If you’ve just bought a new home then updating your bathroom is a great way to put a personal stamp on your new property and start afresh. When it comes to what to consider, the top three constraints you may be working around are;

  1. Space – perhaps your bathroom space is at a premium and your priority is to pay close attention to layout and maximising your use of the space without compromising on your growing needs in the years to come.
  2. Budget – after paying a mortgage, conveyancing and deposit fees, you might be left with a small pot of money to work magic on a bathroom in need of TLC so your priority is making an impact cost effectively.
  3. Making quality choices – whatever choices you make now as a first-time homeowner, you need to feel confident they’re the right decisions for you and your family with quality products you can rely on for the next 10+ years.

Whether you’re staring at a dated avocado bathroom suite or you want to make the space more focused on your needs as opposed to the previous homeowners, it’s important to weigh up your options so your new bathroom stands the test of time.

Where to begin with updating my bathroom

Before considering which bath, shower or toilet option is right for your new home, first get a thorough understanding of the space you’re working with, the elements you want to keep and change and then pin down a realistic budget based on what you think you’ll need, not forgetting labour costs for installation.

Budgeting for a new bathroom

This is a common question for first-time homeowners. After buying your first property, you’d be surprised at the dramatic differences you can make to your bathroom on a tight budget with just a few key design changes.

Costs can be heavily reduced by being clever with how you plan your space and DIYing where possible. We’ll be giving space and cost saving tips throughout this guide to help you make the right decisions.

Prices can also vary depending on the size of your bathroom, and how much of the original bathroom you salvage. We recommend seeking quotes from experienced plumbers and tilers early on in the project which will help you set a realistic figure as labour charges can vary widely across the UK.

Selecting the right bath 

Baths and showers are the biggest pieces in your bathroom so first decide whether you’ll have one or both, then sketch a room plan with your measurements in mind. If you can’t fit both a separate shower and bath, a shower bath will be a more effective and affordable option.

Straight baths come either with a squared edge, or curved edge ends. If the end of your bath will sit in close proximity to your sink or toilet, a curved edge bath would soften the flow of the room and prevent bangs and scratches over the years, whilst a square edged bath will need a little bit more walking space around its perimeter to prevent clumsy knocks.  

If you’re set on having a separate shower cubicle and bath but have a small space to work with, consider a corner bath which gives the illusion of space because of its curved edges. Corner baths can be installed flush against 2 walls in any right-angled corner allowing more room for the loo, sink and shower, adding to a better overall layout.

Ensure you end up with a bath that stands the test of time comfort-wise by considering how you like a bath to fit around you when in use. If you tend to soak in baths sitting upright, a flat base bath might be more comfortable for you.

Showers for first-time buyers

Choosing the right shower enclosure and tray for your bathroom design is an opportunity for you to add a personal and practical touch to your first home. Decide whether you want to make your shower a stand out feature in the room, or a practical place to wash as this will determine your design choice.

Walk in shower enclosures paired with an ultra slim wet room tray gives the illusion of space. They’re a deceivably inexpensive option with their cutting-edge frameless design, and if you want a shower that’s low maintenance, ordering a single glass screen for a walk in shower as opposed to a shower cubicle, will be easy to wipe down and keep clean – there’ll be no handles or frame getting in your way.

If you prefer a step in, step out opening to your shower (which does lock heat in better than a walk in shower) sliding door enclosures are a more practical alternative to a 90-degree hinged door opening in small bathrooms. They save the space that the swing of a door would usually take up in a room giving you more floor space to work with.

Frameless screens are a great way to keep light running through a small bathroom with a feeling of spaciousness. Opting for adjustable hard wearing glass screens as opposed to hanging a shower curtain keeps the space feeling clutter-free and is more hygienic.

Shower baths for first-time buyers

The long-term versatility shower baths can bring a home is unrivalled. They offer the convenience of quick showers, and the relaxation of baths cost-effectively (you won’t be paying for the two separately).

If your first home is somewhere you plan on starting or bringing up a family, a bathroom with a shower bath is a feature you should consider for their practicality. Shower enclosures can be tricky for children to use whereas a shower bath is simply somewhere they can step into.


If you’re changing the layout of your bathroom then you’ll need to think about the position of your toilet as the first port of call. Your soil pipe will dictate the position of your toilet so it’s actually best to plan your bathroom layout surrounding your toilet.

If you’re buying a toilet for a very small bathroom, under stair cupboard or ensuite, a corner toilet unit is a great space-saving option as it positions the toilet out of reach from swinging shower screens or basins and utilises space in an otherwise redundant corner.

