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4 Innovative Tips for A Chic Bathroom Makeover

by Carlene Duffy
Posted: May 05, 2016

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The smallest room in the house doesn't need to be dull! The Block's Carlene Duffy shares her tips on how to make your bathroom simply stunning! 

Bathrooms can be very daunting spaces to makeover for a few reasons, including the cost involved, the number of trades required, and the overwhelming amount of decisions to be made. Your first step in the process will likely be a visit to your tile shop to select the tiles for the space and whilst getting your tile combination right is super important to a successful bathroom, many subtle but important details often get overlooked in the process.

Attention to detail in any space is achieving finesse in the bathroom and it is such a shame to miss this opportunity given the effort and money that will have gone into the makeover. Let me outline a few of the finer details that should be given adequate thought in the bathroom design process.

#1: Vanity bench

This is a big one for me. Many bathroom and hardware stores sell ready-to-go vanities, which include a porcelain top and recessed sink all in one. Don’t be tempted to go, well that’s easy, let’s grab that. A porcelain vanity bench will cheapen your space. Always opt for a stone top for your vanity to achieve a sophisticated look. Stone is also far easier to keep clean than a high-shine porcelain surface.

I don’t care whether you choose an above counter basin or an undermount, as that really comes down to personal preference and both present their own challenges when it comes to cleaning. I do however care that your basin isn’t too chunky. The finest edged basin you can find in your price range, the better, and look at options other than ceramic and porcelain too, as there has been a recent advancement in bathroom ranges.

#2: Vanity cabinet fronts

Here again, it’s crucial to the success of your bathroom that a lot of thought is given to the material used for your vanity fronts. A stock-standard white laminate that you can buy off the shelf at a hardware or bathroom store is often not good enough. If you have opted for a white bathroom (as many do) and you then install a white vanity, you are going to end up with a very white, cold bathroom.

What you do here completely depends on the tiles you have chosen but if you have gone for a very neutral colour scheme on the walls the best thing you can do for your bathroom is use your vanity fronts to incorporate some timber. There are some excellent timber look laminates on the market if the real thing is too pricey and a good quality laminate is a good option for a bathroom.

While I don’t believe everything in your home needs to be custom made, there is very good reason to get your vanity made to order so that a) you achieve a length and width suitable to the scale of the space and b) to achieve a colour and finish that is spot on and not just close enough.

#3: Tile edging

I’m guessing you have gone to a lot of effort to put together a tile combination that works for you and you will have received enough quotes to know that tiles, tiling and waterproofing doesn’t come cheaply so here is where you need to be crystal clear with your tiler about how you want your tiling edges finished off to achieve a result that makes it all worthwhile.

The quickest and easiest way to finish off a tiled corner edge is to install aluminium strip. My advice here is to be very sparing about where you opt to use this, as too much aluminium strip can quickly cheapen your bathroom. In the quoting phase ask your tiler to quote mitred edges, which is where the tiler will cut the tiles on a 45-degree angle so that the long edges meet and in this case no aluminium strip is required.

Your tiler might whinge about doing it because it’s time consuming and tedious work but it’s necessary to achieve a refined bathroom finish. There are some types of tiles that won’t allow for a mitred edge but I would seek multiple opinions from different tilers on this so that you know you are receiving the correct information.

#4: Profiles and finishes

Once, not very long ago, chunky, square edged taps, basins and accessories were the go-to for all things bathroom accessories and fittings but there has been a major shift in the design world and curved profiles have made a comeback and are here to stay. Now you know this, the key here is consistency. We want basins with soft, rounded edges and taps and spouts that reflect those same curvy lines.

This needs to be followed through all the way to your toilet roll holder and toilet flush. The other important detail, which can often be overlooked, is the finish of the metal. For instance, if you have opted for polished silver tapware you can’t then switch to a brushed chrome door handle or bath spout.

A well thought out and refined bathroom will reflect the one type of finish throughout. And this is a personal preference but polished silver is far more elegant and effective than brushed chrome. On the flip side, black, white, brass or copper accessories are best done in a matte finish. This is good information to keep on tap when you are being bamboozled with options.

It is fair that a homeowner would feel a bit of fear and bewilderment throughout a bathroom makeover because the stakes are high. It pays here to be 100% prepared with all your decision making done and dusted before you have even done the demolition because the risk otherwise is being put on the spot to make fast decisions and fast decisions are rarely good decisions.

Bathroom makeover madness

Gather your samples and lock in all your bathroom items right down to the shower waste and ensure you have everything in your hot little hands well before the trades request them. I have been caught out a few times having to compromise on product due to stock issues. If you are well researched, well prepared and confident in your trades you should be able to execute a bathroom you are proud of right down to the very last detail and you might even have fun in the process.


Carlene Duffy

Carlene is best known as one half of Michael and Carlene Duffy; the down to earth Gold Coast couple who shared their highs and lows with Australia on 9’s series The Block ‘Glasshouse’. The dynamic duo also featured in Renovation Rumble, and have together established their business ‘Cedar & Suede’.

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