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Renovating a Bathroom: How to Design the Perfect Space

Modern bathroom renovation
(Image credit: Tile Giant)

When it comes to renovating a bathroom it can be tempting to let your enthusiasm run away with you and walk straight into your nearest bathroom retailer or go online and start ordering your new sanitaryware, tiles, flooring and lighting.

(MORE: Get a quote on a new bathroom

But, before you do that it’s worth giving some thought to some details.

Choosing a New Layout When Renovating a Bathroom

Firstly, it’s wise to pinpoint the layout. Plot the position of the essentials and mark down plumbing, windows, doors and the sanitaryware.

You’ll see snaggy spots that don’t work that you can lose and the bits that you want or have to keep.

Once you’ve got your existing bathroom design plotted out you can start to play around with the layout.

At this stage ask yourself some questions like: who uses the bathroom the most; do you have room for a separate shower; would twin sinks be a godsend?

If you want to renovate to create a better functioning family space then adding a bigger bath or more storage could be a practical move.

Similarly, ask yourself if you can move sanitaryware around to create a better layout that works for all the family.

If space is tight and your bathroom is small think about introducing wall hung basins and units. They open up the floorspace creating the illusion that the room is bigger than it is.

Contemporary bathroom renovation

The Matki EauZone Plus Ultra Bespoke Shower Door in Matt Black is a striking addition to this relatively small bathroom, and features a wall hung WC. Designed by Draw a Bath (Image credit: Matki)

If you’re designing a luxurious en suite include statement pieces like a raindrop shower head or a roll top free standing bath. Or go all-out and design a wet room.

But there’ll be work involved to make the wet room installation watertight. You’ll want to avoid any nasty leaks ruining rooms adjacent or below.

“If you have the space (and a 70-100mm void) then it’s best practice and fairly easy to stud out the wall to conceal the pipework behind it. However, if you are short on space and can’t afford to lose 100mm of floor space, you can chisel out the channels into the brickwork and bury the valve into the wall, but it isn’t the easiest approach.” Lee Reed, product and marketing manager at Easy Bathrooms

Decide if You are Remodelling or Updating Your Bathroom

Remodelling a bathroom often means you’re thinking about moving things around or creating a bigger space. For example, bringing together a separate WC and bathroom. Remodelling also means more work. Plumbing will need to move to accommodate the new layout so think about what impact this will have on the design and your budget.

Your layout plan will come in handy here. Pay particular attention to the pipework and soil stack. It’s important to establish where it all is and where it all goes so that you can be sure your new layout will work. For instance, it can be costly to move a soil stack, so it can often pay to leave the toilet where it is.

You can discuss the relocation of plumbing/pipework at the design stage with your plumber and builder.

If you’re happy with the current configuration or you want to keep costs down by keeping plumbing in place, then the design is a lot more straightforward. You’ll already have your layout partly done.

So, think about how you can create a more functional bathroom with the configuration you have: space for a shower cubicle if you haven’t already got one, built-in storage shelves, a heated towel rail or underfloor heating (UFH).

Colourful bathroom renovation design

Don’t be afraid to introduce colour into your bathroom scheme. The softy dusky pinks and beautiful blues combine to create a fun but sophisticated scheme. The luxurious wallpaper starts from £65 and is from Charlton Island (Image credit: Charlton Island)

Checklist When Renovating a Bathroom

It’s easy to get caught up in the design and forget about the function, so use this simple checklist to cover all areas of your bathroom renovation design and budget:

  • The plumbing & soil stack: Is it moving or staying put?
  • Heating: Think about UFH and heated towel rails
  • Flooring: Pick a style that’s non-slip, easy to clean and suitable for wet areas
  • Lighting: A bathroom is zoned so make sure any lighting conforms to regulations
  • Wall covering: If budget is tight, tile just around the shower/bath and basin and paint the rest of the wall.
  • Storage: Do you need more? Where can it go? Can it be built-in?
  • Sanitaryware: Shop around and do your research, it pays to be a savvy shopper.

How Much Does it Cost to Renovate a Bathroom?

The average cost of a new bathroom is from around £3,000+, but this will vary depending on the size of your renovation project and the level of luxury you’re going for. Likewise, if you’re doing a lot of the work yourself, on a DIY basis, then this will bring your costs down.

A plumber should take two to three days to remove your old bathroom and retrofit your new one, which will cost around £1,000.

If you’re factoring in a tiler, a small bathroom would take one to three days and cost between £350 and £800.

Prices are dependant on the tiles and sanitaryware you specify.

Editor's note: partners with the UK's best bathroom suppliers to match your requirements with their products. Simply answer a few questions on your project and what you want from your bathroom and we’ll put you in touch with a suitable partner.