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The 5 Steps of a Great Bathroom Renovation


One of the most crucial spaces in a home to get “just right” is the bathroom, but it’s a minefield of design decisions out there. With so many choices at our fingertips, it can be difficult to know what path to head down if you’re considering a renovation. Bathrooms can be expensive to build and a massive headache to fix if you make a mistake, so your choices need to be finalized before you begin the project. Here are the five key things to think about.

Nail the brief.

We all have bucketloads of inspiration these days thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, but how can we narrow down those liked and pinned pics into a bathroom to be proud of? The key is not to overdo it.

There’s no need to tick off every trend in the book. Instead, think about why you’re building or renovating your bathroom. Is it for resale, or just for you? If it’s the former, it’s probably best to stay safe for the sake of a sale, but if it’s a labor of love, go nuts!

Explore color, materials, texture, pattern, space, and light, but limit yourself to one or two elements that really float your boat and go from there. Base your design around a few hero elements and stick to an aesthetic. Whether it’s minimalist, coastal, Art Deco or Hamptons style, commit to that brief.

Try not to fill your space with too much “wow,” as a small bathroom can feel cramped with a busy palette. If you love the look of feature tiles on the floor or wall, choose subtle tiles for the rest of the room.

If you just love a fancy pendant light, pare back on the features that surround that area. Give your heroes the space they need to shine.

Prioritize planning.

To save the need for a sledgehammer down the road, consider every inch of your bathroom before a finger is even slightly lifted. If it’s all too much, you may want to consider the services of an architect or a draftsperson (you might be surprised by how inexpensive they can be). They’ll know the  regulations that must be adhered to and the general “must-dos and -don’ts” of space planning. Detailed plans will also make life easier down the track.

If you do want to shoot from the hip, make sure you think about traffic through the space and mark your plans out on the floor if you can. As a rough rule, you’ll need around three feet of width for a toilet, at least the same for the width of a shower and the height of your vanity. It’s a good idea to consider your entrance, as a door that swings inward will chew up a few feet of floor space, which is a huge slice of the average bathroom.

It’s a good idea to have all your tiles, taps, bath, and anything else that’s going into the bathroom delivered and ready to go before the build begins. This will not only save you money but also reduce the time it takes to complete the job, so the contractors can see exactly what needs to be installed.

Remember, storage is king.

A clutter-free bathroom is what dreams are made of, and with the Marie Kondo approach being all the rage these days, it’s a good idea to ensure your bathroom is free of mess for those unexpected guests.

Under-bench storage and a recessed shaving cabinet will keep most of your stuff at bay and, if extra storage is needed, there are plenty of options out there for stand-alone bathroom storage. Double towel rails are almost a given these days and towel hooks are great for functionality and keeping the wet towels off the floor.

Don’t neglect minor details.

It’s often the smallest things that annoy us the most, and the building game is no different. Sadly, these “smaller details” are often uncovered only after the build is complete. It’s imperative to nut out these points prior to any work starting, as fixing these glitches after the room’s finished can cost a lot.

Analyze every decision with a fine-tooth comb and give yourself time on this one. Is your showerhead height tall enough for your shockingly lanky partner? Speaking from experience on this one, a shower set at six feet usually caters to most in the basketball team.

Make sure that your tapware comes out far enough, but not too far over the sink (you’ll want the water stream to hit the bottom of the bowl just before the drain). In saying that, check the height of your tap, as I’ve seen so many gorgeous bathrooms that don’t cater to people with anything bigger than “petite” hands. It’s these details will make or break your bathroom.

Call in the A-team.

A great team will be worth its weight in gold for any bathroom build and more often than not, you get what you pay for. Steer clear of cheap workers that offer you the world, as a bathroom with a leak is just money down the drain. It’s best to use a reputable builder and rely on them to manage their own workers. 

However, if you want to save a penny and manage the build yourself, do your homework on who you hire. Check all relevant licenses and rely on word of mouth. One of the most important things to get right is waterproofing, so be sure to get a compliance certificate and monitor the job with hawk-like eyes. If you can, help the workers whenever possible, but try not to get in their way. A clean job site is an efficient one, so enable your workers to do the best job that they can.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love

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