10 Bathroom Design Rules

Do the homework and take the time to get the best bathroom for your budget

red and black bathroom, 10 bathroom design secrets

Our ten design rules will help you get the most out of your bathroom renovation 

well-planned bathroom is a pleasure to spend time in and since it’s a room that is used daily by every member of the family, it’s worth getting the design right.

A full bathroom renovation is costly and mistakes can be difficult to live with. Saving money with DIY installation can be tempting, but if
your skills are not up to it don’t risk a reno disaster and call in the pros.

Shop around for fittings and keep within your budget. While a dream bathroom is great on paper, be realistic when drawing up the plans as moving the plumbing can cost thousands.

To get the best return on your reno investment, follow these 10 simple rules for designing a bathroom. 

1. Go for a flush fit

Anything freestanding or fancy may look great when installed, but the bathroom is a space that needs to be regularly cleaned. Reaching in behind awkwardly placed fittings can be difficult, and leaving parts inaccessible can result in a health hazard.

Instead choose flush or floating vanities, toilets and sinks that make cleaning much easier as well as giving the illusion of extra space. 

2. Keep to a schedule 

You don’t want the bathroom to be out of action for long, particularly if it’s the only one in the house. 

Being well prepared and doing all the research and planning before you start will cut the length of time the room will be out of commission. 

The average bathroom renovation takes between one and two weeks, so book contractors and ensure all fittings and fixtures are on site. 

Plan a time when perhaps not all members of the household will be there, check in with friends about using their facilities and investigate hiring a portable toilet, if necessary. 

3. Be clever with cash

It’s important to be realistic about the amount of money you have to spend, allocating the most cash to quality upgrades that improve functionality rather than style.

It’s tempting to go for obvious additions that have a big visual impact but a dingy bathroom that could be transformed by a skylight will still look dingy if you simply add an expensive clawfoot enamel bath.

4. Add enough storage

The bathroom gets cluttered when storage is scarce. Well-designed vanities and wall-mounted cabinets are good long-term investments that pay for themselves.

Wraparound shelves, recessed nooks and slimline cabinets all help to streamline small spaces. 

Bathroom with red vanity, white tiles and undersink storage, Handyman magazine
Good storage can transform a room from slovenly to serene

5. Get the light right 

As in all parts of the house, natural light in the bathroom is desirable. If you’re not lucky enough to have a large window, a skylight is a fantastic investment as it gives even, ambient light throughout the daylight hours.

6. Materials matter

Getting the surfaces right can set the tone of the room. The materials must be moisture resistant and able to withstand high humidity.

Unsealed timber may warp and stain over time, but stone, porcelain, laminates and vinyls work well. 

Consider paying a bit extra for superior quality that will look better and stand the test of time.  

7. Room for two

In a family home there may often be more than one person using the bathroom at the same time. 

Create a functional space in even the tightest of spots by anticipating individual needs such as power points for appliances and extra storage.

Buy fixtures and fittings that are compact enough to work in the dimensions and allow two people to manoeuvre simultaneously. Avoid sharp corners in a small space.   

8. Mind the view

If you are tearing out your old bathroom suite and rebuilding it completely from scratch, take the opportunity to consider the right location for the toilet. 

It should be positioned out of the line of sight when the door is open, and in the most private situation possible so that it’s not the first thing that people see when they enter the room.

If you are renovating and not willing to go to the considerable expense of changing the location of the plumbing, experiment with different layouts and consider other ways of screening off the toilet, such as building a partial wall. 

9. Function over fashion

The proliferation of renovating blogs and reality TV shows means that ideas for home design and improvement have never been more plentiful and available.

But translating those ideas to your own home won’t necessarily  work if you are choosing them primarily for their appearance rather than performance or practicality. 

Over time, the user-friendliness and functionality of an appliance will become much more important than how it looks. 

And like trends elsewhere in the home, following fashion means the room will date and lose its value sooner rather than later.

Modern bathroom with black and white tiles and curved shower screen,
When space is tight, curved lines work better than sharp edges

10. Plan for the future

If you are remodelling a bathroom in a home you anticipate staying in for the long term, planning a few elements for older age will
serve you well.

Baths are favourable for young families but not necessarily practical in later life. By eliminating steps, slopes, difficult angles and corners when renovating the bathroom you’ll save yourself having to shell out for a redo further down the line.

Wall-mounted task lighting is best around the mirror and vanity for grooming as overhead lights cast shadows on the face. Use recessed downlighting for general illumination and access lighting under cabinets, in nooks or around the bath for visual impact and atmosphere.

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