Renovating a bathroom: a new design for the wet zone of your home

Torben Schröder

The color of the ceramics is no longer quite up to date, the pipes are calcified and there are cracks in the tiles – there are many good reasons to renovate a bathroom. There are a variety of options available, ranging from small touch-up jobs such as a fresh coat of paint to complete renovation and a whole new look. Here we explain how best to plan your project, the costs that may be incurred and the construction steps required.

A bathroom decorated in black and white.
© Getty Images / Philipp Dimitri

In this article

Ideal renovation planning

In principle, there are two important points that you should bear in mind during the planning stage. Firstly, there are the structural requirements of your current bathroom. These can be changed to some extent, but not arbitrarily. Secondly, there are your personal requirements for your new bathroom. The possibilities are endless. To help you get your bearings, here are some tips that you should take into account.

Check the structural requirements

When renovating a bathroom, the usual procedure is to conserve the existing structural fabric. Is there a floor plan of the room? If not, you should make one so that the professionals you call in to realize your project can see the desired layout as the work progresses. It should include the dimensions, the positions of windows and doors as well as the locations of any slopes, protruding elements and shafts. Where are the water and sewage pipes currently located? Where are the sockets and light switches?

Consider whether these structural requirements need to be modified during the renovation work. For example, if you have a relatively small bathroom but unused rooms just next to it, you may want to consider connecting them.

Your wishes and requirements

To start off with, you should have a good think about what bothers you about your current bathroom. Do you find the fittings outdated? Have you had enough of the color? Has your shower always been too small? Would you like an extra window?

There are also some basic questions to be clarified. The answers could have an influence on the renovation work and on the choice of new furnishing elements later on:

  • How many people live in your household?
  • Are there any infants and babies?
  • Do physical limitations make accessible renovation necessary?
  • Is the bathroom used by several people at the same time?
Two children stand in a bathroom and wash their hands at the washbasin.

When planning renovation work, you need to consider how many people will be using the bathroom at once. In many cases, a second washbasin is worthwhile, for example.

You should also decide early on which elements you want to integrate into your dream bathroom. Just one washbasin or two? A shower or a bathtub? Or both? Or even a little whirlpool? And do you have enough space to install a bidet or urinal next to the toilet? Where are your washing machine and tumble dryer currently located? You could also make room for them on the floor plan. The shower equipment and configuration also play a key role. Do you want a hand shower or an overhead shower? Should it be flush with the floor or have a shower tray?

The more specifically you answer these questions in advance, the more precisely you will be able to describe your ideas to specialists at the bathroom store later on.

Different design types

As well as using the available space and installing all the different elements, you also need to select a suitable style and adopt design ideas for your bathroom. Material, colors and furniture are all part of the process. Nowadays, for example, it’s no longer standard practice to cover the entire bathroom with tiles, but only the areas that actually get wet – i.e. around the shower, the bathtub and the washbasin. Painting the remaining surfaces with water-repellent paint will create a more homely feel.

Below we present different styles for your converted bathroom.

1. Purist and minimalist furnishing

This style is suitable for people with an affinity for design. It is characterized by symmetrical and linear structures. A large proportion of white underlines the idea of consistent simplicity. The bathroom is not overloaded by excessive use of accessories or sanitary facilities.

View into a modern bathroom with a white washbasin, blue tiles in the wet zone and two green plants.

Clearly drawn lines and the use of white are typical of the purist bathroom furnishing style.

2. Classical and elegant furnishing

A feeling of nostalgia emerges from this style. You create a romantic, extravagant image through the use of shiny, golden surfaces. Imitation wood or a bathroom carpet provides additional comfort on the floor.

3. Natural and rustic furnishing

Natural colors and materials such as stone and wood give the bathroom a cozy atmosphere similar to that of a country house or mountain chalet. Yet it shouldn’t seem old-fashioned.

4. Functional and creative furnishing

In this type of bathroom, the main focus is on the furniture, its arrangement and the color scheme. Let your creativity run free. Practical base units form a single colored entity with the matching shelves – an upright mirror contrasts with a dark painted wall.

5. Technical and smart furnishing

A smart home concept, i.e. technical assistance to increase comfort and safety, is also suitable for the bathroom. There are some ingenious solutions to make your everyday life easier, such as digital fittings, a toilet with a seat that opens automatically or entertainment technologies.

How much will it cost?

Renovating a bathroom can be an expensive business. This is down to several factors. Will you be able to use the existing building fabric or are you planning a redesign, for example by merging several rooms together? Do water pipes and electricity cables need to be replaced? The size, type and quantity of the planned sanitary fittings are also decisive factors. You should set aside between 2,000 and 4,000 francs per square meter for a full renovation.

Below we give you an indication of some rough price ranges and tell you what you can expect from your investment.

  • Price range
  • What this will pay for
  • < 10,000 francs
  • This budget is enough to freshen up your bathroom. Set visual emphasis with new fittings, a new shower head and new cladding for the bathtub, for instance.
  • 10,000 - 35,000 francs
  • Depending on the size of your bathroom, the costs in this segment vary greatly. For this budget, you will get simple but modern panels that are only installed in wet zones of the bathroom. The remaining areas can be painted. New sanitary fittings in the bathroom include a single washbasin, a toilet and a bathtub. Give your bathroom an individual style by making clever use of accessories.
  • 35,000 - 60,000 francs
  • High quality material such as natural stone is available in this price range. The budget allows for a double washbasin, a bathtub with a whirlpool function and a separate shower.
  • > 60,000 francs
  • Give your bathroom a completely new look and create more space. Everything is possible – knocking down a wall, fitting new pipes and cables, or opting for luxurious materials. Underfloor heating guarantees a pleasant feeling every morning. And why not relax in a small sauna in the evening?

Who will carry out the work?

Renovating a bathroom is complex, so you should always call in professionals. You can choose to hire a company specializing in bathroom renovations – instead of hiring electricians, bricklayers, painters and other workmen individually.

View into an empty, gutted bathroom. A water connection can be seen in the foreground.

The first step in a bathroom renovation project involves gutting. You can help with this if you have a little technical understanding.

The work involved

Below we briefly describe the different stages to give you a rough idea of what you or the company entrusted with the bathroom renovation will be faced with:

  • Return the bathroom to its shell state: sanitary fittings such as the bathtub, toilet and washbasin must be removed. If, for example, you want to install a walk-in shower, you will need to knock out and level the floor accordingly. With a bit of manual skill, you can help with these preparations.
  • Lay the pipes: the plumbers will install pipes for heating, ventilation and water, the electrician will fit the cables needed for the power supply.
  • Drywall and wetwall construction: the bathroom is slowly taking shape. The walls are plastered, the ceiling suspended and the joints finished.
  • Seal the bathtub and shower: careful sealing is required wherever there will be large amounts of running water. The workmen can now install the bathtub and shower and take care of the composite sealing.
  • Lay the tiles: be it on the ceiling, on the walls or on the floor – the tiles account for a large part of the first impression.
  • Paint the surfaces: the remaining areas need to be painted. If a special floor has been planned, it’s time for it to be laid.
  • Final assembly: the construction work has been completed. The workmen will now install the remaining sanitary fittings and connect them.

Conclusion: a perfect start to the day

Begin your morning routine with a good feeling – a freshly renovated bathroom can help. The scale of the bathroom renovation will depend on the structural conditions, your ideas in terms of design and the estimated budget. Everything is possible for your project – from standard to luxury.

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