How to plan a bathroom renovation: bathroom design styles and ideas

Check out our ultimate guide to remodelling your dream bathroom on a budget, from picking a bath, shower and basin style to all-important layout ideas

Published: September 17, 2021 at 9:20 am
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Updating your bathroom can feel like a big, complicated job, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. Taking it step-by-step and planning everything you want in advance will help the process to go smoothly. It will also help you to communicate your vision to any tradespeople you’ll need to help you with the job.

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You might feel like having a bath is a deal-breaker, or that having two sinks will save your relationship! Always plan your ideal scenario first, as bathroom design is developing all the time. You might well be surprised by how much of your wishlist you can achieve.

Plan your dream bathroom makeover...

Whether you're after a spa bathroom, a classic style bathroom or an oh-so-Instagramable pink bathroom, you'll need to make sure you have the main bathroom essentials covered. Check out our in-depth guide to the best baths, showers, enclosures and more to make your dream bathroom a reality!

Bath styles

Baths are usually the largest feature of the bathroom, so it’s best to plan this first. Modern designs incorporate clever, space-saving features or flexible options for tap placement. So now it’s possible to fit baths into bathrooms where they couldn’t squeeze in before.

Straight-sided baths

GROHE BauLoop S-size basin mixer, from £83.83 GROHE BauLoop shower mixer, from £90.38, GROHE
GROHE BauLoop S-size basin mixer, from £83.83 GROHE BauLoop shower mixer, from £90.38, GROHE

Straight baths are a smart, affordable choice available in lots of different sizes. These baths are usually acrylic and fitted with feet and bath panels for support. Panels can be fully personalised, so while the shape might be standard, your bath doesn’t need to look basic.

There’s also a shower bath option with a larger section at one end, to make your showering experience more comfortable. This style often comes with an added shower screen too.

Free-standing baths

Tubby Bath on feet, £1756, Albion
Tubby Bath on feet, £1,756, The Albion Bath Co.

If you want to create a high-impact scheme, a free-standing bath will do all the hard work. They’re great for period properties or for creating a vintage look, but they do come with a higher price tag.

They can theoretically be placed anywhere in the room, but it’s always best to consult a plumber to work out how to connect to the existing plumbing.

Corner baths

Wickes Acrylic Right Hand Curved Corner Bath - 1500 X 1000mm, £300, Wickes
Wickes Acrylic Right Hand Curved Corner Bath, 1500 x 1000mm, £300, Wickes

Make the most of wasted space with a corner bath. Even though they are full-sized baths, corner baths use space more efficiently and leave you with extra floor space. These baths are usually wider than straight baths too, so give you a more luxurious bathing experience.

Most styles of corner baths come with left or right hand curved options, giving you a chance to choose the style that suits your bathroom best.

Whirlpool and spa baths

Cooke & Lewis Helena Acrylic Oval 12 Curved Bath, panel & air spa set, (L)1700mm (W)800mm, £980, B&Q
Cooke & Lewis Helena Acrylic Oval 12 Curved Bath, panel & air spa set, 1700mm x 800mm, £980, B&Q

If you’re looking for a boutique hotel bathroom style, whirlpool and spa baths will give you the ultimate luxury bathing experience. Jets placed inside the bath give you a full body massage while you lie back and relax.

Kids love them too, as the jets help to create extra bubbles! The cost of these baths goes up with the number of jets included in the design.

Bath taps

Your choice of bath taps has a huge impact on the look of your bath. To make sure you have a cohesive scheme, match your style of bath tap to the other hardware in your bathroom, such as your sink taps and door handles. Go traditional with chrome and ceramic accents or go ultra-modern with black minimalist styles.

Mixer taps

Vellamo Twist brushed brass deck mounted bath filler, £169.99, Drench
Vellamo Twist brushed brass deck mounted bath filler, £169.99, Drench

These taps are a no-fuss option for filling your bath. They combine the streams from the hot and cold pipes into one continuous flow of water out of the tap. Mixers look modern and elegant in the bathroom and are perfect for creating a clean and contemporary look.

Pillar taps

Bath taps in chrome, £121, Bristan
Bath taps in chrome, £121, Bristan

These are usually sold as a set of two for the hot and cold. They have a traditional feel, but you can find contemporary designs too. They allow a large amount of water to flow at once, so tend to fill the bath up more quickly than mixer taps.

