Bathroom Improvement Ideas: A-Z Guide to Bathroom Renovations
Renovating your bathroom is one of the biggest projects you will undertake in your home, but it is well worth doing, as having a beautiful bathroom can increase the sale value of your house by 2-3%. Not only this but since it is a space that you will be using several times a day, it will also bring you great joy and satisfaction to have a bathroom that you love, especially if you did it yourself!
There are a lot of things to think about for a bathroom renovation, so we have put together our A-Z guide of bathroom improvement ideas to make sure you don’t miss anything out during your project.
Before we start though, let’s talk about the budgets: where can you save money during your renovation, and where should you spend…
Budgeting – How to Plan Your Bathroom Renovation
There are a lot of things to budget for during a bathroom renovation, so it’s a good idea to sit down and plan out your budget before you get started, this way you won’t be hit with any unexpected costs that you hadn’t planned for.
The cost of a bathroom renovation can range from $3,000 for a budget option all the way to $30,000 and even higher for a luxury bathroom. The average cost of a medium-sized bathroom renovation though is around $10,000 including labor.
The main costs for a bathroom renovation are:
Will you be hiring local tradesmen to help you with your project, or will you be doing the bulk of the work yourself? The main jobs that will need doing are:
- Painting and Decorating
Furniture and Materials
The costs can start to add up here, so now is a good time to make a spreadsheet of all the things you need, and your choices for each item. The main things you will need to purchase are”
- Vanity Unit
- Wall tiles
- Hardware and accessories
Ways to Save Money On Your Bathroom Renovation
The biggest way you can cut costs on your bathroom renovation is by doing as much of the labor yourself as you can, which will save money on hiring contractors. Youtube is a great place for finding tutorials on how to do things such as tiling bathroom walls and floors, and even basic plumbing.
Another way to save money is by just doing a partial renovation. If parts of your bathroom are still in good condition, such as the sink and bath then you could keep them as they are, and just replace the shower and taps for something more modern to give an updated look. Since plumbing could potentially be one of the biggest costs during a renovation this could save you a lot of time and money, leaving you free to focus on walls, floors, and accessories to update the space.
If you do decide to change your bath, sink, and toilet then keeping the same layout could save you quite a bit of money. When you start to move plumbing and pipework the costs can quickly add up, so bear this in mind if you are thinking of changing the layout.
If you are hiring contractors to help with any of the renovation work then make sure you shop around and get quotes from at least 3 different people per task. You should also shop around for your bathroom suite, floors and things like the tiles, as the price can vary greatly from brand to brand. If you are prepared to spend some time looking for a good deal you could potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars.
Things You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Spend Money On…
Although you may want your bathroom renovation to cost as little as possible, there are a few things that are worth spending a bit of extra money on:
- Taps and Showers – Taps and showers are probably one of the things that are touched with your hands several times a day. Every time someone goes to the bathroom it is highly likely that they will use the taps to wash their hands, so they are definitely something that will be noticed.
- Cabinetry – If you are having a vanity unit or any other cabinetry in your bathroom it is worth spending a little extra to get one that is really high quality. This is because things like the doors on cheaper units can quickly become wonky which can chapen the look of the whole room
- Underfloor Heating – Installing underfloor heating is an easy way to give your bathroom a luxury look and feel. It costs a little extra, but it’s well worth it. During a renovation is a great time to have this installed as it can be put down before your new floor goes down.
Return on Investment for Bathroom Renovations
So the big question… Will you see a return on the investment you make for your bathroom renovation? Well, we are happy to tell you that the answer is yes, you probably will! According to Zillow, the bathroom is the best room in your house to renovate if you want to increase the sale value of your house.
The biggest return on investment is for smaller bathroom remodels of around $3000, with this you are likely to recoup up to $1.71 for every $1 spent! The average return on investment for mid-range bathrooms costing around $12,000 is $0.87 for every $1 spent, so be wise about where you choose to spend your money!
Although this is the first on the list, accessories are usually the final touches that will make your bathroom feel finished. The great thing about accessories is that they can add a lot to the color and style of your bathroom, and can also be changed easily if you want to freshen up your look.
Some accessories you could include are:
- Bathroom light pull
- Matching towels
- Bath mats
- Toilet brush and holder
- Toothbrush holder
- Wall art
There are few things more luxurious than a long hot relaxing soak in a bathtub. If you have got the space for it then a bathtub is a great thing to have in your bathroom. There are different types of bathtubs available, and they also come in different shapes and sizes to suit your bathroom. You can even get mini bathtubs for tiny bathrooms!
