The Complete Guide to Bathroom Renovations

The bathroom is arguably the biggest unsung hero of the modern home. It is used by every member of the household on a daily basis and is a place to relax, bathe, and generally make yourself feel human as you prepare for the day ahead. As such, it’s imperative that this part of the property is allowed to sparkle – bathroom renovations are the ideal solution!

Smith & Sons are one of New Zealand’s premier specialists in bathroom renovations. We have already helped thousands of homeowners rediscover the love of their bathrooms, and you can be next.

This comprehensive guide can help you build a vision while our experienced professionals can turn it into a reality. Here’s everything you could ever need to know.


Your bathroom renovation checklist

Before completing any bathroom renovation project, it’s crucial that you take the necessary considerations into account. Here is a five-point checklist that should precede any finalised design decisions.

Budget: One of the great things about bathroom renovations is that they are cheaper than many other projects. Still, knowing your budget is essential. When it comes to using those funds, focus on the essentials first and worry about the smaller additions afterwards.

Planning Permissions: While it’s unlikely that you’ll need approval for decorating the existing bathroom, the addition of a new one may require planning permission. Depending on the type of project, contacting your local authorities is key. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Dimensions: Strategic planning is a necessity for any homeowner wanting to maximise the possibilities during their bathroom renovation. While this is an area where Smith & Sons provides confirmation prior to starting work, taking those measurements will help you prepare.

Ventilation: Whether it will be achieved via a window, extractor fan or whole building system, adequate ventilation is a pivotal feature for both the immediate function and long-term condition of the room.

Timing: While the quality of the work will always be paramount most homeowners want their bathroom renovations to be completed. This is just one of several reasons why Smith & Sons are the ideal specialists for your project.

Appreciating the need to give your bathroom renovation preparations the attention they deserve is one thing, but actively creating a vision that can be brought to life is another altogether.


Great ideas for small bathrooms

The size of your bathroom will naturally hold a significant influence on the possibilities that the space provides. This area is commonly one of the smallest rooms in the modern home. So, unless you are adding a new bathroom, it’s likely that you will have a limited space to play with. Don’t fear; big things can be achieved even with the smallest areas.


Smith & Sons can help you utilise a host of secret tips to maximise the impact of this valuable space. Here are some of the simple tricks that can transform the atmosphere of the modern bathroom:


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  1. Use a corner sink to leave the floor space clear.

  2. Opt for a shower curtain or a sliding shower door rather than one that swings.

  3. Use a hanging vanity to free up floor space below.

  4. Or choose a vanity with storage space included.

  5. Create shelving space above the toilet by extending the counter.

  6. Opt for light colour schemes to reflect light and make the space look bigger.

  7. Utilise mirrors to create the illusion of space.

  8. Use a towel rail while keeping the rest of your linen stored elsewhere in the home.

  9. Create storage on the back of the door, or in the space behind it.

  10. Utilise the walls to add character rather than using ornaments.


Smith & Sons can show you a host of other ideas designed to make limited spaces look and feel a little bigger. With the right tricks up your sleeve, even a perceived lack of space needn’t destroy your dreams of achieving a classy bathroom remodel. This includes en-suite or half-bathroom projects too.


Different Types of Baths

The clue is in the title, and the bath needs to play a central role in your bathroom design. It’s the item that will take up the biggest amount of floor space and is probably the first thing that will catch your attention when entering the room. Naturally, then, the right choice of bathtub is essential.


There are several bathtub types to consider, including

Alcove: Rectangular, three-sided, and often with a shower head above one end.

Clawed foot: It’s visible feet and curves provide a timeless vintage appeal.

Corner tub: Using two walls for support, it offers versatility and makes use of the corner space.

Drop-in tub: The bathtub is built into the tiles or stone so that the rim is level. Highly classy.

Undermount tub: Similar to a luxury drop-in bath, only with covered rims.

Hot tubs: Big, but incredibly luxurious. Often come with added features such as jets.

Freestanding: Make a big impact with a freestanding tub that can sit anywhere in the bathroom.

Mobility tub: The walk-in bath is ideal for the elderly or those that struggle to get in a standard tub.




Aside from the style of bath, you may wish to consider the colour, although white is clearly the most common feature. Similarly, the positioning of the bathtub and the taps is a crucial decision that can influence the look of your entire bathroom.


Plumbing Options

The plumbing within your bathroom ranks among the most critical functions in the entire home. Frankly, this is not an aspect of the home improvement that should be attempted by anyone lacking the necessary skills and experience. Otherwise, you could potentially make the situation even worse.