Free-standing taps

Milano Mirage modern free-standing bath shower mixer tap with hand shower in chrome, £279.99, Big Bathroom Shop
Milano Mirage modern free-standing bath shower mixer tap with hand shower in chrome, £279.99, Big Bathroom Shop

Unlike mixer or pillar taps, you don’t need to drill holes in the bath to install free-standing taps. They maintain a clean-lined finish and look great with free-standing baths. Most designs have swivel spouts too, enabling you to place the tap nearly anywhere around the outside of the bath.

Bath and shower mixer taps

The Bath Co. Camberley lever bath shower mixer tap, £179, Victoria Plum
The Bath Co. Camberley lever bath shower mixer tap, £179, Victoria Plum

Get all the fuss of installation of a shower and taps over within one simple job! Bath and shower mixer taps allow you to send the water flow to the bath taps, or up into a shower hose. Some designs have an in-built cradle to hold the shower handset. Others come with a completely separate handset holder.

Shower styles

Quick, convenient and refreshing, a shower of some sort is usually a bathroom must-have. Free-standing showers can have a small footprint, which makes them a great option for small bathrooms and en suites. However, with more space, you can create a dramatic feature from a large shower enclosure.

Electric showers

Triton Aspirante electric Shower brushed steel, £139, Victoria Plum
Triton Aspirante Electric Shower brushed steel, £139, Victoria Plum

These are the most widely available type of shower. They’re a good budget choice and are simple to install. These showers pass water over an in-built heating element, so you only need to attach the cold-water pipes. This means you can have hot showers on demand, any time of day.

If you’re on a green electricity tariff, they can be an eco-friendly choice too.

Digital showers

HOST Multi Outlet Digital Mixer with Control in Black, £399.99, Triton
HOST Multi Outlet Digital Mixer with Control in Black, £399.99, Triton

A high-tech option for modern homes, these super-smart showers offer a wide range of fancy features to make showering convenient and comfortable. Digital and smart controls allow you to precisely alter the temperature and flow of your shower, sometimes from up to 10 metres away!

They often have indicator lights to tell you exactly when the shower is at your chosen temperature – ideal for keeping cosy on winter mornings.

Power showers

Mira Vigour thermostatic shower, £289, Mira
Mira Vigour thermostatic shower, £289, Mira

If you have low water pressure in your home, power showers are the solution. They contain powerful pumps that
boost the speed of the water through to the handset. This makes sure you have a strong, invigorating shower every time.

They are the most budget-friendly choice for gravity-fed water systems, which may require an external pump when combined with other types of showers. A thermostatic shower regulates the temperature, so if someone else in your home uses water, you won’t get a shock.

Mixer showers

Milano Clarus Manual Shower Valve with 300mm Round Head in Brushed Gold, £269.99, Big Bathroom Shop
Milano Clarus Manual Shower Valve with 300mm Round Head in Brushed Gold, £269.99, Big Bathroom Shop

These versatile showers simply combine water from your existing hot and cold supplies. They’re a popular choice, with many different designs available so you can create the look you want. For an ultra-minimalist scheme, built-in rigid mixer showers hide everything but the showerhead and temperature controls.

Shower enclosures

A good shower enclosure can transform your bathroom and your whole showering experience. The flexibility of curtains means they can be changed season after season with no fuss, whereas walk-in enclosures create a durable, seamless style.

Curtained shower enclosures

Tubby Torre Dee bath, from £2,710, Albion
Tubby Torre Dee bath, from £2,710, The Albion Bath Co.

Shower curtains instantly create a traditional feel. Rails are budget-friendly and simple to install, and curtains are
a breeze to update. There’s a staggering range of plain, printed and patterned designs to choose from, so you can create the exact look you want.

Built-in shower enclosures

Newark Sliding Shower Door, from £149.95, Victorian Plumbing
Newark Sliding Shower Door, from £149.95, Victorian Plumbing

These require a bit of building work, but the finished effect can be stunning. They’re a great opportunity to really show off your choice of tiles. The fully tiled walls create a durable and easily cleaned showering area, the size and shape of which is totally customisable.

Walk-in & wet room showers

Milano Barq Recessed Walk-In Shower Enclosure with Tray, from £449, 99, Big Bathroom Shop
Milano Barq Recessed Walk-In Shower Enclosure with Tray, from £449, 99, Big Bathroom Shop

These luxe styles offer ease of access, with plenty of wiggle room for a comfortable shower that feels spacious. They’re a great choice for very small bathrooms as the minimalist design creates a sense of flow that makes the room feel larger. They’re also straightforward to clean, with few fiddly trims.

