Bathroom Design – Getting Started

Daunting as it may appear to be initially, bathroom renovation can be categorized broadly in 5 steps. Start by choosing the style desired and picked out your layout, then choose your finishing and bathroom fixtures. Hiring a contractor for this job is recommended. The internet, magazines and books are good reference for looks and style of bathrooms. Take time to visualize if you will be happy with the end result. Isolate what you like in each resource and start by keeping a file of pictures and ideas that you like from your research.

When you renovated or build a new home, the bathroom should merge well into the rest of the home. Choose a style that complements the overall look of your home. Below is a list of styles and what you may find in a bathroom according to the style that you would have decided on before implementing the interior decorations in your new home.

  • Modern or Contemporary bathroom

You’re more likely to see clean lines and custom cabinetry with chrome and glass and an uncluttered look with tile on both the floor and walls. Shapes are more square than round and features stark contrast, like dark wood and cream tile. A contemporary bathroom design has limits on both material and colour. The space is kept clean with a focus on simplicity. Lighting is an important key to providing a minimalist look that is also inviting. You are more likely to find custom cabinetry, built-in bath and separate shower stall with glass door in a modern/contemporary bathroom.


  • Country bathroom

Comfort and casual is the two main running theme for a country style bathroom. You are more likely to see painted wood paneling on the walls, wood flooring, a claw foot soaker tub and a pedestal sink. Paint finishes can be distressed or crackled. A soaker tub may also be incorporated in a country bathroom. 


  • Luxury or Spa bathroom

Accented by cool and sleek look with natural finishes like limestone, slate, marble with glass, chrome and stainless steel. Colours that fit into the luxury/spa type bathrooms are aqua blues and greens. You may catch glimpse of a rain shower head, or an above counter basin in this type of bathroom.

Bathroom Layout

A basic bathroom has three or four features, namely the sink and vanity, toilet, tub and in some cases a separate shower. Aligning these features will require some plumbing work. The most straight-forward and inexpensive design would be to have all of your plumbing along one wall. There are also the U-shape (plumbing in 3 walls) and square layouts (all 4 walls). 

Tip: Since bathroom space tend to have limited, you can create a sense of space by placing glass walls in the shower. Also use light colours, mirror and lighting to keep the bathroom from giving a feeling of being confined.


Choosing bathroom fixtures

Faucets & Sinks

A simple way to give a bathroom a facelift is to buy a new tub or sink. New faucets can provide a refreshing, new look if you decide to do a remodeling that does that required ripping out the entire flooring or walls, or changing the layout of your bathroom. It may be noteworthy to consider replacing the shower head, tub faucet and sink faucet all at the same time if matching them is important to your design. Changing a sink is also an easy fixture upgrade that. Be it a cultured-marble countertop and sink that is a “pre-formed,” integrated piece, a self-rimming sinks set in the vanity opening with the rim resting on the countertop or an under-counter models that utilize fasteners to hold the sink in place below the countertop\’s surface, there is a variety of sinks that you can choose from. Another choice is the pedestal sinks, and although they don\’t provide a bathroom with countertop space nor storage, they do create more space.


Showers & Tubs

When installing a shower stall, consider how a shower door (or curtain) blends with the rest of the bathroom, as this can make quite a difference in the overall look of your bathroom. Take a look at several shapes and styles. A three-sided stall is a good choice when space is limited. Some stalls have a built-in seat, which gives more access and convenience to the user.  Another aspect to look at is pressure-balanced valves that prevent water temperatures from fluctuating, or having two shower heads, 3-way pulsating heads or extra body spray nozzles add more water and convenience.

