Guide to bathrooms
Plan your dream space with our step-by-step guide to the basics
Plan your dream space with our step-bystep of the basics – from designing your layout to choosing stylish fittings
Once upon a time, bathrooms were a functional necessity in most homes. Now, they’re just as much a design focus as the rest of the house, but with so many style options on offer, it’s difficult to know where to start when planning an update. Whether you’re modernising your existing bathroom or creating a new one, there are plenty of things you need to consider.
where do i start?
First, be clear on what your aim is. Are you updating an old bathroom, or extending to make space for a new one? Are you creating extra space by knocking through walls, or using a small bedroom to create a master suite? This will help you set a budget for your project as well as hammer out extra considerations, such as layout ideas and plumbing.
Consider what you have at your disposal already, and how big you want to go. If you have a large bedroom, you might consider sectioning off a part of it with glazed doors to create an en suite. Alternatively, a spare bedroom might lend itself to be converted into a spacious family bathroom. Think about your budget, too. According to expert renovator Michael Holmes, a typical bathroom makeover without altering the plumbing costs anywhere between £1,500 for a basic specification and £5,000 for a good specification. A more complex conversion, extension or remodel can cost anywhere between £3,000 and £16,500 depending on quality.
When it comes to planning your bathroom, it pays to work with your existing plumbing, but there is always a way around it if you’re looking to redesign your layout. While plumbing changes are trickier in apartments because moving pipes and drains is more difficult, a house gives you more flexibility, as well as control over the water pressure if you install a pump.
Making changes to plumbing can be a nuisance and comes at an extra cost, so do bear this in mind before making expensive changes. If you’re doing a makeover, try and leave fittings in the same place to keep down costs. You can also make things simpler for yourself if you’re extending: building a bathroom over a kitchen means you have easier access to existing plumbing. Think about your water pressure and boiler, too; does your house have the capacity for a new bathroom without upgrading? If not, you may need to look into options, including updating your boiler, adding pressure pumps or a larger hot water cylinder, or installing an independent water heater.
To ensure your floor can support heavier freestanding baths, don’t forget to factor in the weight of a person and the water too
Planning is key to designing the perfect layout for your bathroom. ‘Consider the three Ps: planning the layout, prioritising your needs, and plotting out the space,’ advises Emma Gaskell, marketing manager at Frontline Bathrooms. ‘First, take accurate measurements of the space so you know what you are working with, then decide exactly what you need from your room. Do you require a bath, shower or both? Do you need a lot of storage space? Once you have a list of “needs” you can start to consider which products are most important to you, and therefore which items you are most willing to splash out on.’ If you have the budget, it’s worth bringing in a bathroom designer to talk through your requirements, but if money is tight, there are plenty of free online planning tools: try Frontline Bathrooms or Ikea.
Consider the minimum space you need for the items in your bathroom:
› Standard rectangular baths measure L170xw70cm and need enough space for you to get in and out easily
– we recommend 100cm of space in front of the tub › A typical shower tray measures around L80xw80cm › Allow around 70cm in front of a WC for more accessibility
NEED TO KNOW: BATHROOM LIGHTING
For all bathroom lighting, you need to pay attention to the Ingress Protection (IP) rating, which refers to how waterproof it is. ‘Bathrooms are divided into zones,’ explains Karen Wallis-smith, director at Fritz Fryer. ‘Zones one and two are regulated, but zone three doesn’t require wall or pendant lights to be specially rated.’
These are the zone regulations you need to pay attention to:
› Zone one is the area above the bath to a height of 2.25m from the floor. ‘The minimum IP rating for lights in this area is IP44,’ says Karen, ‘but we would recommend a rating of IP65 to protect against low-pressure jets of water from the shower.’
› Zone two is the area 60cm around the perimeter of a bath or shower and 2.25m above the floor, as well as the 60cm radius around a tap. ‘Zone two requires an IP44 rating, and many retro or vintage lights are suitable for conversion using waterproof capsules, particularly if the lamp is enclosed within a glass shade,’ says Karen.
When it comes to smaller bathrooms, doubling up is the easiest way to make the most out of the room. ‘Trying to include too many different products in a bathroom can lead to pressures on your budget as well as on your space,’ says Emma Gaskell from Frontline Bathrooms. ‘Choosing products that have a dual functionality, such as a mirrored shower enclosure, can save on both money and precious centimetres. Opt for sanitaryware and furniture that creates the illusion of extra dimensions, such as wall-hung pieces to free up the floor space, and compact products that incorporate storage.’ Practical fittings, such as a quadrant shower enclosure and corner cupboards, will also help to maximise space.
‘Depending on the size of your bathroom, you’ll need a radiator which can heat the room properly,’ says Alan Gregory, SEO executive at Victorian Plumbing. ‘This is where British Thermal Unit ratings come in. The BTU rating is the measure of heat that is emitted from a radiator. The higher the BTU rating, the more heat that radiator can produce.’
If you want to use your radiator year-round, it’s worth considering a dual-fuel radiator. This can be run off the central heating or as an electric radiator during the summer months, so you can still warm your towels when the central heating is switched off.
If your budget allows, underfloor heating (UFH) is ideal for a bathroom. UFH comes in two types:
› Electric UFH is easier to install and can be retrofitted into an existing scheme, but costs more to run.
› Water-based UFH requires more installation work and will raise the floor level, but is cheaper to run.
When it comes to choosing the surfaces for your bathroom, there’s plenty of things to consider. Flooring needs to be slip resistant, low maintenance and impervious to water and humidity, and bathroom walls need to stand up to condensation – all while looking good, too. Luckily, there are plenty of options to choose from, ranging from stone and luxury vinyl tile to rubber, ceramic and engineered wood flooring.
Porcelain tiles are an increasingly popular choice thanks to their durability. ‘Good-quality porcelain tiles are ideal for use in bathrooms and wet rooms,’ says Chris Grainger, managing director at The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse. ‘They are virtually indestructible and resistant to stains, as well as being impervious to water, making them perfect for use in high-traffic areas such as bathrooms. They won’t be damaged by detergents or any of the other chemicals we frequently expose our bathroom surfaces to either.’
Such tiles come in a large range of finishes, from wood-effect to marble and metallics.
Vilto shelving unit, H150x W46xd26cm, £50; Odensvik/ Godmorgon washstand with two drawers, H64xw63x D49cm, £150; Vilto shelving unit, H90xw47xd20cm, £40; Vilto step stool, H25xw40xd32cm, £17; Langesund mirror, £20; Östanå wall lamp, £15; Snåpp pedal...
Fleur bathtub, H62xw75x L170cm, £899.99; Hattie vanity unit, H66xw123x D47.5cm, £1,499.99; Iris mirror, Dia.100cm, £199.99; amie radiator, H60xw60cm, £299.99; Hattie bowl and waste, H14xw40xd40cm, £159.99, all Soak.com
Above Chichester 1220 countertop washstand in Shell, H72.5xw122xd45cm, £990, Neptune
Below Phoenix bathroom suite, from £799, Wickes
Washed wood bath rack, £15; Mila laundry basket, £10; Lilac Studio glass bottle, £30; Mila wash bag, £4; Dorma silk dressing gown, £60; Mila lotion dispenser, £7; Mila tumbler, £5; Mila trinket pot, £8; egyptian cotton towels, from £6, all Dunelm. For...
Speculo Forest wall tiles, £125 per m2; black honed marble floor tiles, £149.50 per m2, both Topps Tiles
ador marble-effect porcelain tiles, W10xl60cm, £39.95 per m2, Walls & Floors
Sitar Lato radiator, H135xw50cm, £418, The radiator Company