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Bathroom Design & Colour Scheme Ideas 2018: Tips to Choose the Best

Bathroom Design & Colour Scheme Ideas 2018: Tips to Choose the Best

By ATS Team, Last updated on August 8th, 2018

Because you want the best of whats trending in bathroom design & a look that will not date poorly.

Popular and trending bathroom designs & colour schemes for 2018, including greys, beiges, charcoals and timber accents.

How to get the Best Ideas for the Bathroom – A Design Perspective

There is a lot of detail that goes into a bathroom.

If you’ve renovated or built before then you will know how overwhelming it can be getting things done right…

The good news is that you can make it much easier to choose what’s best by following some simple design principles. We have covered designing an easy to clean bathroom, and now in this article we cover bathroom colour schemes, including what’s trending for 2018.

Whether you have a small, large or unusual bathroom layout, your choice is important in influencing the final product.

Bathroom Colour Schemes That Are Trending in 2016

The best bathroom colour ideas & styles come with a design perspective in mind, generally starting with tiles and then working backwards from there. This item-by-item guide covers each major aspect of the bathroom colour scheme.

If you are interested in skipping the guide to see what’s popular for 2018, we have some quick links below. You can also refer to these, see what you like, narrow your choices and come back to the guide.

The trending bathroom colour schemes for 2018 include:

  • Gray Industrial & other Gray-tone: including concrete & cement look bathrooms
  • Ecclectic Colour Splash: playful colours such as teals, pinks & blues in small doses for features such as basins or tiles
  • Plank Tiles & Timber Hues: Including tiles that imitate genuine timber
  • Limestone: Neutral stone colour throughout the bathroom with standout fittings
  • Terrazzo: Genuine terrazzo or porcelain used with complementary colour
  • Coloured Tapware Finishes: Matte black, rose gold, brushed nickel, etc.
  • White: The timeless colour, matching anything and remaining popular year to year

Now back to the guide

Let’s start with the most important aspects, get the most important right and your bathroom is sure to look great.

Tiles are the most important part of bathroom design

Porcelain tiles on display at the ATS showroom showing some popular colours right now

Tiles are the most significant part of a bathroom’s final look and feel, both the type of tile used and the colour of the tile significantly influence the outcome of your design.

The best bathroom designs & colour schemes today have tiles that exude:

  • Perceived open size & space
  • Perceived warmth & invitingness
  • Pleasant feeling
  • A desirable ambiance, and;
  • Are practical for the long term

Generally most bathroom tiles are laid in a way that directs the eyes in a particular manner, the most commonly used design formats are listed below.

Two tone bathroom: Two predominant colours are noticeable in the bathroom. This set up grabs attention with a darker, bolder colour that catches the eye whilst a lighter coloured tile softens the look, helping add to the illusion of more space and a more open feel.

You can also do the reverse with the light colour grabbing the attention however this requires a large open room and/or plenty of light to pull it off.

Two tone bathroom showing charcoal Porcelain tile with a carrara marble subway tile feature

Historically, two tone bathrooms have simply been “dark floor, light wall”. With current trends, a feature is often added, the most popular feature being an entire wall which matches the floor. You may also have a small feature, such as a mosaic tiled niche inside the shower or a vanity splash back.

The two tone bathroom works best with a large wall that you see as you walk into the bathroom which you want to stand out. This is a great set up for a simple design and practical look which will most likely still fit future trends as two tone bathrooms have been around for a long time.

Choosing the light colour tile – Its best to choose a tile with a mild pattern in it to not detract from the darker tile. For rooms with less natural light, choose the colour as light as possible to maximise the feeling of space, whilst if you have excellent natural light in the bathroom or will use strong down lights you can go with a tile that is not so light. Examples of popular light tile colours include gloss white, matte white, limestone look tiles, Carrara look tiles, washed out concrete look tiles, mild beige tiles and light greys.

Double High back freestanding bath with marble look wall tiles, dark porcelain floors and a walk in shower

Choosing the dark colour tile – You can be liberal with your choice of bold patterns & texture to draw eye attention, though this is optional. If you decide to do a feature wall, ensure it blends well with the floor or is the same tile. A suggestion to make the tiles pop more without going too aggressive with the pattern is to use creative shapes such as hexagonal tiles, herringbone or arrow laid tiles and tiles that look like timber.

Single tone bathroom: There is one predominate tile in the bathroom. Features, if any, are small and/or discreet. This set up works best with large format tiles and is perfect for making your bathroom look as large, open and inviting as possible.

Single tone bathrooms are ideal for small bathrooms, especially if you use a tile colour as light and as large as possible, this gives the illusion of space and ensures a small bathroom feels open and more inviting. Combine a single tone bathroom with other details such as wall hung vanities, in-wall toilets and walk in shower screens for the maximum effect of space illusion.

Single tone bathroom with large format tiles that look like Statuario marble and a timber top wall hung vanity with round lit mirror

Single tone also works really well with large bathrooms to “fit the character” and is truly a universal look. This set up works best with warm tile colours or tiles with strong varying patterns such as a marble, limestone or travertine look tile though there is a strong trend in 2018 to use greys and whites as well. If you use cool colours, ensure you introduce some elements in your design that are warm.

The single tone bathroom is perfect for those who like to dress up the bathroom with all the other fittings, such as with creative coloured vanities, feature bath tubs and toilets because the tiles do not draw too much distraction from those items and it allows maximum flexibility with “two tone fittings”, which we will talk about in more detail later in the guide.

Choosing your single tone tile – You may go with as much, or as little pattern as you want, and then work backwards from there for the rest of the bathroom design. Tiles with lots of pattern tend to hide dirt better than tiles with little or no patterns in them. The flip side is that tiles with little pattern offer the ultimate flexibility with the rest of the bathroom design, as they will distract less from a stand out vanity or bath. Generally you will find a few options in each category. For example if you like tiles that look like light marble with dark veins: the Statuario design has a much stronger pattern than the Carrara marble design, where-as Calcutta is somewhere in the middle.

