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Build Your Squad - working with your bathroom designer

Wednesday, September 27th 2017

Return to the Powder Room

Everything your designer or stylist wants you to know before a bathroom renovation or build.

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There is a difference between hiring a bathroom designer, and working with your designer. When you understand how to work best with your designer, not only is the process more fun, but the finished result can be outstanding.

Well-known Australian designer, Kate Walker, has worked with countless Australians, turning their bathroom ‘dreams’ into reality. Kate shares her advice on how to get the most from your bathroom designer and tips to help you work together to create your perfect bathroom.

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Why should we work with a designer when it comes to a bathroom renovation or build?

Designers can help you select materials that are cutting edge in terms of technology and functionality. Designers are also invaluable when it comes to spatial planning, and getting the right layout for a bathroom is so important. The layout can make the difference as to how a bathroom works – a small bathroom needs to be designed so that it’s really easy to use and appears large, while a large bathroom needs be practical as well as feeling warm and inviting.

What are the key design elements we need to consider for the bathroom?

The most important design elements are the hard finishes like the tiles or stone, and the joinery. It’s also vital that you consider the details – storage, ventilation, power points in the right locations, and the best light. It’s always preferable to have natural light, but if that’s not possible, then wall mounted lights are a better option than ceiling lights which are particularly harsh for putting on make-up.

Factor in how a bathroom will be used, as there will be different considerations depending on whether it’s a family bathroom, a guest bathroom or an ensuite. Privacy is important, so you may want a separate toilet or nib walls, and with family bathrooms it’s ideal to have two toilets if possible – one in the bathroom and a separate one so that the children can be brushing their teeth or having a shower without a queue outside the bathroom door. 

What’s the best approach to managing the relationship with a designer during a bathroom renovation?

It really is vital to give a clear brief, and to have a detailed scope of works. It’s also important to have a clear understanding of your budget because bathroom renovations can range from $3000 to $50,000 depending on the type of materials and fittings you choose. Locking in a set fee for the project is ideal.

What should we research or get familiar with in relation to bathroom?

Research the products that are available because there are always new ones on the market, be it tiles, stone, basins, baths, lighting and even storage units.

It’s also important to understand the functionality and longevity of the products you are selecting. For example, you wouldn’t choose timber flooring for a bathroom because it expands and contracts with water being spilled on it. Research the materials you like to determine if they need sealing or if they are slippery, and how easy they are to clean – you don’t want to have to scrub your shower all the time. The larger the tile the less grout is used which generally means less maintenance. 

Mood boards can really help to give your designer a clear picture of your vision.

What should we do before getting a designer involved? And any tips on choosing the right designer to suit your personality and project?

When choosing a designer, look at their portfolio to ensure they have a knowledge and understanding of the look you are after. Choose a designer who has expertise in a range of different styles so they don’t lead you to their style instead of following your brief. 

Get an understanding of the designer’s fee structure before engagement – steer clear of hourly rates because time can quickly run away from you. Make sure you have a clear understanding how much time it’s going to take to complete your bathroom renovation, and ensure that your designer specifies materials that will be in stock when required. Your designer should also have a sound technical knowledge so they understand all factors that contribute to a successful bathroom, including the plumbing and the electrics.

The key is to find a designer who is open and flexible to work with, and who can achieve your vision within with your budget and your timeframe. 

Any last tips for working together that will help the bathroom renovation run smoothly and successfully?

You have to feel comfortable in the expertise of your designer, admire and respect their work and believe in their integrity. The designer you choose needs to get along with all the other trades; you need pretty much the same amount of trades to do a bathroom as you do a whole house – plaster, painting, joinery, stonemasonry, plumbing, electrical and glazier, to name a few. There are so many trades involved in such a small space, it’s really import that the designer has an understanding of how they all work together to ensure a smooth bathroom renovation. 

What does your dream client look like? 

Someone who has a clear vision of what they want but trusts in my ability to take their vision to the next level.

For more ‘reno squad’ tips and advice, check-out our complete bathroom Renovation Guide

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