Planning a bathroom should be a walk in the park, I mean we all know what the key components are, after all we’ve been using bathrooms all our lives. But a bathroom renovation is a real investment project, and avoiding unpleasant surprises when realising your dream bathroom can be a bit of a minefield. Many people dream of a large, beautiful bathroom, ideally with lots of light and probably with a few luxe touches thrown in. Sounds idyllic, but do you know where to start on this creative renovation journey? I’ve planned out my own family bathroom at least 4 or 5 times and then delayed the project, and delayed it, and delayed it. The procrastination, continual research and then other projects all creating the perfect storm, but the time is coming and in 2019 I’m going to make a big change. When it comes to creating a dream bathroom, you can quickly experience a rude awakening and the light-hearted-its-so-fun-to-design-our-bathroom mood quickly gives way to the anxious question of what actually distinguishes a dream bathroom from a “normal” bathroom and is it even possible? And OMG, how much is this going to cost! This is where I’m going to step on your fantasy, a dream bathroom is the preserve of whole house renovations and deep pockets. Generally, to get your dream bathroom you’ll need to undertake a major plumbing overhaul that will impact most of your house and have financial consequences. If you’re exceptionally lucky with a house that has been recently replumbed with outstanding water pressure you might be off the hook. BUT there is nothing wrong with a “normal” bathroom or even a “dream-lite” bathroom, or for the blissfully deep-pocketed people the ultimate dream bathroom. But knowing what you want and where to start is crucial, so I have created five key steps to your dream bathroom below.
What does your dream bathroom look like in practical terms?
Boring this may be, but this is where practicality meets your design goals and you need this one sorted FIRST. You need to determine some essential and practical requirements. Such as, do you need a bathtub and a shower? Would a double sink make your life easier in the morning? How much storage do you need in the actual bathroom? How will all your family use the bathroom? Do your kids like a bath, but you like a shower for example. What time of day is the busiest? Can you separate the toilet from the rest of the bathroom? It’s part personality questionnaire and part time-in-motion study but you’ll soon determine whether the bidet ever gets used by anyone, that no one likes a bath and that the reason the sink is littered with bottles is that the kids can’t reach the cupboards. At least that’s what I’ve discovered in my house. You want it to be beautiful and functional after all.
If you had a crystal ball what changes are likely to happen in the next 5-10 years?
This is a bit of a loaded question. But what I’m trying to get you to think about is how your family dynamic and physical ability may change. Given a bathroom renovation is a real investment project, you don’t want to be two years down the line and realise you’ve made a fatal error needing to rip the room apart and make changes. Maybe you’re a couple now or living on your own. Could this change? Could your family grow – maybe babies, kids or elderly parents might be users of your bathroom. Basically, does the new bathroom have to be suitable for children? Or maybe the age of its users needs to play a role in the design?
Identify the problems with your current bathroom and make a list of the key things you want with your new one
This is one of my favourite parts and for my family bathroom, it isn’t just aesthetic considerations. The problem in my bathroom is that two walls are taken up with windows and my old and inefficient boiler is in the wrong place. I plan to move a window, create a skylight and install a new boiler in a new location making the project reasonably pricey. It’s not somewhere I particularly want to spend time in right now and that’s what I want to change. Making a full list of what needs doing will help in the planning and scheduling phase. Focus on the essentials first and then the nice to have’s – it’ll also help if you have to pare back your budget. New tiling? Lighting? Fixtures? Moving walls? Cabinets? Adding another sink? Installing a stand-alone shower? For us, the only thing we won’t be changing is the location of our toilet.
Gather your inspiration, researching styles, shapes and brands
If like me you’re a devotee to Pinterest, start a bathroom renovation Pinterest board like mine, collecting all the ideas that you love. Are you after a classic, minimal, opulent, or colourful style? Do you prefer a freestanding roll top bath? Or like traditional Victorian brassware? Maybe you dream bathroom will be marble clad? Or some combination of the above? One thing I do know is that I want it to be designed to last. So creating sections in your Pinterest board might be useful. I also like to do a physical mood board to help distil the ideas and to discuss with my husband – getting out the scissors, spray mount and physically creating a board somehow feels more permanent. I even have images booked marked in hardback interiors books – I wouldn’t dream of cutting them out, although have thought about it once or twice. At this stage, you should start to realise if some things you love just won’t fit in your bathroom. Most of us need to maximise the footprint of our bathrooms – I quickly realised that I didn’t have enough circulation space for a dramatic freestanding bath or wanted to use so much water! Once you know the style you like you can start research the brands that specialise in products that fit with that style. Go visit the showrooms and try things out, to see my favourite London bathroom showrooms take a look here. I’m lucky enough to go to lots of bathroom trade shows like KBIS and Bagno at Salone del mobile, but this is also a curse I’m afraid as I constantly see gorgeous things that I can not afford.
Bathroom planning, budgeting and timings
Once you’re armed with all this information you can start planning, and ultimately get quotes to build out your budget. You’ll need a detailed measured floor plan and dimensions of the products you are interested in. You might decide you want help at this stage either via a bathroom showroom – some offer a free service but normally you will only be able to select their products, or by hiring an interior designer or using a bathroom specialist/plumber. Do you want to do some or the majority of the work yourself? You might feel comfortable tiling yourself but I’d recommend a qualified plumber if you are move plumbing. It’s at this stage you need to understand the lead times for the items you are interested in. Are the tiles you like, stock items? Can you pop into the showroom and take them home or will they be dispatched to your address? Is the bath you love a special order? Maybe you are having your cabinet custom made – how long will this take? It’s at this stage in the key steps to your dream bathroom that you may find you need to go back and do some more research. And that’s quite ok by-the-way.
Triple check your checklist and don’t forget the smaller items
It’s easy to overlook the bathroom accessories or leave them to the last minute. Have you thought about where your lighting switches will be? What about the loo brush holder? Have you chosen your bathroom mirrors – do you need one or two? How about a full-length mirror? Do you want built-in niches? A seat in the room? These elements provide you with an accurate picture of how your finished bathroom will look like and is often the difference between ok and wow. I also start to think about softer elements like towels, robes and also fragrance.
You should by now have a fully scheduled bathroom;
- listing all the products, suppliers/manufacturers, prices and lead times,
- a great picture of the layout either drawn, collaged or through a visualiser tool and
- a realistic idea of how much it’s going to cost and how long your project will take.
If you have all this and the funds, then it’s time to get your dream bathroom installed. But a word to the wise, it’s not unusual to unearth unexpected surprises once you start stripping out your old bathroom, so make sure you have a contingency and also don’t panic. I hope these five key steps to your dream bathroom have given you the confidence to take on your own bathroom challenge and I’ll keep you posted on how mine pans out in 2019.
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Thanks for reading this post on the five key steps to your dream bathroom, you might want to pin it for future reference.