My bathroom was original, with almond coloured fixtures and brown patterned tile. It actually wasn't so bad, except for the shower screen, which was as dysfunctional as it was ugly. The roller thingys kept falling off because the screw holes were warped and bent, which meant the door panels would get stuck or were tricky to open smoothly. It all came to a head when I was virtually trapped in the shower with a giant black spider that descended from the ceiling vent directly above me, and I could not get the damn door open! I'm sure the neighbours can still remember the shrieks!
For years I kept thinking maybe I could just use tile paint and get the back resprayed, to do a quick and cheap makeover. But that still left the ugly floor tile, along with a layout that wasn't ideal.
Here's the original layout:
- Two different windows in the one room that weren't even the same height. My immediate assumption was that it would be expensive and onerous to replace the window, and I was trying to do this on a budget.
- No separate toilet in a two bedroom unit.
The second problem wasn't really an issue for me, since there's no one else there 90% of the time. I thought about when I lived in my share house, which had a main bedroom with an ensuite, and another two bedrooms that shared the main bathroom. And I can count on one hand the number of times this was a problem over five years of living there. I was conscious of resale considerations, and had a look online at other new-build two bedroom apartments to see what was on the market. I knew that the separate toilet was quite an old-fashioned design, albeit a practical one! After a bit of research I felt confident that removing the wall and squaring off the room was the way to go: almost all of the new-build 2-bed 1-bath apartments I was seeing online had the toilet inside the bathroom.
To finalise my decision, I drew a to-scale version of both options, with all the fixtures cut out separately so I could play around with the layout and different sized fixtures (for example, a 900mm x 900mm shower and a bigger option, and a 1400mm or 1600mm bath length, as well as a vanity option from 900mm to 1200mm in length.
Option 1: 'basic' renovation - no structural changes, a few plumbing changes:
Option 2: 'luxury' renovation - remove wall, new window and square off the room, about the same amount of plumbing changes:
The weird toilet placement was so that there were no plumbing changes required - as we got closer to the start of the renovation I decided it looked odd, and changed it 90 degrees to sit on the same wall as the vanity. This meant I didn't need to leave as much clearance and the vanity could be moved over to ultimately have a longer countertop.
So I finally had a plan! Remove the wall and windows, put in a new window and create a new doorway to square off the room. This would allow me to have a much bigger room with a layout that worked. After a few false starts where we pushed the schedule back a few weeks due to tradie availability, we were ready to demo. I was able to save money by having my brother and a mate do the demo, and my brother did all the electrical work for me at no cost for labour - despite these savings, the whole renovation ended up costing just under $20,000 which I paid for in cash (I say this to demonstrate that this was as a result of years of saving, and that I wasn't taking out a loan or putting things on my credit card to be paid for at a later date, not to brag about how much cash I had). I would have liked to have spent less, but in the end I decided since this was a personal renovation and I had some specific wants, that would cost me a little more.
I can easily see how people spend $30,000 or more on a bathroom renovation, as my price tag included free demolition labour (I had to hire a skip bin), free electrician (I had to pay cost price for the downlights, plug points, cable etc) and plenty of bargain/low-cost purchases of tiles, fixtures and fittings.
The end results was amazing. A friend even asked if I had hired a designer! Here's a sneak peek: