Because you want the best of whats trending in bathroom design & a look that will not date poorly.
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.
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
Baths: 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.
Toilets: 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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
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 with plug pulled out.
The pop down has no grill from the inside.
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
There are a few Australian bathroom brands that have almost reached household name status. Recognise the name Caroma, or perhaps Fowler? Chances are you do, because the little logo appears on many older toilets, so you may have seen one every time you needed to pee.
We all recognise the importance of a brand name, it is important that a strong bathroom brand delivers satisfaction and peace of mind. Over the last 16 years we have been listening intently to customers and seeing what bathroom brands have been consistent with their quality of product and promises. We hand-picked a few promising bathroom brands that have proven to be fantastic in their respective categories.
Decina is one of the few Australian companies that still makes baths in Australia. That’s pretty neat, considering the vast majority of Aussie-sold baths are produced in China. Decina has been around since 1989, and has already become one of the most dominant players for baths, both free standing and inset. You can be sure their baths do not skimp on glazing quality and are very well built. Chances are, in 15 years, your bath will look very close to brand new. Decina is one of the bathroom brands that builds great shower screens too, particularly useful if you’re looking for a shower bath combo, as they have designed them to install almost effortlessly with their baths.
A Kiwi brand, Methven has been making quality showers with a certain promise: They will guarantee their showers for life, and that is actual life, not “15 years”. In other words, they will swap it if there are any product issues as outlined in their warranty. Their showers are leaders in the category, and have cool features that work surprisingly well with Australia’s strict water usage standards. Their mixers are world class too, with some high end options offering innovative and unique features such as “evenflo”, a technology that prevents the shower scalding you when another tap is opened. Methven’s tapware all have a 15 year products and labour warranty, great for a set & forget experience. We’re most partial towards Methven for their showers and kitchen/laundry mixers.
An ever-emerging brand, Phoenix Tapware has been a popular choice for those looking for trendy design in their bathrooms. Phoenix invests in finding out what styles, finishes, shapes and sizes the market is most interested in and caters towards the hottest trends. For example, they were one of the first brands on the market to release matte black tapware. They also have an affinity for design awards, winning several. As of writing this post, Phoenix have pioneered brushed nickel and gun metal finishes for tapware. To maximise the ROI for the look of your hot, flash, new and trendy bathroom, you need to check out Phoenix’s offerings.
Timberline does one thing really well: customisable cabinetry. Seriously, we like to say choosing Timberline for cabinets is like choosing Apple for laptops. Vanities, tall boys and shaving cabinets are their forte, but they have recently started diversifying into other product lines too. They have a pretty diverse catalogue that’s certainly worth picking up. They’re serious about their quality control, warranties and design. You’re going to be hard pressed finding any faults – minor or major – in the design, finish and workmanship of their products.
When you install a toilet, you don’t want it to have issues later on. I mean, we want toilet problems out of sight, out of mind don’t we? Thats why we say “a toilet’s a toilet”, right? Our culture loves minimalism in design when it comes to toilet sanitary ware, pretty much saying “leave the fancy toilet features and functions to the Japanese”, unless of course, it helps us clean it easier. Geberit focuses on what’s important to Australians and that’s why they have been so well received. We really like Geberit. They’re so good at doing [concealed] toilet cisterns, that’s pretty much all they need to sell in Australia. The Swiss company exemplifies the attention to detail and design that the country is famous for. Our customers like Geberit so much we’re including them in this list despite the fact that they do such a niche and specific product line. Just add a pan of your choice and voila, you have an amazing toilet!
Choosing the right bathroom renovator or builder for your new bathroom is a big deal, but not an easy task. The best renovators are the ones who are reasonably priced, easy to communicate with and get the job done well, with no major issues arising in the future.
Bathroom renovator traits may be difficult to discern if you’re only briefly meeting someone when they come out to quote, so here are a few key things to look for to make it easier and to ensure your new bathroom renovation is a great experience.
