Master the Bathroom
A place you can spend all the time you want--and not a minute more

(MONEY Magazine) – Historically, bathrooms have been high on function and low on frills. Heck, they used to be relegated to the backyard. Today, we want a place to pamper ourselves, a bubble of serenity sealed off from all things hectic. Still, you need the function. To get both, it may be worth digging into ceilings to install recessed lights or moving pipes to create a water closet. Significant projects, yes, but the payoff feels good.

MAKE IT A DOUBLE Dual sinks make the room twice as functional--and reduce headbutts as you and your honey reach for the soap simultaneously. Just be sure to leave three feet between sinks so you're not brushing teeth elbow to elbow.

HAVE SOME VANITY Pedestal sinks are lovely but impractical. Vanities offer storage for blow-dryers, extra T.P. and the usual unmentionables.

SHINE ON ME A central light fixture can cast unwanted shadows, so position recessed lights or spotlighting strategically over sinks, tub and shower.

LET THE SUN IN You're here mostly during morning hours. True? Take advantage of natural light by adding or enlarging a window or skylight.

GET OUT THE GROUT A bathroom climate can be more volatile than South Florida's: humid, then dry, then air conditioned, then humid again. Porcelain- or ceramic-tiled walls and floors will weather the storm better than wallpaper or paint.

EMPOWER THE SHOWER You shower every day. Lounge in the tub? Not so much. Replace the typical shower/tub combo with a lounge-worthy, spa-like shower that has multiple heads and a comfortable seat.

SAVE THE TUB For resale purposes, at least one bathroom in the house should have a full-size tub. Babies need baths. Tired moms and dads do too.