Different Types of bathtubs:
- Freestanding Bath. This type of bathtub looks very luxurious. A freestanding bathtub can have its own legs or stand to rest on, or it can have a flat bottom that rests on the floor. Taps for freestanding baths can be either floor mounted or wall mounted.
- Shower Bath. A shower bath is designed with an asymmetrical shape that is wider (either square or curved) at one end so you can stand up in comfortably it to have a shower. A fixed glass shower screen is usually added to make sure water from the shower does not splash onto the floor.
- Corner Bath. A corner bath is a triangular-shaped bath that is designed to fit into the corner of a bathroom. This can work well in smaller bathrooms or bathrooms with an odd shape.
- Whirlpool Bath or Jacuzzi Bath. A whirlpool bath is a bathtub that has had air jets built into the sides and bottom of the tub to circulate air bubbles through the water. It can provide a number of benefits including muscle relaxation and improved blood circulation. Whirlpool baths come in various different shapes and sizes including corner baths, fitted baths, and double baths.
- Double Bath. This is a luxurious type bathtub perfect for larger bathrooms. A double bathtub is double the width of a regular tun, so a couple can bath side by side.
- Recessed or Alcove Bathtub. This is probably the most common type of bathtub. It is installed against a wall or in a corner and can have either two or three sides, or just one side if it is in an alcove or small bathroom, as the bathroom walls serve as other sides.
A Cistern is a receptacle that holds the water you use for flushing your toilet. Cisterns can be either built into the wall (concealed), attached to the toilet to create a single unit (close-coupled) high level (mounted high on the wall), or low level (mounted on the wall behind the toilet).
The colors you use in your bathroom can really enhance your chosen design. You can consult an Interior Designer for color ideas, or decide on your own. Websites like Pinterest are a great place to search for inspiration and ideas for your color scheme.
You could be brave and choose bold colors for all the walls, or you can play it safe and opt for whites or neutrals, and then add in a splash of color with your accessories.
When it comes to the design of your new bathroom, one of the things you need to consider is the layout of your bathtub, toilet, and sink. Do you want to leave everything in the same place, or move things around? If you do decide to move things around it’s important that you consult a plumber to see whether your new layout will work with the plumbing in your house.
Once you have decided on your layout it’s time to think about how you want your new bathroom to look and feel. You should put together a mood board of ideas that you like, including floor tiles, wall tiles or paint, type of bathtub, sink and toilet, and accessories, and use this as a starting point for your design.
Once you have done this you can start to put together a shopping list of the items you will be buying. Make sure you keep pictures of everything you have chosen so that you can see how they look next to each other before you actually make the purchase. Once you have seen that everything you have chosen works well together you can start shopping!
Make sure you consult a plumber before you start your project so that they can make sure your existing drainage is in good condition. They can give you advice if you are planning on moving anything around, to ensure everything drains correctly. If new drains aren’t installed correctly they could leak, which could be costly to fix, especially if you only discover a leak once the renovation has been completed.
Drains must be installed according to your local building codes and regulations, which normally require a 50mm water seal around the drain. Secondary drainage can also be applied to shower drains, ensuring any water that manages to seep through a crack is still caught and diverted to the main drain.
If you are planning to make any changes to the electrics of your bathroom you should do this before anything else, as installing electrics after a project has finished can damage your tiles or wall surfaces. If you don’t already have a shaving plug in your bathroom, a renovation is a great time to get one installed, and now is also the time to decide if you want to add any extra lighting such as wall lights.
We all know that electricity and water don’t mix, so be sure to make sure that you check that your chosen light fittings are suitable for use in bathrooms. You will also need to have a light switch fitting that is suitable for bathrooms such as a ceiling-mounted pull cord (this is the safest option) or an enclosed switch where no water can penetrate to reach the electric circuits if someone touches it with wet hands.
Electrical items should be installed by a qualified electrician. As a bathroom is a place where water will be near electrical items you need to be sure that any electrics you are having installed meet building safety regulations.
There are a few options available to you for your bathroom flooring. The main thing that you need to consider is that your choice of flooring needs to be completely waterproof. Tiles are a great option as they are waterproof and easy to clean. Be sure to check that the tiles you want to use are suitable for flooring though, as floor tiles can take more weight than wall tiles and are more hard-wearing.
