Top 10 ways to update your bathroom

Update your bathroom with a striking sink, wallcovering, and matching accessories

Whether you need to update your bathroom or simply want to give it a fresher look, finding a starting point can be tricky. What can – or should – you easily change to give it a bit of TLC?

Worry not because we have the answers and ideas for this very dilemma. From replacing existing fittings with stylish new hardware to adding more storage, here’s a list of things you can do to revamp your bathroom.

1. Update your bathroom by swapping fittings like for like

Although they are a key part, renewing some of your fittings doesn’t have to be disruptive. As long as the new product has the same dimensions or is slightly larger, a straight swap usually won’t cause too much hassle. 

Freestanding baths and countertop basins are ideal, as they have minimal contact points and usually stay in the same place. They have a huge impact on the room, so you can make a big change for very little effort. Both projects are straightforward for a professional. 

Update your bathroom by swapping brassware like for like – for example with this bronze shower set.
Elements ELE52 wall-mounted shower mixer in oil rubbed bronze, from £1674, The Watermark Collection.

2. Renew your heating

Much like swapping your fittings, it could be a good idea to replace your heater with a new design, for example a towel rail. While there’s a strong trend for coloured finishes in every shade, from soft pink to black, metallics are increasingly popular too.

Another option to update your bathroom is installing underfloor heating with smart controls. This will free up floor and wall space, but can also help to manage energy costs. “It can be incredibly efficient, with minimal installation requirements and little maintenance,” says Tom Edmunds from Wunda Group. “It costs on average 25% less to run than radiators, but can save even more if you have smart controls.”

Panel or electric systems are easier to retrofit than wet systems, which require you to dig up the floor to lay the heating pipes. With the right bathroom flooring and heating solutions, you can transform your bathroom into a stylish and functional space.

A striking radiator is an easy way to update your bathroom
Terra electric radiator in Italian marble powder in Antique Pink, from £1093,75, Viadurini.

3. Level up your brassware

Renewing taps and other fittings is a quick and effective way to smarten up a washroom. It’s a pretty straightforward task for a plumber that can make a huge difference. Make sure the finishes of your brassware, radiators, and accessories match to create a cohesive look.

Knowing your home’s water system is also important, as Barrie Cutchie, design director at BC Designs, explains: “Europe tends to have much higher water pressure than the UK and manufacturers design products to this specification. Make sure to check both your own systems and the products you have your eye on before purchasing.”

Fitting a low-pressure tap on a high-pressure water system can cause water to shoot out of the spout – but if you fit a high-pressure tap to a system that’s too low, you may end up with a sad trickle.

However, you can still make a high-pressure tap work by fitting it with a reducer, which will sufficiently lower the water pressure. 

A bronze basin with a black wall-mounted tap
VOS stainless steel countertop basin in brushed black, £795, with EVO wall-mounted basin mixer in brushed black, £400, JTP.
A brass towel rail on a grey wall
Matt linear towel rail in brushed brass, £296.40, Matki.

4. Declutter and update your bathroom with slick storage

No matter the size of your space, dealing effectively with clutter requires careful planning. So, taking a long hard look at the blank or underused wall areas, along with awkward recesses and gaps between fittings, can prove to be the answer.

There are many high-quality, stylish furniture ranges that can be combined and tailored to make the most of the available space. From low vanity units and slimline cabinets to mirrored wall units and open shelving, it’s possible to design your ideal solution using off-the-peg components.

A beige bathroom storage unit on a taupe wall
Ketho.2 vanity unit, £534, and tall cupboard, £766, both in Taupe Supermatt, shown with mirror, £1060, Duravit.

5. Repaint key areas

Changing the colour of the lower half of the walls, a single return, or the ceiling will immediately change the mood. It even suits a small bathroom.

“Pint-sized spaces lend themselves well to a strong colour and if yours doesn’t benefit from natural light, rich shades can play with artificial lighting sources to make a strong statement,” says Helen Shaw, UK director at Benjamin Moore. “Painting furniture in the same tone can add to the effect.”

Paint is a good way to update your bathroom
Ready to transform your bathroom with a fresh coat of paint? Paean Black No.294 modern emulsion, £59 for 2.5 litres; Wimborne White No.239 Estate Eggshell paint, £31 for 75ml, and Modern Eggshell paint, £34 for 75ml, Farrow & Ball.

