Budding bathroom renovators watching The Block might be focused on making sure their mirror has built-in lighting and how their handmade tiles feel to the touch.
While these features form an obvious part of planning a bathroom renovation, there are some factors that are often forgotten.
Designing a bathroom to age with its residents adds longevity, and there are elements worth building into the foundations of the room to future-proof for accessible living.
Daniela Santilli from Reece Bathrooms suggests adding extra noggins at waist height when building the shower wall frame to allow for the option of installing grab rails at a later date.
In the shower, Santilli advises arranging for a slightly larger opening and installing a base made from anti-slip material flush with the floor to prevent tripping.
Santilli also suggests installing a smart loo that is wall-hung and rimless, with cleaning and drying functionalities, and a night light – all activated with a remote.
A smart-control thermostatic shower mixer ensures regulated temperature every time, even if someone is using water elsewhere in the house.
“Adjustable rail showers with multiple spray patterns accommodate different heights and various types of water therapy,” Santilli said.
2. Bath storage
The Block contestants in House 1, Mitch and Mark, are “excellent in planning their rooms”, according to one of their builders and Hipages ambassador Steve Ritchie, from Charles Bros Building Contractors. “The configuration of a bathroom is the main thing many clients tend to get wrong,” he said. “Functionality is so important.”
Santilli agrees and suggests renovators choose a back-to-wall free-standing bath, which has one flat side to position against a wall. This offers the extra functionality of a ledge, addressing the usual lack of accessible storage from the bath.
Take a look inside The Block houses for sale
- Mitch and Mark: 38A Grey Street, St Kilda
- Tess and Luke: 38B Grey Street, St Kilda
- Deb and Andy: 38C Grey Street, St Kilda
- El’ise and Matt: 38D Grey Street, St Kilda
- Jesse and Mel: 38E Grey Street, St Kilda
3. Shower niche
Interior designer James Treble has seen many bathrooms as presenter on 9Life’s Open Homes Australia. He says of lack of display space makes bathrooms difficult to style with personality.
“Ten years ago, glass shelves in the shower were the norm but a tiled niche is more standard and provides an important space when styling to sell,” he said. “Aside from the vanity, there aren’t many other surfaces to dress the room and allow you to add character.”
4. Pre-ordering windows
Loni Parker, editor of Adore Magazine, project-managed her bathroom renovation, a process she recently shared on the magazine’s blog.
Parker says one thing she hadn’t planned for was the window replacement. “I hadn’t realised it needed to be done by the carpenter when he was framing out the walls – typically windows need to be ordered ahead of time.”
Also place the order for skylights and custom doors way ahead of installation to cater for lead times.
5. Rated lighting
While pendant lights are popular these days, “this type of light fitting isn’t usually manufactured to withstand steam and moisture,” advises Denise Hammond, TechIES product knowledge specialist at Beacon Lighting.
She suggests checking the IP rating. “The Ingress Protection Rating is an international method, with IP followed by two digits classifying the protection level against intrusion of solid objects, dust and water in electrical enclosures such as light fittings.”
Hammond says, “Some electricians may request light fittings with a rating of IP54 or greater for bathroom installations”.
Bathrooms are divided into four zones for wiring regulations with each requiring a different IP level. “Be aware of the requirements around splash zones and consult an electrician if in doubt,” says Hammond.
6. Power point positions
“If you’re considering lighting above an enclosed shower, ensuring the fitting is at least IP44 rated to protect from water damage,” advises Rachel Mattiassi, general manager of residential at Clipsal. “It’s also smart to include waterproof lights in the niche or shower recess.”
When planning the electricals, don’t forget to position power points inside the cabinet and “above the vanity, as many mirrors have built-in lighting that requires a power source behind them, such as the backlight mirror in Andy and Deb’s winning en suite”, says Mattiassi.
Voice-command technology for underfloor heating, heated towel rails, even turning on the shower, adds a little luxury along with sensor-trigger LED kicker lights, but don’t forget they all require power sources, preferably hidden.
7. Practical greenery
When it comes to the big reveal, builder Steve Ritchie admits, “Mitch and Mark’s styling has taught us a lot as builders. Adding a little greenery to decorate is a great way to finish a bathroom.”
Just make sure it receives some natural light, won’t drip onto electricals and is accessible for watering. There’s no point putting a plant on a shelf if you can’t reach it for watering because, as judge Shaynna Blaze suggests, it simply won’t survive.