The key to any good room design is to ensure that the space works well to achieve it’s main function. So in the case of a bathroom refurbishment, we clearly need to incorporate all the key elements (toilet, sink, bath, shower), but also ensure that the layout works for the space and shape of the room. We then throw in a few design rules (ensure the loo does not sit opposite the door for example) and consider suitable plumbing locations, alongside the client’s personal preferences (walk-in shower, bidet, his and hers sinks etc) and what initially sounded like quite an easy task, can quickly get a bit tricky! Which is probably why the top bathroom showrooms charge so much for a designer bathroom.

But it is possible to deliver a stunning bathroom, even in the trickiest of spaces and on a fairly low budget.

If you are looking to bring a fresh look to an existing bathroom, see my portfolio post ‘A Bathroom Update on a Budget’

How much does a new bathroom cost?

Bathroom refurbishments can cost anywhere from £2-3,000.00 to £20,000.00 and more! The first thing to consider when beginning to plan your bathroom renovation is what is your budget. And always leave at least 20% up your sleeve in case of any unforeseen problems. That way, if you do suddenly have to spend money replacing the soil pipe, you don’t have to cut corners on the finish!

Generally speaking, for an average sized family bathroom with a 4-piece suite, budgeting £4-6.000 should cover you for a mid-range bathroom with a luxury feel.

For a smaller bathroom or ensuite with a 3-piece suite, the average cost should be about £3-4.000.

If you are planning a smaller downstairs closet or small ensuite with just a toilet and sink, the cost should be around the £2,000 mark.

Bathroom layout

The first thing to consider when planning your bathroom renovation is available space and layout. Measure the room carefully, and clearly mark doorway locations, windows, internal and external walls. Be realistic about what will physically fit in the room and be prepared to compromise if space is proving an issue.

Ideally the toilet should go on an external wall for easy plumbing – although there are ways around this if it’s really not possible – and not be directly opposite the door. The sink, bath and shower can then be added into the design.

Which bathroom suite?

There are hundreds of different styles, shapes and sizes of bathroom suites available on the market. So if something doesn’t initially fit in the space, it can pay to keep looking for other options. Corner or mini baths can be a good space saving option for example. The same applies with sinks, and toilets. For a smaller bathroom or ensuite consider a ‘back to wall’ loo design or even a vanity unit with the toilet and sink combined.

When budgets are tight I suggest going for a simple white suite. Money can be spent elsewhere to achieve a ‘designer’ look, whilst keeping the suite understated can add a touch of class and has a much greater chance of standing the test of time and not ageing as fashions change.

What bathroom tiles to choose?

One thing to remember about bathroom tiles is that they are expensive to buy and to fit, especially the beautiful little intricate mosaic ones! A full tile wall looks stunning, but can spend the bulk of your budget very quickly. Choose carefully where you want to focus your tile spend to ensure a good balance between practicality and aesthetics.

There are also some great alternatives to tiles on the market, which offer a more cost effective solution. Shower wall panels are becoming increasingly popular. Quick and easy to install and very easy to clean, these panels come in a section of colours and finishes to suit your taste.

Bathroom storage

Build in loads of storage. Nothing screams of a badly designed bathroom more than having clutter left all over the sink. Storage for towels, toiletries, shaving equipment, spare toilet rolls, cleaning products, children’s bath toys etc is a massive bathroom must-have!

Not only does it ensure your bathroom always looks it’s best, but it’s much easier to keep clean too.

Where to spend your bathroom budget?

Fancy taps can help make your bathroom stand out from the crowd (especially if you have taken the above advice, and opted for a simple suite).

Feature lighting is a great way to make your bathroom look a little more boutique. Remember to check the IP ratings on any bathroom light fitting to ensure it is suitable for wet zones.

Mirror task lighting is essential for providing the right targeted light for shaving, applying make-up etc. Go for a pair of lights either side of the mirror to avoid creating shadow on the face. There is a vast amount of choice for bathroom lighting, from wall mounted to hanging pendants, and lights built within the mirror for a Hollywood glam look.

If you are designing an ensuite, a lovely idea is to incorporate his and hers sinks, each with their own mirror and cupboard space. This takes away some of the morning stress of fighting over the mirror and sink space and ensures the main, family bathroom can be kept free for children and other members of the household.

If you are a fan of free-standing baths, consider the space around the bath. This style looks beautiful in a spacious bathroom, however crammed into a smaller room can cause more problems than it’s worth. Just consider how you will clean the floor in the hard-to-reach areas. Bathrooms can be very dusty spaces.

Bathroom design – mistakes to avoid

Poor layout – many of the bathroom showrooms will build you a layout drawing using your room dimensions and their available products. If you choose to use one of these showrooms, my top tip is to take the plan home and mark up the layout in the actual room. Often, the computer program shows that the bathroom physically fits in the space, but the reality is that the units are so closely spaced, you would forever be knocking your arm whilst sitting on the loo! This applies for if you are planning to DIY your bathroom too.

Suitable flooring – remember that bathrooms get wet, humid and slippy. So ensure all floor surfaces are appropriately non-slip to avoid nasty accidents from occurring.

Towel hooks – ensure that there is somewhere to hang your towel so that it is easily accessibly for when you get out of the bath or shower. This may be as simple as a hook on the wall, or perhaps you want a strategically positioned towel rail for this purpose.

Consider underfloor heating – especially if you want a tiled floor. The snag with climbing out of a lovely warm bath onto tiles is the shock at the temperature contrast. There are lots of way to fit underfloor heating these days and it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think.

My top bathroom bargains

Here are some of my favourite cost and space saving bathroom items:

Orbit Corner Modern Freestanding Bath from Victorian Plumbing


This bath, provides the look of a free standing bath, but with an inconspicuous corner piece which allows it to be located tightly to the wall without worrying about dirt traps. the Orbit is also slightly smaller than a regular bath, making it the perfect product for a family bathroom that’s tight on space.

contemporary style moulded corner bathtub


Rustic Industrial Round Mirror with Shelf from Melody Maison


A great solution for keeping hand soap and moisturiser easy to find, but reducing clutter from the sink area. This is a great idea for a small downstairs closet or guest ensuite. Team it with a small fern or succulent for a really trendy look.

rustic round mirror with small shelf across the middle

Kyoto Bathroom Pendant by Astro Lights

£227.70 each

These slim-line and elegant light fittings, are perfect for siting either side of your bathroom mirror as a pair. Finished in chrome with an opal glass shade, the style is timeless and would work with most modern bathrooms.

twin pendant lights in a chrome and glass finish

Peace Light Oak Wall Hung Vanity Unit with Kofu Countertop Basin from ManoMano


This wall hung unit measures 600mm wide by 415mm deep, which is great for a medium sized bathroom. This piece just proves that vanity units don’t need to look dated, with the super trendy countertop basin and the unit provides excellent storage for your everyday bathroom essentials.

Wall hung units also give the impression of the space being larger, as you can see more floor underneath. Team this with a wall-mounted simple white toilet to give your bathroom a stylish finish.

Floating vanity unit with counter-top round sink

Brooklyn 2-in-1 Combined Wash Basin & Toilet from Victorian Plumbing


This geniously designed toilet, has the sink built in above the cistern, providing the ultimate space-saving combination for a small closet or ensuite.

combination WC and sink vanity unit