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How To Plan A Bathroom

March 20, 2017
How To Plan A Bathroom

Are you looking for advice on planning a bathroom? You are definitely not alone!

Many people would love to redecorate and revitalise their bathrooms, but they really aren’t sure where to turn. That’s why we’ve put together these tips on planning a bathroom, regardless of the bathroom size. After all, it doesn’t matter if your bathroom is luxurious or cosy. It still needs to perform — and do so in style.

When it comes to planning a new, or updating an old bathroom Nick at Swish Bathroom Solutions has been helping customers since 2006. So we made a bee-line to Nick and got plenty of advice and ideas when it comes to bathroom planning your new bathroom.

What’s the first step in planning a bathroom redesign or update?

Your first step is to look at the whole picture rather than considering isolated features. It’s crucial to have the overall bathroom size and bathroom design in mind so that space is managed thoughtfully and intelligently. The average Australian bathroom size is 2.7m x 1.8m and there tends to be two layouts that work best with this bathroom size – see the plan below.

PlanBathroom July14 image

The above illustration captures the layout of the two most common bathroom size and bathroom plans for Australian homes.

These are the most common bathroom size and bathroom layouts because they are the ones that work best to this space. If you have an average size bathroom then we’d recommend you consider these layouts. This won’t stifle creativity – it just affords you the best level of function for the space you have. There will be plenty of creativity to come when choosing tiles, finishes, and colours.

Don’t forget, too, that depending on your budget, you may be able to increase the overall width and length of your bathroom through interior construction. For instance, if you can extend one of the walls, you may be able to increase the bathroom size. Some people like to take this into consideration, especially if the space seems particularly cramped.

The ultimate bathroom update checklist

Most companies selling bathroom products offer a complimentary bathroom design consultation to start the conversation about how to plan a bathroom. This is an awesome service for anyone who has been considering upgrading their bathroom. So that would definitely be our recommended first step, followed by working through a checklist that considers:

Dimensions: The bathroom size will be incredibly important. If you’re having trouble getting accurate measurements, pay someone to do it for you. It can be difficult to measure the space yourself if you have a strangely-shaped bathroom, such as one that’s in an L-configuration.

Plumbing: If budget allows then you can re-plumb the space if needs be. What is your flooring made from? If it’s timber then there shouldn’t be too much hassle. If however, it’s concrete then you’ve got some more considerations and challenges to re-position plumbing, but it’s do-able. If budget is tight then the current plumbing layout will dictate your bathroom layout.

Budget: The “B” word is one you should keep in mind. It’s fine to look over all the tips for planning a bathroom, but it’s important to know they all may not fit your financial limitations. Still, you can often do imaginative things during a bathroom redesign you never realized were possibilities — while staying on budget. Achieving those thought requires planning, and some great expert advice.

Height of Tiling: Some owners like to tile their walls right up to the ceiling, whilst others prefer to see some paint. This is something to have clear fairly early on in the piece, as it will have a fairly large budget impact. So knowing this early will help with the rest of your planning.

Bathroom Lighting: Because any electrical connections need to be allowed for very early in your bathroom renovation process, its really important that you think about lighting and power points in your new bathroom well before any tradies arrive on site. We’ve got some tips below for what you need to consider in your lighting design.


Bathroom Renovation Planning FAQs

There are some questions that come up time and time again when people are planning new bathrooms or updates to old ones. They are:

Where should my main focus – and budget – lie?

We like to go back to what the bathroom is being used for, and that’s ultimately to clean and to prepare. This means there are two focal points to any bathroom – the shower area, and the bathroom vanity.

If this appeals to your idea of the best bathroom for you, then our advice would be to find the biggest and most practical shower and bathroom vanity you can! Just be mindful, that you have to ensure you have bench space left to work with.


Again, a balance of aesthetics and practicality is essential. Maybe you want a seat in the shower? Maybe you want two sinks and two separate cabinets for the vanity, or you’re after extra-large sinks? Go to town!

Freestanding baths are so popular – should I go down this path?

If your bathroom is the average Australian size, we’d recommend you avoid a freestanding bath. It just eats up way too much of your space and it becomes a real hassle to clean and move around. If space is not an issue and if you really love the free-standing baths, and your budget allows, then absolutely! There’s nothing stopping you!