A Good Bathroom Renovator Must be Reliable and Easy to Communicate With
It is important that any renovator you choose displays reliability and is easy to talk with before you ask them to commit to the work. If there is difficulty in communicating or there is a lack of consistency from the builder or renovators end, there is an increased chance that this may permeate into the project, and some things may not go as you expect. For example, if the renovator assures you that they will send a quote to you by a particular time, hold them accountable to that and let them know if they do not.
Be sure that you feel comfortable in dealing with the builder or renovator too, and be confident in both asking them for advice and asserting what you would like to see with your completed bathroom. After all, you’re the one that has to live with the results of the finished work!
Do a Licence Check with The Department of Fair Trading
Every licensed renovator or builder will gladly give you their license number, so it is simple to do a quick license search with the Department of Fair Trading. The exact process for the search may vary from state to state, but a quick google search should point you in the right direction. In NSW the check may be done here.
The license check will give you valuable information, such as any negative issues that may have arisen in the past, and you may see how these have been resolved. It might sound simple, but it’s crucial also to confirm that they are legally able to do the work that you would like to contract them to do, and the check will also give you important details about the scope of work they can perform under that license.
Ask for tips, and also be firm with what you’re looking for from your bathroom renovator
A good bathroom renovator will freely give advice on what you can do in your situation and will offer workarounds for when it’s hard to give you exactly what you would like. It is in this case that you may decide whether the cost of the workaround is worth it to you. For example, customers frequently want large tiles in the bathroom, and there are possible ways to do this on the bathroom floor, even in a tight space where the drainage is an issue. Make sure you ask for advice from each renovator you invite out for a
For example, customers frequently want large tiles in the bathroom, and there are possible ways to do this on the bathroom floor, even in a tight space where the drainage is an issue. Make sure you ask for advice from each renovator you invite out for a quote, and compare and contrast what each one tells you.
The best renovators will offer you advice that fits your most important goals, so be sure to let them know the main outcomes you want from your bathroom, whether that is a specific look you’re going for, or a specific use of the space, or something else important to you. It’s your bathroom, so at the end of the day be sure to do it in a way that it suits your goals!
Compare apples with apples
When comparing the quotes, write down bullet points about what each quote is offering and compare them at that basis. The best renovators will include a scope of works in their quotes that let you know exactly what they will be doing and make it easier for you to compare apples with apples, rather than apples with oranges.
If you know exactly what it is you want, be sure to request this in writing to each renovator and ask them to reply with an updated quote that matches exactly what you need. The less room there is for misinterpretation, the better the chances of your bathroom coming out exactly as you want and the better the chance that you are fairly comparing the different renovators before choosing the right one.
Feel free to reply to a quote asking for more specific clarification or ask for any change that you feel it needs; this will allow you to make better a comparison and choice downstream.
Ask about past work, including asking for photos, testimonials, or a chance to see the work in person
Most renovators or builders will be more than happy to show you past work, such as photos of work they have done, or refer you to some of their past customers where you may ask about their workmanship or reliability. Workmanship is of particular importance, for example, poorly laid tiles will make a noticeable difference to the look of your bathroom for many years to come.
The best renovators are found through word of mouth, and the best renovators are easily vetted through that way as well, so feel free to ask others that have worked with the renovator in the past about the good side as well as the not so good.
For example, you may ask what some of the best traits of the renovation were, and what were some of the more challenging or less desirable aspects of the renovation or of dealing with the renovator.
There have been unique trends in new bathroom design in 2016, as well as the continuation of some design styles adopted from previous years.
People’s goals have not changed, with the vast majority of people wanting their bathrooms to look modern, feel good and look larger. The majority of trends have an impact that mirror these goals. Here is a brief discussion about a few bathroom design trends for 2016.
Unorthodox Tile Patterns are a New Bathroom Design Trend (again!)
About 20 years ago, it wasn’t too uncommon for a tile to be laid in a diagonal pattern, with a square lay border going around the sides of the room. You may have seen the odd brick pattern wall, or even a herringbone pattern kitchen splash back.
Perhaps one of the more difficult designs from that era was French pattern tile lay, popular for large main floors or outdoor areas around pools. Middle Eastern and Asian influence had also led to a surge in popularity for large decorative features in the middle of a floor, which was involved and costly. These ways to lay tiles were more complex and time consuming than the simple “glue, slap down” process of regular tile lay.
