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How to design the perfect bathroom *

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Whether you’re looking for a contemporary wet room or traditional Victorian styling, good design is key when planning a new bathroom. The right design will not only maximise the space but also save you money. Whether you are designing a second bathroom or a small bathroom, here’s what you need to consider to get the best design for your space and your lifestyle.

Questions to ask

Your new bathroom needs to combine both functionality and style. To get started on the project, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who will be using the bathroom? How will that affect storage needs now and in the future?
  • Do you only shower and never bathe? Do you really need a bath? Do you really need a shower? Would a bath with shower combination work?
  • If space is at a premium could storage cupboards be sited on walls?
  • If you are a couple and there is time pressure in the mornings, would two basins be a solution?
  • Do you want to create a luxury feel? A place to relax?
  • Do you want a contemporary look and feel? Do you favour vintage styling?

Factors that influence the cost

It’s not necessarily the new suite or bathroom furniture that will have the greatest impact on the cost of your new bathroom. If the layout is changing and pipework needs to be moved, it will ramp up the cost of labour.  If you want to improve your bathroom on a budget, then these factors can make a difference to the overall price:

1. Moving the WC

The biggest impact will be any change in position of the toilet. The soil vent pipe removes all the waste from the toilet, bath, shower and basin to the drain. It also vents above the house to get rid of any unwanted fumes and gases. There are strict building regulations regarding the fitting of soil stacks and vent pipes. It is not an easy job to move them, so be sure to consider this in your plans.

2. Studwork

Any stud work will also push up the cost, but will greatly enhance your design. If you stud out one wall by around 250mm, this space can conceal the cistern, valves, pipework and wiring. This design can then incorporate features like push button flushes. Studding out the shower means only the wall-mounted spout is visible. It can also create shelving and ledges for storage.

3. Technology

Consider your electrics – it’s not just lighting and electric showers anymore. In-shower and wall-mounted TVs, along with speakers are fast becoming bathroom ‘must haves.’ Clearly there are stringent building regulations to be met when it comes to new electrical work in the bathroom. The potential for contact with water will affect the IP (ingress protection) rating. The higher the potential, the higher the IP.

Wall & floor coverings

The main issue to consider is water resistance. If building work is necessary use blue water resistant plasterboard and 24mm-thick marine ply timber for greater protection.

Traditionally, ceramic tiles have been used on walls, but there is a growing trend to use glass or acrylic panelling. The advantage lies in having fewer joints, meaning less potential permeability. There also offer a great choice of design options.

Whatever you use on the floor consider how slippery it will get. Tiles remain popular, along with luxury vinyl or laminates. Underfloor heating can also add a touch of bathroom luxury and helps to protect against dampness.


Lighting can have a dramatic impact on the look of your design and when done right, it can make your bathroom look more stylish. Thinking about it before the project starts will allow any cable work or fittings to be incorporated into the work.

Try to create a balance between task, ambient and accent lighting. This combination gives you the flexibility to be both practical and mood setting.

Downlights can create streaks of light, like running water, if closely fitted to a tiled wall. This looks great in a shower. A chandelier will give a luxurious feel and back lighting a mirror adds a touch of glamour. For fun add some coloured LEDs, although choose your colours wisely to retain an element of relaxation.

Planning the design

As with any home improvements, try collecting together images that appeal to you. Collate a folder of bathroom ideas and inspiration and ideally put together a ‘mood board’.

Once you have a good idea of what you want, visit a local showroom for advice. Many professional bathroom design and install companies, such as The Brighton Bathroom Company, will sit down with you and discuss your requirements, taking into account any practical considerations. They will then visit your home to complete a detailed technical survey. Their designers then produce a photographic quality CAD design of how your new bathroom will look.

This process is designed to iron out any issues and allows for tweaks and adjustments. Once the final design has been agreed, the installation can begin.                  

Final word

When it comes to redesigning your bathroom or installing a new bathroom, there are lots of questions to ask and things to consider, especially if you are working to a budget.  Spending time and effort updating your bathroom can add value to your home and your life too!