Choosing the right bath tub is like choosing a bed. Make sure to buy the tub that\’s right for you. Take into consideration if tub is big enough and comfortable enough for your needs and tastes. Then decide on its looks, if it fits to the style of bathroom you desire. Make sure you have the measurement of your bathroom as well as the bath tub so that you don’t have to tear out a door to get it into the house. There are several types of tubs made from different materials to choose from, such as composite (a plastic material encased by enameled steel), fiber glass, acrylic, cast iron, or steel. Each have their advantages and disadvantages. Fiber glass and acrylic may be large in selection and size and is lightweight, but they may feel flimsy and scratch easily. Steel, may be inexpensive, but they are limited in choice, noisy and dissipate heat fast. Cast-iron are durable, but heavy and expensive. Composite tubs are durable, lightweight, repairable but not widely used. 



You may want to look into replacing the old toilet that can use up to 5 gallons of water per flush. New toilets are made to use less water; 1.6 gallons or less per flush, which is reason alone to justify replacing it. Not only do you get a new look to your bathroom, you conserve water too. Most toilets operate by “gravity-flush.” Water that\’s held in the tank above the bowl empties down to remove waste. They\’re quiet, affordable and popular. There are also “pressure-flush” toilets that inject pressurized water into the bowl and only take a few seconds to flush. They are however noisy, require electricity to run and sometimes average up to 50% more than a comparable gravity toilet. You may even have come across toilets that have two handles or flushing options for a moderate 1 gallon or a stronger 1.6 gallon flush. 


Choosing the finishes

The basic finishes that normally grace a bathroom would be paint, tile, stone, wood and wallpaper for the walls; tile, stone, wood, linoleum and vinyl tiles for the floors and tile, stone, plastic laminate for the vanity countertop. Another option for your bathroom vanity counter top is solid surfacing which is durable and water resistant. Another added feature that you can take into consideration for added comfort and luxury is installing heated floors in your bathroom. 


Prepping Your Bathroom for Renovation

Prepping your bathroom for renovation is like opening up a box of chocolates. Bathroom renovation typically are the most expensive to do when remodeling a house. The reason behind this is because the bathroom is typically the smallest room in the home, is a humid environment, and plumbing infrastructure often creates problems, especially in older homes. The condition of the infrastructure isn’t known until you start tearing up floorings or wall boards when you actually get in to the job.  

Do Not Cover Up

Covered up water and humidity damage will come back to haunt you. Deal with the problem before you start your bathroom remodeling project. 

If you have standard drywall in your older bathroom, chances are good that it is probably shot.  Do not attempt to cover it up to fix is aesthetically. Remove it and replace it with a wall covering with ‘blue boards’ made especially for moisture-resistance in bathrooms.

When you remove a tub or shower unit, there may be a high probability of discovering floor damage or wall damage. Check with an expert for mold once you have removed the fixtures. If you detect warped wood, check for sub-flooring problems. The damage could even reach the joist and beams beneath. Fix the damage by seeking advise from the professionals, as it is imperative to ensure that your flooring will be able to take the weight of a new tub, water and person in it. 

Infrastructure Damage

You shouldn’t be surprised to find the wall studs behind walls adjacent to shower and tub units showing signs of rot. You will need to seek expert advise on how to go about with repairing this damage before you decide to proceed with renovation work.

Also check tile surfaces. Cracked tile and missing grouting is a sigh of water damage in the wood flooring beneath. Again, always seek the advice of an expert for a complete inspection.


Signs for water damage are hard to detect since most pipes are installed inside the walls. Pay special attention to flooring and walls moisture and stains as they may indicate an invisible plumbing problem. Check moisture levels in adjoining rooms as well. 

Sinks and Cabinets

Sinks and cabinets are exposed to moisture and humidity daily and are often overlooked. Inspect regularly under the sink and on the countertop above it. Repair any drip in the trap as it may suggest drain problems. Look around the sink, slow draining pipes may indicate a blocked drain. Replace sink seals if they are cracked or loose.

The Toilet

The toilet is a vulnerable water junction. Check the water lines and search for leaks around the toilet seat, in the hose, and under the water tank. If you detect any signs of moisture on the floor around the toilet, check for leaks in the toilet rim and tank seals. Be aware that hanging toilet bowl deodorants increases the chances for clogs.

Do not skimp on this step when you wish to renovate or built a new bathroom. Fix the existing problems for the longer run.