audio system to transport you while you soak, a telephone, or even a computer. A security system panel in the bath may be a good idea, especially for an older person who may need to summon help when others aren't at home.

Shop the high-end design centers and shelter magazines, including those that specialize in home electronics. You may be inspired to cut a few corners elsewhere to budget for a convenience that didn't even exist a few years back!

Bathroom safety and easy maintenance are essential. On the next page, learn about safety features and how to ensure that your bathroom is easy to keep clean.

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