Bathroom Renovations

Over the last few weeks I have had my head buried beneath project plans for Leat House, in particular the bathroom refurbs. In light of this, I thought I would share some of my considerations and top tips for a bathroom renovation.

(Here is the current state of one of our bathrooms in Cornwall…!)

  • First, decide on your bathroom layout and before shopping for any items, ensure your plans are checked by your builder, electrician and plumber.
  • Keep the design simple. The simpler the design, the more cost-effective it will be to fit out.
Rue Magazine
  • With your layout sorted, create an itemised shopping list with links and images by room and by product type for your plumber to check (this can either be in Excel, Word or Power Point). I always do this as there may be specific size/shape requirements for certain items i.e. valve depths, cisterns heights, tap locations etc. The last thing you want is to order everything and find that not all fits come installation day!
  • Top tip: never skimp on hardware. These are the items that are in use every day, in particular concealed valves. Look for ‘rub clean’ showerheads with easy-clean nozzles that will prevent limescale build-up – great in a hard water area.
Design Milk
  • Opt for a resin shower tray (solid) as opposed to an acrylic one as some of the cheaper options are foam filled and the difference is noticeable.
  • Always check the waste direction for your shower tray with your plumber. This will dictate where the position of the drain needs to be within your tray.
  • Stand in it! Stand in the space where your shower will be and imagine where the water will come from, where the taps will be, how the door will open, where your soap will go and even where you would hang your towel…! I have made several key decisions after going through this process and have always been glad that I had.
JJ Media Group
  • I like to position shower valves at the opening of the shower door rather than with the shower head – saves you getting a cold wet shock when you turn on the shower!
  • Consider a recess within the wall of the shower area to stand soaps, shampoos and conditioners.
  • If you decide on a large shower tray think about selecting a ceiling drench head (as opposed to a armed one from the wall) as it can be positioned more centrally within the enclosure. This will allow you to use more of the tray space when showering.
  • If you opt for a concealed toilet cistern ensure you have allowed for a depth of roughly 200mm to house the unit. This may require a new frame to be built if one is not already present within the bathroom.
  • In terms of shape, and although my husband may disagree here, the shape of a toilet is very important! Personally, I like to go for a more ‘fluted’ pan when selecting a back to wall design (this is one that sits on the floor) as it elongates the shape and makes it look less bulbous. It is also narrower at the bottom which means there is greater floor space around the base of the pan. When selecting a wall hung toilet, I like to go with a more rounded shape that floats effortlessly in the space. Hard lines can be harsh so I try to avoid this when choosing a toilet shape.
  • Back to wall versus wall hung toilets – I have found through working on an old property that my choice of toilet design has been dictated by the type and strength of the walls. Without any additional strengthening, my walls at Leat House are simply not able to withstand a wall hung option. Instead, I have chosen back to wall toilets for the bathrooms upstairs and a wall hung toilet for the newly built downstairs shower room.

  • Shop around. I have found the same items cheaper through searching on other websites… saving me £££s!
  • I would recommend a minimum of 8mm glass thickness for shower screens and enclosures – it’s stronger and safer than 6mm and feels so much better quality.
  • Try to have one statement piece within the bathroom – I either go for a statement washstand or a statement bath. But you could make this a mirror or a picture, for example.
Humphrey Munson
  • Consider the distance between the toilet and the flush plate. Some cisterns are rather low which means the flush plate can be slightly hidden when the toilet seat is open. This can be annoying!
  • Polished versus matt –  you can mix and match. A slick, shiny, polished chrome flush plate might match your taps and shower but consider going for one with a matt finish. It will disguise marks much better and personally, I think it looks more subtle on the wall above the toilet. Leave the sparkle and shine for more beautiful hardware within the bathrooms such as the taps!
  • Always think about your lighting. I like to have wall lights at the sink and spots in the ceiling. Mood lighting can also be great for bathrooms – especially floor spot lights around the back of the bath or LED strip lights on shelves.
Studio McGee
  • For an easy clean, cost effective and seamless approach to wall coverings, consider a bathroom wall panelling system. I am installing shower panels within the downstairs bathroom at Leat House. The panels have a solid, grout-free surface that eliminates hiding places for mould, dirt, and germs – perfect for the shower enclosure which will no doubt see the most post-beach action!
  • Ventilation – ensure this is not forgotten. I like to install a spot light extractor within the shower so this covers the need for a light and a fan.
  • I like to mix n’ match wall finishings where possible and our Cornwall property is allowing me to do just that. I will be installing T&G panelling, tiles and skimmed painted walls. There are no rules for design, just for practicality. Have fun with the room design but ensure your ‘wet areas’ are taken care of!
Style Curator

I hope you found these points helpful. Our plumber is currently working on the first fix for the bathrooms and I plan to be back down to Leat House in the next couple of weeks so I will keep you posted on the progress!

Thanks for reading, SJ xx



  1. Maggie
    January 14, 2020 / 7:45 pm

    Love this and perfect timing as I’m about to embark on bathroom and en-suite refurbs soon. Re the flush plate position…. in downstairs loo ours is completely hidden when toilet seat is up but I love it this way as it means EVERYONE needs to lower the seat to flush the toilet 🙌. It was a happy accident but one I’ll deffo be repeating again!

    • justalittlebuild
      January 14, 2020 / 7:53 pm

      I actually think that’s great too!!

    • Natasha
      January 14, 2020 / 9:23 pm

      Oooh great idea!! I’m going to steal that

  2. Amanda
    January 14, 2020 / 7:47 pm

    Flushing plates behind toilet seats are in sooooo many restaurants! I can’t understand why this design mistake is made so often?!

    • justalittlebuild
      January 14, 2020 / 7:53 pm

      Me neither…! You make it once and then never again!

  3. Lauren shanks
    January 14, 2020 / 8:42 pm

    This is great, thank you! We are about to start on our new shower room. What are your thoughts of shelving within the shower for soaps etc? Any ideas or solutions?

  4. Michelle
    January 15, 2020 / 1:37 pm

    Thank you, and perfect timing as we are going through multiple room renovations at the moment, including a bathroom or two! Wall finishings and floor tiles have had me flummoxed recently, there are so many choices and I don’t want to overdo it…

  5. James
    January 16, 2020 / 10:21 pm

    Look into Mira Digital shower – no need for extra work with valve positioning as you can put the controller wherever you want. You can also start it from your phone, guaranteeing NO cold surprise!

  6. February 27, 2020 / 11:15 am

    Truly a remarkable way to renovate bathrooms, Your ideas are really inspiring and innovative. Really like what you did with the shower screens as well. Thanks for sharing!

  7. lesovitch
    March 10, 2020 / 12:55 pm

    Fantastic inspiring ideas, great interesting post. Thanks!

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