Some bonus advice for picking the best tiles that will date well are to look for things that are practical. Historically, trends that have not dated poorly have had practical value. Some examples include:

  • Larger tiles result in less grout used, hence tiles have become larger over time
  • Gloss tiles on the wall are easy to clean and have remained popular
  • Porcelain tiles are more durable than ceramic, and lower maintenance than stone
  • Timber look plank tiles are more practical than genuine timber and look great

These elements of practicality are what have prevented things such as large tiles or porcelain tiles being a fad, whilst odd-shaped decorative tile, preppy artisan handmade tiles & small mosaic tiles consistently cycle in and out of trends and may not be for everybody.

Large format and timber look tiles on display at our Sydney showroom, trendy and popular with modern bathroom designs

Keep these tips in mind when you visit a showroom

When choosing your tiles keep in mind the pros and cons of each class of tile, some examples of the most popular are below:

  • Porcelain tiles are great value for your floors and have the best density, hardness & durability. It’s also nice to have porcelain on your walls for the high end look, though;
  • Ceramic tiles are cheaper and have more vibrant colour options. For example an absolute white ceramic will be whiter than the whitest porcelain, and so forth. Ceramic tiles are soft and best for walls. Your tiler will also have an easier time drilling when installing fittings
  • Stone tiles are beautiful but are high maintenance and require perennial sealing

If you are finishing your walls or floors with materials such as glass, polished concrete or slabs/sheets/paint, the colour is still very relevant, however you may find there are less avenues to express your creativity. In the case that you are not using tile, you can still apply the same design principles outlined earlier to maximise the niceness of your bathroom.

Fittings (fixtures, fixings or PC items) complete the look

Wet room designed bathroom with single tone colour scheme: Reverso 450 x 900mm Italian tiles and walk in shower recess

It’s important to note that tiles aren’t the only part of the bathroom!

There are also the fittings:

  • Bathtubs can be free standing or inset, they make great features or subtle inclusions
  • Toilets have been traditionally put out of view by bathroom designers, though modern toilets can look quite nice and add to the design of the bathroom
  • Vanities can be wall hung or floor mounted, and come in a variety of colours.
  • Tapware come in multiple finishes and colours, a few are particularly popular now
  • Shower Screens can have interesting frame, brackets or glass options
  • Accessories such as your toilet roll holder generally match the taps, and;
  • Grates come in multiple styles and designs

You are probably familiar with bathtubs and toilets being white, a hygienic colour both conservative and vibrant, it’s also an easy colour to produce. This makes white great for all purposes, including looking good with almost any bathroom design.

You may remember pink & green toilets from several decades ago, these temporary fads haven’t held up as long as white, the timeless colour. Just like with tiles, generally what remained relevant over the years had practical value.

freestanding bathBaths: Most acrylic, fibreglass, Corian, composite, solid surface or press metal bathtubs are white and cost effective, however, black baths have been appearing in an increasing amount of new bathroom designs and can suit some eclectic, classic black & white (also known as monochrome) or contemporary looks. Other colours are not easily found and are probably hard to pull off.

The trend is for bathrooms to use freestanding baths now, which stand out much more than the inset baths you may be used to. This means that a colourful freestanding bath will be much easier to pull off than a colourful inset bath.

You can get stone, rock, concrete and composite baths in a variety of colours and finishes, the most common alternative colours are varying shades of grey, beige and brown. These can really add value to the design of your bathroom at the cost of more maintenance. A great example are the strong eye-catching travertine or concrete baths.

The major trade off with these baths is price, with the cost of purchasing one frequently being over $2000, and that’s before noting that getting them delivered and brought into your bathroom might be impossible or very expensive due to their weight.

Still, it can be a good idea to go all out on a bath, though we recommend non-acrylic baths only if you have the budget for one. The costs are significant but there is little practical value.

In wall toiletToilets: It’s easy to find white toilets everywhere, and there are also black toilets showing up in some modern bathroom designs. Black can be a good design idea in an appropriately themed bathroom and can match a black bathtub. Keep in mind that white is the most hygienic colour due to stains appearing more visibly, so black offers little practical value as the antithesis to that.

You can also get coloured toilets but they may be harder to find. We are observing that in 2018 there alternative colours slightly trending such as light grey toilets, these will work if you want something trendy that isn’t white, but if you’re content with white then you will save a little.

The best toilets are toilets with the cistern hidden behind the wall. This is both for practical purposes as well as for the look. You may also get coloured buttons in a variety of styles that will match the rest of the colour scheme and are sure to look good. We strongly advise concealed cistern toilets, especially in small bathrooms.

Vanities: While most vanities are white, there are a lot of coloured options which can accentuate a particular bathroom style you are going for. You can get a variety of cabinet finishes in almost any colour and can even get a laminate veneer that looks like timber. There are also many options for the vanity counter top and sink. Some tips for vanities are below:

  • White vanities can be used with almost any tile colour scheme and will look great
  • You can colour your vanity similar to the floor tile (or feature wall) to match it
  • Warm coloured vanities in timber coloured hues work very well with single tone tile colours that are cooler, such as greys or whites
  • Dark vanities make a strong statement and attract visual attention, use with care
  • Coloured vessel sinks, also known as above counter basins, look good with white bench tops or suspended white benches, otherwise a white basin looks good with everything or black suits a few colours

The London” 1800mm wall hung vanity with double basins and a cherry pie carrara marble top against a single tone feature wall

Taps and shower screens (frame and fixings) have historically been chrome; a silver colour, generally bright and glossy, though you may have seen older bathrooms with white or gold tapware. The shower glass is generally clear, though you may also have tinted, frosted or otherwise creative designs.

Today, taps come in a variety of colours & finishes, the most common being chrome, matte black, brushed stainless steel, brushed nickel, brass (aged, rustic & brushed), rose gold, gunmetal and gold (brushed or polished). Each can work with your bathroom design, and it’s trendy to use these colours quite creatively and boldly.