It felt like suddenly these unorthodox ways to lay tiles had disappeared. But unorthodox seems to come back just as suddenly. Herringbone lay wall tiles have become increasingly popular for bathroom feature walls, the re-emergence of hexagonal tiles has led to an increase in diagonal format lay, whilst tilers are being encouraged by their clients to come up with more and more creative lay patterns.
These trends may probably have been influenced by the popularity of timber look tiles and hexagonal tiles, two types of tile that typically require being laid in a non-straight or non-aligned manner we do not typically see for the popular rectangular tiles. It looks like creative tile lay is here to stay!
Showers are Getting Bigger
One of the truest trends of the recent past has been an increase in the demand for larger and larger homes, leading to the large swathes of suburban “McMansions” as people moved away from the tight squeeze established areas and the inner west and inner-city terrace homes. Originally these homes were really large, however as demand for limited land space has risen, the average plot and home size has come down.
The first consequence for bathrooms was that the size would proportionally come down as well, as most people did not want to compromise the space of the living areas. This led to everything in the bathroom becoming proportionally smaller, the vanities, the baths, the shower screens, etc. But whilst a toilet could take up less space if it had an in-wall cistern, or a bath could be small enough so that kids can use it, as the adults rarely did, or a vanity could sacrifice a bit of space, the shower area was a prized place, where space couldn’t be compromised.
Expectedly, the very short-lived era of small, tight squeeze shower screens has all but died, with more demand for larger shower areas. There is a strong demand for enough space to have freer movement, where it is possible to move around more comfortably, rather than accidentally knocking an elbow on the shower mixer, squatting down uncomfortably to grab the dropped soap, or scratching an ear on a shelf.
Matte Black is Still King of the Alternative Look, But More Options are Becoming Available
Matte black has been a huge hit for tapware and accessories finishes since its introduction. Iterative improvements to matte black have kept it popular despite the original “flaking issue” of the early powder coated versions. Now, wear and tear is almost a non-issue, with electro-plated matte black setting the new standard. Only cheaper versions of matte black products still have the flaking issue, as powder coating is cost-saving. Electrolyte plating the finish has proven to be more durable and established a stronger customer confidence in the alternative look (or at least alternative to the smooth gloss chrome that is prevalent in most bathrooms).
After the success of matte black, there has been growing experimentation with other finishes, including: brushed nickel, commercial look brushed steel, coloured gloss, and finally rose gold. In particular the brushed look of stainless steel and nickel have been picking up in popularity whilst the very new rose gold finish has begun as a great hit. It will be interesting to see what finishes become the next equivalent to gloss chrome, or perhaps gloss chrome will be the dominant choice for a long time yet.
It’s possible to make your small bathroom look large, it doesn’t need to be the tiny space encroaching room you’re probably used to. Here are 7 small tips you can use to make your small bathroom look larger.
Lighter Colours Make the Room Look Larger
Using a lighter colour scheme, particularly for the wall tiles, will help make your small bathroom look large. As a general rule of thumb, lighter shades make the room feel more open and inviting, while darker colours trade the illusion of space to create more of a bolder statement.
Avoid “breaks” in the tile design to make the tightest space look spacious
When laying your tiles, if you have a tight space, its advised to avoid using too many vertical feature lines (also known as breaks) running up the wall. Each time one is used, it breaks up the room a little more. Another common “break” is the top of the bathroom walls being painted, whilst the tiling only goes to a certain level. Especially in a tight space, tiling to the ceiling will make the room look larger. While these breaks are great for larger bathrooms, they will tend to make an already small bathroom look smaller.
Use larger tiles, this will create the illusion of a larger bathroom
There is a common myth that large tiles do not suit small spaces, this is only true to the extent that some large format tiles may cause too much cuts to be needed on a small wall. Try going with tiles as large as you can get away with before the cuts look silly, as larger tiles will make your bathroom look suggestively larger.