Wall hung toilets are mounted and raised from the floor to give the clever illusion of space underneath. The cistern and pipework on wall hung toilets are usually hidden behind boxed in tiling or wall panels for a minimal look which can double up as clever use of storage space. It’s also worth considering toilets with a dual flush which are more environmentally friendly and will save your pennies as well as the environment.

Bear in mind that hidden cisterns and pipework must always be accessible if for any reason there is a toilet or drain blockage and your plumber needs access. Your tiler or plumber will provide you with simple solutions to achieving a boxed in look whilst making it accessible.


Despite basins taking up a small amount of space in a bathroom, the design you choose for your first home can transform the room and overall design. Wall hung basins are the most compact option for small bathrooms.

Consider what your growing needs will be in the years to come. If you’re to take into account the needs of family living, we’d recommend opting for a sink as large as you can suitably fit in the bathroom. Wall hung basins are better for small tasks like washing hands, whereas something like a vanity basin would be perfect for tasks that may cause a splash such as washing your face and brushing your teeth.

Countertop basins are a fantastic option for smaller spaces if your vision is to install one onto a shelving unit providing under sink storage for things like makeup, beauty products and razors. They can also give a style statement to a room when fitted in a suspended fashion below a mirror.

Storage solutions

The plus side of owning your first property is having full permission to take storage solutions to the next level up that rented accommodation limited you with. During the redesign of your new bathroom, it’s important to take into account opportunities to incorporate storage space wherever possible.

For a start, bathroom cabinets are a great addition to any bathroom as they provide a home for unsightly razors, your stock of toothpaste and toothbrushes, and double up as a handy bathroom mirror. A further consideration for storage solutions could be to install countertop basins to a shelving unit, utilising the space where pipework would typically sit. Shelving above a toilet utilises wall space, providing a home for towels and storage baskets and is typically the cheapest storage upgrade you can give to your first home.

Radiators/towel heaters

If you’re redesigning a bathroom that’s dated, it’s common to find that radiators have been positioned in less practical places. A popular option in upgraded bathrooms is to install a towel heater in place of wide radiators. Apart from providing comfort and heat to the bathroom, towel radiators like a curved heated towel rail have a modern aesthetic that potentially saves space in a bathroom. Older heaters are typically wide, whereas towel rails are tall and thin giving you more wall space to install a wall hung basin, shelves or toilet.

There’s no doubt that towel heaters bring an unrivalled sense of luxury to any bathroom, given they keep towels warm and fluffy, but if you’re worried they may be too modern for your plans.

The finishing touches

To finish off your bathroom redesign, don’t forget about all the ways you can enhance your space however small it may be.

Positioning large mirrors on walls will give the illusion of a larger room as light reflects from wall to wall, doubling the space size. If opting for pattern tiling either on your walls and/or floors, try not to focus on big, bold patterns in small areas. More detailed, smaller patterns in tiling is better suited to a smaller space as it is less busy.

As you would in any other room in your new house, make the most of the lighting. If your bathroom doesn’t see much natural light, inset ceiling lights will brighten the room. Be careful as you are planning lighting changes as more often than not, faux ceilings have to be put in place to hide wiring. This lowers the ceiling height of your room so keep this in mind for your shower measurements.

If you have large windows and lots of natural light, introduce plants and elements of nature which will bring the outdoors inside, and don’t forget no bathroom is complete without candles scattered on shelving for ultimate relaxation.

Redesigning a bathroom you’ve long dreamed of that comes in on budget without compromising on design and quality is highly achievable, if you understand fully what is possible when it comes to updating a bathroom 

The key is getting clear on the possibilities available to you and being realistic with your budget and space constraints whilst constantly taking into account your needs now, and 10 years down the line. With close consideration and clever use of small areas, you will end up with a bathroom that stands the test of time. A relaxing space for you, your family and future owners of your property, long into the future.

Howards of Hayling offer a selection of stunning bathroom designs for you to touch and feel from traditional elegance to contemporary styles.  There’s a choice for any project and any budget – whether you are refreshing your ensuite, adding a cloakroom or refurbishing a family bathroom.  If you need a little inspiration, head to our local showroom where our friendly and knowledgeable staff are on hand to help make your perfect bathroom become a reality.

If you’d like further information, simply contact Howards of Hayling today on 023 9246 5182 or email info@howardsofhayling.com and our friendly and knowledgeable team will be more than happy to assist you with any enquiries