A quick list on what’s in-style when using a particular finish:

  • Bright chrome remains the most popular finish, it works with almost any bathroom design
  • Matte black is a bold colour, best used to contrast with light coloured tiles, works well with almost any neutral tile design
  • Brushed chrome, nickel or stainless steel are trending due to the ability to show less water marks, you can use these finishes almost anywhere like bright chrome
  • Brass tapware look fantastic in a themed bathroom designed with fitting a particular era, works great in industrial, steampunk, outdoor, mid-century and old English themed bathrooms
  • Rose gold is best used in simple two tone bathrooms, it can look fantastic with black and beige
  • Gunmetal is a finish that is quite neutral but dark, best used with complementary light gray hues throughout
  • Gold finish tapware look best with light marble colours throughout the bathroom, and can also work with white and black schemes. It can be risky to use gold with other colours.

You can also get two-tone taps, the most frequently seen ones use black. Black and chrome, black and rose gold and black and brass/nickel are popular. These work really well with contrasting colour over a light coloured single tone tile.

Accessories and grates are now available in most of the finishes you can get tapware in. For example, you can get gold accessories that match gold tapware through most suppliers which sell that finish. You can even get coloured vanity wastes and overflow rings!

For floor wastes, tile insert grates reign supreme, and these are most frequently chrome or black. If you opt to use tile insert grates, keep in mind you will only see a very small perimeter around the tile in the floor, so colour is not too important, hence chrome coloured grates are still a hot commodity.

There are other fittings and fixtures to look out for, especially if you are getting feature lights, keep the principles from earlier in mind and find looks that match everything else you like and you will find it easy to choose the best fit.

Decorating a single tone grey colour scheme bathroom with bright orange towels and colourful flowers. Black bath and fittings work well with the grey.

Colourful towels and plants can make your room pop a little more

Currently, the most prevalent colours in contemporary bathrooms are whites, grays, beiges, blacks or browns, as all of these colours are neutral, easy to work with and often work well with the rest of the house. Neutral colours can be important for a colour scheme as tiles are “hard fixings”, meaning you won’t want to be changing them often and so the final colours you choose will be quite permanent and lasting. You can also dress up your bathroom with more colour, using items such as towels, plants or nice features to make your room pop a little more.

In many cases it’s also handy to match the rest of the home, or at least avoid clashing with it. Having a nice modern look is integral to making your bathroom attractive and lifting the feeling of those who use it.

You want your bathroom to appear inviting, look larger and neatly fit in with the rest of the home, so it’s nice to see that 2016 trends are showing a better understanding of what makes a bathroom’s colour influence these goals. Here are the trending colour schemes and why.

Bathroom Designs & Colour Schemes that are Trending in 2018

The Concrete Bathroom Look

The industrial and polished concrete looks are big hits. Familiar, cooling tones associated with the colour combine elegantly with the smoothened tile textures to create a pleasant “big place” feel, similar to industrial warehouses we’ve seen. The colour is very neutral and works with most homes. It’s also flexible for matching with bolder colours, so feel free to use bright and vivid towels.

This look goes very well with matte black tapware, you will make a big impact! The more grey the colour, the cooler the ambiance. For a pleasant bathroom you may dress this colour scheme up with nicely matching timber-coloured accents, such as for the bathroom furniture, architraves and little features to add a bit of warmth.

Bathroom Colour Schemes That Work With White

White with some colour is one of the timeless bathroom colour schemes. Chances are its never going away! White is a pleasant and bright colour that ensures the bathroom looks large, open and inviting. White matches everything, so feel free to pick a suitable splash colour that you enjoy.

Neutral tones are typically the “safe” option and less aggressive than the bright blue’s, greens and reds that are so prevalent in older bathrooms. The most common trend sees white being used as the predominant wall tile, whilst the floor is often ran up a feature wall or used with a feature strip to break it up.

Sky Blue Greys

We love the beautiful sky blue marble feature wall

Sky blue gray tile

A sky blue gray tile close up – the faint blue is hard to see in a photo

Did you know that blue is the favourite colour of more than 1 in 3 people? Moving into 2019, expect to see a lot of greys with a very slight to slight bluish hue. Sky blue grey is noticeably different to the greenish tinge that most industrial concrete look tiles imitate and adds a little coolness that people love. Its nice to be subliminally reminded of a soft blue sky as you walk into a bathroom, so its no surprise that this is the new emerging trend.

Sky blue greys combine the flexibility and neutrality of grey with the popularity of blue to create an open, inviting and gentle ambience that may be easily matched with richer splashes of coloured accents. Combine it with a complimentary tile colour for a hot two-tone look and spice it up with warmer accents, such as timber coloured.

Timber Hues

Tiles that look like timber make a beautiful feature wall

Traditionally, timber has been difficult to use in the bathroom. It’s not as resilient to water as tiles and its certainly much easier to scratch when you knock it with your hair straightener or blow dryer. Timber has still remained a popular choice in other parts of the home, so perhaps it’s no surprise that tiles that imitate timber have been a hit in bathrooms. The possibilities for bathroom colour schemes with timber hues are seemingly endless!

The most popular trend has the rich textured timber look tiles as a floor and feature wall, whilst keeping the rest of the walls a simpler colour. Because of its strong, bold look, timber is most often combined with one or more other colour tones for a multi-tone bathroom design.

