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Ask the experts: Renovating your main bathroom

Your home improvement project is more than just the work, the parts, the tradesmen and the dust. It starts with inspiration, design and preparation of your space. The best way to get this right is to pick the brains of experts.  Luckily, we’ve done that for you…

At Opun, we have a team of home improvement experts who like nothing better than talking about their craft. Ina is one of our expert bathroom interior designers (although, she knows just about all there is to know about redesigning any other room in the home too). She stopped by to answer some questions about redesigning your main bathroom. Here’s what she had to say:

What are the key things someone should think about before they renovate their bathroom?

“The key thing is obviously budget, it usually ranges between £6,000-£9,000. The second most important thing is the layout of the bathroom. Then the style (contemporary, traditional Victorian, retro vintage etc) and the colour scheme they like (neutral colours with stone finishes or a pop of colour/pattern on a feature wall, etc). And the final consideration is maybe not key but people often forget about it – where they are going to stay during those two weeks time of renovation, because they will not be able to use the bathroom?”

What colours (and colour schemes) work best and worst in the bathroom?

“From my experience, neutral colour schemes with natural stone or wood patterns with matt finishes work best. Cosy, timeless and beautiful. What doesn’t work is something that is too contrasting, like a graphic black and white design or too many colours, like red, yellow, green. The worst of course is all of them together – you’ll get tired of it pretty soon, and they don’t soothe and calm you down, which a bathroom should do.”

What are some big design no-nos when it comes to a small bathroom?

“Trying to fit everything in – a bath, a shower, this and that in a limited space. You have to prioritise. Otherwise it feels cramped. Don’t compromise on the size of the sanitary ware to squeeze more in. Always go for standard size baths, basins, showers etc and if they don’t all fit in the space, combine the bath/shower or just have a shower for example. 

Dark colours are a second no-no. Unless you have sufficient lighting to make it look brighter and bigger.”

Are there any features you feel every bathroom should have?

“Lighting, lighting, lighting. LED ceiling spotlights, wall lights around the mirror, maybe an additional designer chandelier. A good extractor fan or a window is a must as well, so it doesn’t get damp. I think a key feature in a typical London bathroom is a bath with shower. That is what everyone wants, it is quite practical, saves space and will most likely help increase the value of the property. One last important thing is storage. Either in the form of a basin vanity unit or mirror cabinets, shelves, etc.”

What sort of lighting works best in a bathroom?

“LED ceiling spotlights and above/side mirror wall lamps. Not with white or blue light, but slightly yellow and warm.”

Should the wall colour and tile colour match, compliment, or juxtapose each other? What combinations work particularly well?

“I like it when they compliment each other. An ultimate favourite is darker grey stone finish floor with lighter beige matt wall tiles. Or lately with the rise of industrial retro design, wooden effect herringbone floor tiles with glossy white or light grey metro tiles in brick pattern.”

How can you prevent a bathroom feeling too masculine or feminine?

“If you stick to the neutral colour scheme, natural finishes and contemporary clean sleek furniture and sanitary ware. Traditional Victorian styles tend to be more feminine and industrial retro more masculine.”

What are the biggest mistakes you think people make when it comes to designing the bathroom?

“Not investing money into electrical rewiring for the lighting. And putting in standard white cheap basin vanity units with semi recessed ceramic basins that everyone has. They look boring and you can tell how much they cost from a mile away. The same goes with laminate/vinyl flooring. I also don’t particularly like acrylic bath panels. It looks so much better if the bath is tiled. Again anything plastic should be avoided.”

Do you have any tips on keeping the costs down?

“As labour is quite expensive, the only way you can save some money is on the sanitary ware. But Victorian plumbing and Topps tiles have a great selection for the budget savvy. You can buy cheaper pieces if you know how to combine them properly. The other way to save some money is to only tile the wall half way – it does its job and it is quite trendy as well.”

Can you make modern bathroom styling work in a period property?

“Yes of course. If you only you include one or two period statement pieces like a basin tap or a shower, mirror, bath etc.”

At Opun, we take care of your project from first plan to final warranty. Our in-house team and vetted trade partners are here every step of the way to help make your dream home real.

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