We are about to embark on another makeover, following on from the living room update. This time more substantial, lengthy and costly, so I thought I should start sharing the experience with you. Welcome to the series of our bathroom renovations (and yes, you read correctly, that last 's' was intentional as there are two of them!). Arguably, the room that can make or break a house sale (many an avocado bathrooms have seen home sales fall through because the prospective buyers were not brave enough to take them on). It is also one of the first rooms that comes up when you are googling "renovation".
I did the obligatory research prior to taking on this challenge and thought I'd share some insight.
OUR BATHROOM RENOVATION SERIES
How much does it cost to renovate a bathroom?
I wish I had a straight answer for that, I guess it depends on how big the room is (as you may need more sqm of tiles and it cost more to fit them as well) and how luxe you want it to be. A bathtub can cost from a couple hundred pounds to more than £10k, and that gets applied to every other piece you use in your bathroom if you decide to go for 'designer' products (this Architectural Digest article with the best bathrooms of 2016 will have you drooling).
Then you have the building costs (plumber, electrician, decorator). I am sharing the cost of mine as quoted, below, this is for a renovation of one ensuite bathroom (1.80m x 2.50m with one normal sized window):
Bathroom labour costs guide (July 2018, within London M25)
Removing the existing bathroom suite, removing all tiles and furniture - £200
Plumbing work, including installing towel rail - £450
Preparation of walls for tiling and plastering - £250 (I will need to investigate this a little more)
Installing toilet, bathtub, shower screen, sink/vanity and shelves - £400
Installing floor tiles, including installing membrane - £400
Wall tiling around bath and sink/vanity - £600
Drilling for extractor fan and duct connecting - £150
Electric work - installing spot lights, wall lights and extractor fan - £450
Making good after electric work - £100
Plastering and painting the ceiling and walls - £350
How can I remodel my bathroom for cheap?
See above! You can probably start by un-doing the existing bathroom yourself - for example, removing all existing tiles (that's a cost of £200 saved right there) and opting for cheaper-everything (tiles, sanitary products, brassware etc). Another way to keep the costs down is by keeping the position of your sanitary ware the same - so don't try to re-invent the layout unless there was something really wrong with it in the first place.
In terms of the products you use, porcelain will keep you in budget, natural stone will blow it. So if you like the look of marble, have it, but in porcelain tiles for example. Also, be very realistic about the things you do need. If you have a generally toasty warm home already and nice double glazed windows in your bathroom, there's no real need to use underfloor heating as well as radiators.
How long will it take to redo a bathroom?
A bathroom renovation should take no more than 3 weeks, provided all products and materials are on site and it does not need much work in terms of re-wiring and plumbing and can extend to 4 or 5 if you have major issues to deal with.
This is where you should put your negotiating skills to use as some builders may take on more than one project at the same time and that last thing you want is someone hopping between two sites at the same time.
Make sure that you have all of the products available when your builders start (and that will include the skip outside your home for the tear out of the existing bathroom items) to avoid delays waiting for say, tiles, or a sink, to come in.
Ours will take around 6 weeks because we have two bathrooms, and as you would expect we cannot un-do them at the same time - we'll still need somewhere to shower and that's that.
So why are we renovating OUR bathrooms?
Let's talk about our home. We left our Fulham for something bigger and ended in Surrey, within the M25 and 35' from Victoria and London Bridge. With both of us (Tony and I) working in the City, getting something with good bones that needed work was not an option. We opted for an executive home, build circa mid 80s in a private cul-de-sac. It was about the location more than about the house.
Which is absolutely fine for us. The outside is still very appealing to us and has great curb appeal with a landscaped front but the inside was a very un-intersting story. There are no high ceilings or wooden floors here I'm afraid. So we have wanted to put our stamp onto the house and make it a little different to the other similar houses on our little street. And judging from my neighbour's reaction to my living room makeover recently, I think we are getting there.
There's a small ensuite and an even smaller family bathroom. The ensuite has a bathtub and shower, the family one just a shower. Neither had a mirror in it and both had the sink almost in front of the window (making the mirror thing a little unworkable in the first place.
I didn't particularly like either of them and life's too sort to not enjoy your morning shower. We don't plan to move out and since we have not really done much to our home other than cosmetic changes, like the living room, dining room and guest bedroom recently, I felt it was the right time for us to go ahead and update the bathrooms. A change in jobs in October also means that I can somehow supervise the project in September.
Family Bathroom - BEFORE
Facing the front of the house, with one window and space for a shower only. Now, I should explain that the house has 5 bedrooms upstairs, all good size, so maybe we should have considered changing one of the bedrooms into a bigger family bathroom.
But it's just the three of us. I would see the point if we had more children and you needed to have double sinks and a bathtub for the little ones... George is old enough now to be taking showers and frankly, being a boy, he tends to spend less and less time in the bathroom. So we'll keep our bedrooms and he will have his own cool bathroom with a shower.
As you can see the current set up is a gold framed shower cubicle. I have seen these come in fashion now but sorry, me no likey. I like things to be symmetrical and the mirror not being over the sink drives me mad (#firstworldproblems), the light and WC too old fashioned and the corner built in unit is not nice inside at all (there are exposed pipes and frankly, shitty shelves.
The new layout...
...will see the shower staying where it is and the sink moving next to it with a mirror placed where the gold towel rail currently stands. Plenty of natural light from the window but will still add two small wall sconces either side of the mirror. The WC pan will be rotated to face towards the sink/mirror and next to it there will be plenty of space to add one or two wall units like the ECORA Tall Unit from VitrA.
Work to be done
Shower stays in the same place. Replace it with a frameless enclosure or a black Crittall style enclosure.
Use black shower head and valve.
Sink moves next to the shower, add wall mounted tap.
Use 60cm vanity unity with integrated sink like the Volini from Lusso Stone.
Add rectangular mirror (50-60cm wide) over sink.
Leave ceiling lights where they are but replace with new ones.
Add ventilation fan!
Add slimline radiator where the mirror currently sits.
Desired look for the family bathroom
Here's the fun part, where you get to spend a million hours on Pinterest and still be undecided by the end of it. Given it is really hard to pin down what you want I started by making a list of what I DON'T want (that helps too). So here's what I don't want in this bathroom which will be used mostly by the growing boy in the family and the occasional guests:
Metro tiles - Although their new version (glass metro tiles) seem pretty cool, metro tiles involve a lot of grout lines and as this is a small bathroom we wanted the look to be less busy.
Gold taps - we have them already in here and the look in not great for the person who will use it the most. We wanted a cooler space for him.
Full WC frame - again as this is a small space we want to see as much as floor space as possible to trick the eye, so we need a wall hang WC pan.
Overwhelmed as I was from all the info I was getting from Pinterest, I decided to turn to Melinda Kiss of Keyhole Interiors to get some fresh ideas. Melinda, as you can see, suggested I go for a more traditional look in the family bathroom, steering clear of the trendy black taps and opting for chrome instead. With the MPRO range from Crosswater, this very well could be the way to go for us. We shall see!
Look 1 - chrome - marble - grey and white
Look 2 - chrome, limestone and white
If this initial post has wet your appetite and you want to see more of our bathroom renovation, as well as Melinda's plans for our ensuite bathroom, then subscribe for our newsletter to never miss an update (we will only email you once every couple weeks). In the meantime, if you want more bathroom inspiration, click here.