Update Your Bathroom to Look Modern Without Renovation – 7 Great Ideas

Update Your Bathroom to Look Modern Without Renovation – 7 Great Ideas

By ATS Team, Last updated on August 7th, 2018

Create a Modern Bathroom Without Renovation
You may want to improve the look of your bathroom without spending so much on a complete bathroom remodel.
On one hand, typical old school methods like re-surfacing are costly and not suitable for the long term whilst on the other hand a complete renovation can be a fairly large investment that you’re not ready for.
Is it a good idea to freshen up your bathroom on the cheap? Should you paint your tiles, resurface the bath and change the vanities kickboard?
You are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and need to update your bathroom on a budget…
The good news is that it is possible to cheaply improve the look of your bathroom without spending a fortune. Low cost bathroom updates can make a bathroom look more modern in a surprisingly affordable way! You will need to de-clutter, refresh tired looking parts, conceal what you can, and apply a few other techniques and ideas.
Keep in mind however…
You have to be realistic about expectations on how good the bathroom will look, this won’t be the same as a full renovation! You are quite limited when it is not possible to remove all of the hard fixings such as flooring, sheet walls and PC items.
In this article we list some nifty strategies to update and freshen up the look of your bathroom in a cost effective manner.

To make your bathroom immediately look better – Reduce the number of non-fixed old things!

The first step to create a modern bathroom without renovating is to start eliminating as much “filler” items in the bathroom as possible or any items that seem to be idly taking up visible space.

This is quite important, because a bathroom that looks tired and in need of an update often has a few dated looking “soft fixtures”, essentially anything that isn’t a hardware fitting so that means not your toilet or bath tub. Some examples include an old towel stand, a freestanding little cabinet from the 80s or a suction mounted toothbrush holder which has stained yellow.

Its common for older style homes to have unusual things such as a side extension for a vanity, rugs on the toilet, a tray running along the shower (that you never seem to need or use) or a bath caddy you haven’t needed since your youngest child moved out a few years ago.

It doesn’t help that these items are often as old as the bathroom itself, and show visible signs of use and wear. You can do your best to take out or change a lot of these items to freshen things up a little in your bathroom and open up some space to get creative. It goes a long way towards making your bathroom look better without actually renovating.

If you can reduce the amount of extra items in the bathroom that are rarely if ever used, it makes your next bit of work easier whilst also making the room more attractive.

Quick bathroom improvement – if it can be concealed, conceal it

This bathroom needs a de-clutter.

In older bathrooms, its very common for your bathroom essentials to have little space to be stowed away in, most items end up:

  • sitting on the vanity top (toothbrushes, soap, hair gels, shavers, etc)
  • inside and along the bottom of the shower (shampoo products, body scrubs)
  • sitting on or near the towel rails (such as blow dryers)
  • or lined up along the bath wherever you could fit it.

If its possible to fit in a new small cupboard, you won’t need to renovate your bathroom to conceal a lot of these things, and this will make a big impact on the look of your bathroom. A bathroom that is less cluttered will start to look better, and it helps before we move on to the next step.

A modern look means fresh paint, but is it a good idea to paint the bathroom tiles?

A touch up on any old paint work will make a big impact. By repainting parts of the bathroom that could use it, you also get the opportunity to change up colours to a neutral or pleasant blend that is more conducive towards a fresh modern look.

Its very common for older bathrooms to have walls that might need a bit of work. It’s amazing what changing your old bathrooms flaking blue walls to a fresh white colour can do to lift the look of the room.

Painting the non-tiled parts of the wall is fine, but painting over tiles is generally more expensive as it requires specialty paint. It doesn’t help that even tile specific paint isn’t very good at sticking to most tiles, and will scuff very easily, unless it is very expensive!

That’s not to say painting over tiles is a bad idea, its simply expensive to get the look you want and your money might be better invested into other aspects of freshening up the bathroom!

Painting over tiles also generally looks cheap, has an undesirable odour and can actually detract from your goal of freshening up the bathroom. Most bathroom tiles, generally ceramic or porcelain tiles, are better off being deep cleaned rigorously with an appropriate cleaner. You can also clean the grout or rake it out and re-apply, though this can also be expensive. We recommend not to paint over tiles unless you have to, though keep in mind that in a lot of cases, it costs about as much to just simply re-tile over the existing tile!

Some parts of the bathroom, such as the vanity, might also have flaking bits that may or may not be paintable, so keep this in mind when doing the bathroom re-paint.

If you have a wall mounted mirror in your bathroom, it’s a good idea to change the mirror

Wall mounted mirrors are remarkably simple to remove and replace, a new plain mirror is very affordable and will make a noticeable change to the look of your bathroom.

Old mirrors generally have edges and corners where the film has been compromised with dark black or brown looking marks.

Everyone who uses the bathroom will at some point be looking at the mirror, so its a valuable bit of real estate that may be changed up to lift the look of your bathroom and make it more modern. Mirrors that are built into the wall, flush with the tiling work, are more difficult to replace, so this tip generally applies to mirrors which have been installed over the wall.

Deep clean the grout, or if possible, re-apply new grout

Grout is perhaps the one thing, above all others, that may make a bathroom look old and outdated. A grout touch up will make a huge impact, so the time spent doing it is certainly worth it.

We mentioned before about deep cleaning tile and grout, it is always a good idea to clean, renew or otherwise change your grout to make your bathroom look better.

If you like, you can get a professional to scrape out the old grout and re-apply the new, or you may do it yourself with a grout removal rake to scratch out the grout as well as the grout applicator tools to re-apply.

It might also be possible for you to simply do a deep clean on the grout with a strong grout cleaner, and remove any excess gunk to really lift the look. Remember strong grout strippers, such as those that are acetone based, will need to be applied with a fine brush between the tiles and avoid getting the harsh chemicals on any bathroom fixtures.

It is likely very easy to replace your existing shower

Most showers, whether they are the rail showers with a hose and handheld piece or the fixed shower head protruding from the wall, or even the combination showers that have both an overhead and hand held shower are quick and easy to replace. This might not be intuitive because the water has to come from behind the wall, but it is the shower taps that are harder to replace, and may require professional assistance. The shower itself is essentially just a part that allows the water to shoot out.

It can make a big difference in particular to your showering experience to update your old shower to a new one, so a new shower goes a long way towards making your bathroom look good without renovating.

