Some excerpts from an Ideal Home article

As well as simple renovations, we are also planning more bathroom and en-suites.  Whatever your reason, installing a new bathroom is a serious undertaking and can be deceptively tricky.  It requires an array of fittings and technical skill, often in a very compact space.  For this reason, careful planning from the start will prevent costly mistakes and changes down the line.

Begin by working out your key priorities.  A family bathroom or spa-style sanctuary will require a long list of specifications and fittings that could include a bath, separate shower, double basin’s and heaps of storage, while an en-suite or guest bathroom may require a shower and a loo.

Next ask yourself what sort of space you hope to achieve.  Are you seeking a haven to escape to, or are you more of an invigorate-and-energise kind of person.  This will affect the fixtures, fittings and colour scheme you choose.  Forget about how you currently use your bathroom, and instead image how you would like to use it.  Draw on your experiences when visiting great spa’s or hotels on holidays.  Visualise how you would like your new scheme to function.

You may need to take into account ages of the house occupants and any access issues members of the family may have.

Don’t change a layout just for the sake of it, if it works well for you, keep it.  It’s a much cheaper option, too, as moving waste and water pipes can be expensive.

Replacing fittings, flooring and tiles or repainting walls is a quick way to get a refresh.  If your layout isn’t quite right, think about the ways you might be able to make small but effective changes.  Rehanging doors or fitting sliding ones is an excellent way to gain space for instance.

If you plan to change your layout, measure your bathroom carefully.  Note the position of doors and windows and any pipes.  It might help to draw an outline on graph paper, or use an online design tool.

It’s also a good idea to visit a local bathroom showroom for advice, as it’s designers will have plenty of experience in maximising space whilst at the same time minimising costly mistakes.

There’s no point pining for his-and-hers sinks, a statement walk in shower or a double ended roll top bath if they won’t fit.  The truth of the matter is it isn’t going to be possible in most UK bathrooms – apparently the average footprint is about the same as a king size bed!

Don’t cram in fittings (this will only make the room feel smaller) and research products that will help you make the most of the square meterage, such as wet room style showers and semi pedestal basins.

Ventilation is important, many people overlook this and only regret it later.  It’s important in a bathroom with furniture, as condensation can damage wood, an open window alone is not enough.  You certainly don’t want the bathroom to become damp, especially an en-suite placed so close to the bedroom.  Make the rooms well ventilated as you don’t want steam flowing into nearby rooms.  The extractors can be installed with an isolator switch in order not to come on in the middle of the night when taking a trip to the bathroom.

Storage is the key to successful bathrooms, and no, a minimal glass shelf won’t be enough.  Toiletries never display well, nor do shampoo bottles standing on the floor of a shower or around the bath.  A substantial vanity with space for extra towels is a smart buy.  Mirrored cabinets will allow for you to store products as well as charge toothbrushes and electric razors.  Niche or recesses in the wall will also ensure that you can store bottles discreetly by the shower along with quality chrome shower baskets.

As bathrooms are often placed alongside the bedrooms, lighting should be considered carefully.  You don’t want bright lights flashing on in the middle of the night.  It’s not comfortable for the person taking a trip to the bathroom, or for the person asleep in the next door bedroom.  Consider having different levels of lighting.  Ceiling lights can be put on a dimmer switch or you can use mirrors with LED lights.  You could use a soft light operated by a motion sensor.

Surfaces make or break a bathroom, there’s nothing worse than dated cruddy worn vinyl.  Trending now are patchwork or geometric floor tiles.  A maximum impact can be achieved with a floor to ceiling feature tile or a full feature wall in a stunning complimentary tile.  Think about the room proportions and how you can achieve this effect when choosing tiles. 

Deciding on a budget in advance means you can prioritise where to spend and where to save.  It doesn’t cost thousands to create a spa feel, just one beautiful piece, should as a freestanding bath and show it against a more budget background.  Bear in mind you need to allocate some budget for practical elements.  You may need a larger water tank, if you are planning a rainfall shower and a water softener can be a smart idea to prevent build-up of limescale.  The best rule with a shower area is the bigger the better for easy movement or assistance should it be required.  Two heads are always better than one and that applies to showers.  Ladies often prefer hand held adjustable shower heads, where gents usually prefer over head rain showers.

Don’t forget to factor in delivery times for your materials.  You will also need to consider the small things that add up, basin/bath wastes, plumbing fittings and tile fitting materials.


Double check the return periods BEFORE you place your order so you know how long you have to report anything that’s not right.  Take the time to check the condition of your fixtures and fittings as soon as they are delivered.

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