Darren Palmer On Bathroom Renovations At Any Budget

Bathrooms, they say, sell houses – apparently just as much as kitchens in this current market.

There is always a great deal of discussion about what makes a good bathroom with plenty of opinion bouncing back and forward. To cut through the banter, here are the fundamentals of creating a great bathroom at any budget and a few ways to improve an existing one.

bathroomImage via pinterest 


All bathrooms have a job to do – clean, service and store. We all need a toilet whether it’s in the actual bathroom itself or nearby, there’ll be a basin or two, a shower and sometimes a bath. There’ll need to be a place for cosmetics, toilet paper and other small items like cleaning products and hand towels, a space big enough for GHDs and hairdryers and a practical place to plug these. Simple enough list to check off, no?

When you’re making space for all of these inclusions, also remember to have a safe and practical place to plug in any devices you use whilst looking in the mirror (dryer, shaver, ghd) as well as a place to charge shavers and toothbrushes out of sight – ideally in face level storage.

Face level storage – AKA the shaving cabinet – is an oft missed opportunity but gives a great deal of usability – especially if you happen to be in my house with a bathroom cabinet full of Ultraceuticals!

A shaving cabinet gives you easy access to your bits and bobs, as well as the opportunity for lighting the underside or perimeter of the cabinet for both task oriented and mood lighting. In short, a shaving cabinet is a super good idea.

Think also about big drawers/cupboards for 12 rolls of toilet paper and a jumbo hair dryer as you should plan to accommodate the widest range of buyers or users.


Whilst we’re talking about practicalities the layout of a bathroom has a large bearing on its usability. A few good rules of thumb are to have a shower no smaller than 900 x 900 – if you want a luxurious feeling shower you need only increase one of these dimensions – a 1300 x 900 shower is big enough for two for example.

Your toilet pan (the seat) needs to occupy a space around 800 x 800 with no less than 250mm either side of the edge of the seat. No one wants to sit on a restrictive throne!
A basin and vanity should have enough space to layout your cosmetics and place a hairdryer making sure the power point is adjacent without a source of water in between. There are BCA standards your sparky will know that dictate where power can go in relation to taps.

Baths are most usable no smaller than 1700 and if you’re tight on space consider not including one – it may limit parents or pet owners should you decide against a bath.
Also make sure you have a large open square space around 1.5 x 1.5m or larger as that open floor space gives easier mobility and flow through a space as well as giving the visual impression of more room.

Consider the location of the basin in relation to the doorway, thinking about whether a user will get knocked by an opening door. Also, it’s ideal to locate your toilet out of the line of site of the doorway so it doesn’t catch your eye every time you walk past the room.


It’s quite simple to light a bathroom and really easy to over-light them. As a rule you need one light source directly above your basin tap/plug hole so you have light in front of your face. Not only is it more flattering not casting shadows from your brow over your cheeks, you can get a good look at your face for makeup application. A light source on both sides of the mirror can do the job too.
You should consider lighting the room with diffused, ambient and dimmable light so you don’t blind yourself in a midnight trip to the loo and before you put a spotlight on your bathtub think about laying on your back looking up at the ceiling. You don’t want that light source blinding you while you try to unwind.
Sensors are a great idea for bathrooms as well as dimmer switches. Don’t be afraid to have several light sources on several switches so you can control the level and use of lights in your room.


These days the bathroom can be one of the few tranquil spots in an otherwise chaotic work, social and home life. It’s nice to close the door and enjoy the peace of warm water soaking your skin. Think about conveying a mood of soft tranquillity and luxury in your bathrooms. Tap ware, tiles and bench tops all add or subtract from the mood you try to create to choose wisely. A big glorious solid surface bath will always beckon you to jump on in but are the sides too high for your kids? Striking a balance is tough but worth the time it takes to decide.
Add in soft white towels and contrast of natural textures and you should get the desired result.


If you have an existing bathroom that is doing the job but has seen better days but don’t have much of a budget to replace it, you can simply freshen it up with any or all of the following tips:

– Cupboard or drawer fronts can be replaced or repainted to breath new life into them whilst retaining their carcasses (the internals). This saves labour costs on removing and refitting as well as materials for rebuilding. It also plays well into the up-cycling trend we’re seeing in vogue at the moment.

– Bench tops can easily be replaced for new without much fuss. You can reuse or replace your basin in the process.

– Tap ware is a sure fire way to loose that 80s bathroom look and will take only a few hours to do

– Tiles can be updated, as long as you have intact waterproofing under the existing tiles, in several ways. If your tiles are in good condition but a dated colour or print, you can simply spray enamel over the existing tiles with any number of colours to freshen up both tile surface and grout quickly and cheaply. If you have a little more money you can tile directly over your current tiles. In the past this had the potential to create transition issues moving into the room as the extra thickness of the new tile caused a difference in floor height. This also had a knock on effect on tap ware, toilet seat height etc. to overcome this there’s a product that is now very readily available in a number of colours and finishes that is a reinforced 3 or 4 mm thick tile. These can be glued directly over existing tiles without much impact on the existing fittings and also have the benefit of offering large formats up to 3m x 1m.

– PC items (bath, toilet, basin) can be replaced with the help of a plumber. Even just a new toilet seat can make the world of difference (I tend to replace them in any new place I buy for myself to live in).

Using any of the fundamentals above correctly with the tips above will result in an improvement to your bathroom, and almost certainly the value of your home.

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