There are a number of factors that you need to consider when embarking on your bathroom design.
Some of the things you need to consider will be practical issues while others will be more about your personal tastes and the overall look that you are trying to achieve.
Glossy magazines might set the tone for your aspirations but there are a number of structural and physical hurdles that need to be taken into consideration too.
We would suggest the following be kept in mind when finalising your bathroom design:
- make the maximum use of available space
- ensure sufficient storage is included
- include some form of shower
- decorating the walls
- selecting the best flooring
- choosing the correct lighting
We will look at each of these in a bit more detail so that you have all the information you need to succeed in getting the bathroom of your dreams.
It is always best to prepare yourself with all of the information that you need. Each of the sections here also provides links to additional resources on our site to further inform your decision-making.
Make The Most Of The Space Available
Most UK bathrooms are pretty small. Many are built to limited specifications. A lot of the time the dimensions are based on the length of a bath (1700mm).
With this in mind, it could be that there is only one possible arrangement of all of the standard bathroom components: bath, basin, toilet and radiator.
There might be scope to move things around if you have a slightly larger bathroom. The best way to try and work out what will fit where is to draw a plan of your bathroom on some graph paper. Then draw the components onto a separate sheet and cut them out. Use an easy scale to convert all the measurements – dividing by 10 works well especially if you use metric. You can then move things around on the plan to see what works well and what doesn’t.
You need to be mindful of the pipes that supply your components as well as the waste pipes that take the water away. Toilets are particularly tricky in this respect. See our article on how easy it is to move a toilet. Try not to site the toilet right next to a radiator to avoid burns.
Leave everything in its current position if you want to keep costs down. The more items you move around the more pipework will have to be adjusted. This will obviously incur labour and material costs if you are getting someone in the undertake the work.
Many people like a large mirror for applying makeup or shaving. Try and avoid putting the basin or vanity unit under a window because this will negate this option. And while you will have good illumination during the day there will be none once it gets dark.
Provide Plenty Of Storage In Your Bathroom Design
It’s quite amazing how much clutter can gather in a bathroom. Soaps, conditioners, makeup, shaving equipment, perfumes, deodorant etc, etc. And that’s before you add in towels, toilet rolls and cleaning materials They all take up space and can make a room look very cluttered if left out on open surfaces.
So make sure you provide plenty of storage space in your bathroom design.
There are many ways to achieve this. The most common are:
- bathroom cabinets
- vanity units
- floor-standing cupboards
but there are also lots of other tricks and techniques you can incorporate into your design. This article has loads of ideas that you could employ.
Some items, such as vanity units, have other benefits when it comes to bathroom design. Not only do they help swallow up a lot of the day-to-day items in a bathroom they also cover up all of the pipework. This results in a neater finish with no pipes being left out on display.
Add A Shower To Your Bathroom
With modern life being so hectic people do not always have time for a long, relaxing soak in the bathtub. This is why showers have become such a necessity in the bathroom.
You should install both a bath and a shower enclosure if you have the room. But many bathrooms are simply not big enough to afford this little touch of luxury. So you then have a choice to make:
- take out the bath and just have a shower enclosure
- install a shower over the bath
Most people opt for the second option although a growing number of people are choosing to go down the first route. If you don’t have a young family, or you are struggling to get in and out of the bath then it might be the right choice for you.
We have several articles that deal with these issues:
The walls in the showering area will obviously have to be waterproof. The next section looks at some of the options available.
Walls Coverings For Bathrooms
The bathroom wall covering that you choose can have a major impact on the overall look of the project. Walls have the greatest surface area when it comes to the various surfaces in the bathroom. So choose wisely when you make your decision.
The general trend has been toward lighter, more neutral colour schemes over the years. Marble and stone effects are still the most popular options for bathrooms. Where darker colours are included the most common application is to use them as a feature wall. Dark colours can also be limited to one specific area such as inside a shower cubicle or above a bath. This is especially important in a small bathroom because dark colours can make the room feel smaller. See our article on design tips for small bathrooms here.
Tiles are still the most common form of wall covering but there are plenty of other options these days.
Bathroom wall panels and cladding have grown in popularity. The main reason for this is that people have become increasingly annoyed at having to keep their grout clean. So they have looked for alternative wall coverings for bathrooms. There are many fabulous designs available these days – have a look at our bathroom cladding ideas page for some examples.
If you want to stick with tiles then at least you will have plenty of choices. There are so many styles, colours, finishes and sizes that it can become hard to narrow it down. Prices vary considerably so sometimes this will be the guiding factor in your final selection.
Bathroom Ceilings And Lighting
These are important parts of your bathroom design and should not be overlooked. Lighting can make a huge difference to your room’s appearance. Bathroom ceilings need to be pristine for the room to stay looking its best at all times.
Recessed lighting is now a standard option in a lot of modern bathrooms. They look good and can be positioned to ensure maximum illumination reaches the areas that need it most. There are regulations in place regarding the waterproof nature of the fittings. The more exposed the area is to water the higher the rating needs to be for the light fitting. Over the shower is the area that requires to most waterproofing.
If the ceiling is not of a hollow construction then there are still ways of fitting recessed lights. The simplest way is to fit ceiling panels in the room on top of wooden battens. These need to be fitted to ensure there is a sufficient gap behind the lights as recommended by the light manufacturer. Find out more about these waterproof, maintenance-free panels here.
Bathroom Flooring Options
There are many choices of materials that can be used for bathroom flooring.
Your choice will depend on many factors but one of the most important is the floor type. Ceramic tiles are best used on solid, masonry floors. There are special products that enable them to be used on wooden floors but these are a bit of a compromise and push the price of the installation up.
Other forms of flooring can emulate the look of tiles and cope with the small amounts of movement that occur with wooden floors. Laminate flooring and vinyl flooring all have tile-effect options.
Our flooring guide will give you all the information that you need to ensure you choose the right flooring for your home.
Choosing A Theme
This one is totally down to personal taste.
There are two basic styles of bathroom – modern and traditional. So, your first port of call is to decide which one of these you wish to pursue.
Traditional or period-style bathrooms used to be popular in all types of properties including many modern homes. But this trend started to fade away with traditional styles being fitted almost exclusively in period style properties these days.
If you are going down the traditional route you then have Art Deco options, Victorian variants and more recently industrial style options to consider. Choices made elsewhere in the house could be an influence. But realistically it is possible to pick whatever you prefer in your bathroom as it doesn’t really have to conform to other rooms because it is closed off.
With modern-styled bathrooms, you are spoiled for choice. The vast majority of all components on the market will be designed to be used in this setting. You could opt for angular or square designs that would encompass the basin, toilet and taps or you could go down the more rounded, organic shapes.
Modern bathrooms lend themselves to a vast array of wall designs so you could go down the natural stone path or go for something more esoteric. The choice is yours.
Fine Tuning Your Design
Once you have all of the basic components sorted as part of your plan then the final fine-tuning needs to take place. Colour schemes, accessories, blinds, curtains towels and rugs all contribute to how your design turns out.
Neutral schemes enable you to add in colour via items that can easily be replaced (rugs, towels etc). Or, you can make a more immediate statement, and dive straight into a bold colour choice that will anchor the design for many years.
It all depends on whether you feel confident that you can live with your choice for a long time.
Bathroom accessories are usually available with styles to tie in with other components. So, if you have square-shaped taps in your bathroom there are accessories with square designs that will provide a uniform appearance.
Pictures, photos, ornaments and other items can be used to personalise your bathroom space. But don’t overdo it, too much of these and the room will ook cluttered.