1. Less is more
Be economical with bathroom materials by creating focal points in specific places. ‘Tile some feature areas and leave the rest painted,’ says experienced renovator Jason Orme.
‘Focus on the splash zones around the bath, shower and behind the basin to maximise impact.’ Lay low-cost white ceramic tiles in a diamond pattern with a straight border around the edges. It’s a job you can tackle yourself, and looks amazing when done well.
2. Mix and match
Shop around for the best deals, putting your suite together from different suppliers and clearance sections. ‘Stay with white ceramic and you can mix and match pieces from multiple sources,’ says self builder and renovator Michael Holmes.
‘Team an end-of-line designer vanity unit with a cheaper sink, and a reclaimed classic toilet pan with a new cistern.’ You could even try selling your old basin, bath and toilet. Second-hand coloured suites are popular with people after a retro look.
3. Removing the bath
‘If you have a separate bath and shower but only take baths once in a while, assess if you really need it when replacing the suite,’ says Rob Tyson, interiors advisor for Victorian Plumbing. ‘You could create a walk-in wet room instead. If you do use both, consider a shaped shower-bath. It’s the best of both worlds without needing a separate shower tray and cubicle.’
4. Maximise bathroom Space
If you have a small bathroom but don’t want to knock down walls to expand the space, use visual tricks to make it appear bigger. ‘Large-format tiles in neutral shades can make the room look larger and more luxurious,’ says Sian O’Neill, of Topps Tiles.
‘Using the same tile on the walls and floor can also create a seamless look.’ ‘A well-placed wall-to-wall mirror can give the illusion of more space,’ adds Michael Holmes. ‘But avoid having it somewhere where you need tap and socket holes cut out, to keep costs down.’
5. Keep the layout
‘Don’t reposition anything that doesn’t really need to be moved,’ says Rob Tyson. Moving the toilet would involve relocating both the toilet drain/vent and wastewater systems, and also supplying water to its new spot.
‘Adapting an existing stack would be around £500 for materials and labour, while replacing a stack, reconnecting it underground and connecting to sewerage could cost upwards of £1,500,’ he adds.‘Reduce your expenditure by keeping your toilets and basins where they originally were.’
6. Go Faux
‘Opting for a porcelain effect tile that looks like stone, marble or wood, will offer you the same aesthetic as the real thing but at a fraction of the price,’ says Sian O’Neill. ‘Effect tiles are easier to maintain and not affected by water – unlike real stone or solid wood, which can take in moisture due to their porous surfaces.’
Durba stone tiles from Topps Tiles are made from porcelain with a finish that replicates sandstone and cost £29.94 per square metre, compared to English antique reclaimed sandstone tiles from a specialist supplier, which cost £354 per square metre.
7. Simplify the scheme
‘Bathroom products have trended towards hiding as much of the plumbing behind walls as possible, and sleeking up the overall scheme by sinking shower trays into the floor structure, for example, which has implications for waste positions,’ says Jason Orme. ‘All this can create extra work for your installer – making the project expensive. More mainstream products will require little additional structural work.’
8. Save water
‘There are lots of specially designed taps available that can reduce water usage by half compared to regular taps, saving on your water bills,’ says Rob Tyson. ‘And fitting a flow restrictor to your shower will limit the amount of water you use without compromising its performance.’
A Bristan shower flow restrictor from Victorian Plumbing costs £9.95, and limits the fall of water to six litres per minute. Other water-saving gadgets include the Hippo, which is popped into the toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water used in a flush by up to three litres.
9. Panelled walls
‘Painted wooden panelling is a great way to add style to a bathroom with a very low materials cost, making it ideal for the DIYer,’ says Michael. ‘Using moisture-resistant green MDF and softwood bead mouldings, there are endless design options.’
10. Light it up
‘Bright lighting can make a bathroom feel spacious and fresh,’ says Michael Holmes. ‘You can switch a single central ceiling pendant for a multi-lamp fitting without having to alter the wiring. But make sure fittings are IP rated so they are safe to use in wet areas.’
Check out suppliers’ clearance areas to see if they have any one-off lights that would suit your scheme for a fraction of the normal price