How to Easily Design A Bathroom You’ll Love

Deep blue bathroom with a roll top bath

If you’ve never had to think about how to design a bathroom before, it can seem like quite a daunting task. What do you need to consider? How difficult is it to move plumbing? How much space do you need for a shower? And of course, how much is it all going to cost? There is lots to think about! So let’s get into it:

What To Consider When You Design A Bathroom

Bathroom with victorian style floor tiles and a bright yellow wall.
Image: Direct Tile Warehouse

Before you get into the fun stuff, like what colour tiles to have or what kind of sink, you really need to think about what you want from your bathroom; do you need more storage in there? Would a bath instead of a shower work better for you? Or is the whole thing just hideous and needs starting again?(!) Put together a wish list of the things that you want and need to include in your design so that you can start to think about how to design a bathroom layout.

At this point you also need to decide what ‘level’ of transformation you are going for; is it a cosmetic job? – Maybe painting the walls, a new blind and adding a bathroom cabinet for extra storage? or is it a ‘mid level’ job – perhaps changing some elements of the bathroom – a new sink unit, or new flooring perhaps? Or is it a full-on reno? Deciding on a budget is key.

Cost of a New Bathroom

Like anything else, the cost of a new bathroom can vary wildly, depending on a number of factors. Assuming we’re talking about a full reno, the main cost items are likely to be:

  • Demo/removal of all existing bathroom fixtures and fittings and tiles (a great way to save money if your budget is tight is to do this part yourself).
  • Re-plastering, electrics & re-plumbing
  • Painting / decorating
  • New bathroom fixtures and fittings (including taps)
  • New wall tiles / shower boards
  • Bathroom heating and ventilation – this could be underfloor, a heated towel rail or simply a radiator, also an extractor fan
  • Flooring
  • Decorative accessories / finishing touches
  • Labour (this is likely to be the biggest cost!)

Ways to Keep Costs Down

If you’re trying to keep the costs of your new bathroom down, considering doing some of the work yourself is a great way to do this and certainly some jobs are potentially DIY-able. However, doing the work yourself can add considerably to the amount of time it takes – which may be key if it’s your only bathroom!

When thinking about how to design a bathroom layout, if you can minimise the relocation of major pipes, that also greatly reduces the time and costs for plumbing work.

If your bathroom renovation budget is tight, could you re-use some of the old bathroom fixtures? For example there seems little point in replacing a plain white toilet and sink with something very similar?

Tiles can be very pricey, so think carefully about how much of the bathroom you need to have tiled. Alternatively could you use the expensive tiles to make a feature wall, and have cheaper tiles elsewhere?

Finally, bear in mind there may also be additional costs that aren’t immediately obvious, for example if you want to upgrade your shower to a pumped shower, you might need to beef up the size of the hot water tank to do this – potentially a considerable extra cost.

Image: Big Bathroom Shop & Best Heating

Design A Bathroom: Measuring Up

Here in the UK, many of us have very small bathrooms where the opportunities for changing the layout are pretty limited. However that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it! Sometimes just a simple change can make a huge difference. Also consider things like which way a door opens as this can also significantly change the amount of space you have to play with.

So first things first; measure your bathroom to see how much space you have. Bear in mind that you may have a bit more space than you might first think: there are often built out walls in bathrooms to hide pipework – which you don’t necessarily have to keep. You could choose instead to hide pipework inside vanity units and by boxing-in pipes at the bottom of the wall instead if you prefer. Also don’t forget to measure the size of windows, doors etc.

Online Design Tools

Once you have your measurements, there are a number of websites and apps that you can use to play around with different bathroom layouts and designs. My personal favourite is which is free and simple to use and has a really good selection of different sized and shaped bathroom fixtures. It can also take ‘snapshots’ of what you have designed so you can get a really good feel for whether what you have put in will work in the space.

If you are designing a small bathroom, check out my tips and tricks to get the most out of the space. Although it might be tempting to get rid of the bath in a really small space, if this is the only bathroom I would think very carefully about this as it may make your house more difficult to sell in the future.

If you have a larger space to play with (lucky you!) – don’t forget to think about things like lighting – you don’t want to be showering in the dark!

Finally, The Fun Stuff!

Now you have a good idea of what you want, it’s time to think about what styles of fittings and colours of tiles etc. you would like. Because of the expense and hassle, fitting a new bathroom isn’t something most people want to do very often – so choose wisely!

In a small bathroom, very patterned tiles can be a bit overwhelming, especially on the wall and may make the space feel smaller. Very small mosaic style tiles can be difficult to keep clean. In recent years, shower panels such as these have been growing in popularity. These look super quick and easy to fit and also very easy to keep clean. They can also give a range of different effects that you can’t get from tiles – so these may be worth considering as an alternative.

While thinking about how to design a bathroom for the first time might seem daunting, when you break it down into smaller steps hopefully it seems much more manageable – happy designing!