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The bathroom is one of the most-used rooms in the home, yet it’s often the most overlooked in terms of design as well. Updating your bathroom can get pretty costly if you’re not careful, so planning ahead and keeping to a budget are the best options for ensuring your account balance doesn’t feel the pinch.

The average cost of a new bathroom is around £3,000, depending on whether you’re starting from scratch, DIY-ing the project and how luxurious you want your bathroom to be. But contrary to popular belief, it is possible to create a stylish and relaxing bathroom space for less than you might think (if you’re willing to think outside the box). Here are some useful tips, tricks and ideas for keeping the costs down throughout your bathroom renovation without compromising on style.

Plan Your Design and Budget

Before you can plan and start gathering estimates, you need to know what you have to work with, so assess your budget so you can plan accordingly. It will also help you determine what you have the money for – will your bathroom update be just the essentials or do you have the money to stylise it and add some decorative touches? Whatever the final figure might be, add between 10% and 20% as a contingency to make sure you’re covered if things don’t go to plan.

Once you have the figures ironed out, you can begin to plan what will be being updated or replaced. Make a floor plan of your current layout and then get as creative as your budget will allow. But bear in mind that the pipes in your bathroom are where they are, so your main fixtures for anything plumbed in will be staying in the same location. To move the pipes means extra plumbing costs, which is added expense from your budget. A good tip for gathering inspiration is to visit a few different bathroom and plumbing showrooms to get an idea what can fit in certain spaces, and help you visualise how your bathroom will look.

While it’s tempting to hand over the work to a professional, this will eat into your renovation allowance very quickly, so it’s best reserved for the jobs you can’t do yourself, or ones that require certification for legislation purposes. For everything else, it will save you a lot of money learning how to DIY the task at hand, as well as adding some skills to your repertoire. Jobs like fitting acrylic sheets, changing towel rails and even fitting floor tiles can all be done with relative ease and are quicker to complete than they first seem.

Go Green With Your Choices

When planning out your renovation, don’t forget to take the environment into consideration when making your choices. From low-flow toilets to water-saving shower heads, there are some great options that will not only help you conserve water but also save you money over time as well. These options often cost the same, if not less, as traditional ones, so you won’t be spending extra to save money.

Another way to renovate in a greener way is by buying used items or repurposing materials. Sites such as eBay or Etsy are great for finding second-hand or up-cycled options that not only make renovating more cost-effective but are also better for the planet and can create a really nice decorative effect. For example, you can find up-cycled canning jars which have been transformed into soap and shampoo dispensers, industrial plumbing that has been repurposed into towel storage and vintage-style medicine cabinets for a retro touch. If you’ve got a creative streak, you can even try making similar products yourself using unused items in your home.

Replace Tiles With Acrylic Splashbacks

Tiles are one area of a bathroom where the cost can really stack up quickly, particularly if you have to factor in labour costs as well. One option to save money while still benefitting from the protective surface that tile provides is to replace tiled areas with acrylic splashbacks. Acrylic sheets can be cut to any size and are light, so they’re easy to fit to the wall yourself to help save on the cost of labourers. You can go as small or as large as you want with acrylic splashbacks, from just around the sink and toilet area, to using them to protect the walls in your shower enclosure from water damage. Acrylic adds a modern touch to any room, making it both functional and stylish.

With a range of coloured acrylic to choose from, it’s an easy and inexpensive way to update your bathroom while still maintaining its stylish décor. It’s also easier to keep clean than tiles, where mould can build up quickly on grout and tile surfaces. Already have tiles that you want to replace? Providing they are secure and provide a flat surface, acrylic sheeting can be fitted directly over the top, saving you time and money. You could even opt for a plastic mirror for versatility in cutting.

Update the Door

Doors often get overlooked when redecorating, but it’s surprising the impact it can make in freshening up the handles or colour of the door. If you don’t want to replace the entire door, you can give it a fresh coat of paint to renew the colour and replace the handle and lock – it will look brand new with much less effort than fitting another door.

Choose Accent Colours

When accent colours are mentioned, it’s easy to just think of throws or cushions, but it is possible to add accent colours to your bathroom design as well. And the effect can be just as impressive. From photo frames on the wall and soap dishes, to towels and shower curtains, there are pockets of opportunity all around your bathroom which can be updated for next to no money and will tie the whole look together.  When choosing a colour scheme, the 60-30-10 rule is a useful guide. 60% of the room should be your main colour, such as white, while 30% is a mid-range colour for areas such as the floor or vanity units. Finally, 10% should be your accent colour – a bolder colour that pops in contrast with the rest of the room.