6. Make the move to smart mirrors

Upgrading a standard mirror to one with the latest looks and innovative tech can be truly life-changing.

From Bluetooth and wireless speakers to voice-activated systems, discreet LED displays and sensor mood lighting, they now offer many features to make life easier. Fortunately, they can be professionally retrofitted so you don’t have to wait until the next complete overhaul either.

However, this is not a job to do yourself. “An illuminated mirror should be installed by a fully qualified electrician. This will ensure it is compliant, correct and safe,” recommends Steve Kaye, marketing director at Hib.

An illuminated mirror should also ideally be IP44 rated, which means it is suitable for bathroom use above the basin.

A smart mirror will make life easier
Globe Plus mirror, from £513, Hib.

7. Update your bathroom with new shower screens

No one likes to shower next to a limescale-encrusted frame with a perished rubber seal – time to replace it.

There are so many tempting styles to choose from – be it luxe brushed gold with fluted glass or a multi-panel format trimmed in matt black.

For the simplest and smartest results, choose a similar size (or slightly bigger) screen to the one you have, as this will reduce the need to drill through tiles and other existing surfaces. Many fixed screens already come with a rubber gasket or seal, but it may be necessary to seal with silicone as well.

Choose a shower screen with wow factor, such as this fluted design, to update your bathroom
Amien fluted glass shower screen, £565, Easy Bathrooms.

8. Spruce up your vanity

This area often sets the tone for the rest of the space, so it’s a good place to start when you renovate your bathroom. It should be clutter free and practical, but look good too.

“I love having wall lights either side of the mirror, as they create a softer light and the correct balance for the face,” says Hollie Moreland, creative director at David Hunt Lighting. “Opal and opaque glass finishes look sophisticated.”

Look for lights with a minimum IP44 rating, to ensure they’re safe to use near water. IP56 and IP65 rated fittings are also ideal.

A tiled wall doesn't have to be white – these blue tiles add wow factor to your space
Tileworks Oken Brick Blue wall tile, £15.13 per sq m, Original Style.

9. Review and update your bathroom lighting

Balancing different types of illumination can make a big impact. Bathroom ceiling lights are just one example. Not only do they provide illumination for the space but also add to the overall ambiance of the room. Although the most complex designs are best tackled as part of a total refit, there are a few designer touches that can be done after. Piero de Marchis, director of Detail Lighting, suggests to professionally update flush ceiling fittings and “use the existing wiring point, with a specialist ceiling plate that plugs the original hole so a pendant can be hung in its place”.

It’s always a good idea to have different circuits for task and ambient lighting. 

Besides changing fittings, it is also possible to alter the output and colour (also known as light temperature), to create a softer effect. “It would be best to go for a soft warm light at 2700K. Adding a frosted glass lens will soften the beams and make the light less harsh,” adds Piero.

When you update your bathroom, look at your lighting scheme and see how you could improve it – for example by adding spotlights in the shower
Recessed spotlights, from £45; Surface spotlights, from £40, and Linear LED system, from £30 per m, all Detail Lighting.

10. Revitalise the surfaces

“Changing the tiling or adding a new surface to the walls to make a feature is a powerful way of refreshing the space visually,” suggests Simon Boocock, managing director at CRL Stone. “Large-format tiling or slabs are ideal for this, as they need less grout, making the space easier to clean. Make sure the materials are suitable for the bathroom – they have to be highly durable as well as resistant to water, scratches and stains.”

New composite and engineered surfaces are becoming more prominent and affordable too. Often known as MDi surfaces (Mineral Design Innovation) they are fused at ultra-high temperatures using extra-pure minerals. This results in an extremely durable and non-porous material that has the same finish throughout. They offer the chance to create seamless surfaces in infinite textures and colours.

A floral mural behind a freestanding bath
Grain Leaves tile mural, £264 for a 1.2m x 1.2m design, The Baked Tile Company.

Enjoyed this post? Check out our guide to designing a perfect bedroom layout

Featured image: Cielo Shui Comfort rectangular basin in Basalto, from £1025.86, C.P. Hart.

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