Simple Tips for a Successful Bathroom Renovation

Information verified correct on October 24th, 2016

From design inspiration to choosing the right materials and fixtures, we’ve got all the information you need to complete the perfect bathroom renovation project.

bathroom renovationRegardless of whether you live in an apartment or a house, the bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the home.

A practical and modern bathroom dramatically enhances the appeal of any home, so if you’re planning a bathroom renovation it’s important that you get the details right. So if you’re looking for a host of handy tips and tricks to help you turn your tired and impractical bathroom into a relaxing and luxurious retreat, you’ve come to the right place.

Getting started

Before you start thinking about design ideas, colours, and choosing shower heads and tiles, you need to sit down and work out exactly what you want to achieve with your bathroom renovation.

If you’re renovating an ensuite to create a peaceful space where you can unwind, warm tones and a modern free-standing bathtub might be high on your wish list. If you need a bathroom for your growing family, then durable materials and plenty of storage will be essential inclusions.

So take the time to develop a clear idea of what the bathroom will be used for and any features on your must-have list. Once that’s done you can start planning the finer details.

Design ideas for different projects

There are several features and factors you’ll need to consider when planning your bathroom renovation, including:


The right layout is essential to create a functional and comfortable space, so consider ambience, flow and practicality when deciding on your bathroom layout. Speak to an architect or a builder about the functionality and layout of the space. There’s a seemingly endless array of floorplan options available, though you may be constrained by the location of existing plumbing connections. Consider the features you want in your bathroom, for example maximising natural light or ensuring an easy flow from the bedroom through to your ensuite shower, when deciding on the right layout.bathroom


The shower is one of the features of your bathroom that will get the most use. From choosing a screen for privacy to deciding on a shower head to sourcing the right water flow, there’s plenty to think about when selecting your shower. You can choose a fixed or hand-held shower head, massage showers, waterfall showers and high- and low-pressure jets. In terms of shower screens, do you want a framed, frameless or semi-frameless screen, or perhaps no screen at all? Chat to an interior designer and shop around at bathroom specialist stores to learn more about the different options available on the market and how they fit into your plans.


A contemporary bathtub is a must — and there’s a seemingly limitless range of beautiful designs to choose from. There are freestanding tubs that are statement pieces in their own right, recessed baths that use minimal space, easy-access baths for the elderly or those with a disability, as well as full jacuzzi setups for a touch of luxury. However, if you live in a second-storey house, be mindful of having a bath on the second floor as the weight of a full bathtub may put pressure on the upper floor. The amount of space available is also going to have a big influence on the bath you select.

Vanity and basin

Every bathroom needs a sink, but if you and your partner are usually getting ready at the same time, could the space benefit from his and hers sinks? Ample storage space is a must for any vanity unit, while looks should never be neglected in order to ensure that the vanity you select matches the rest of the bathroom. The right vanity will combine good looks and handy storage options with plenty of usable bench space. From wall-mounted vanities to cabinet vanities and even minimalist vanities with a simple shelf system, there’s a huge range of choices available.

Fixtures and fittings

From taps and towel rails to frameless shower screens, the right fixtures and fittings are practical inclusions that complement the design of the rest of the bathroom. Taps come in an extensive selection of materials, including chrome, brass, gold and stainless steel, and there’s no limit to the styles available depending on the space available and the look you want to achieve. The sink, shower, bathtub and toilet should all serve a practical purpose but should also seamlessly integrate with their surrounds and complement one another perfectly.


Tiles play a hugely important role in determining the look and ambience of your bathroom. From floor tiles to wall tiles and even special feature borders, choosing the right tiles is crucial to the success of your bathroom renovation. It can also be a daunting process, You’ll need to consider the ambience you want to create in your bathroom, your colour scheme, the size of tiles you want and how they will be laid out. layout bathroomFor example, do you want to use contrasting tiles to add a feeling of space to a small bathroom, or do you want tiles with a textured surface to create a unique and interesting feature? Tiles come in ceramic, glass, natural stone, porcelain and clay, so research the looks and benefits of each option before making your choice.

Storage space

A bathroom with insufficient storage space is impractical and cluttered, so make sure you’ve got ample room for all the toiletries, towels and other odds and ends you need to store in your bathroom. Vanity cabinets, shelves and drawers are the obvious places to keep your items so they don’t clutter up the rest of your bathroom, but there’s plenty more you can do to maximise storage space. There’s a huge range of clever internal hardware options available to cleverly use the available space, while a recessed niche built into the shower cavity is great for storing shampoos, soaps and the like. Even installing a simple ledge-style shelf can help keep the vanity top free of mess.