Options for bathroom flooring include:
- Ceramic or stone tiles
- Polished concrete
- Water-resistant engineered wood
Lighting in a bathroom needs to be bright, as this is an area where you will be getting ready for the day, but you might also want to create an atmosphere for when you are having a soak in the bath in the evening for example, so It’s a good option to have two or more lighting options for your bathroom.
The main lighting should be overhead lighting on the ceiling, and then you should also consider ‘task lighting’ for any specific areas that you might use to get ready such as your vanity/mirror area.
Types of bathroom lighting include:
- Ceiling lights
- Downlights and Spotlights
- Wall lights
- Integrated mirror lighting
You should create a scale floor plan of your bathroom space before you get started with any renovation works, to check that all of your chosen items fit nicely within the space. You also need to make sure that there is adequate space around each item so that you can comfortably move around the space. If you are a wheelchair user or have special access requirements you will need to allow extra space according to building guidelines and regulations.
A great resource that anyone undertaking a kitchen or bathroom renovation should have is The NKBA Kitchen and Bathroom Planning Guide with Access Standards.
A mirror is a must-have an item in a bathroom, and not only does it allow you to see yourself as you are getting ready, but it also makes the room feel larger and brighter as it reflects the light. It’s definitely worth getting a larger mirror if you can so that two people can use it at the same time for getting ready. You can buy mirrors with built-in lighting, or you can have extra wall lighting to illuminate this area.
Having some plants in your bathroom can really bring the space to life, even if you have no other accessories. Lots of plants thrive in the warm, wet conditions of a bathroom, and seeing a lush green plant first thing in the morning when you wake up can really lift your mood. Houseplants also remove pollutants from the air, so they can make your home a healthier place too!
Some of the best plants to have in your bathroom are:
- Aloe Vera
- Peace lily
- Spider Plant
- Snake Plant
Plumbing is one of those things that you should always get a professional to do if you are not 100% sure on how to do it yourself. The reason for this is that a burst pipe has the potential to flood your home, so it’s just not worth the risk. You should consult a plumber before you start your project to let them know what you have planned for the layout and whether any walls will need to be cut into to lay extra pipe-work.
A radiator is an essential item in your bathroom. There is nothing worse than stepping into a cold bathroom on a chilly Winter’s morning, so you need a good radiator to make everything nice and toasty for you. Radiators are also a great place to dry damp towels, and you can even get radiators that double as heated towel rails.
These days you don’t have to settle for the boring ‘old fashioned’ white radiators. There is a huge range of designer options in different colors and sizes. Heated towel radiators look stylish and keep the space warm, so they are a popular choice!
It’s always useful to have some shelving space available to store items you need to access on a daily basis such as shampoo, shower gel or even a waterproof radio. You can buy small ‘Shower caddy’ shelves that fit in the corner of the wall next to your shower, so you have easy access to all the things you need while you are washing.
Investing in a good quality shower is important. There are few things worse than trying to wash under a trickle of water. If you have low water pressure in your home you can invest in an electric power shower, which heats the water as it comes through the machine giving you an unlimited supply of hot water at high pressure.
You might also be interested: How to Find the Best Water Heater
The bathroom sink, or basin, is an essential part of your bathroom suite and will be used on a daily basis for things such as washing your hands and face, brushing your teeth, and shaving. Things to consider when buying a sink for your bathroom are the size, material, and base it stands on. Most bathroom sinks are made of ceramic material, so they are hardwearing and easy to clean, but you can also buy sinks made from other materials such as glass, metal, and stone.
There are a few different types of basin available:
- Pedestal Sink
- Console Sink
- Wall Mounted Sink
- Vessel Sink
- Undermount Sink (Drop-in)
- Top Mount Sink (Self Rimming)
Storage in your bathroom is definitely something you should take into consideration when undertaking a bathroom renovation. Things you should think about storage for are your towels, shampoos and cosmetics, and cleaning products.
Having a vanity unit under your sink is a great way to include some extra storage, as this space is normally unused. If you have the space you could also include some cabinet storage on the walls, many people like to have a medicine cabinet in the bathroom, so this can be a useful place to store small items, and it doesn’t take up any floor space.
You will need taps for your bath and sink. There are different styles of taps available, but you will want to be sure that the taps you choose for your sink go well with your bath taps and shower.
Different types of taps include:
- Deck Mounted Taps. Deck mounted taps are the most common type of taps, and they are attached to the edge of the sink or bath using holes that have been cut into the surface. This is one of the easiest options plumbing wise, as all of the pipework will be hidden under the surface of the sink or bathtub.
