Reno focus: Bathroom

By YIP | 11 Jun 2020

Without careful planning, a renovation project can send you over your financial limit very quickly and even lead to overcapitalising. But if you prepare wisely and stay organised, your bathroom reno can add dollars to your bottom line and improve your property’s rental potential as well.

Planning a bathroom renovation can be an exciting time, but it can also mean feeling exhausted and overwhelmed by the number of decisions you have to make. That’s why nailing your renovation plan can help you prepare for the job and ensure you don’t have any regrets when the project is complete.

Always keep in mind that you may decide to sell your property later on, so aim to make changes that add value over time

Even if you don’t know exactly what you want yet, you want to head into a renovation knowing what the room needs. This will help you plan out your budget, which you need to establish early on so you can stick to it. Going over your budget can lead to a half-finished renovation and even cause you to overcapitalise on your property.

Once you have established your budget, you can then make a decision about what’s possible in your space, and explore more options from there.

If you’re renovating your own home, always keep in mind that you may decide to sell the property later on, so aim to make changes that add value over time. Try not to do renovations that are too personalised in terms of design choices and instead are neutral, timeless and stylish.

Here are eight steps to follow when planning your bathroom renovation – they will help you make sure it’s completed on time and within budget. When you’re well prepared for your project, it makes the journey to creating your new bathroom retreat feel worthwhile!


First things first — how do you (or your tenants) use the space now, and how many people use it? Is it a main bathroom for three people, or is it an en suite used by only one person?

What works and what doesn’t? What functions could be improved? Does the bathroom require a double sink or more storage?

Asking these questions helps you determine what the space needs and what can go.

Keep market expectations in mind if you are planning to sell your property. You may not use the bathtub often, but if it’s a family-friendly home, you might need to keep or install one to appeal to young families. These are some of the things you should consider before going head first into a renovation.


Functionality and visual appeal go hand in hand when selecting furnishings for a bathroom, so you need to keep your target demographic in mind as you make design choices. However, a little personality can also work in your favour!


Will it just be a cosmetic reno, or do you have a big enough budget to make structural changes? Can you afford top-of-the-line products, or will you need to shop around for a bargain? Remember, you might also need to account for less obvious costs like demolition and rubbish removal.

Renovation expert Naomi Findlay recommends adding a 10% buffer to your budget for any unexpected costs – there are bound to be some. Keep track of your spending, and update and make changes to your spreadsheet as things pop up so you’re aware at all times of just how you’re tracking.


Cheaper doesn’t always mean a lack of quality, and vice versa. Make the time to really shop around for products – you might fi nd what you’re looking for at a fraction of the cost you expected.


Now that you’ve set your budget and know how you want to use your space, you can decide on the floor plan. Are you happy with the way the bathroom is set out, or would you like to make some changes?

You might want to move your shower to the other side to make it more spacious or create a space for a luxurious bathtub.

Just remember that the more you move around, the more expensive your renovation will be. Keeping your plumbing and electricals in the same place can save you a small fortune, so look for ways to make the existing floor plan work if you can.


Pick a bathtub design that fits into the available space you have without looking awkward in the room. Accentuating it with light can add appeal and make the bath the centre of attention.


Now that you’ve identified the functional requirements of the bathroom, you can start thinking about aesthetics.

What style do you like, and what complements the rest of the property? Are you leaning towards warmer or cooler tones? Choose your favourite looks on Pinterest and create a mood board with your preferred colours and textures to make sure they all mesh well together.

“I love the feeling of walking through a property that has been completely considered,” Findlay says. “Think about elements of the home that you can incorporate in the bathroom, like the same paint colour or a similar style of tapware to what’s used in the kitchen.”


When choosing your colour scheme, aim to create flow and connection throughout your home for a more upmarket feel. You want the property to have the look of a single property throughout, regardless of its size.


Most people want to stick to a budget, so Findlay suggests you decide to spend big on one or two ‘hero’ features in each room renovation.

Any more than this and it can feel overwhelming, with too many features clamouring for attention, so you need to decide what the hero of your bathroom will be.

Have you got your heart set on a stone benchtop or intricate tiles? Maybe you think the aesthetic would best benefit from a grand bathtub or gorgeous vanity?

