Bathroom Improvement Ideas

The mood of the bathroom has changed dramatically over the last 25 years, more so than any other area in the whole house. It’s far less clinical now, perhaps reflecting our less puritanical attitudes to our bodies.


The basic British standard bath is 1.65 m x 75 cm x approx. 50 cm high (5ft 6in x 2ft 4 in x 1ft Bin). If you’re tall, ask for one of the longer sizes. On the other hand, if you have very little space you might have to use a shorter one, or a hip bath (a split-level affair where you sit on one half, with your feet lower), or a bath to fit in a corner. A bath with a flat bottom is best if you want to have a shower over it. A low-sided bath is best in a small room.

Nowadays baths are either vitreous enamelled steel or acrylic, reinforced with a steel frame. The acrylic ones are lighter and therefore easier to handle; they are also warmer to the touch and come in a greater variety of shapes and colours. However, they scratch easily, a cigarette will melt holes, and they’re not absolutely rigid. Some baths have their own panels, or you can buy a hardboard panel with chrome corners. You could even make your own, or cover one to match the walls. If you have elderly people in the house, handgrips may be advisable.

If you want to have a separate shower as well, you must ensure that the area is well waterproofed — you will need about 1m (3ft) square for your shower, and not much less for getting dry. The head of the shower must be 1 m (3ft) below the level of the cold water tank or you will need a pump.

Basins come in a vast variety — from tiny corner ones for handwashing to a ‘vanitory’ unit complete with its own storage space. Whatever you choose, it should be about 70 cm (32 in) high.

A new slim-line lavatory cistern can replace a high, large, old one, without having to change the pan. Some have fixed top handles so they can be boxed in. Cisterns concealed behind false walls must have access to them. Avoid cheap flexible lavatory seats–they snap very easily and are not comfortable to sit on for long. If you want a bidet remember that it takes up more space than a lavatory.


Obviously, the main consideration here is that things should stand up to splashing and condensation — without rotting, peeling, discolouring, etc. Tiles are a traditional answer, but expensive, not suitable for wooden floors, fairly difficult to cope with oneself, and they can give a rather harsh unwelcoming feeling. Strongly patterned tiles will overwhelm a small room. A carpet should be rubber-backed, possibly a non-rotting synthetic fibre. Vinyl or linoleum is very practical, as are cork and non-slip rubber, though these are more expensive.

For walls that are going to be exposed to a lot of water, such as around the shower, try a sheet of Perspex, plastic laminate or tiles, glass, mirror or cork. In other areas you can be a lot more relaxed. Plastic-emulsion or silk-vinyl paint is cheap, easy to apply and available in a wide range of colours. Ordinary wallpaper should be protected with sealer if your bathroom is not very well ventilated; vinyl or waterproof papers are fine. Panelling and tongue-and-groove boarding (again sealed in some way) are good, too, although cheap wood may warp slightly.


Many bathrooms in this country are clammy and dark — windowless ones are often especially depressing. You don’t want to go to the other extreme, but varied and pleasant lighting should provide a general glow with stronger light for closer work such as shaving. A white ceiling, lots of mirrors and small concealed strip lights can bounce the light around in an interesting way. Electricity in the bathroom is governed by stringent laws, and rightly so. Check that the fitting you want is suitable for a bathroom and that your wiring and switches are safe.

Remember, good ventilation is much better than deodorizing, and poor heating can ruin the effect of the entire room, no matter what else you’ve done to it.

An original design and the use of cork in this bathroom make it into a showpiece. The lavatory is well positioned behind a screen wall, while the basin is surrounded by plenty of useful surface space.


Bathrooms, more than anywhere in the house, tend to suffer from a lack of personality. It’s worth taking extra trouble with the details so you can really feel that it’s a good place to wallow in. Shower curtains, for example, can be made of any material at all, as long as it’s backed with plastic. Many plants thrive in a warm, damp atmosphere and will love the bathroom. Strongly coloured, matching sets of towels will give a great boost to a dreary bathroom that you can’t alter. Additional mirrors, a collection of jars, pretty bottles, tiles etc. will all make it more inviting.

Similar Posts