One of the rooms used most often by people at home is the bathroom. Yet spending a lot of money on what is usually one of the smallest rooms in the house may not be high on everyone’s list. But did you know? There are many ways to improve the look and feel of the bathroom. It’s also true that a new bathroom design does not have to break the bank. In this guide we cover the approach to planning, hiring, and costing a bathroom. You’ll also learn about child-friendly design, furniture and accessory types, and future-proofing.
More ambitious design ideas and budgets
If you’re looking at a more extensive bathroom redesign, plan on spending more money. A coat of paint can revive a dull room, but resurfacing the walls requires more of a commitment for example.
Lighting is an important consideration in any bathroom design. Aim to provide adequate light to every important part of the bathroom. Using light fittings with the correct IP ratings is also important for safety. So, consider the bathroom IP rating zones, and consult an electrician.
Consider your flooring. A good bathroom floor will be waterproof and long lasting. Laminate flooring can be great for the bathroom and makes a good first impression on your guests. For a more up-market design, tiled flooring is your pièce de résistance. They last longer and offer many design possibilities.
Big changes, such as moving walls and plumbing increases the disruption and cost. Make sure the changes are out of necessity and be mindful of your budget.
Be realistic about your new bathroom
Before starting any renovations, look at many different bathroom designs. Your goal is to find the bathroom that fits your house and your family.
The biggest problem with published bathroom designs, is that they do not fit all spaces. While some may be close to the same size, you will need to be realistic about what is going to fit in your new bathroom.
Including a freestanding bath, and double sinks may look good in a photo, but won’t fit into many bathrooms. Take inspiration and style ideas from magazines and websites. Then, scale the ideas to fit your space.
Planning – Think about what you want from your bathroom
Points to consider:
- How will the new bathroom design best serve you? The bathroom is a personal space and you need to ensure that it reflects the priorities of the users.
- Do you need a separate bath and shower enclosure or can you get away with just a shower if you don’t use the bath?
- Will the position of the doors, windows and ventilation areas have any impact upon the planned layout?
- Is this going to be the main bathroom? If so, then how many family members will be using it?
- Does your current water system supply enough hot water and at a high enough pressure?
- Do all the current fittings need replacing or are some in a good enough condition to keep?
- Incorporating storage into your bathroom is a must – opt for a vanity unit or a mirrored cabinet to keep toiletries hidden away.
- Consider the heating, lighting and ventilation. When installing lighting ensure it coincides with the installation of any cabinets and fittings.
- Consider your budget – how much can you afford to spend and how will this impact upon the designs that you choose?
How much available space you have is going to play the biggest role. Space is important when it comes to determining the layout of the bathroom. There’s no need to despair too much if you have a small bathroom though. There are many space saving products which feature compact dimensions and slimline designs. Opt for wall mounted fixtures to enhance a sense of space further.
The space around each of the fittings is important. You need to be able to get in and out of the bath or shower without any obstacle, whilst also having unhindered access to the toilet and basin. Try and leave at least 700 mm of space around the bath and maintain a distance of 1000 mm around the basin and toilet. Fitting a shower-bath, using a corner toilet or wall mounted basin are just a few simple and effective ways that you can save space. To avoid creating a bathroom that feels cluttered and disordered keep to simple designs and maximise the use of light.
Learn more about how to save space in a small bathroom.
Plumbing – Soil stack and water pipes
If you want to change the layout you’ll have to take into account where the pipes are. You also need to know the position of the main soil stack. The soil stack is the pipe that your toilet, bath, and basin waste is connected to. It is usually connected through the bathroom wall and can then be found running down the outside of the house. The top of the soil stack reaches up past the roof for odour-free ventilation.
Changing the position of the soil stack is a difficult task to undertake. Therefore you may find it’s more cost effective to leave the toilet where it is. You should also consider how the pipework will function most effectively within your bathroom. It will prove cheaper and easier to install your basin and toilet in line with the bath, so that they can be served by continuous water feed pipes within the wall.
Consider the long-term before making your changes
Do you have a future-proof bathroom design?
One of the main reasons for renovating or moving to a new house is a change in family size or circumstances. New additions to the family put more pressure on the home, and your finances. If it is likely the family is going to change, include that in your plan. Add extra storage for toiletries, baby products, medicines, and towels. Be sure you can commit the finances to complete the job. Plan a little extra budget in case of the unexpected.
Often the idea of a redesign is far more appealing than the cost and disruption of seeing it through. If after looking it over a few times, you find yourself questioning the plan, it’ll be time for a rethink.
You may also want to get a second or third opinion to see if all parts of the plan make sense. Think functional as well as aesthetics. Towel rail within reach of the bath or shower for example.
Once you start, stick to the plan
Once under way, making last minute changes can be very disruptive to the project. While changing a paint colour won’t end the world, it’s about the only change that won’t get problematic. When involving contractors, problematic means expensive.
It’s not uncommon for a renovation plan to have a few last-minute tweaks. Usually for technical or structural reasons in the event of an unexpected find. It’s impossible to plan for everything but stand firm on your chosen design. Where adjustments are necessary, usually they won’t take work very far off track.