- Wall Mounted Taps. These are mounted to the walls above the sink or bath, and the pipework is usually recessed into the walls and tiled over, although some contemporary designs do have exposed pipework.
- Floor Mounted Taps. Floor mounted taps are a popular tap option for freestanding bathtubs, particularly if you have chosen to have the bathtub in the center of the room, or away from a wall. With floor mounted taps, the pipework is hidden under the floor, and the tap itself is mounted on a long pole extending from the floor.
- Mixer Taps. This style of tap is usually mounted onto a single hole or base. It mixes the hot and cold water within the tap to give you the desired temperature
- Pillar Taps. These are two separate taps for hot and cold water, each with their own valve. The disadvantage of pillar taps is that the hot and cold water doesn’t mix inside the tap, which may be a problem if you need warm water that’s not too hot. To solve this problem you will have to mix the hot and cold water in the sink.
- Bath/Shower Mixer Taps. These type of taps have a shower hose connected to the bath taps, so you can use either the bath or the shower from the same tap.
One thing you need to consider when you are buying your taps is your household water pressure, as different taps are available for different water pressures. You can do this yourself using a household water pressure gauge.
Tiles are the perfect option for bathroom walls and floors, as they are very waterproof and easy to clean. You should make sure that the tiles you choose are suitable for bathrooms, and check whether they are wall tiles or floor tiles. When you are tiling you should also make sure you use a waterproof mold resistant adhesive and grout, to ensure your tiles stand the test of time.
There is a large range of different toilets available, and you can buy your toilet as part of a suite with your bath and sink, or you can purchase it on its own. There are different styles of toilets available, ranging from modern to traditional, and there are different cistern types available too (see ‘Cistern’ further up the page).
Smaller space-saving toilets and corner toilets are available for small bathrooms, and most toilets do not have a ‘dual flush’ option to save water when a big flush is not needed.
You can buy heated towel rail radiators, wall mounted towel rails, or freestanding towel rails, depending on how much space you have available. A heated towel rail radiator combination is a great option as it keeps your towels warm, and dries them quickly after you have used them.
Installing underfloor heating is an energy-efficient way to heat your bathroom, and it’s one of those little touches that will make your bathroom feel really luxurious. An underfloor heating system should be installed before your flooring goes down, so this is one of the first jobs that should be completed during your renovation. You can install the system yourself using a kit from Amazon.
A vanity unit is a piece of bathroom furniture that combines the sink with your bathroom storage, such as a cupboard or drawers. Vanity units can either be wall-mounted or floor standing.
They are a very useful addition to the bathroom suite, not only because they provide a convenient place for extra storage, but they also do the job of hiding ugly pipework from the sink.
Without adequate ventilation, your bathroom can end up damp and mold can grow. You should either have large windows that you can keep open, or ideally a bathroom ventilation fan which draws damp air out of the bathroom and pushes it outside.
Since a bathroom ventilation fan is an electrical item, this should be installed by a qualified electrician at the beginning of your renovation with any other electrical items such as light fittings and shaving plugs.
See some of the best Ventilation options and reviews here:
Bathroom Renovation FAQ’s
When completing a bathroom renovation you should always start on paper with working out your budget and plan before you get started on any of the renovations. Here is the order in which you should tackle this project.
1. Planning and preparation. Plan your budget and decide what you want.
2. Floor plans. Draw a to-scale plan to check that all of your chosen items will fit in your bathroom.
3. Remove old tiles and old bathroom suite
4. Electrics and Plumbing can be installed
5. Installation of new wall tiles leaving gaps for shower fittings and plumbing
6. Installation of new flooring
7. New Bathroom suite and vanity can be installed with showers and taps
8. Installation of light fittings
9. Accessories and mirrors can be added
Yes, whenever possible you should always do repair works on the ceiling before installing your new suite, this is because any falling debris or accidentally dropped tools could damage your new suite.
Time scales can vary from project to project, but on average a bathroom renovation can be completed in 4-6 weeks.
For a simple renovation where your plumbing and pipework will stay in the same place, you won’t need to gain any permission, but if you need to move any pipework or drainage you may need to gain consent from your local authority. Policies vary from state to state so be sure to check.
You can buy specific paint for bathrooms now so make sure you check on the tin that the paint you are using is suitable for use in bathrooms. Bathroom paint is formulated differently to the regular emulsion to ensure it is mold resistant and won’t peel off your walls if your bathroom gets damp or steamy.
Decorating the bathroom of your young one? Check out our best ideas and inspirations for Boy’s Bathroom.