Bathroom design and renovation planning

May 1, 2017 | Anoushka's Blog, Interior design and decoration

I think bathrooms can be the most daunting room in the home to renovate or plan. It the one room that requires the most trades, therefore is costly to renovate. In addition to this good quality tiles, fixtures and fittings can easily take an average bathroom renovation to $25,000 – $30,000 AUD in terms of spend. So it’s important to get your design right from the offset.

I renovate a lot of bathrooms…A LOT. I think owners tend to leave this room until last, and sometimes move on without touching it. So I’m often renovating a 20 to 25 year old bathroom, I’ve seen some shockers in my time. Therefore here are my top tips to give you something to think about if you are planning a new bathroom.


I start by taking accurate measurements of the room, draw this out either by hand or use one of the many online apps. Please be warned every 10mm counts. Take into account the thickness of your tiles both on the floor and walls. Wall tiles take up precious space, and floor tiles if thicker can raise the height of your floor. Then play around with what can go where. I always start with the shower and bath (if this is needed). Remember to note window placement as this effects where your shower and vanity can be placed. Here are some standard measurements to help you plan:

  • Leave at least 800mm width for your toilet
  • A shower generally should be no smaller than 900mm x 900mm
  • Freestanding baths can be really compact these days, there are some great ones on the market at 1500mm length and deep enough for a relaxing bath
  • I don’t like to make my vanities any smaller than 800mm width, if space doesn’t allow I install a wall hung basin with some top space and then plenty of storage above maybe with an open shelf below a shaving cabinet
  • Try and work in recessed shelving if possible in and around the shower and bath area

    Bathroom floor plan with under-counter laundry


So this can be tricky as it’s very personal. But here are some pointers depending on the style you are going for:

  • For a contemporary clean look choose a dark and a light tile and use the dark on the floor and light on the walls or vice versa for a cosier more moody bathroom. For instance dark grey and off white, both with some texture.
  • For a feature I like to use a pattern tile on the floor and then a neutral tile on the walls, this look won’t date as it’s a classic application.
  • If you want to use a feature tile on the walls choose a whole wall (maybe behind a freestanding bath) or pick out the shower niche and maybe above the vanity between the mirror and vanity

I’m finding encaustic tiles (cement) are super popular and deliver a lovely textural feel, and are well suited to a more traditional style. Whilst natural stone or engineered tiles that look like natural stone are popular for a contemporary look.

Encaustic traditional pattered floor tile with neutral wall tile


Again think about the overall style that you favour. For a contemporary space chose tapware and basins, showers and baths with either square or more organic lines but keep this consistent throughout. Fixtures should be clean lines and simple such as this collection from Reece. For a more traditional bathroom the more decorative fixtures come into play, such as these from The English Tapware Company.

Black tapware and pipework under basin for a contemporary style


Lighting is so important in a bathroom and you do have chance to layer lighting here. Ensure you have enough downlights placed near the shower, bath and over the vanity. Then add in extra lighting under the shaving cabinet or vanity that you can use a night. I’ve often hung pendant lights over freestanding baths to create a feature.


You have three options here, if you get chance to install it you won’t regret under floor heating. You can even buy products now that can be installed into the shower which is great for drying out these areas in winter. Heated towel rails are essential too, and if worst comes to worst as a minimum heated ceiling lamps do give off quite a bit of heat for those cooler winter mornings.


Be mindful of the longevity of your bathroom. I’ve addressed classic styles however care is also important. Natural stone and encaustic tiles need care, regular resealing every 3-5 years is required. Porcelain tiles still remain the most robust tile.

Also finishes on taps where the primary material has been coated can wear, such as the black tapware that’s become so popular. The black will wear over time so use cleaning products that are gentle, and never scrub your fixtures.

If you look after your bathroom it will last for 10 years plus.

Natural stone look engineered porcelain tiles for easier care

For design advice on your bathroom don’t hesitate to contact Anoushka at SmartSpace Interiors on this email:

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