Tile horizontally, and to the ceiling
When tiles are laid horizontally, and to the ceiling, the bathroom looks wider and more spacious. Compare this to a vertical laid tile, which tends to make the ceilings look taller but the space tighter.
A minimalist design will make the room look larger
The more “filled” a room is, the more cramped and tight it looks. Avoid filling out your bathroom with too many things, find ways to fit less in your bathroom rather than more and the larger looking bathroom effect will be visible instantly! Some examples might include avoiding using a long tallboy in your already small room, or using a corner shelf in the shower rather than a side shelf.
Fit out your bathroom with items designed to save space
This will have a big impact, some examples of products designed to save space include: toilet pans with in-wall cisterns, freestanding baths, shower panel screens, wall hung vanities, building niches in the shower to prevent needing on-wall shelves and recessing shaving mirror cabinets. The more of these items you are able to use, the larger your bathroom will look.
Store more of your bathroom essentials in concealed places or outside the bathroom
One of the biggest culprits for an already small bathroom looking even smaller is clutter. When towels are stored on visible shelves, shampoo’s, soaps and toothbrushes are left out and the spare toilet rolls are sitting on the window sill, the small bathroom will look even smaller. You can make your small bathroom look large by concealing as much of these as possible, or even storing some items outside the bathroom. An example might be leaving only one or two towels in the bathroom and storing the rest in another room.
That awesome feeling when you first walk into a clean, fresh smelling new bathroom is pretty nice.
It’s a shame it gradually loses its “new bathroom feeling” kinda like the family car lost it..
..but it doesn’t need to!
You can keep your bathroom looking new and clean, and it doesn’t need to be time consuming. In fact, this will save you a lot of time. Keeping things fresh definitely has perks.
Ensuring your bathroom stays clean has historically not been an easy task, how many times have you spent your valuable Saturday scrubbing in the shower? For a good looking and clean bathroom feel, there’s a few steps you can consistently follow to make those Saturday scrubs a thing of the past.
Tip 1: Protect vulnerable surfaces
Keeping your bathroom clean starts with giving a little extra protection to the vulnerable parts, in particular the grout, glass and chrome parts. These surfaces are both highly exposed to stain causing things and vulnerable, staining quickly. Its nice to prevent the build up of yucky things rather than trying to remove them each time, so use grout sealers and liquid glass and chrome coating liquids to repel water, soap scum and other stain causing microbes.
Keep those nice surfaces looking new
Sealing and protecting the vulnerable parts of your bathroom won’t cost much and will often preserve the pleasant look of your bathroom for a few years before needing re-application, quickly returning the value for your small investment. If you would like to learn more about glass, grout and chrome protection, try this guide.
Tip 2: Avoid bleaches and other, strong acidic base cleaners.
Bleach is really good at getting the job done, buts its also very acidic and may make your bathroom artificially age very fast by stripping out colour as well as rusting various parts of the bathroom. The most vulnerable parts of the bathroom are the chrome items, as the acidity will often lead to rapid oxidisation of the surface and cause rust build up.
Any bathroom furniture tainted by the bleach, such as vanity cupboards or shelving will quickly discolour, causing unpleasant light shades of colour patches we do not miss from our old bathrooms. Keep your bathroom clean, and keep it looking good, by using mild detergents or hot water to wipe surfaces. Try to minimise the use of bleach and other acidic compounds as much as possible.
Tip 3: Using eucalyptus oil with disinfectant to mop or wipe tiles
Using nicely scented eucalyptus extract oil with your hot water and disinfectant will ensure mopping your tiles is more hygienic and smells good. Eucalyptus is anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral and even a deodoriser. It may also be used to clean the walls inside the shower, so you will easily get a nice clean bathroom out of one mopping bucket.
A big advantage of investing in property is the passivity, you typically don’t need to be too pre-occupied with maintaining the building, or at least that’s the ideal outcome…
Key Tips for a Cost Effective, Durable and Attractive Bathroom.
The Reno Should be Cost Effective
It should be easy putting together a bathroom, especially if you need a quick, convenient, pleasant cosmetic upgrade that doesn’t break the bank for your investment property. Keeping costs as low as possible helps keep more in the kitty for the next project, but how low is too low?
