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A bathroom remodel for the ages

The new Heffers bathroom is modern with Victorian trimmings, including a pedestal sink and refined woodwork around the windows.


Julie Heffers’ bathroom was remodeled to her liking, she said. Some rotting floorboards and a faulty sink pipe prompted her and her husband, Tom, to order up a complete overhaul.

WILKES-BARRE — If Julie Heffers feared one thing during her February bathroom remodel, it was overmodernizing.

So the downstairs bathroom of her North Main Street home, which she shares with her husband, Tom, and sons 19-year-old TJ and 15-year-old Eric, now has a hint of Victorian elegance.

“I try to keep as much of the original house as is practical,” Heffers, 47, said. “What we wanted was something that wouldn’t go out of style.”

That’s why, when the bathroom’s floors were rotting and the pipe in the sink was faulty, the family knew some work was needed. Instead of just fixing the problems, the family redid the entire room.

Everything from the woodwork and floor tile to the toilet and shower is now new. In keeping with the rest of the traditional look of the 11-room house, a pedestal sink was installed.

“Now when I walk past, it looks like it belongs,” Heffers said, noting that, until the remodeling, the bathroom hadn’t received much attention.

Belles Construction of Wilkes-Barre was the company for the job, the homeowners said, because it previously did the home’s roofing and siding work.

Bob Belles Jr. said the average bathroom remodel costs about $12,000, but the Heffers’ work cost a bit more.

“I wouldn’t even consider getting anyone else,” Heffers said.

She had a clear image of what she wanted, too.

All white replaced pink and aqua, for one thing, because Heffers believes the white makes the house look more turn of-the century. The subway tile (traditional wall tile laid in a common, brick pattern) in the shower and hexagonal tile on the floor remind her of Victorian times.

“I think it’s more appropriate with the age of the house,” she said.

The construction company, which finished the project in three weeks, even matched the woodwork around the bathroom window to the home’s doorways.

Now the bathroom “isn’t as busy as it used to be,” Heffers said. “There’s nothing in there that I wish I did differently.”

Thanks to an upstairs bathroom, the family wasn’t inconvenienced while the work was under way.

“The animals were more put out,” Heffers said, noting the cats lived upstairs for three weeks and the family’s German shepherd would go elsewhere during the day.

When it comes to bathroom remodeling, Belles said the biggest problem he sees is homeowners just wanting cosmetic work done and not gutting the entire bathroom to install new plumbing and wiring.

“Basically, all they’re doing is putting a Band-aid over the problem,” he said. “It’s much better to gut and replace everything.”

The Wilkes-Barre contractor has noticed some trends when it comes to renovating baths.

What are most homeowners asking for these days?

Mostly contemporary-styled bathrooms, he said, with acrylic tubs and showers and modern tile flooring. Standard base cabinets are the norm, he said, and lately many are asking for recessed can lighting, or lighting built into the ceiling.

For now, the bathroom is the Heffers’ only major project.

Future renovations include redoing the entire back of the house by expanding the kitchen and an upstairs bathroom, redoing the downstairs carpeting and sanding over a portion of the downstairs pine floors.

The rest of the home resembles Heffers’ personality.

“I’m a bit of a preservationist,” she joked.

She had some chairs in the double parlor that came from friends upholstered and restored. Her oil paintings of her family and her black and white photographs of the children hang on the walls.

An upstairs room is devoted to her drawings, paintings and photography, Tom Heffers said.

“It’s a good stress-reliever,” Julie, a nurse at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, explained.

One of the best parts about the big house is that when son Eric is practicing on his drums, it’s “not ear-shattering,” she said.

Son TJ, who attends Susquehanna University, likes the house because of the amount of room, and “it’s a nice change coming back from the dorm.”


According to the National Association of Homebuilders, several bathroom trends are hot for 2009:

• Double vanities in average homes and triple vanities in upscale homes

• Walk-in showers, multiple shower heads

• Linen closets

• Lot of lighting

• Tiled floors

Source: remodeling101.com

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