Planning a new bathroom can feel overwhelming. The average person spends the equivalent of 7.58 days a year in the bathroom, so it needs to be an inviting and relaxing space.
And, after the kitchen, it’s often the next most costly room to renovate, so getting it right and within budget can be daunting. According to the Homebuilding & Renovating website, “The average cost of a new bathroom is around £3,000, but this can vary hugely depending on whether you are starting from scratch, replacing an existing suite, doing the work on a DIY basis, and the level of luxury you want.” Find out more on the average costs of a bathroom here.
To help you make a start on your bathroom project, here’s what I’ve learned over the years, plus some top bathroom renovation tips from my followers on Instagram.
Planning the layout
As a starting point, ask yourself whether you need to change the layout of your bathroom. But don’t just change it for change’s sake; if it works, stick with it as a change could mean costly repositioning of waste and water pipes, for example.
If you decide that changing your layout will work better, measure your bathroom several times. I can’t stress this point enough – measure, measure and measure again! A useful tool to make sure your dimensions are spot on is a digital laser measure.
Then, turn these measurements into something simple, converting mm into cm (for example, if the width of your room is 1,760mm, draw it out on paper at 17.6cm) and draw your ideal bathroom layout on some graph paper or use an online tool. There are lots to choose from but those that have been recommended to me include home.by.me and Sketch Up.
Top tip: Make sure you note the position of doors, windows and pipes on your drawing. This will help when visiting bathroom showrooms.
Future-proof your bathroom
You may not be a bath person, but if you are planning on starting a family in the coming years, a bath might become very important. Equally, this may not be your forever home so to appeal to a broader audience when you come to sell, consider a bath.
Visit some showrooms
Don’t be afraid to visit bathroom showrooms for advice. Take some photos of the room on your phone and go armed with your drawings and any images you’ve saved on Pinterest, for example.
Like kitchen designers, bathroom designers know all the tricks for maximising space and will tell what will and won’t work. And remember, you’re not obliged to buy anything just because you’re asking for advice.
Fixture and fittings
Don’t scrimp on the fittings!
This is the most common tip I received from my followers, so take heed!
- “After doing our ensuite I would advise people to try and push the budget to quality fittings. We splurged on tiles and scrimped on fittings yet this has cost us dear in the long run. We’ve replaced the toilet twice and the shower seals have all corroded.” Jill from @jillylizzyinteriors
- “Don’t go for the cheaper vanity units/toilets online. They look great on the outside but the insides are plastic so you end up spending even more getting them fixed when they leak! We’ve had both a leaky toilet and vanity unit. The plumber had to completely replace the insides!” Anna from @dustanddaydreaming
- “Always buy good quality sanitary wear as it is used a lot. Buying cheap means buying twice”. Michelle from @serialhomefaffer
Can you upcycle what you already have? My followers are a thrifty bunch.
- “To manage the cost in one of our bathrooms we re-used the roll top bath as it was fine. We added new claw feet and lovely new taps. It is now good as new and we saved a fortune. Another good tip for roll top baths to save money is to pain the one you have.” @beverleypark_athome
- “Decide if you need a full refurb or if you can just “upcycle” what you already have. We ripped out the shower but kept the bath, sink and toilet. By retiling the sink and bath area as well as giving both a lick of paint we didn’t need to spend lots of money on a whole new bathroom suite”. Danie @newlodgecottage
Think about your shower screen carefully.
- “You can get a designer look without spending a fortune. Use glass screens for showers instead of enclosures as it make the room feel more luxury and spacious.” Rebecca @thehousebuild
- “Buy your glass shower screens in pre cut sizes. Custom sizes cost a lot more.” Alicia @bonniesfarmhouse
- “If you are having a full enclosure make sure your door is wide enough so the water doesn’t come out. We considered this and still get wet floors!” Leanne @lifeattheoast
Consider an electric shower over a mains fed shower. Leanne @lifeattheoast compromised on her design slightly by installing electrical showers: “They are so practical though and keep me happy on a daily basis! We never run out of hot water when we have a house full!”
When choosing tiles, don’t always assume that the big companies are cheapest. Visit smaller independent shops and ask them if they will match the prices of the bigger stores. Often the tiles in the independent shops are better quality and you’ll be surprised how many are willing to price match.
- Sianette over @sianette_home_food_life shares a similar tip: “Try and source as much of the bathroom items yourself instead of buying from the big brands. We got our wall and floor tiles from a builders’ merchant which was much cheaper than buying direct from a bigger brand.”
- Rosie over @renovatebristol says: “Always allow for extra tiles or you will have to order more and they charge a bomb for delivery. Even if you have some left over you will save money.”
This is a great tip! We had quite a few left over from our bathroom renovation, which I then sold on eBay.
- Hannah over @cotswold_cottage says: “If it’s a small space have a look on eBay or other selling platforms for tiles or flooring left over from someone else’s renovation.”
- “Only tile if/where you need to. Tiling is expensive and labour intense! Luckily our bathroom didn’t need a shower so we don’t have any tiled areas. We just did the traditional match board cladding which was much cheaper to buy.” Christian from @cpwjoineryservices
Wait for the sales
If you can, be savvy about your bathroom purchases and wait until you can nab a bargain. A lot of my followers saved valuable cash by doing this.
“Buy your bathroom suite around Christmas time from the likes of Ikea, Better Bathrooms or Victoria Plum. They have some crazy sales! Our bathroom suite was £300 which included sink, taps, toilet and roll top freestanding bath!” Christian from
“Always ask suppliers to beat a quote you’ve had from elsewhere.” says Michelle from @serialhomefaffer I love this tip!
Budget: the boring but essential bit
This might seem obvious, but make sure you put all your quotes and costings in a spreadsheet or on a piece of paper. It’s amazing how quickly costs mount up so having them all in one place will ensure you know exactly where you are with your budget at all times.
Antonia from @mrsd_with_the_green_gate has a great budgeting tip too: “Have a contingency fund because you might have a few surprises.”
Collate ideas on mood boards
I love getting inspiration by scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest and both platforms can be great for ensuring you get the look you’re after.
Lucy from @olive_at_number_six agrees: “Use Pinterest or save inspirational Instagram posts so that you have a visual you can keep referring back to – it will definitely help your decision making process and give you that end result you had always envisioned.”
Save money where you can
- Everyone loves a bargain, so before you splurge, check out eBay or Gumtree for deals!
- Cashback sites like Quidco and TopCashback offer some great rates of cashback on purchases too, so check whether the company you are planning on buying your bathroom from is on a cashback site – you could save lots!
My followers also have some great money-saving tips:
Dani @newlodgecottage suggests: “Do as much of the work yourself as possible! My boyfriend did the tiling and ripped out and installed a new shower by following youtube videos!”
While Hannah over @costwold_cottage says: “Finding an old sideboard or unit and restoring it can be a great idea for vanity unit. Ours cost £50, I painted it with chalk paint and fitted a sink on top!”
A huge thank you to all those who took the time to send in their top tips. I’ve certainly learnt a lot ready for my next bathroom renovation!
If you think I’ve missed anything just add it to the comments below.