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Bathroom Renovations: A Beginner’s Guide

As a place that you and your family need to use on a daily basis, your bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the house. Get your renovations right and you’ll have a space that sparkles. Get it wrong and you’ll end up with an awkward room that is not practical to use.

Even though bathrooms tend to be on the smaller side, big things can be achieved to create a functional space to prepare for work and school, relax, and wash off the day while getting ready for bed. By utilising the services of a professional bathroom renovator, you can discuss your ideas and get expert advice on the best layout for your new bathroom.

Gone are the days of trying to imagine how the finished result will look from a few drawings and blueprints, as 3D modelling and CAD software can now bring a design to life. This gives the opportunity to change the layout and features until you are 100% happy, and builders can get on with completing the bathroom renovation to match the specifications.

But before you get to this stage, there are certain things that you‘ll need to consider first.

Bathroom and Kitchen Renovations Tub with glass doors

What to consider before a bathroom renovation

bathroom vanity with grey tiles

Why do you want to renovate your bathroom?

Having a clear vision about why you want to renovate your bathroom will help you decide on the type of layout that you need. Perhaps you’ve moved into a new house and the bathroom has seen better days? Perhaps your bathroom is too small? Or maybe you want to add value to the home so you can put it on the market to sell. If you are renovating for your own satisfaction, then you can play around with different ideas, but if you are renovating to sell, you will want to consider what is appealing to your target buyer.

Who is going to be using the bathroom?

A master bathroom will likely have only yourself and/or your partner using it, so you can choose a layout that meets your lifestyle needs. Guest bathrooms can be smaller than a master with only a shower, single vanity and toilet. For bathrooms that are used by children, a bath is important for younger ones and you’ll also need to consider the vanity height and shower access.

What is your budget?

Bathroom renovations can cost anywhere from $20,000 upwards, with an average price of $35,000. The price varies depending on the chattels that you choose, what changes need to be made to the plumbing system and labour. Make sure you come up with a comfortable budget that has a little wiggle room before deciding on your dream bathroom renovation.

black and white two way bathroom

What are your ‘must haves’ for your new bathroom?

Renovating your bathroom means that you have the option to add those features that you always wanted to have. You may want to consider double shower heads or double vanities, and even a bathtub to soak in at the end of the day. Do you need two ways of accessing the bathroom? Must the toilet be separate from the shower and vanity? A heated towel rail or flooring?

Take some time to look at the bathrooms of friends and family for layouts and features that you like. You can even sketch up some ideas to discuss with your professional bathroom renovator.

Different types of bathroom layouts

When choosing a bathroom layout, you want to be able to take advantage of every inch, without overcrowding. Neither the shower, bath or vanity should look too large or out of place, there should be ample room to move around, and there shouldn’t be issues with opening and closing vanity and shower doors. You’ll also need to consider the main door into the bathroom, and whether this opens inwards or outwards. One design mistake that is common to see is where the shower door can not be opened unless the bathroom door is closed.

There are many bathroom layouts to consider. Below you will find some of the more common options and when they are useful.

laundry and toilet galley bathroom

Galley bathroom

A galley bathroom utilises a long narrow bath in a compact and efficient floor plan. This design makes the most of a narrow space while still being able to incorporate all the features you need for a functional bathroom. The vanity, shower, bath and toilet are placed at the sides of the room, so when you open the door you have a direct link to walk in to.

One design option is to have the vanity and toilet on one side and the shower and bath on the other. Alternatively, a longer yet narrow bathroom can be designed with the bath, toilet and shower on one side, with double vanities and a makeup desk opposite.

L-shape bathroom

An L-shape bathroom can often be seen as a tricky space to work with, when you have a shower, bath, vanity and toilet to coordinate. But if this is the only space that you have without cutting into other rooms, you can still create a functional bathroom that doesn’t seem awkward or cramped.

One option is to place a shower over bath in the skinny part of the L, with the toilet and the vanity in the wider part of the room. Alternatively, you can separate the toilet all together and keep the bath, shower and vanity together.

Island shape bathroom

An island shape bathroom includes a large bath as the feature in the centre of the room. The toilet and shower are hidden by dividing walls and a large vanity stretches along one side of the space.

This type of bathroom is more designed for couples or adults who want a relaxing space to bathe in, perhaps with large windows offering a landscape view.

One-way bathroom

A one-way bathroom layout is useful in smaller spaces where a bath is not required. As you open the door you have the shower on the right, the vanity in the middle of the wall and the toilet at the end near the window. This design gives you enough floor space for getting dressed and to keep a laundry basket or small storage unit.

minimalist elegant three way bathroom

Three-way bathroom

In a three-way bathroom, the toilet, vanity and shower and/or bath are in three different areas or rooms.

Usually, when you enter the bathroom area, the main vanity is on the left. In front of you is the toilet with its own door, and to the right is the ‘wet area’, with bath, shower and a smaller vanity.

A three-way bathroom can be practical in larger homes where multiple people need to access the facilities at the same time. It is also useful for the master bathroom with couples who need to get ready for work at the same time.

Tips for a successful bathroom renovation

Appropriate lighting

Since a bathroom can be used for different scenarios such as relaxing in the bathtub or getting ready to head out of the house, a good balance of lighting is essential. While more energy efficient, LED lighting can create shadow lines and can change the appearance of makeup. Having both bright and soft lighting options allows you to choose the appropriate level throughout the day and night.


As many bathrooms don’t have a window, or it may be too cold in winter to actually use it, ensure that there is appropriate ventilation to remove steam. There are several options when it comes to ventilation including ceiling mount fans, in-line fans, wall-mount fans and vent switches. You may also want to consider underfloor heating as this helps to dry out the room faster after showering or bathing.

Adequate storage

A common mistake that people make when renovating their bathroom is that they don’t allow for enough storage space. It’s important to think about what items you need to keep handy such as towels, toiletries, makeup, toilet paper, a laundry basket and cleaning products, and how much space you need to allocate for each.

Matching fixtures and décor

A bathroom should not feel overcrowded or messy, so choose a simple colour palette for tiles and paint and stick to it. Contrasting colours will make the space look choppy. The same goes for fixtures and fittings. While you don’t need to have everything matching completely, they should tie in nicely together with the same kind of finishing or theme.  You may want a common theme that is found in the house such as matching doorknobs to carry through to the bathroom to limit distraction.


Depending on who is going to be primarily use the bathroom, there are certain features that you should incorporate into your design plans for ultimate functionality. Someone who needs to spend time doing their hair and makeup in the bathroom will appreciate easy access to makeup and tools, bench space, large mirrors and lighting. If you have a deep bath that younger people will need to get in to, having a step for easier entry and exit will avoid accidents at bath time. A busy household may benefit from a laundry chute to avoid clothes being left on the bathroom floor.

Don’t forget…

Bathroom renovations can take a matter of weeks or more depending on the amount of work that is involved so it’s important to prepare your household for what is going to happen.

You may need to shift bedrooms for a period of time and have everyone using your second bathroom. If you don’t have a second bathroom in your home, it may make more sense for you to temporarily stay with friends or family. Another option is that you could get a temporary local gym or swimming pool membership so you can use their bathroom facilities while renovations are underway.  You’ll also need to make sure that there is access for builders, plumbers, electricians and other trades so there is less disturbance to you and your daily routine.

If you’re ready to get your bathroom renovations under way or are seeking advice, feel free to call the expert team at Master Kitchens and Bathrooms on 1300 222 422.

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