You don’t want to get the cheapest floor tiles, only to have to replace 4 cracked pieces in 5 years and have the PM tell you it’s $750 for the fix up because it needs two days work! After checking out the how-to guides on YouTube, you decide to spend your long weekend having a shot at tiling (hoping that you do the job right and the new tiles don’t crack). That Thursday you take off the day from work to check out every local tile store for similar tiles and cannot find a match better than a tile that is about 5 shades too light!
That long weekend is better spent on the family trip you originally planned – before things went south.
Cost efficient bathroom design, if done right, can also be very rewarding over the long haul. This guide will cover some best practice tips on avoiding ruined long weekends, and wasted days off work. Some brief examples of what can be done:
Durable porcelain floor tiles
Even if your tenants threw a house party every other Friday, these are great value to resist cracking, chipping and scratching.
Stiff, toughened, safety glass shower screens
The wildest children, pets or slips and falls will struggle to damage these screens
Water resistant vanity cabinets
No one will look after your vanities like you do, these vanities are a great way to avoid damage from long-term pooled water.
Sealing and protecting the grout, glass, ceramics and chrome in your bathroom
The grout is perhaps the most valuable to seal, but there’s also perks to protecting your glass, ceramics or chrome.
We know investors are looking for ways to save money, save time and ensure they are providing a pleasant environment for their tenants. It’s been such a hotly requested need by our customers, we put together “The Perfect Return on Investment”, a package of bathroom items catered to the investor.
The Cost of a Bathroom has a Time Aspect
Just like many other products, the true cost of a bathroom is its lifetime cost. What does it cost you today? But also, what will it cost you overall? A bathroom may be built today with no issues tomorrow, or in 5 years, or 10 years, or 25 years. In that case, the lifetime cost of that bathroom is pretty consistent with the upfront cost, and probably what we’d first expect it to be.
In some cases however, things may happen which need to be attended to. A leaking shower, a tap replacement, changing the toilet seat, there are many issues that may spring up at you. These problems that need solving downstream will not come with a free solution, usually your time and money is on the line, and it is yet another concern you have to add to all the other problems you need to solve… Wasn’t property investment supposed to be passive?!
You don’t want to keep going back to fix it, or diminishing your yield by spending money again and again on property management fees, whether that’s in 5 months, 5 years or even 15 years.
The Long Term View
As an investor, you would be familiar with running calculations before you bought your property. You need to run calculations on total expected lifetime cost of your bathroom too!
The primary cost is the cost of the new bathroom, for example $20 000. But its also necessary to consider other associated, downstream costs. Every time the bathroom has a bit of a hiccup, and something needs to be fixed, that will cost you either money (paying the PM) or your time (going out there and fixing it yourself) or some combination of your time and money.
Some of the smallest issues a bathroom may have, will still cost at least $100. Let’s look at some common issues tenanted bathrooms may have over the course of 20 years. They have been sorted into groups based on how urgently the solution would be needed.
A leak in the bathroom, be it via the vanity, shower or bath. If the leak is past the tiles and waterproofing, then everything needs to be replaced. Expect to spend the cost of a new bathroom renovation, estimated cost: $15 000+
A faulty wall mixer/wall taps or poor wall mixer installation, where water is now running behind the tiles and the tiles have to be cut out for the repair. Expect to retile a wall, fix plumbing and apply a new mixer, estimated cost: $1 000+
A burst basin mixer hose and/or water is accidentally left running in the vanity. Either scenario causes the bathroom floor to flood, and causes water damage on the vanity, requiring vanity replacement and potentially some other fixes. Estimated cost: $850 – $2000+
An accident happens with the shower screen, causing the glass to break. Hopefully no one is injured! Estimated cost of clean-up and new screen: $1 500+
Less Dramatic Problems
A basin mixer or taps needs to be replaced on a vanity. Estimated cost: $200+
The shower rail/head no longer stays fixed on its own, it keeps drooping down and its very difficult to have a shower. Estimated cost to replace: $150+
Cracked, chipped or broken tiles are showing, definitely need replacing. Estimated cost to fix: $500+
Vanity has had pooled water discolour what was once a nice sheen, or parts of the cabinet have chipped/peeled and it now looks ugly. Replacement cost including installation: $500+
Bath has a few cracks/marks/scratches, you can cover them up pretty easily: Estimated cost to resurface: $50-500+
Toilet has discoloured, and there seems to be parts of it that won’t go back to its original white, no matter how much gumption you use.
