By Ian Mikrut · Photographs by Michael Fornataro
You step out of your clawfoot tub and nearly slip making a move to the sink and mirror. Nothing seems to stay on your faulty shelves, and the toilet won’t flush unless you flick the handle at a certain angle. Let’s not even start on the peeling wallpaper and water damage you struggle to hide!
Isn’t it time for an upgrade? If the thought of remodeling leads to stress over expenses and decisions, you’re not alone. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. The specialists at Patete Kitchen and Bath Design Center are here to walk you through the process. Here’s what you can expect as you turn your bathroom into the comfortable space you’ve always wanted for yourself and guests.
:: Patete Kitchen and Bath Design Center, 1105 Washington Ave., Carnegie. 412.279.2222. patetekitchens.com.
Be Patient & Do Your Research
While remodeling doesn’t have to be difficult, it’s important to understand that any major reconstruction doesn’t happen overnight and may require major demolition. Many older Pittsburgh homes feature ceramic tile that could be 40 to 60 years old, set in concrete. This is called a “mud job” because of the concrete, and you can expect this type of job to take up to three weeks. Says Steve Erenrich, owner of Patete Kitchen and Bath Design Center, “There’s a whole lot of bathroom remodels that were done 15, 20, or 30 years ago that were done the wrong way.” This includes the use of green moisture-resistant board or cement board, which was a composite that included concrete. Neither were particularly effective, since “moisture-resistant is not necessarily moisture-proof,” Erenrich adds.
Following home trends really comes down to personal taste. At one time, polished brass everything in a bathroom was the hottest ticket in town. Odds are if you’re looking into getting your bathroom remodeled now, you’re more than likely getting rid of all of the polished brass in your bathroom. Now, stainless or brushed nickel, polished nickel, and old-fashioned chrome have come back into play. The style of your home plays a big role — you may want to make everything contemporary or stick with a traditional look. “Baskin Robins has 31 flavors for a reason — not everyone likes vanilla!” says Erenrich. “Well, it’s the same thing in bathrooms. You want to stay in the mode of decorating that fits within your house — you don’t want to mess with the integrity that’s in the design of the home. But, there are also a lot of designs that can become transitional.” Tub-to-shower conversions are also a popular trend; however, don’t be too quick to remove tubs completely from your home. Patete suggests keeping at least one five-foot tub in your house strictly for resale purposes. And when it comes to new showers, clear glass is the way to go. It not only makes the room look larger, but it really accentuates the new design of the bathroom as a whole. If clear glass throws you off, Erenrich asks, “Who’s in the bathroom with you that shouldn’t be there?!”
Talk to the Experts
When working with Patete, the job won’t be do-it-yourself. A bathroom designer will come to your home to see what you’re working with and what the job will entail. The designer will take measurements, getting all of the specs in your bathroom, and take note of what you want done. You’ll then meet with that same bathroom designer as well as someone on the interior design staff. The remodel approach is a team effort with both aesthetics and labor taken into account. “Now, the layout may mean reconfiguring things,” Erenrich explains. “It may mean we’re putting fixtures back in the same place, but obviously putting everything in the right way. And, needless to say, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do a bathroom remodel.”
Make Wise Choices
“It’s not a tub, a toilet, and a sink anymore,” says Erenrich. “There are all kinds of choices to make. We spend a lot of time with our clients so that sometimes they’ll come back two or three times in the selection process.” Comb through the giant Cadillac of products to choose from, or stop in Patete’s humongous showroom and see for yourself all of the available options! Patete offers ceramic tile systems that become completely waterproof because of the construction of the membranes. Many clients choose tile for it’s stain- and mildew-resistant properties and its guaranteed quality. Or, Patete offers acrylic products that can be used on walls sans grout. The company also offers a product called Sentrel, which is a digital photograph of an actual stone, such as a marble or granite, on top of a PVC back. It looks like stone, but it’s just digital imaging, relieving you of the high maintenance or cost of granite and marble while still retaining the beauty of natural stone.
“Our approach is you’re here because you have a problem,” he says. “We want to help solve that problem the best way possible.” Reconstruction can be intimidating. Trust your judgment, be patient, and know that there are solutions to building exactly what you want. And, finally, don’t sacrifice functionality for design — find a blend that balances both. Says Erenrich, “We can make bathrooms very accessible, very functional, and still look good.” So what are you waiting for? Time to dip your toes in a new tub, shower — or both!