Bathroom renovations. Two words that strike fear in the hearts of anybody considering – let alone undertaking – them.
Yet we still fantasise about that dream bathroom with a tub for two, rain shower, smart toilet, and maybe even a minibar. Believe it or not, you needn’t take out a loan, plunge yourself into debt or to pay the plumber in sexual favours to achieve an awesome bathroom renovation.
Here’s a breakdown of how it’s done.
Setting A Budget
The first step to a successful renovation is to set a budget and divvy it up according to your needs and priorities. Don’t need mountain views? Don’t budget for it. If your vanity is ancient and your shower is leaking, these are the two areas you should invest the most cash in instead.
A full bathroom renovation will generally cost at least $10,000. This figure can easily balloon if you have expensive taste and want all the bells and whistles. However, it is possible to achieve similar results on a budget as slight as $3000, or even cheaper if you are willing and able to complete some of the jobs yourself. Whatever you budget, it’s wise to allow an additional 10% for extras or errors.
If you’re on a shoestring budget (under $1000), options are limited to cosmetic ones. Get creative with new fixtures, slap on a fresh coat of paint or ‘splurge’ on a statement pendent light.
Unless you have the training or an electrician mate, a chunk of your budget needs to be allocated to electricians fees, which start at around $70 an hour. These guys can expertly install and rewire switches, lights, exhaust fans and underfloor heating.
Plumbers charge similar fees to electricians, around the $70 per hour mark. If your bathroom renovation is simply cosmetic you won’t need a plumber, but their services will be required if you are installing a new toilet, shower, bath or vanity.
Tiles and bathrooms are a match made in design heaven. Tiled walls are sexy, but they’re expensive. Instead of tiling entire walls, adopt a more frugal approach with strategically placed feature tiling.
Our favourite approach is to lay a thin horizontal strip of tiles along the wall. This way, you can save money while still creating a high-impact result.
Note: Unless you can do the work yourself, a contractor (approx. $40 per square metre) will need to be called in. For tiled floors, your contractor will need to add waterproofing and sealing to the job. Experts suggest a budget of between $1500 and $3000 to have the floor done. This applies to a standard 8 square metre bathroom and includes the cost of tiles, labour and waterproofing (the standard sized tile measures 12×12-inches. Smaller or more intricate mosaic designs will be costlier).
Another money-saving idea is to reuse existing tiles. A good re-grouting will do the tiles a world of good and make them look like new.
Black & white, charcoal or earthy coloured tiles work best in a masculine bathroom.
If you can’t afford all that, try re-painting your existing tiles. This method gives the appearance of new tiles for a fraction of the cost (around $100 compared to hundreds or even thousands). Before painting, you’ll need to clean, sand and prime the tiles. Two coats will suffice and a gloss or matt clear finish will need to be applied once the paint had dried.
Most of us are under the impression that tiles are the only flooring option available in the bathroom. But concrete is becoming increasingly popular among industrial and minimalist enthusiasts. Whether you polish an existing concrete slab or pour and seal a new one, the outlay in minimal. In fact, materials should cost no more than $100.
Nothing refreshes a tired bathroom more effectively than a fresh coat of paint. As far as expenditure goes, it is the cheapest way to give the bathroom a facelift. Having said this, never pick the cheapest paint! Bathrooms are moist and steamy spaces and they demand specialised paint resistant to mould.
The cost of painting will depend on the size of your bathroom. On average, $25 should get you a 1L tub of bathroom paint (don’t forget the primer and brushes). Dulux have an extensive and affordable range available online.
The littlest things often create the largest impact. Focus on fixtures, faucets and knobs for an inexpensive makeover. Brass and copper fixtures look good in the modern bathroom, while matte black fixtures will always exude masculine elegance.
You can spend as much or as little as you damn well please on fixtures. There are some swish options out there, but more affordable ones that look similar or even better can be found with a little perseverance.
The towel rack is another easily replaceable fixture. For an industrial and masculine finish, ditch the traditional towel rack and install old plumbing pipes.
Grout Is Grouse
Underfoot and overlooked is bathroom grout and chalk. If your walls are tiled, the problem is likely creeping ever higher towards the ceiling and sabotaging your bathroom makeover. Discoloured, dodgy grout work is easily fixed and cheap as chips.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The bathtub doubles as a wash station and romance hotspot. A new tub will be out of reach for those renovating on a tight budget, so make the most of what you’ve got.
If you have a porcelain, fibreglass, cast-iron or even an antique tub, pick up a DIY refinishing kit to get it looking spick and span. A fair amount of elbow grease is needed to complete this task, making for a great upper-body workout. The Rust-Oleum Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit is one of the best and will set you back $85.
Save money by up-cycling old planks of wood or metal into rugged shelving for towels and other bathroom necessities.
While we’re on the subject of savings, ‘Green’ fixtures like low-flow showerheads and faucets cost approximately the same as traditional fixtures but will save you thousands in the long run.
Vanities For The Vain
New vanities can get super-fancy and stupidly expensive, but it’s possible to find one that suits any budget. As an example, an Estilo semi-recessed freestanding vanity from Bunnings sells for a measly $149. At the other end of the Bunnings spectrum is the $1,397 Cibo Caesar Floor Mounted double vanity.
DIY-ers are also repurposing old dressing tables and chests of drawers with pretty cool results. Cut a hole in the top for your sink and away you go.
Light It Up
Lighting is crucial to a successful bathroom reno, particularly if you live with a lady or grow hair like a beast and need to shave daily. A combination of built-in ceiling lights, task lighting and suave pendant lights will add mood and function to the space.
Tip: Modernise your lighting with LED. Add strips along the sides of your mirror or on the floor surrounding the bath for maximum effect.