Seven tips for bathroom renovations from a parent who both succeeded and failed

This bathroom looks the part, but the white grout won't be white soon, and how are small kids supposed to safely lean ...
This bathroom looks the part, but the white grout won't be white soon, and how are small kids supposed to safely lean over that basin? With a few tweaks, it would be family-friendly. Photo: Alamy

So you're considering a bathroom renovation and have some ideas already, about what your dream space looks like.

We went through the process of renovating three years ago, and learned a few things along with way.

The kids' bathroom is theirs to use, as we use an ensuite. So we designed it differently to the one we use upstairs.

After a few years of living with it, I can see we made a few errors of judgement, and some decisions that were spot on, so I'll share them with you so you don't make the same mistakes. You'll also pick up a few tips.

1. Tiling grout

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Photo: Shutterstock

For the love of all that's good in the world choose black or dark grey grout. It will emancipate you from your dreams of an all-white fantasy bathroom and add a touch of urban chic you never knew could be so practical.

White grout is the road to hell when you have kids. It turns murky in no time and bath crayons and Slime Baff will wreak their rainbow madness on it until finally, it will just be mouldy, murky, mottled grey. Best not to see that.

Our cost-effective black grout with white subway tiles was the winning combination and still looks fab three years of hard wear and tear down the track.

2. Toilets

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Photo: Shutterstock
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There are certain toilets so wide and cavernous that your smaller kids will just fall right into them. And if you're planning to use one of those kids' toilet seats, check that your selected toilet will actually fit one. Ours didn't and our then 2-year-old was found literally sitting IN the toilet bowl yelling for help. Yep.

There are also tall toilets, short toilets, ones that hang from the wall and those that sit on the floor.

You're going to feel silly in the showroom, but embrace the dagginess and ensure everyone in the family sits on the final choice before putting down that hefty deposit. You'll have to strike a balance between getting one that suits future ages and stages, and one that suits your needs now.

Also, get one with a removable seat so the crevices can be cleaned easily.

3. Stick with chrome taps, or suffer the consequences

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Photo: Shutterstock

We thought we were so fancy selecting gorgeous black taps. Three years later they're a mottled version of their former selves. Metal toy cars, crazy kid bathroom antics and general wear and tear have all taken their toll on those once-beautiful taps.

If we'd gone with chrome, they'd still look new. Coloured taps that stay beautiful are firmly in the unicorn basket when you have kids. They don't exist.

Add dream colours with accessories - not with permanent, expensive fixtures - like the photo above.

Also make sure you install lever taps, because small hands often find it difficult to turn on the kind that have to be loosened before they'll operate.

4. Plastic baths all the way

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Photo: Shutterstock

We chose a gorgeous metal bath from some oddly-placed sense of nostalgia for the good old days, which really, as kids of the 80s and 90s we didn't live through either.

Because it's a combined shower over bath, now it's just a slipping hazard waiting to happen and I've got the bottom of it covered in ugly plastic suction cupped matting to stop the kids from incurring severe head injuries.

Big mistake. Just get a nice plastic bath and you'll breathe a little bit easier.

5. Mid-tone floor tiles are more worthy than dark or light tiles

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Photo: tilewizards.com.au

We have both blondes and brunettes living in our home. Light tiles on the floor are a disaster for all those darker hairs and black tiles were never going to be good for the flaxen-haired among us.

We chose concrete-look mid-grey floor tiles and have never looked back. And that's not to say floors have to be boring. My friend chose grey-and-white patterned tiles and they are just as effective at disguising bathroom floor detritus.

6. Storage

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Mirror storage is a lifesaver. Photo: Shutterstock

One of the best things we did was cover a whole wall in storage. We have storage behind the mirrors and storage in the bathroom bench. When we want all those bath toys to disappear, we can do it easily and quickly.

Good storage means we can also buy toilet paper in bulk, and additional stores of toothpaste, toothbrushes and hand soap when we see them on sale.

7. Think about installing two basins

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Photo: Shutterstock

You'll never regret having more than one basin, or alternatively like we did, one very long rectangular basin.

Peak tooth brushing times in the morning and evenings mean bickering, toothpaste spillage or cleaning teeth in shifts, which each child drags out as long as they can.

If you have the space, do it.