Last but certainly not least, don’t overlook the importance of lighting in creating a welcoming and refreshing space. The bathroom is one area of the house where it’s important to be able to see clearly, but where you can also relax in comfort if that’s what you feel like doing. Whether you’re looking for soft LED down lighting, a feature pendant that stands out or simply the warmth of natural illumination, include lighting considerations in your initial renovation plan. Light fixtures will obviously need to be moisture-proof and capable of standing up to life in your bathroom, while you may also want to consider heat lamps if you live in a cold area. One other thing to remember when choosing lighting is energy usage - the right choices can make a noticeable difference to your power bill.

Bathroom design ideas

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Renovating a small bathroom

When you’re renovating a bathroom, space is the final frontier. In a larger space, having more room to work with often means that you have more flexibility to add privacy and create different zones for each bathroom task.

When you’re renovating a bathroom, space is the final frontier. In a larger space, having more room to work with often means that you have more flexibility to add privacy and create different zones for each bathroom task.

Unfortunately, most bathroom renovators only have a limited area to work with, so they need to take advantage of clever ideas and design solutions that help them make the most of the available space. For example, a normal hinged door can eat up much more space than you have to spare, so a sliding door can offer a better solution. Other great space-saving and space-creating ideas include wall-mounted toilets, neutral colour palettes with occasional bursts of colour, and including handy built-in storage nooks and crannies wherever possible.Small bathroom

Renovating a small bathroom means you’ll also have to be more ruthless when deciding what belongs on your bathroom wish list. For example, while soaking in a hot bath might sound appealing, are you really willing to sacrifice such a large amount of floor space to include a tub?

Do it yourself or get in the experts?

If you’re keen to save as much money as possible on your bathroom renovation, you may want to consider a DIY project. While this lets you take control of your bathroom renovation, it’s always wise to think about your options before going the DIY rout
e as bathroom renovations can become complicated very quickly.

Some jobs are fairly simple for the DIY renovator, such as stripping out your old bathroom and prepping the space for your new bathroom. Other jobs, for example waterproofing and tiling, you might also be able to do yourself if you have the right experience under your belt.
Plumbing and electrical work will need to be done by the professionals, however. A good plumber can help you through your renovation from start to finish, so find a plumber you trust before you start knocking down walls or stripping out tiles.

Where to buy bathroom renovation supplies

From tiles to toilets, there are several options when you need to stock up on the right supplies for your bathroom renovation. A good place to start your search is a large hardware store like Bunnings, Masters Home Improvement or Home Timber and Hardware. This will give you a good idea of some of the fixtures and fittings available to include in your bathroom.

It’s also a good idea to browse specialist renovation and bathroom supply stores — research online to find one near you, and where you find one bathroom store you’ll often find a few more. There’s a huge range of products to choose from for every aspect of your renovation, from the smallest of tiles to the largest of freestanding baths, so take the time to consider all the options available before making your decisions.

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Top tips to help you save money on your bathroom renovation

  • Do your research. Jump online and visit local bathroom renovation specialists to see what kind of materials and fixtures are on offer. Speak to architects, building experts and bathroom renovation specialists to ensure that your renovation plan and budget is feasible. Source several quotes from different suppliers before deciding which company to go with.Shopping for a shower head
  • Plan ahead. Don’t start your renovation unless you know exactly what you want to achieve. Getting halfway through your project and then deciding that you don’t like the layout, you want different tiles or you’d like to make room for a bigger bath can be an expensive and stressful mistake. Work out exactly what you want before you reach for a hammer.
  • Make a budget and stick to it. Bathroom renovations have something of a reputation for unforeseen costs and budget blow-outs. Around $15,000 to $20,000 is a realistic estimate for many bathroom projects, see our guide on the costs of bathroom renovations, but sit down and work out the material and labour costs for your project. Once you’re fully aware of how much your project should cost and how much you can afford, it’s time to start work.
  • Know what you can do — and what you can’t. While DIY renovations are great for saving money, it’s important that you don’t get ahead of yourself when choosing what jobs to take on and what to leave to the professionals. If you’re at all unsure about your ability to complete a particular task, you’re much better off getting the experts in to avoid problems occurring later down the track.
  • Take your time. While it can be frustrating having your bathroom out of action for a couple of weeks or more, when you’re doing it yourself it’s important not to rush things. Measure everything twice and be certain you’re doing the right thing before you cut, lay or install anything.
  • Plumbing costs. You might want to completely rearrange the features and layout of your bathroom, but take note that plumbing costs can sometimes make this prohibitively expensive. Moving plumbing pipes and outlets for sinks, toilets, showers and baths can cost thousands of dollars, so you may be better off leaving some fixtures where they are to lower your costs.
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Belinda Punshon

Belinda is a journalist here at Specialising in the home loans and property sections, she is passionate about helping Australians improve their financial wellbeing.

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