To replace your shower is as simple as unscrewing the existing shower from the connection point, called a water inlet and removing any parts of the shower that may be drilled to the wall. You can find a few guides to go through more detail for removing the existing shower pretty easily.

If you have holes drilled into your wall tile, its generally possible to also find shower’s that are designed to be easily “retrofitted” in a way that covers those holes.

The best part about replacing your old shower for a new one is that if you were to decide to renovate down the line, its easy to simply detach the shower and re-attach it after the renovation, your potential future bathroom remodel might be slightly cheaper than you expected!

Other steps to achieving a modern bathroom, without renovating

There are a few more bathroom fixtures that may be replaced with new updated ones. Some like the vanity or the toilet may even be re-used if you do decide to renovate in a few years. Others, such as your wall mixers or basin taps, either will be impossible or impractical to change. Following the steps listed above can cost no more than a few hundred dollars, whilst substantially lifting the look of your bathroom.

How to Make Your New Bathroom Easy to Clean by Design – 5 tips

How to Make Your New Bathroom Easy to Clean by Design – 5 tips

By ATS Team, Last updated on August 7th, 2018

Because scrubbing your old bathroom on a Saturday is not something you enjoy.


Left: What we’re very familiar with
Right: Good looking and easy to clean!

Keeping a bathroom easy to clean can be very valuable:

Saving time, reducing cleaning headaches, keeping it mold-resistant, hygienic and ensuring you get to do better things.

Modern, low maintenance and easy to clean bathroom design can be pretty simple, for both renovations and new homes.

Imagine having a mold free, pleasant looking, fresh smelling bathroom! It’s certainly possible..

Lets start with the first principle of cleanliness:

What should you avoid having in the bathroom?

Reduce the yucky things with your bathroom design

It’s not fun spending time cleaning your bathroom, grout can get really moldy in the shower, the shower screen keeps collecting grime, and getting in behind the toilet to scrub is certainly not something we aspire to do. It doesn’t help that most existing bathrooms have undesirable features such as:

  • Floor standing vanities with stained, water damaged edges where the cabinet meets the floor.
  • Toilets with plastic cisterns that discolour in a matter of days, becoming an unpleasant shade of yellow after so many years.
  • Heavily framed shower screens that seem to be a magnet for grime, moulding and stain build up, especially near and around the frame.
  • Very small tiles, and thus excessive grout, another magnet for grime and stains.
  • Weak exhaust systems that can hardly extract a puff through their dust clogged vents, let alone moisture, so it settles where it shouldn’t.

Not a very pretty sight

Other unpleasantries also spring to mind whenever we think of a tired bathroom, due for a facelift, so it is a great idea to make sure you are proactive about the next bathroom having as little as possible to worry about.

We all love low maintenance bathrooms, and hopefully good looking ones too. Here are 5 ways to make your new bathroom much easier to clean.


Leslie & Tony’s bathroom pictured above has a lot less to clean than most bathrooms.

  1. Less is More

The best way to approach creating an easy to clean bathroom is to start with the fundamentals, perhaps best summarised with the phrase: Less is more.

It couldn’t be truer for clean-friendly bathroom design. The less corners, ridges, edges, seams, grout, touch-points, cluttered space, the less there is to clean! This means for modern, easy clean bath design, the first step you can take is to find and fit products that have less to worry about.

As a general rule of thumb, the simpler the product and the more seamless, the better it is for cleaning. Another good rule of thumb is to avoid narrow, hard to reach spots. Here are some tips:

  • Many modern toilets sit parallel to and against the back wall, these are called “wall faced” or “back to wall” toilets. The best cleaning benefit of these toilets is reducing the awkward narrow spaces you had to get behind and scrub. To further prevent worrying about those pesky dust collecting bits, aim for straight, seamless sides for a smooth and easy glide surface, this will save you countless minutes of your life each time you clean.

The tiffany toilet, on display at our showroom, ridge free and seamless sides are easy for your hand to glide over.

  • Note: You can take the less is more adage one step further and get a wall faced pan with an in-wall cistern, these contemporary beauties also save significant space.
In-Wall Toilet's are easy to clean

In-wall toilet’s are more than space savers.

  • When it comes to keeping it easy clean, frameless shower screens, walk in shower panels and semi-frameless shower screens have less soap scum, grime and gunk collecting bits to worry about. The glass itself is much easier to clean with less chrome frames or brackets.
    • The more glass you have, and the less chrome touchpoints, the easier it is going to be to wash down the shower screen.
    • Avoid heavily framed screens, and run an exhaust that is capable of reducing moisture build up, this will reduce cleaning demands significantly.
    • If you decide to use a walk-in shower, ensure you have the glass “return panel” offsetting the majority of the shower spray. You may do this by placing the shower opposite the panel. This will result in less of your bathroom being affected by flying soapy water.
    • You can also coat glass with nano-technology coatings to reduce grime, dirt and gunk build up dramatically. these products reduce dirt build-up, making cleaning easier, and will preserve the new look of your showerscreen, the screen will even resist fogging. Some glass screens may be purchased pre-coated, or you can get a cheap DIY set pretty easily from your local bathroom store.
    • A built-in shower niche – also known as a shower box or recessed shower shelf – can be installed to store your shampoos, loofas and soap in a built for purpose area that is quickly rinsed after every shower, reducing the chance of soap sitting on the floor after a shower.
    • It is a good idea to keep a squeegee handy in the shower area. Quickly wiping down your screen after every shower will keep your shower & bathroom looking fresh and brand new for longer.

Maria’s bathroom uses a walk in shower, the best type of shower for cleaning as little as possible.

  • Use freestanding baths. Freestanding baths are generally the easiest baths to clean if the correct type is chosen for your purpose. Its a great way to avoid the extra corners, edges, tiles and grout that usually accompany inset baths. Keep in mind however, if the space is small, chances are you’re going to have more tight, difficult to access spaces to clean. if that is the case:
    • For tight bathrooms, back to wall or back to corner free standing baths will line up nicely with your walls, making them the easiest baths to clean when against a wall. You won’t need to worry about getting in between the bath and the wall in the tighter spots, so it is a great way to get the modern look of a freestanding bath while keeping it easy clean

Deanne’s freestanding bath lines up nicely with the wall, great for making the most of a tight space.