Quadrant enclosures

Crosswater Clear 6 Matt Black offset quadrant shower enclosure, 1000 x 800mm, £630, UK Bathrooms
Crosswater Clear 6 Matt Black offset quadrant shower enclosure, 1000 x 800mm, £630, UK Bathrooms

Quadrant designs are a good space-saving option. They have a small footprint so can squeeze into most bathrooms. But their curved design isn’t just clever, it’s also a great style choice. The edge of the tray can be referenced in the other fixtures and fittings, like circular sinks or rounded baths, for a smooth and pulled-together look.

Bathroom basin styles

You’ll use your hand basin more than any other piece of sanitaryware in your bathroom, so it’s important to make the right choice. Find the largest style you can comfortably accommodate in your room for an elegant and well- proportioned overall look. Alternatively, you can combine a small countertop basin with a wide unit for the same effect.

Countertop basins

TÖRNVIKEN 45cm Countertop wash-basin in white, £45, IKEA
TÖRNVIKEN 45cm Countertop wash-basin in white, £45, IKEA

These basins sit on top of a vanity unit with all the pipework hidden inside. As the basin rests on the unit, there are no constraints as to what size or shape it can be. You can even upcycle your own unit and create a highly personalised look.

Wall-hung basins

Milano Elswick 750mm x 420mm Rectangular Wall Hung Basin with Black Towel Rail, £239.99, Big Bathroom Shop
Milano Elswick 750mm x 420mm Rectangular Wall Hung Basin with Black Towel Rail, £239.99, Big Bathroom Shop

These clever designs are great for smaller bathrooms. The basin is attached to the wall with nothing but a small bottle trap underneath for waste. This leaves your floor clear and uncluttered, which creates a greater sense of space in en suites and cloakrooms.

Pedestal basins

Burlington Victorian 56cm basin with full pedestal and two tap holes, £156.13, UK Bathrooms
Burlington Victorian 56cm basin with full pedestal and two tap holes, £156.13, UK Bathrooms

You’ll already be familiar with this classic style of basin. Pedestal basins are what you’ll most commonly find in bathrooms across the UK, and it’s easy to see why they’re such a huge hit.

The neat pedestal conceals the pipework and leaves a clean, traditional look. They’re a no-nonsense style choice that will stand the test of time, so it’s worth investing in a high-quality model.

Basin tap styles

It’s good design practice to match your basin taps to the style of bath taps or shower you have chosen, but don’t feel you have to limit yourself to buying the same shape exactly. Matching the materials and general look is enough to make a scheme feel considered, especially if they don’t share the same eyeline.

Pillar basin taps

Vado Victoriana Basin Pillar Taps, £89.99, Drench
Vado Victoriana Basin Pillar Taps, £89.99, Drench

These taps have a classic feel that always looks classy, with separate hot and cold streams so you can mix the water in the basin to the perfect temperature. Cross-headed basin taps are the ideal addition to a traditional bathroom scheme.

Wall-mounted taps

Milano Mirage Wall Mounted Tap in Chrome, £99.99, Mano Mano
Milano Mirage Wall Mounted Tap in Chrome, £99.99, Mano Mano

If you’ve chosen a countertop basin without pre-drilled holes, these are the ideal taps. They’re an understated style choice and a cinch to clean. The elegant design makes them appear as though they’re almost floating.

Plan your layout

No one wants a cramped bathroom! Adam Chard from Victoria Plum has these user-friendly tips...

General clearance

  • Clear space It’s best to plan a clear space of at least 760mm from the front edge of all fixtures to any opposite bath fixture, wall or obstacle.
Doors
  • Door entry The opening of a doorway should be at least 860mm wide. If the existing structure doesn’t allow for a change, then a minimum 610mm door is allowable – don’t forget you might need to get a bath through it!
  • Door interference Make sure no door interferes with another door to ensure the safe use of the fixtures and cabinets.
Basins
  • Height Between 760 and 1190mm is comfortable for most adults.
  • Span (the distance from left to right, without obstructions) Recommended: 1020mm; minimum required: 760mm.
  • Clearance to the front Recommended: 760mm; minimum required: 510mm.
Baths
  • Height Between 500 and 600mm is comfortable for most adults.
  • Space requirement The minimum size for a straight bath is 1500 x 700mm.
  • Clearance to the side Recommended: 760mm; minimum required: 530mm. Taps, fillers, wastes and any other form of controls need to be accessible from both inside and outside the tub.
Showers
  • Space requirement The minimum shower size is 760 x 760mm.
  • Clearance to the front Recommended: 760mm; minimum required: 610mm. Door: It may seem obvious, but a shower door must always open outwards.

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This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in HomeStyle magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?

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