Choose one or two things you want to stand out in your space and then tone back the rest of your choices. It doesn’t mean boring – it just means they are simple and stylish, to complement the hero pieces and allow them to shine.


Wall tiles make excellent centrepieces as they are decorative while not requiring any significant effort or maintenance to upkeep. Whether you want to highlight colour or texture, there are countless options available.


With a considered budget and a careful design plan for your bathroom, it’s time to hire your trades.

You probably know you’ll need a tiler, a certified waterproofer, and maybe an electrician and painter. But did you know that the order in which you use your trades is very important to your renovation?

You wouldn’t tile your floors before ripping out and replacing your vanity, for example. Plan out the exact timeline of your renovation and what trades will be working on what day – not only will this help the renovation flow but it will save you money so you’re not having to call trades back to complete additional tasks.


Wall-hung vanities are great space savers, and they can be installed without having a major effect on your bathroom walls. Always consider the existing height of the vanity when measuring out how high you should be hanging it.


Before you get the renovation started, you need to clean up.

Chances are your old bathroom is full of half-empty, unused products that need to be thrown out. Get rid of rusting shower shelves, old toothbrush holders and cosmetics you haven’t used in years. Then you can organise the things you do use often into handy baskets or make-up bags that you can put somewhere else while the renovation is taking place.

You should also consider decluttering the rest of the house before the trades come in. The more space and ease of access they have to your bathroom the quicker they can start working.


Open shelves can help you organise your bathroom, as you’re able to take stock of the items you own more easily. It also becomes more obvious if you’re beginning to hoard too much stuff!


Without access to the bathroom, you’ll need to think about alternative facilities for yourself or your tenants. You may need to set up a makeshift face-washing, toothbrushing station in your kitchen or laundry, and decide where you will shower. This could be a time to call on your friends or family to see if you can stay for a few nights; if the property is tenanted, speak to your property manager about ways to compensate your tenant for the disruption.

Depending on how long your reno will run for, you could also consider staying in a nearby hotel so you can oversee the project more easily.


Storage containers will always be functional, so look for ways to maximise their purpose. Many containers are designed to be used both indoors and outdoors, so go for crates that will look good anywhere!


Naomi Findlay explains how she renovated the bathroom of a posh premium property on a tight budget, to meet both present and future needs of the client

Expert renovator Naomi Findlay was given the challenge of updating a sizeable but difficult-to-use bathroom in a multimillion-dollar property. Since the owners were unsure what the property’s purpose would be, she had to make sure she met both their own wants and the potential wants of a buyer.

“The bathroom was a large but unfunctional space for two adults and two teenage children. Set in an older home, the bathroom had a pedestal basin, a cord bath and inadequate lighting and ventilation. In other words, it was outdated and tired!” Findlay says.“The challenge in this space was that the owners were also unsure of how long they intended to stay, now that their children were older.”So Findlay needed to make choices that enhanced the value of the property within the $20,000 budget she was given – with room to move to $30k if absolutely needed.“I needed to choose finishes that  would add value to the home and suit the market,” she says.

“My strategy for this renovation was to design the bathroom in a way that suited the people who were living in the home for potentially only a few more years, but at a price point that met the needs of the property. I also ensured that the style was not too polarising for the market if they did decide to sell the property later down the track!”

The clients’ tastes ran contrary to the style of the home, which created another complication. But Findlay made the most of it, and overcoming the obstacle became a source of pride for her.

“In my design plans, I needed to keep in mind that this was an extraordinarily traditional home, but the owners had very modern taste! My favourite part of my design plan was the multiple formats of finishes we chose for the tiles – this created real architectural interest and texture in the space. I also loved the way we mixed the metals and meshed the modern elements the clients chose, like pink circular basins, with beautiful traditional tapware. It came together so well!” she says.

“While the owners have no immediate intention of selling their home, I made the utmost effort to renovate responsibly and future-proof the bathroom to ensure that they didn’t under or overcapitalise on the renovations!”

Naomi FindlayNaomi Findlay is an experienced property investor who aims to help people create wealth and freedom using her Rapid Renovation Formula




Disclaimer: All products and prices listed are correct at the time of printing. The advice contained in this article is for general information only and should not be taken as financial advice. Please make sure to speak to a qualified professional person before making any investment decision

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