  1. Use larger tiles to reduce grout used

Dirty grout. A vision you probably want in your distant memory.

Grout is one of the hardest parts of the bathroom to clean, sometimes stubborn grout stains will not come out with the strongest acids and bleaches. Grout is especially a problem inside the shower, and grout is perhaps the most difficult part of your bathroom to keep cleaning and prevent from staining.

So why not prevent grout being a problem?

For cleaning & practicality – and also the look – large tiles have many advantages over smaller tiles, perhaps the best advantage relates to the grout. Larger tiles mean less grout, ensuring it becomes less noticeable and the bathroom will hold its look much longer. It is also much easier to seal and protect grout from mold, staining and gunk buildup when there is little of it. The easiest to clean shower walls and floors use large tiles with gaps as small as possible between the tiles. There’s a few tips to make sure you make the most of large tiles:

  • 300 x 600mm (a little under 12″ x 24″) is a good size benchmark for wall tiles as it is reasonably easy to cut and install for your tiler and is a popular and cost effective size. Larger tiles are always better for cleaning, so feel free to go a few sizes larger too.
  • Tiles with a rectified edge, also known as a straight edge, can be installed much closer together than traditional curved edge or cushion edge tiles. Rectified edge tiles present a major advantage over cushion edge tiles for long term cleaning as general grout gaps can be as little as 1-2mm rather than 2-5mm!
  • 300 x 300mm (about 12″ x 12″) is a great minimum size to aim for floor tiles. If you want to go larger than 300 x 300 on the floor, ensure your builder or renovator is comfortable with sloping the floor for water drainage.
  • The best materials to finish a wall and floor for an easy clean shower are going to have as few gaps and seams as possible, hence large tiles are a clear winner. If you really want to avoid grout, you can also use engineered stone panels, stone slabs or back painted glass to reduce the grout lines. Generally the only dis-advantage of using very large slabs (of tile, stone or glass) are the higher costs and more difficult installation.
  • It is possible to get grout joints as thin as 1mm, though most tilers will recommend keeping joints at 1.5mm or more.

Jovan & Vesa went with a beautiful 450 x 900mm tile throughout their bathroom, that’s a lot less grout to worry about!

  1. Open up the space as much as possible

Having more open space can make your bathroom easier to clean! The more open space in your bathroom, the less nooks and crannies there are to collect dust and other nasty bathroom stuff. Open space also looks fantastic and tends to create the illusion of a larger bathroom. Keeping space open can even make a small bathroom look larger. Here are some suggestions to keep your bathroom easy clean and looking as spacious as possible:

  • Wall hung (floating) vanities, cabinets and toilets give you ample space underneath to get in there and do your thing, there are no touch points with the ground. If you want more storage space or are unable to hide the pipework, vanities & tall boys are also available on legs. Legs elevate the vanity cabinet off the ground and this prevents water pooling around the bottom edges, you won’t have issues with cracking panels or mouldy, discoloured grime collecting bits.
  • Toilet pans may also be wall hung, though this might not be possible for some existing bathrooms. If you get a wall hung toilet pan, ask your installer if you can use a p-trap, as this ensures pipework does not show underneath the pan. A wall hung toilet pan with an in-wall cistern is perhaps the best toilet setup-up to ensure an easy to clean bathroom with a spacious and luxurious look.
  • The fore-mentioned walk in showers make a room feel more open. It’s important to keep in mind the trade off with regards to water splashing onto parts of your bathroom you don’t want it to and colder showers without an enclosed shower area. Make sure your open look designed bathroom considers the positioning of the shower relative to the window and bathroom fittings. You can also prevent having cold showers with under-floor and in-wall heating.
  • If you can get away with not using too many cabinets and cupboards in the bathroom, it will make a big impact on the look of your bathroom, as well as adding less to clean! If maximising storage is essential, a tall boy is a great, practical way to store the “everything else” that doesn’t fit in the bathroom vanity. A mirror cabinet, also known as a shaving cabinet, that goes above the vanity can be partially recessed into the wall, ensuring there is less to clean and the bathroom feels larger.

Adrian & Renee used a walk in shower, wall hung vanity and a toilet pan with an in-wall cistern.

  1. Handheld showers, ceramics vs engineered stone, more grout tips, grates and small things you probably didn’t think of.

When it comes to adding extras to the bathroom, it’s going to be the combination of the little things that make the big differences..

.. like a hose shower, also known as a hand shower:

Mimi Hand Shower

A detachable shower with a hose makes washing down shower screens a breeze, it also comes in handy for showering kids or pets in a pinch. You can get handheld showers mounted to the wall individually or included in a twin shower system.

Speaking of the shower, and how to make it easier to clean, you can also improve the grout to get as close as possible to a truly mold free bathroom:

  • Sealing regular grout will ensure that it holds its look significantly longer. An hour or so spent sealing grout will give you quite a few years of resistance to mold build up and discolouration. There are both traditional grout sealers, that reduce the porosity of the grout and newer nano-technology grout sealers, which prevent water and gunk staining at a minute particle level.
  • You can go one step further and use an epoxy grout. Epoxy grout can not be penetrated by water, and therefore you will have a much stronger resistance to discolouration and stains. Epoxy grout once had a bad reputation due to being far too difficult & hazardous to install. Newer blends however have solved all the previous disadvantages of epoxy, making the advantage of an easy clean shower significant! Epoxy grout is the best product you can use to seal gaps between tiles in a shower. The trade off is the cost, and your installer may be put off by it due to poor experiences with older epoxies. If you do choose an epoxy, make sure you rinse the grout after every shower and it might even be the same colour in 15 years!
  • If you want to do away with grout completely, as mentioned previously, there is also the option of making your shower area completely seamless by installing coloured glass or large porcelain sheeting. Keep in mind costs may be prohibitive, installation is more difficult and you also lose the creative design advantages that tiles offer.

