Planning a new space can be a minefield of questions and tough decisions. But there are a number of things you should never do when choosing a bathroom.
Choosing a new bathroom poses a host of choices to consider. Do you need to redesign the layout and space? What order should the works go in? What comes first, lighting, plumbing or sanitary ware? And what are the things you really shouldn’t skimp on when it comes to the budget?
Related inspiration: Small bathroom ideas for compact spaces and shower rooms
We’ve teamed up with a host of experts to bring you their top bathroom design tips that can make everything easier, from the planning to the design choices, fittings and installation. And they share all the common mistakes to avoid!
Things you should never do when choosing your bathroom
1. Rush the layout – or make do with the old one
An effective layout that makes good use of the space available is the most important aspect of a bathroom. Yet so many of us will either rush and pick the first comnination we can think of, or worse, copy the old one when it doesn’t really work.
‘The cost of a layout redesign is elevated due to changes in plumbing and electrics, however, it is needed in some cases,’ says Joe Debono, sales director at Ashton & Bentley.
‘Most traditional bathrooms were badly planned – storage was never considered, radiators were too big and not energy-efficient, basins were often placed under windows so that mirrors couldn’t be hung and the WC was in a separate room.’
‘Rearranging the layout gives the possibility to incorporate design features that maximise space and functionality. A few examples are a freestanding bath that opens up the floor and gives the illusion of a bigger room, a wall niche that creates a sophisticated feature place to store bottles without taking up any more space, or smaller and more energy-efficient radiators that can be installed above the bath so that towels are easier to reach.’
2. Put your towel rail too far from the shower
‘When designing bathrooms, I always start with the layouts,’ says Yousef Mansuri, CP Hart’s head of retail design. ‘Mostly this is dictated by were your soil stack is positioned for the WC and whether this can be moved or not.’
‘The toilet has stricter limitations than moving pipework due to the fall of the waste. Once you know where this is positioned you can start to decide where the basin, bath and shower will go.’
‘Pipework tends to be more flexible when it comes to repositioning. Once you have your layout, and therefore know how big you can have everything, the exciting part starts and you can begin to put together your mood boards and choose your product.’
‘Top tip? Make sure you don’t forget about towel rails/heating when considering all of this. One big mistake we often see is once having left the shower, people have to walk across the bathroom to reach your towel.’
3. Install everything in the wrong order
With any bathroom installation, forward planning is key. Choose an experienced designer that can manage the whole process from start to finish and ensure they provide dimensional drawings to help you visualise the space.
Joe Debono’s top tips?
1. Plan the room so that all pipe work is in place and wall coverings need minimal cutting.
2. Ensure supports are in their correct positions, taking into consideration the size of the wall coverings.
3. Position underfloor heating so that no fixings can damage it during the installation process.
4. Choose products that incorporate two-part installation, like our eco waste that is fitted before the bath.
5. If you opt for a freestanding bath, make sure it is the last thing to be fitted, as it reduces the risk of damage.
4. Only install one light
‘As with most areas within a house, good bathroom lighting can transform the look and feel of the space,’ says Chris Jordan, managing director at Christopher Wray.
‘Task lighting needs to be considered around mirrors so that you have plenty of light when shaving, cleaning or flossing your teeth or applying make-up etc. You should always choose lights that will illuminate without causing shadows. for example, a single strip above the mirror or wall lights situated either side of the mirror.
‘If you use the bathroom late at night then low wattage floor lighting is recommended so that you can see where you are walking without having to turn on the general lights which can be difficult for your eyes to adjust to and may inhibit your ability to return to sleep.’
5. Put everything on one lighting circuit
‘Bathroom lighting is as important as positioning the sanitary ware,’ says CP Hart’s Yousef Mansuri. ‘The overall mood and atmosphere of the bathroom is dictated by this and this should be decided prior to signing off any designs. Make sure you consider lighting without relying too heavily on downlights.
‘Although these are fantastic at giving an even covering of light, they are not the most sympathetic and can often take the charm out of a room, leaving it looking clinical. Try using two lighting circuits, one for the downlights and another which includes more inventive feature lighting. Such as recess lights, under basin lights, wall lights and marker lights fitted to the floor to up light the bath.’
6. Forget about IP ratings
When choosing your lighting, you need to consider the IP rating, which is used to define levels of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against intrusion from foreign bodies like moisture.
‘Always check that the fitting has an IP rating that is suitable for the intended zones,’ says Chris Jordan, managing director at Christopher Wray.
‘Zone 0: inside the shower or inside the bath. Any light fitting in these areas must be a minimum rating of IP67 (which is completely immersion proof) and must be low voltage.’
‘Zone 1: directly above the bath or shower. Any lighting fitting here must be a minimum rating of IP65. This means that they are dust-tight and are protected from low pressure jets and that no water can seep into the fitting itself.
‘Zone 2: either side of the bath or shower or a radius of 60cm from the sink. Any lighting fitting here must be a minimum rating of at least IP44 which will protect from splashes of water.’
7. Add too many separate elements
Tim Richards, category manager for bathrooms at Wickes says: ‘While a family bathroom should be practical and versatile enough to cater for everyone’s needs it doesn’t have to impact on style.’
‘Simple additions to the suite can make it more functional without the need for separate installations which is something we consider as part of the design process.’
‘For example, adding a bath screen to a standard straight bath provides a fully functional shower bath, utilising the space in a practical, yet unobtrusive way. The Avalon Bathroom Suite is a great example of a range that successfully showcases how to maximise space stylishly and effectively.’
8. Skimp on brassware
‘The brassware is the most important part of any bathroom renovation,’ says Yousef Mansuri, CP Hart’s head of retail design. ‘As these are the working parts they have continuous water flowing through them and because of this are used the most and have the highest potential to break.
‘Most often, people’s fear of renovating their bathroom is stemmed from leaks etc and really this comes down to investing in a high quality brassware fitting that stand the test of time without breaking.’
‘Another reason to invest in top-quality is that the brassware is often fitted into the wall, meaning there is no direct access to fix them; because of this, you need to ensure that what is in the wall is of a high quality or face a bigger job later on.’
9. Neglect your wall space
‘Position elements of your bathroom wisely,’ Tom Parker, category manager for bathrooms at B&Q. ‘For toilets, make sure you keep 40cm of clear space in front and 20cm either side. For showers, allow 80cm of floor space, keep towels this distance for easy reaching too.
‘When adding furniture, lift items off the floor where you can. For example, opt for a wall-mounted towel rail, such as B&Q’s Kandor Electrical Towel Warmer, which frees up floor space by sitting flush against the back wall. Likewise, installing a vanity unit under your basin streamlines furniture by utilising otherwise dead space.’
10. Make it hard to clean and keep tidy
Tom Parker says: ‘There are often lots of bottles and products in a bathroom that can end up creating a cluttered look.
‘To avoid clutter, create a neat and tidy space by choosing wall mounted storage accessories around your basin to keep all your bits and bobs to hand, such as B&Q’s Koros range, which has adjustable baskets, shelves and other solutions that you can add to depending on your storage needs.’
He also suggests that the products you choose when installing a bathroom can cut down cleaning time in the long run. For example, rimless toilets have less places for bacteria to hide and can be wiped clean in a matter of seconds.