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Bathroom Luxuries, Part II: Air

Photo by Alfred Kenneally

We don't design pictures of rooms - easy to forget in our Instagram world - we create places where people live and breathe. 

So, in this second installment of my Bathroom Luxuries Series, I'm going to talk about air - because nothing is less luxurious than a smelly, damp bathroom.

Making sure that the air in your bathroom is healthy

The air in your bathroom is more than the oxygen you breathe in and the carbon dioxide you breathe out. You take a shower, and water vapor fills the air. Spray deodorant, and chemicals join the gasses and moisture. And, we don't have to talk about odors, do we?

To keep the room smelling fresh and the air healthy, you need to move old air out and bring new air in through an open window or with an exhaust fan, preferably both.

An exhaust fan pulls old air out of the bathroom and releases it outdoors. At the same time, it draws new air from inside your house. An open window lets new air in and old air out. 

If you can, include a window and an exhaust fan in your bathroom design. Add a second fan to a private toilet room.

Selecting a bathroom exhaust fan

In California, where I often work, an exhaust fan is required in every new or remodeled bathroom. That's true in most places in the US, but specific requirements vary, so check with your local building department to see what's needed where you live. 

Beyond making sure that your new fan is code compliant, what should you look for?

Enough power to clear the air in your bathroom. 

An exhaust fan's power is rated in cubic feet per minute or CFM. A 100-CFM fan will move one hundred one-foot cubes (1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot) of air out of a room in one minute.

You want about 1 CFM per square foot of bathroom space. So, buy a 50 CFM fan for a 50 square foot bathroom and a 100 CFM fan for a 100 square foot bathroom, and so on. If you have to choose between a slightly underpowered or slightly overpowered fan, go for the overpowered one.

If you have high ceilings, over 8 feet, increase your fan CFMs by about 10% per extra foot. Take a typical 9' x 5' bathroom, for example.

Bathroom has 8-foot ceiling

  1. Calculate square footage: 9 feet x 5 feet = 45 square feet
  2. Convert square footage to CFM: 45 square feet = 45 CFM

Bathroom has 9-foot ceiling

  1. Calculate square footage: 9 feet x 5 feet = 45 square feet
  2. Convert square footage to CFM: 45 square feet (from step 1) = 45 CFM
  3. Calculate additional CFM for 1 extra foot of ceiling height: 45 CFM (from step 2) x .10 (10% for every extra foot over 8) = 4.5
  4. Calculate total CFM by adding additional CFM to standard CFM = 45 (from step 2) + 4.5 (from step 3) = 49.5 CFM

Bathroom has 12-foot ceiling

  1. Calculate square footage: 9 feet x 5 feet = 45 square feet
  2. Convert square footage to CFM: 45 square feet (from step 1) = 45 CFM
  3. Calculate additional CFM for 1 extra foot of ceiling height: 45 CFM (from step 2) x .40 (10% for every extra foot over 8)  = 18
  4. Calculate total CFM by adding additional CFM to standard CFM = 45 (from step 2) + 18 (from step 3) = 63 CFM

As little noise as possible. 

You don't want it to sound like someone started up a Harley Davidson every time you turn on your exhaust fan. Ideally, you won't want to hear your fan at all. That's where sones come in.

The amount of noise a ceiling fan makes is rated in sones. The higher the sone rating, the more noisier the fan. Go for a fan with a sone rating of one or less. It will be more expensive, but worth it.

And, make sure that your fan and ducting from the fan to the outside is installed according to the manufacturer's specifications. An otherwise quiet fan will make noise if it is improperly installed.

Beyond the basics

Once you've decided how powerful and quiet your fan will be, you can think about how it will look and luxury add-on features.

I like a low-profile exhaust fan that blends into the ceiling color - white ceiling, white fan. If you're ceilings aren't white, choose a fan finish that will blend in, like stainless steel on a gray ceiling, or buy a fan with a paintable cover and finish it to match your ceiling.

Your fan can do more, though. Consider splurging on these options:

  1. Fan with a Light (Fan/Light) You've probably seen fans with a built-in light.
  2. Humidity or Motion Sensor Fans and Fan/Lights A fan that will turn itself off or on based on the moisture in the air or movement in the room.
  3. Bluetooth-Enabled Speaker Fans and Fan/Lights A fan with a built-in speaker that you can connect to your phone. 
  4. Fans and Fan/Lights with Heaters So that you can warm up the bathroom without wasting energy to heat the whole house.
  5. Decorative Fan/Lights A light with a built-in, invisible fan.

Deep breath. That's it for air in the bathroom.

This blog post is part of a series.

Do you dream of an exquisite powder room or an ethereal master bathroom?

If so, you're not alone. The bathroom is one of the few private spaces left to us. It's where we ready ourselves for the demands of the day and where we refresh our weary selves when the day is done. Naturally  we crave a little luxury.

But, what is luxury? The answer depends on whom you ask. What feels plush to you may seem fussy to me. So, in this blog series, I'm going to explore what a luxurious bathroom might include and leave defining what a luxurious bathroom is to you.

  • Bathroom Luxuries, Part I: Choice
  • You're Reading, Bathroom Luxuries, Part II: Air
  • Bathroom Luxuries, Part III: Quiet
  • Coming Soon, Bathroom Luxuries, Part IV: Space
  • Coming Soon, Bathroom Luxuries, Part V: Light
  • Coming Soon, Bathroom Luxuries, Part VI: Time
  • Coming Soon, Bathroom Luxuries, Part VII: Beauty
  • Coming Soon, Bathroom Luxuries, Part VIII: Wellness 
Jackie Lopey, Certified Interior Designer and Founder of Venue and Wide Canvas

She didn't know it, but Jackie Lopey's days as an advertising executive were numbered when she bought and renovated a 1950's bungalow. She soon went back to school and started her own design studio. Jackie is an award-winning, certified interior designer and the founder of Wide Canvas.


 

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