Engineered stone, such as Caeserstone and other hybrid quartz based stones, are great to use for your vanity tops. They are designed with wet areas in mind and are non-porous and easy to clean. There are also a few ways to attach your washbasins to them. There’s a few advantages and disadvantages to each type of washing basin.


Teneal’s gorgeous vanity has an engineered stone top, with semi-inset basins. Stunning, isn’t it?

  • Under counter basins. The most popular basins are under counter basins, also known as under-mount basins. The only bits to clean with these basins are right under the ridge of the cut in the stone. You may line the ridge with silicone to make it easier to clean, its easy to cut it out and re-apply when you need to in the future. Perhaps the major disadvantage of basins which are purely under the vanity top is that they tend to require the most internal space within your vanity cabinet.
  • Counter top Basins. The advantage of counter top-basins is predominately space convenience, whether that’s more storage space in the cabinet underneath or taking advantage of less depth required on your stone top. Its also not too bad for cleaning purposes, we recommend a strong silicone to line the bottom, as it will be highly visible and its best to prevent the discolouration as long as possible.
  • Semi-inset basins. These basins fall somewhere between the former two, sitting partially underneath the stone and partially above. Some semi-insets can double up as counter top basins, should you change your mind.
Vanity angle shot

A vanity with a ceramic top is also fairly straightforward to clean, similar to this one in Fran’s bathroom.

A fantastic alternative to engineered stone vanity tops are classic ceramic tops. Its no secret that glazed ceramics are one of the best easy clean surfaces in a bathroom. Ceramics also have a high heat tolerance, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally leaving your heat straightener on and burning it, or hot wax falling on it and causing a permanent mark. It’s a significant upgrade on the acrylic tops that are common in existing homes.

Something you probably wouldn’t usually pay much notice to, are water wastes. There are 4 places wastes are used:

  • Inside the shower
  • Outside the shower
  • Baths
  • Vanities

And you’re probably familiar with seeing hair – and other nasty stuff – stuck in them all the time. There’s ways to get around the hair clogging problem, and the modern solutions to this problem also look very stylish.

Black pop down waste

Black Pop down waste with plug pulled out.

black pop down waste

The pop down has no grill from the inside.

Pop Down Waste

Effective & easy to use

  • Pop down wastes. A new style of waste that has no grill or grate to worry about. The mechanism is designed to be durable, and therefore the patented pop-down comes with a lifetime guarantee. Popping the centre down plugs the hole, whilst letting it sit up allows water to flow. You can also completely remove the central component to allow water to more freely flow. Pop down wastes may be used in the bath and vanity, and are designed to work universally with over-flow or no overflow sinks.
You can use tile insert grates inside the shower.

You can use tile insert grates inside your shower.

  • Tile insert grates. Also known as “smart tile grates”, Tile insert grates are pleasant to look at, and also pleasant for cleaning. On top of the waste sits a square piece with a cut-out tile glued inside. A little gap around the perimeter between the cut out and the body allows water to seep through and into the waste from underneath. Because you don’t step on the grate part from underneath, it doesn’t need to be rigid, making it very easy to remove with your fingers (or the little tool that comes with some tile insert grates) and keep it clean. Tile insert grates may be used on the floor and inside the shower, they’re also available in longer sizes.
  1. A toilet is a toilet – except when it comes to cleaning it

The toilet is sure to be used all the time, spending less time cleaning it is a big deal. Both inside the pan, where you have to get in with the brush and disinfectant as well as outside, where it seems dust and other yucky bathroom stuff settles. We briefly mentioned how you may optimise the look of the toilet, this time lets go a bit more into other things that make it easier to clean.

  • Getting a wall faced toilet pan with an in-wall cistern. This is by far, the best type of toilet for cleaning. Maintenance doesn’t need to be hard either if you are using a good mechanical in-wall cistern such as a Geberit sigma 8. These toilets look good, take up the least space in the bathroom and have the least parts to clean.
  • Rimless toilet suites. Toilet suites with rimless pans are much better for cleaning than the pinprick-holed pans we are used to. In a rimless toilet, the water flushes from a smaller section inside the pan, giving it a cleaner flush as well as giving you less spots to worry about cleaning.

The Resort rimless back to wall toilet has been a best seller – no prizes for guessing why.

  • Removable toilet seats. There are pros and cons of getting seats that are easily removed from a toilet. The most obvious advantage is that it becomes much easier to clean around the seat as well as the seat itself. The primary disadvantage is that the mechanism is yet another thing the kids can damage!
  • Hard cover & flat toilet seats. Apart from being strong and sturdy (seriously, try standing on one), hard cover and flat seats are great for cleaning. Thanks to the very little contact with the pan, you’re much less likely to have a stained toilet seat, so that means less cleaning needed and you won’t accidentally have guests see stuff they shouldn’t. They’re also pretty comfortable to sit on; you get more space when using it. Additionally, make sure you get a scratch resistant seat to preserve its new look as long as possible.


  • A well glazed toilet. Almost all toilets are porcelain glazed with that smooth finish we are so familiar with. But not all glazing is equal. If the glazing isn’t great, over time the toilet may discolour with yucky things. A well glazed toilet will hold its look for longer and is more hygienic and easy to clean than one with mediocre glazing. It’s not always obvious how good glazing is, some general advice is to go with a reputable brand and trust your intuition, usually if it looks good and has a good warranty, it’s pretty good.

Bonus tip: Get good ventilation, and use it!

This straightforward tip is often overlooked. Whether your ventilation is a combination of an exhaust and a window or just a little vented exhaust in the wall, you need to extract the moisture from the bathroom.

Don’t make the mistake of choosing a little exhaust for a large bathroom, not a very good idea if you want to prevent moisture sitting on everything.