Toilet seat and/or its hinges are broken, and you’d be lucky to even find a suitable fit! Estimated cost to replace: $75+
Shower screen and inside the shower area is really really grimy and dirty! Its so bad you need to spend some significant time cleaning it for the next tenant. Estimated cost each time you get a new tenant: $200+
Costly issues that may affect the bathroom are not always predictable, especially when you aren’t the one using it. When it comes to putting together an investor friendly bathroom, the best things you can do are :
Damage Control – if something were to happen, minimise the damage that could be done.
Risk Mitigation – reduce the likelihood of a problem happening
Absolving Responsibility – In some cases, the supplier of a product will cover any costs associated with their faulty product as part of their warranty.
Prevention – Prevent the need to fix/replace something, entirely!
Everything has a price, of course, so you may need to weigh up the pros and cons of the different ways you can reduce the frequency and costs of future contingencies. You also want the bathroom to look nice to attract the best possible tenants, so it would be handy to have some strategies in place to keep the bathroom feeling fresh as well. We briefly mentioned a few tips at the start of this guide, here is a more comprehensive list, sorted by category:
The Build / The Renovation
It is usually safest to organise someone who is responsible for the whole ordeal. If there is a leak down the line, you want to hold one person accountable, the licensed builder or renovator. To be fair, there are cost savings associated with project managing the professional trade work yourself.
The plumbing, waterproofing and the tiles are the most important aspects that need to be quality controlled, if something goes wrong with any of these, it will be very expensive to fix.
Save on wall tiles by using plain, popular or simple colours, such as white.
Most bathrooms have a lot of wall space to cover. Due to their popularity and subsequent mass production, large white wall tiles are very well priced, we do these 300 x 600mm ones for $14.50pm2! Assuming you need about 20m2 of wall tiles, its only $290.
White is also a very easy colour to work with, tends to make your room look more spacious and hygienic and generally pretty easy on the eyes for most people. If you really want to ensure the bathroom looks as great as possible, and holds its look for longer, premium white wall tiles will make a noticeable difference, and go for $26.50pm2, only $240 extra for a typical 20m2 wall space.
Use porcelain tiles on the floor.
Porcelain tiles are a good investment. They go for a price about $10 or more above what you’d expect to pay for a ceramic tile, but considering a typical floor is only about 5-7m2, you can invest as little as $50 extra! For a small bathroom area, its also not unheard of to find some leftover clearance tiles at bargain prices too.
The difference between porcelain tiles and ceramics are mostly in the strength of the tiles and the resistance to chipping, scratching and cracking. A vitrified porcelain will also not show a different coloured biscuit if it is chipped.
Avoid tiles that are not “first quality”, seconds and auction clearance tiles are often irregular, may warp easily and are at high risk of water absorption, discolouring, “orange peeling” and other types of damage, especially in the bathroom where water is everywhere.
NINA 900mm Finger Pull Waterproof Vanity
Consider a water resistant polyurethane coated vanity.
These vanities have a great economical cabinet that is sure to last. We have tried leaving pooled water in our display NINA 900mm vanity for many days in a row and noticed no visible signs of damage, warping or discolouration. The NINA is even guaranteed for 10 years!
As an alternative, investing in an Australian made vanity could make a difference.
It will set you back at least a few hundred dollars more, but most Australian made vanity brands are reputable and offer very attractive warranties, such as a 10 year warranty from Timberline or a lifetime guarantee on anything from Marquis.
Flexispray Krome 1 Function Rail Shower $180.91
We recommend saving on the shower, replacing one in a pinch isn’t too difficult!
A fixed Shower arm and shower rose will go a long way towards minimising risk of needing to replace your shower, as there’s not too many ways it can be played with, and hence damaged. They go for as little as $110 or so.
