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4 tips for a better bathroom

Usable space trumps 'wow' space

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Editor's note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Judging by the typical model home, you'd think that the perfect bathroom was a gigantic space with lots of glitzy surfaces and a monstrous whirlpool tub. In reality, this brand of bath design is mainly intended to make a splashy first impression on buyers -- the so-called "wow" factor. The designers of such rooms don't much care how comfortable they are for daily use. The ideal bathroom has many requisites, but vast size, acres of granite and a whirlpool tub aren't among them. What really counts is having generous space where it's actually useful, and having all the elements of your daily bath ritual right at hand. For starters, here are some basic rules of thumb that can be applied to most any living space, but that are especially essential to bathrooms: 1. Natural light trumps artificial light. Basically, this means you should buck the usual bathroom standard -- a paltry, high-placed window -- and instead pr...