Want a bolder effect? Create a whole new look by painting the walls with a fresh coat of paint. There are numerous guides online for getting started with painting if you’re new to it and it can be a fun task that will make your old space feel brand new. Whichever colour you opt for, bathrooms are humid so be sure to use a mould-proof paint to prevent mould from developing in your bathroom. Don’t forget to paint the ceiling with the same type of product as well so that your newly-painted room stays looking great for as long as possible.

Refurbish Instead of Replacing

It’s often a knee-jerk reaction to rip out what we have and start again when renovating and updating our homes, but that comes with additional costs that can be better spent elsewhere. Instead of replacing your bath, sink and toilet, why not embrace what you currently have and refinish it for a fraction of the cost? Since it is something of a specialised task, it’s worth leaving it to the experts. But hiring a professional to refinish the tub is still often cheaper than installing a brand new one, plus you don’t have the worry of leaking pipes to contend with as everything is already fitted and ready to use.

Install the Vanity Around the Sink

Vanity units are one of the easiest ways to upgrade your bathroom and the whole project can be completed in a single weekend. It will also add additional storage to the room which is always useful in any home. Make sure you measure accurately, particularly if you’re opting for a larger unit, to make sure there’s enough room for fitting the vanity itself and installing it. Keeping the vanity in its existing position means there won’t be additional expense needed for plumbing to reposition the sink.

Upgrade Your Shower

If your water pressure is low and your home doesn’t have a combi boiler, there’s a chance that your shower isn’t very powerful or revitalising. The cost of installing a new pump is around £250 to increase the pressure, which will improve your showering experience immensely.

Update Your Taps, Fittings and Fixtures

Replacing the fixtures on your sink, bath or shower can make a surprising difference to the overall look of the bathroom, without you needing to spend a fortune replacing the whole suite. You can pick up a set of taps and a new shower head for less than £150 and fit them yourself easily for a freshened-up look that takes next to no time to achieve. You can also update fixtures such as towel rails, medicine cabinets and toilet roll holders to keep everything consistent in style and help to modernise the room as a whole.

When you’re selecting new fittings, think about how they will work in relation to the rest of your bathroom features, such as the colour scheme and whether your décor is modern or traditional. For example, silver tapware is a good way to brighten up the room and reflect more light, and it adds a contemporary finish, while coloured taps are a great way to add a fun and modern element to the room.

But remember to keep it simple. While the number of handles required to change the temperature in your shower and bathtub might not be a priority in your renovation, these parts still add up – put simply, more valves mean higher costs, not just in parts but also in the labour to fit them if you decide to hire contractors. A pressure balance valve with a single handle to change both the temperature and water flow is usually a cheaper alternative to a thermostatic valve with two or more handles, so it’s a more cost-effective option that many may overlook.

Use Mirrored Plastic Instead of Glass

Mirrors are essential in a bathroom but finding an inexpensive glass version can be difficult. Mirrored acrylic is a far cheaper option that provides the same reflective quality, as well as being lighter and more durable – a great choice for families who want something safer. Acrylic is shatterproof and will withstand more knocks than glass, so it will last much longer without losing any of its quality. What’s more, it can be cut to virtually any shape, so you can get as creative as your imagination will let you when it comes to choosing the shape and style. The larger you can go, keeping the size of the room into consideration, the grander your bathroom will feel and the more opened-up it will appear – a useful technique to adopt in smaller bathrooms where space is an issue.

Feature Lighting

Lighting is important in a bathroom, as it’s where we do most of our grooming so it’s a worthwhile investment to get this area of the redesign right. Upscale and recessed lighting can leech into the hundreds for installation labour and fixtures, as they require more time and expertise to fit, but individual light fixtures are cheaper and can be fitted more easily. Some even have built in fans for ventilation to help keep the room cool and to prevent the build-up of condensation.

Final Thoughts and Considerations

When planning your renovation, it’s wise to be realistic. As luxurious as your designs may be, if your budget is small, it’s unlikely that you’ll get every upgrade you want. Instead, evaluate your expectations and be realistic about what it will take to achieve them – then you can either space out your renovation over a longer period, so you can afford it, or limit your updates to the necessities to complete your project on the budget you currently have.

Plan your design in detail, as you might otherwise discover mid-renovation that your design won’t work in reality. Before you start working on your bathroom, go over your plans and measurements thoroughly to ensure that everything will fit and that the new design will work in reality as effectively as it does on paper.

Resist the urge to make changes or additions mid-construction as it will cost you more than your budget may allow for and will also add more time to the project. Get plenty of quotes, for both materials and contractors, so you can choose the right ones for your budget. This may mean inviting people round to your home to see the bathroom in person, so that can provide a more in-depth quote which will help you plan your money more accurately. Finally, factor in delays – from materials or equipment not arriving on time to unforeseen plumbing issues, it’s good to take preventative measures to ensure whatever happens, you’re prepared.