The bathroom is one of the most well-used rooms of the house, so why not say thank you with these easy renovation tips, says Julia Gray
Before you change a bathroom, you need an idea of what to change it to. It’s a seemingly simple task, but one that can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if your current room has remained unaltered for some years, and its faded tiles and shower curtains look beyond repair.
Luckily, thanks to endless glossy interiors websites and magazines, there’s plenty of inspiration around for potential DIYers. So once you’ve pored over the pictures, and decided what layout and budget suits your projec, there’s no reason not to get started.
First stop, unless you’re a very experienced DIYer, is to get a good plumber to do any work that involves changing the existing layout. They’ll be able to offer advice about changing the layout and what is and isn’t possible or advisable, as will bathroom/interior designers. Reconfiguring the water and heating pipes is one thing, but altering the waste pipe for the loo is more work and expense, especially if it involves ground works or fitting a new soil stack. If you want to move the loo, it really pays to get expert advice at the planning stage.
Don’t forget to work out how much space is needed to comfortably use the loo and basin and to dry off after having a shower or bath – pack in too much and you’ll soon find that your bathroom isn’t easy, practical or pleasurable to use. It’s therefore important to choose a suite that’s in proportion to the size of the room – free-standing baths and separate shower cubicles, for example, need room to breathe. If your heart is set on a free-standing bath, but you don’t have the space, a free-standing-style shower bath is a good compromise. This looks like a free-standing bath, but the tap end is flat against a wall, so you can have a shower above.
As well as somewhere to wash, storage is also essential in a bathroom. It can be difficult to fit some into a small one space, however there are clever solutions; a bath panel with a door so you can store items under the bath; a storage rack that fits around a pedestal basin, or slimline drawers that tuck under the basin bowl next to the pedestal.
If you are not using a designer to help you with your re-vamped bathroom, get the layout right by drawing the room on graph paper. Show ‘immovable’ objects (unless you plan to move them), such as the window, door, airing cupboard and waste pipe, on one piece of paper, then, using the same scale, the fittings you want on another. You can draw different layouts on different pieces of graph paper and lay them over the first plan to see how they work within the constraints of the room.
Once you’ve got a layout you like, make life-size templates of the fittings in cardboard or paper and try them in the room. It my seem time-consuming, but you could come across restrictions you’d not even thought of when placing these templates, so it’s an important process.
Apart from the cost of a plumber (and designer if you use one) replacing a bathroom doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s not hard to find great-looking budget fixtures and fittings (bathroom suites start from around £200), and the sales are currently still on – B&Q, for example, has 25% off bathrooms (and kitchens and bedrooms) when you spend £350 or more in one go (terms and conditions apply).
Of course, there is much more to a bathroom than just the suite, and sometimes updating the smaller touches, like the wall colour, flooring and lighting, can make an equally big impact on your room.
Wall tiles, in particular, make a significant difference to the feeling of a bathroom. The current trend might be to tile the full walls, but if this seems too costly and difficult, just tiling around the bath and above the basin really lifts the space too.
Whatever money, and effort, you spend on your new bathroom though, you want it to stay looking good for years to come – so be sure to use a specialist kitchen and bathroom emulsion, as these paints are designed to withstand steam and mould.
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