If you’d like a rail shower, with the adjustable handheld piece, you can get a decent one for pretty good prices. For example the Krome 1f rail shower is only $79 and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee!
Get good wall mixers, it can be expensive to replace these as tiles may have to be ripped out.
Good wall mixers with 15 year cartridge warranties (the functional part that may have an issue) go for as little as $95, such as this Enflair Prisa Wall Mixer.
If you are happy to invest for it, getting wall mixers from a brand where the cost of a faulty mixer is fully accommodated for will save you a lot of hassle if something does go wrong. An example of such a brand would be Methven, who offer a 15 year parts and labour warranty on their wall mixers.
Blaze Basin Mixer $199.00
These are easier and less costly to replace than wall mixers, so it’s a great opportunity to save on these. Most of the time you will want basin mixers to match the wall mixers though.
The main thing that matters in a basin mixer is the cartridge, you don’t want it leaking. Get a nice cost effective one, such as the Enflair Prisa Basin Mixer, with a 15 year cartridge replacement warranty.
One word: Safety Glass, we strongly advise that you ensure you are installing a shower with glass that will not shatter in 1000 pieces if something goes wrong. The last thing you want is someone getting hurt. Luckily most shower screens are now made from safety glass.
If you want a frameless shower panel or screen, 10mm toughened glass is extremely sturdy.
Framed showers are the other option, a simple chrome frame with a pivoting door is a low cost investment that will keep the room looking fresh.
There’s not much to worry about with baths, so choose between the classic inset/drop in baths or a free standing one. Acrylic coated fibreglass is a fantastic lightweight and strong material.
If you’re getting a freestanding bath, make sure you get one with nice glazing. There are many cheaper free standing baths that are more likely to discolour, have “orange peel” effect or just generally depreciate in look faster than a Mercedes that just came out of the dealers depreciates in price.
Stan Back to Wall Toilet Suite
Make sure you use a full china suite, no plastic cisterns! We also recommend choosing a toilet with a fairly standardised seat and detachment mechanism, as that is the part that will most likely need to be replaced in the future. A good, full ceramic and modern looking back to wall toilet can be as little as $250!
We suggest not gimping on accessories. Good, chrome accessories are not much more expensive than those budget $70 packs we see every time we walk through Bunnings. When you consider the fact that they’re much more likely to be set and forget, the extra $60 or so you pay now will quickly be a distant memory.
If you’re keen on a cheap set of accessories, they’ll set you back as little as approx. $40, great if you need to penny pinch.
100m Bermuda Smart Tile Waste $79.00
For an extra $25 or so, you can get stainless steel floor grates, which will resist rust and corrosion much more than the standard chrome plated brass floor grates.
Tile insert wastes, also known as smart tile wastes, may also be pretty cheap, definitely worth considering if you’re going for that modern look.
Preserving the Look
Nano4 Glass Ceramic 100ml $78.90
Yes, we know its an investment property, but a few key sealers and coatings will go a long way towards preserving the look of your bathroom and minimising your time spent cleaning every time you get a new tenant.
Sealing the grout will ensure it resists mould & grime build up while slowing down the rate of discolouration. This is particularly valuable inside the shower!
Coating your shower screen with a nano technology product such as nano4life glass & ceramic care will ensure your tenants do not leave behind a nasty, grime covered shower screen with months of build-up.
Chrome, ceramics and other parts of the bathroom may also be coated to preserve their look for as long as possible.
What About a Catered Package?
If you’re interested in getting a whole bathroom package, delivered to your garage on a date of your preference, then you may check out our “Perfect Return on Investment” package. We have catered it to investors in particular and we are temporarily offering free delivery to anywhere in metropolitan Sydney.
Investor Friendly Bathrooms Ultimately Bring Peace of Mind
How awesome would it be to have a true set and forget experience. You have put together a nice bathroom and are attracting the best tenants. Rather than using up your precious time worrying about the next fix, you are able to strategise at a higher level. You free up your time and head space to plan out your next investment and put your savings towards that rather than another maintenance issue.