Helping customers with bathroom remodels can be both exciting and stressful. While most people have ideas about what they want, the home design market is crowded with options. This can cause homeowners to get hung up on making important decisions, drawing out the remodel process and making it harder for you to get things done.
Getting into the right mindset and asking the right questions can help. Here’s how you can nudge uncertain customers towards a bathroom remodel that makes all their dreams come true.
How to Guide Design Choices
When working with a client who’s overwhelmed by options, reminding them of the big picture — a beautiful new bathroom — can help motivate them to make a choice.
Katie Sullivan, author of the blog Pretty Domesticated, says that she has faced indecisiveness countless times in her home remodel. However, she says that commitment to the project is how she gets through tough decisions: “What we lack in decisiveness, we make up for in commitment.” Making a choice and sticking to it can go a long way, even when that choice is small.
Houzz editor Mitchell Alan Parker agrees that with so many options available, choosing design elements can be a challenge. He adds that many designers suggests looking at the rest of the house for inspiration. If it evokes a coastal colonial design theme, you can probably rule out themes that would clash with this style — like an ultra modern bathroom, for example. Asking customers about the rest of their house can help you narrow down ideas and guide design choices in the right direction.
Regardless of whether something is aesthetically pleasing, every bathroom element has certain functions and features that play a role in the homeowners lifestyle. For example, Jamie Dorobek, a DIY expert and author of the blog C.R.A.F.T points out a major logistical distinction between small tiles and large tiles. If a customer is unsure about tile sizes, it might help them to know that small tiles require more grout and therefore add traction to the floor.
At the same time, larger tiles can provide more traction if they’re made from the right material. Josh Garskof at This Old House explains that textured surfaces and sand-textured glazes are much better for traction than porcelain or smooth glazes. For families with children or elderly people, traction might be essential. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in design aesthetics before considering functionality that can guide stronger decision-making, and that’s where you can help.
Likewise, design blogger Kristen Lawler explains how she overcame her indecisiveness when remodeling a bathroom in her home. After being presented with the options of granite, marble and quartz for the bathroom counter, Lawler opted for a quartz slab. Why? Aside from the fact that she preferred the color of the stone, she found out that it was more durable than the other two options. Since durability was an important feature to her, she chose that stone regardless of the price.
An individual's personal values can also play a role in their bathroom decision-making. If customers are passionate about transitional design, for example, you might guide them towards remodel decisions that will suit this need.
Another way that personal values can play out comes from Gabrielle Blair, author of the blog Design Mom. Blair explains how her commitment towards sustainability helped her choose the right bathroom floor. After exploring tile and concrete options, Blair came across bamboo flooring. When she learned that bamboo is highly sustainable and durable (she has six children), the decision-making process got considerably easier.
Consider Long Term Plans
It’s also a good idea to gauge what your customers are planning long-term. For example, homeowners might be remodeling to increase the value of their home. If this is the situation, you should gain an understanding of which elements they could swap out or add in order to boost the house’s overall attractiveness on the market. The team at Sebring Design Build explains that a new vanity and mirror combination can help sell a home.
Aging in Place
Alternatively, it’s possible that your client isn’t interested in selling and would rather create a home where they can age. Aging in place is an increasingly common reason why homeowners are updating their bathrooms, and this intention may help guide their decisions.
Understanding such plans could help you assist a homeowner deciding between a shower and a bathtub. In this case, they’ll need to focus on their own long term needs, rather than those of a buyer. Designer Gillian Lazanik explains that even if a shower and a tub may be more enticing to a future buyer, an aging in place remodel should prioritize the homeowner’s current and future needs.
When homeowners are deciding on materials for a home they’d like to age in, certain options may work better than others. Specifically, it’s better to choose timeless materials that will remain classic over time. According to Kerry Ann Rodriguez of Case Design/Remodeling, Inc., porcelain is a reliable material that never goes out of style.
Understanding these nuanced elements can help you guide customers in the right direction and support faster decision-making.
How to Visualize Options
Once you have an idea of the needs, functions and fixtures your customers look for, you can start visualizing the space.
There are a variety of tools and apps that allow users to see their remodel. For example, RoomSketcher is a free tool that helps customers create floor plans and test out different fixtures in the space. Another is SmartDraw. This online drag and drop tool is helpful for the primary step in planning a new bathroom layout.
Creating an Internal Process
While helping customers visualize their space is important, it shouldn’t be completed without a structured plan in place.
Diane Hatfield, marketing coordinator at Hatfield Builders and Remodelers, explains that their company has a dedicated team of designers that works with clients to explore likes and dislikes and understand key design preferences. By developing a questionnaire for each client, you can make sure that everyone’s needs and desires are addressed early in the design process. This information is then used to create a floor plan and add 3D renderings of potential decor and design options to the space.
“We can add color, specific finishes, different types of sinks, tile, tile/pattern, or just about anything they want to show our clients what their new space will look like when it is done. This software gives them the ability to walk through their newly designed space and see how it will look for all angles,” she adds.
When picking out a new shower, for example, this software helps customers see how the shower will realistically look in the space. Then, the design can be tweaked and changed in real time in order to accommodate the customer’s desires. This process is one of the best ways to avoid design mistakes while helping customers be more decisive.