Where should the toilet go?

If at all possible, keep the toilet entirely separate to the bathroom. Out of all the new bathroom builds and renos that come to us, not even one per cent want a toilet in the bathroom. I think that’s indicative of the population. There are some sensational options now in terms of powder room sinks and tap wear that can really work well in small spaces.


How to do I plan lighting in my bathroom?

As with any room design, the amount of space dictates what form of lighting is possible for an individual bathroom. But for a bathroom to be functional it should have:

  • Task Lighting - Generally for around the mirrors and vanity.
  • Ambient Lighting - Lighting that will adequately illuminate the whole space.
  • Accent Lighting - Can be recessed or standard spotlights used to create focal points and of course Natural Light through the use of a window or skylight.

A combination of a few or all of these types of lighting needs to be considered when designing a bathroom layout. It is best to focus on your lighting plan once you have confirmed the layout of your bathroom, this will make deciding which type of Lighting you will need much easier.

Remember that you really need good lighting in a bathroom, especially around the mirror and basin areas where you’ll be applying makeup, shaving, teeth cleaning etc. This means you’ll need to think about light coming from both above and in front to avoid shadowing.

To increase luminescence in your bathroom we suggest using light coloured tiles and paint as well as smooth textures as these are less likely to absorb light whilst also helping to reflect and project the light throughout your bathroom.

For more information on bathroom lighting design tips, read our comprehensive article.


What products should I choose?

Once you’ve got you layout 100% locked in, then the fun really starts and you can start choosing your products for your new bathroom fit-out. Unless there is a really special piece that you want to work into the design, its often easier to leave this stage of your bathroom renovation planning until you’ve got the floor plan all sorted.


There are literally hundreds of bathroom tiles to choose from and as such, there are many considerations you'll need to think about. Do you want ceramic bathroom tiles, mosaic tiles, natural tiles made from marble, granite or slate? Do you want neutral coloured bathroom tiles or a bright pop of colour? Think about whether the bathroom tiles will be used on the floor, walls or as a splash back as this will determine if they need to have a non-slip finish. Also, what tile size will suit your bathroom space? Larger format tiles mean less grout to clean, but they are also more challenging to lay. When you are thinking about tiles, its worthwhile considering whether you are going to have a tiled shower base or moulded pre-fabricated one.


Bathroom splashbacks should be low maintenance and shield your bathroom walls from water splashes, just as a kitchen splashback does. The good news is that even though they serve a purpose, that doesn't mean you need to compromise on the look! There are some terrific options on the market ranging from acrylic, glass, mirror, tiles, engineered and natural stone, stainless steel…the list goes on.


Which Vanity to Choose?

Do you need a drop-in basin, an under bench or countertop basin, wall mounted or pedestal? It’s important to consider your overall bathroom design and select what basin will provide you with the best solution, both aesthetically and functionally.

Selecting The Best Tapware

It may not be obvious as first, but selecting the best taps and spouts for your bathroom is key to achieving a finished look. Moreover, from a functional aspect the wrong selection of bathroom taps and spouts can be very problematic. Taps and spouts come in a variety of materials but this is usually only considered for aesthetic purposes as it really should not affect the functionality.

Function and Style With Showers

When selecting a shower, and in turn shower accessories, think about the space you have available and how you want your bathroom to function. Once you’ve decided whether you are going to have a tiled shower base or a moulded one, this will help narrow your selection of shower screens. When it comes to shower heads, again think about functionality. Will a shower rose suffice or do you require a hand held shower and hose.

Finishing Your Bathroom With Accessories

Of course your beautiful new bathroom should be gorgeous to look at, but it should also function really well, and often its the finishing accessories that make the difference. So make sure that you've got enough bathroom hooks, towel rails, mirrors and storage in your plan.


What’s the best advice you can give someone about to undertake a bathroom reno?

Take time to think about it. Let the ideas sit with you for a while. Listen to the experts; they’re not telling you what they want – they’re never going to use your bathroom. They’re sharing their expertise with you because they want you to be 100% over the moon with your bathroom.

Thanks again Nick for your time and sharing this valuable information on how to plan a bathroom renovation.

We hope you found this article helpful. If you are ready to start building your wishlist of products, then be sure and check out our amazing range of bathroom products.

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