Five big mistakes to avoid when revamping the smallest room

Sort It: Details are critical when it comes to upgrading the bathroom in your house

Be careful when choosing taps as not all designs suit all  basins.

Be careful when choosing taps as not all designs suit all basins.

 

The smallest room can be a fun home improvement project. It’s your chance to create a little bit of hotel luxury in your home, and a place to relax and unwind after a long day. What was once a purely functional room has now become one of the most important spaces in the house. With so much to consider it’s no surprise that a few seemingly less important items can slip through the cracks. Here are the five common mistakes of bathroom refurbishment.

Grout colour

Your choice of tiles is probably the most significant decision you’ll have to make when designing your bathroom. What you choose will set the tone of the room, and the choice is vast. Just be sure not to forget about the grout.

Believe it or not there are more choices than white and grey. The colour you use can make or break the look of a room. Ask the supplier for a recommendation and if they have any sample boards where you can see the finished effect.

The idea is to complement the colour of the tiles you’ve chosen. If you’ve selected a sandy or beige tile, then ivory is a good choice. For any tile with a white background you should use white grout. Dark grey should only be used if your tiles are very dark, even on floors.

A practical choice for floors is silver grey. It will be easy to keep and is not too dark. However, if your floor tiles are very light or white in tone I would suggest you ask the tiler to keep the joints between the tiles as tight as possible and use a white or off-white instead of grey. You should only go for a contrasting grout if you are trying to highlight the pattern of the tiles.

The wrong taps

Not all taps suit all basins. You need to ensure the water isn’t going to overshoot the edge of the basin. This may not always be obvious in the store. Depending on the design of the tap the water might flow out rather than down, meaning if your basin is very shallow or narrow you may find the water splashes out of the sink every time you turn on the tap. Where possible ask to test the tap. Be aware that once you’ve opened the packaging you may not be able to return the tap.

Lighting that works

Lighting is critical in a bathroom. You need the right balance of ambient light for relaxing in the bath, for example, and functional light for putting on make-up or shaving etc. The best way to achieve this is to have two separate circuits – one for overhead ceiling lights and the other for the secondary or mood lighting. If it isn’t possible to rewire for a new lighting circuit, a simple fix is to put the existing lights on a dimmer switch.

It’s essential that the fittings you choose are suitable for a bathroom. To check this, you need to find out what the IP rating (ingress protection) of the fitting is. The IP rating is used to describe the durability of the light fitting against water and steam. For bath and shower rooms all fittings should have a minimum rating of IP45.

Seal those joints

Make sure all joints around baths, shower trays and sinks are sealed with silicone and not grout. Silicone is a flexible waterproof material whereas grout is brittle and will crack with any movement increasing the chances of a leak. It’s also a good idea to silicone-seal all tiled corners of the room and the joint where the wall tiles and floor tiles meet.

As with grout, carefully consider the shade of silicone used. I would recommend sticking with white. This will match your sanitary ware, unless of course you’re going for coloured sanitary ware.

Storage - you can't have enough

Plan more storage than you think you need. In a bathroom, you can never have enough. A good rule of thumb is to have enough storage so that nothing is on display. Your bathroom should be a functional and uncluttered space.

If you are building from scratch, try to incorporate built-in or recessed storage. Recessed mirrored cabinets and recessed shelves in showers for shampoo and shower gel are great.

If you are refurbishing an existing space, invest in one or two medicine cabinets. These are a great alternative to built-in storage and ideal for storing all those small items for everyday use.

Finally, make sure you have some vanity or shelf space to put things on. This might mean going for a basin that has space to take soap etc, or, if space allows, opting for a basin with its own vanity unit.

Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant @optimisedesign

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