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.

1. Identify your style

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.

There are many styles out there to choose from; if you find one you like try and replicate it. Here is a brief look at three bathroom styles.

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.

2. 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.

3. 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. 

4. 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. 

5. Hiring a contractor. 

You want to find a local contractor with a good reputation. Once you have your contractor make sure you have a written estimate and a clear start and completion date. If you decide to go with hiring a contractor, ensure that the contractor is properly licensed. Though licensure is not a mark of quality workmanship, it does mean that they have fulfilled the basic minimum requirements of the licensing agency. Make sure you hire a contractor who will be able to translate what you want ultimately in your home, it is a huge investment, and is something that you want done on time and done right! Do not skimp on the first bid of a cheap contract, as the term “you get what you pay for” may come into play when a contractor realizes he runs out of time or am unable to keep to schedule, and starts cutting short on workmanship or materials.