You may base your choice of exhaust on the size of your bathroom, just check the extraction rate of the system you purchase and confirm that its suitable for your bathroom size. In a general case, small extraction power for small ensuite bathrooms and bathrooms where the window is large and frequently open, whilst you’ll need more powerful extraction for larger bathrooms or bathrooms with no windows.

Its possible to use some vents close to (or even above) the shower area, this will more directly extract steam and moisture from the most problematic location.

In general, if you’re not doing this already, try and get into the habit of turning on the exhaust before every shower, its incredible how much of a difference this makes long term.

Easy clean bathroom design can be simple

Whenever considering the look of your new bathroom, just remember that simplicity will both make choosing things easier as well as your cleaning easier.

There is no need to add too much, just make better use of what needs to be there!

We made sure to keep this post simple to give you an example of how no-frills it may be.

A parting tip: For every bathroom, both new and old, ensure you use the right products to clean your bathroom without compromising its look and hygienic feel.

As a general rule, avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach wherever possible; the harsh acidity will quickly wear any chrome or mirrors the product comes into contact with.

If you have stubborn grime, always start with cleaning products that are as mild as possible, and work your way up from there.

There are some great dedicated products for keeping your bathroom looking its best, so keep an eye out for our next guide on keeping any bathroom clean, whilst preserving its pleasant look.


Common Bathroom Mistakes when you Renovate or Build, and how to Avoid Them

Common Bathroom Mistakes when you Renovate or Build, and how to Avoid Them

By ATS Team, Last updated on August 7th, 2018

Doing a bathroom can be costly. According to a recent study by the Housing Industry Association (HIA), the average new bathroom in 2015 to 2016 was worth $16 731 whilst the average value of a recently renovated bathroom was $17 779. Unless you can easily afford to throw that kind of money around (I certainly can’t), you’ll probably want to make sure your new bathrooms are done right, so you don’t need to spend more money, or time, to fix things.

Its also easy to get complacent if there are minor inconveniences after dealing with some unexpected side effects of various products. For example, have you ever bought a very pretty and effective tap or mixer, but then after installing it, you realise it makes a loud sound when you open up to a high flow? Yeah I don’t want that problem if it’s in the ensuite right next to my bedroom either. It’s a better problem to have in a designer laundry or an external bathroom.

There are a few bathroom mistakes that frequently occur, so we have listed some, as well as tips to proactively prevent problems

Getting a walk in shower? Ensure your bathroom isn’t super cold.

A walk in shower screen looks awesome and modern and it is super easy to clean. You’ve checked the space it needs against your sketches, and visualised it in the house, and you’re confident that the splashing is no big deal, you have the space. Now make sure your bathroom is warm enough so that your skin doesn’t freeze to “skiing in the swiss alps” temperatures every time you get wet.

For a home that gets cold, especially during our chilly winter nights, and without any additional heating in the bathroom, you’re probably going to have to deal with colder showers due to the exposed opening. We suggest any combination of the following:

  • underfloor heating,
  • heated towel ladders
  • double glazed windows
  • Make sure your room’s heat insulation is done to a top notch standard.

Rectified and non-rectified tiles are not the same size

The reason why the modern straight edge tiles are called “rectified” is pretty simple. Rectified tiles were introduced simply to rectify sizing issues! The conventional slightly rounded tiles that are also known as cushion- or rounded- edge have size variations such that a 300 x 300mm tile might really be 298 x 298mm. Rectified tiles are cut straight from larger tiles with smaller errors in the cut, for example a 600 x 600mm tile might also have a matching 300 x 300mm option with the same shade.

Rectified tiles look fresh and modern but a lot of people do not realise that the differences in sizes between rectified and non rectified add up over many grout lines and will cause issues with alignment between your walls and floor. Make sure if you are using non-rectified floors with rectified walls that you are careful about grout lines. Ask your tiler to choose the right gap sizes for you.

Freestanding baths are beautiful – make sure you can easily clean around yours

This falls into the minor inconvenience category, but its important. You don’t want to put in a freestanding bath that you can barely move every time you need to get in and clean that awkward little bit between the wall and the edge of the bath. To avoid issues with cleaning in the future:

  • Ensure that there is adequate space to move the bath for when you need to clean near the wall
  • Ensure the connecting hose under the bath is long enough to move the bath the distance you need it to move
  • Or: prevent the need to move the bath for cleaning by getting a back to wall bath.

If you’re installing a shaving cabinet, recess it or get a long reach mixer;

If you don’t have a nice large and deep vanity sitting underneath, shaving cabinets use up a lot of space when they aren’t recessed. We strongly recommend getting shaving cabinets only if you are able to recess them, or at least have a mixer underneath with a decent reach. If you accidentally choose a mixer with a short reach, every time you need to wash your hands & face, shave or otherwise use the water so close to the edge of the sink, you risk bumping into the shaving cabinet.

If you have a small shower area, don’t use wall mounted side shelves.

If your shower is 900mm x 900mm or smaller, you might regret cramming the walls with things. To get shelf space, ask your renovator for a small in-wall niche inside the shower. This saves smacking your elbows into hard chrome objects whilst simultaneously giving you a cool looking place to hold shampoo bottles. If you can’t get a niche, get a corner shelf instead, this ensures more freedom of movement.

#40 – Amanda’s Bathroom

#40 – Amanda’s Bathroom

By ATS Team, Last updated on January 31st, 2017

Amanda’s bathroom is the perfect example of the ingenuity and creativity of today’s trends. A dark porcelain floor contrasts against the walls bringing warmth and unifying the environment. Great use of first-class coatings and avant-garde design to create a stunning bathroom, well done Amanda!

Amanda’s bathroom is the perfect example of the ingenuity and creativity of today’s trends. A dark porcelain floor contrasts against the walls bringing warmth and unifying the environment. Great use of first-class coatings and avant-garde design to create a stunning bathroom, well done Amanda!

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