General 3D design software
3D computer aided design (CAD) software, as the name suggests exists for all 3D design purposes. Its general nature means you can expect lots of options, tools, and advanced features. They are capable of very accurate designs and can produce very realistic 3D previews. CAD software ranges from completely free (Sketchup & FreeCAD), to very expensive (Autodesk). Financial cost aside, even free design software requires a learning and time commitment. Its general nature also means starting from scratch. Every wall, tap, basin, and towel needs to be either 3D modelled or downloaded. General purpose CAD software is suitable for professionals, and serious hobbyists.
Purpose-built interior design tools
Interior design software shares many of its features with general purpose tools. They can produce the highest quality 3D visualisations and have many options. The biggest difference is the feature set. There are few unnecessary features thanks to the specialised tool-set. This makes the learning the software somewhat easier. You will still have to download or create 3D models of the furnishings yourself. Or you can use the provided placeholders, making approximate visualisation more accessible. Advanced interior design software also includes other useful features. Project cost estimates for example. The costs can vary from free (Space Designer), to around £250 for an advanced paid option like Smart Draw. Purpose built interior design software is perfect for interior designers, and individual users.
Proprietary 3D design tools
Some interior design retailers, for example Ikea and B&Q offer their own design software. Designed to be simple to use, these online tools can help you get a good idea down in a short time. Based around promoting their product range these tools are often less refined. The lack of options can also make it impossible to exactly reproduce your design. As proprietary tools are free to use they can be great during the early stages, or for a simple one-shop design.
Don’t want to dive into 3D design? Like many others before you, you can pay someone else to do it.
Ensure your bathroom design estimate is all-inclusive
When hiring someone to work on your home, ask for a material and labour estimate. Take the time to go over the estimate with the contractor to be sure of what the price includes. In most cases, a bathroom design estimate will include a margin of error. The estimate should also say how much the contractor can adjust the price for design changes. It will also state if customer must approve all changes.
Most contractors are honest people. They depend on positive references and testimonials to get more work. They will try to offer an accurate bathroom design estimate for the job. Unfortunately, there are some that will under-estimate to get the contract. They then try to add things into the price without consulting the owner. Check the reviews before hiring.
Allowing the contractor to make small adjustments to the project up to a price limit is normal. But, make sure that pre-agreed limit applies to the total cost of the job and not on individual phases. This mistake can be costly, leaving the homeowner with little control over the costs.
All contract specifications should be exact
Estimates should include a material specification for everything. It is not enough for example, to stipulate the use of a granite counter top. The estimate must also state the material dimensions. So, maintaining the quality and consistency of the build, avoiding last minute changes.
Pros and cons of painting vs wallpaper vs tiles
Your bathroom’s walls bear the greatest influence over the look of your bathroom. Whether you paint, tile or wallpaper depends the look you want for your bathroom. Your choice also decides the level of difficulty, time required, and cost. It’s also important to consider maintenance. How you care for your walls will differ depending on your choice.
Making your bathroom child-friendly
Children require special attention to their needs. Yet, redesigning a whole bathroom to be child friendly is not the best solution. Children grow up and you also might consider reselling the house. Consider all your children’s needs, together with functionality and safety. There is no need for profound changes. You can do a great job working with adaptations for a normal adult bathroom. Children can be curious. Look from a child’s perspective and you may find many potential dangers within the bathroom.
Buying your bathroom furnishings
Careful selection of your bathroom furnishings can improve your bathrooms appeal. With many styles to choose from there are endless combinations that can work for you.
You could choose something as simple as replacing your towel holders. Or you could go as far as a new heated towel rail and walk in shower. And the design of modern products makes installation less of an epic mission. Also, if you plan to tackle your bathroom project a product at a time, consider the order of your tasks.
Considering the order of your design project
The order in which you replace or install your bathroom products is vital to the success of your project. Luckily the reasons for following an order make simple sense when you think about them.
For example, it’s likely the flooring will need replacing. If not for the design, to fix the areas where the old units used to be. Fixed units will have to go down first as these need plumbing and wiring. Next, the flooring, cut around the units, followed by any other furnishings. It’s important not to lay the flooring before any fixed units. In the event of a leak, you do not want the hassle of removing your units to pull up the floor. Also, you’ll likely replace your flooring due to wear before your basin or toilet.
Measure twice and cut once
Whenever working on a design project, double check all measurements before ordering anything. It is always best to draw a floor plan with every measurement. You want to make sure that your furnishings fit into the existing space before you spend your money.
Adding the finishing touches with bathroom accessories
Finishing touches with accessories bring the look of your new bathroom together. Often overlooked, accessories are essential in creating a functional bathroom. They’re also available in modern and traditional styles. Let’s look at some accessory ideas.
Bigbathroomshop.co.uk is a UK bathroom retailer since 2007. Experts in home heating, lighting, and bathroom furnishings & accessories. We are proud to bring you quality interior design and bathroom how-to guides. More…
Hi, I’m Liz, an interiors blogger. My main focus area is the bathroom, where I aim to inspire anyone who’s planning and designing a new bathroom – you’ll find plenty of tips, how-to guides and a wealth of ideas!