Before completing the bathroom renovation work, there are a number of plumbing related questions that can provide useful guidance as you bring that final vision together. Here are just some of the key points that must be considered:


  • Do toilets, bathtubs, or sinks need to be relocated or repositioned? (Consider how this will impact the cost and time required to complete the task, as well as whether you’re getting the best layout)


  • Are the drainage facilities wide enough? (Even if the drains have remained unblocked until now, consider the future situation rather than just the current one)


  • Should pipes and plumbing lines be hidden? (Sometimes they can blend in with the aesthetic appeal, but sometimes they won’t)

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  • Will you require floor drainage? (This will depend mainly on the shower situation)


Whatever the answers may be, the plumbing work is best left to the professionals. Smith & Sons can discuss your options as well as complete the work itself. Unfortunately, even the best looking bathrooms are a little futile if they don’t perform as they should. Getting the plumbing elements under control is non-negotiable.


Cabinets and Storage

It would be very easy to assume that the cabinets and storage facilities aren’t overly important to the bathroom renovation. On the contrary, they hold a huge influence over the appearance, function, and general atmosphere.

Meanwhile, they can either complement the bathtub, toilet and sink or leave the whole room feeling confused. While the options regarding modern baths are vast, there’s only so much that can be achieved with the other features. Cabinets and storage provide authority for the theme and style of the room, whether it be a vintage look or a contemporary vibe.


Again, it’s not simply a case of picking the first item that springs to mind. Here are some of the questions that should be asked before making your final decisions;


  • What dimensions should the cabinets be? (They need to be big enough to provide the storage that your family needs, without eating away at the space)


  • Do the materials and colour schemes suit the bathroom design? (The theme and style should be supported by the bath and other facilities to leave the biggest impression)


  • Are mirrored doors advised? (They can reflect the light and create the perception of a bigger room, but may not work with all themes)


  • Where should they be positioned? (Above the vanity or sink is likely, but other options are possible, especially if the bathroom has an odd shape)


You may want to look for hidden storage, such as a hole in the wall shelf for the shower or storage behind the door. Again, Smith & Sons have seen and done it all. So, whatever ideas you may have, our experts can advise you on whether it’s possible and necessary.


Different types of tiles and counter-tops

While the right cabinets and furnishings are crucial to building a bathroom that you can be proud of, there’s no doubt that the walls, floors, and counter-tops are the first things that will catch your attention. Furthermore, those features set the tone for the entire space. Do not ignore them.

The flooring is likely to be tiled or a vinyl material, especially when opting for modern looks as carpets feel somewhat outdated. Besides, carpets will show signs of wear and tear due to liquid and moisture.

Smith & Sons can source and install virtually every type of bathroom wall tile imaginable. Some of the most popular solutions right now include;


  • Black and white tiles: A timeless classic that can be incorporated in a variety of fashions.

  • Wood-effect tiles: For a natural look that works particularly well with freestanding baths and certain stone colour schemes.

  • Stone-effect tiles: Marble and granite are both popular options seen in a growing number of stylish bathrooms.

  • Panels: A versatile option that gives you control over tile sizes as well as colours and finishes.

  • Patterned tiles: The mosaic tiles are probably best associated with vintage looks, but remain a popular solution.


There are many other tiles available, with blues and golds among the colours currently on trend. However, they need to work with the countertops too. The most suitable style may be influenced by the bathtub, especially if choosing a drop-in bath. However, the choice between stone, tiles, and ceramic materials can impact everything from cost to cleaning.



Give this aspect of the bathroom design the attention it deserves, and this can bring the cabinets and bathroom furnishings to life.


Don’t forget the little things

As mentioned towards the top of this guide, the big things will always be the priority, not least regarding your budget. Nonetheless, you should not forget the accessories and decorative pieces that complete the bathroom look. After all, stamping your personality on the room is the key to creating that homely and welcoming vibe.

Floor mats, rugs, and bath towels can be used to embrace the colour schemes while many themes can be used to inject personality. Whether it’s a nautical theme or a natural theme, this will provide a sense of direction when looking for wall art or ornaments.

Meanwhile, simple items like toothbrush holders and shower radios can make bathroom time far more comfortable. Finally, the door lock system can have a significant impact on the overall feeling.  While those items may be reasonably insignificant on an individual basis, the overall effect that they bring can be monumental.

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Before and after examples

Most homeowners follow a similar pathway during the planning stages. Ultimately, though, true success comes from finding a design that works for you.

With so many possibilities out there, one of the best ways to build a clear image of what you wish to achieve is to gain inspiration from others. Smith & Sons have worked on an eclectic range of projects covering bathrooms of all shapes, sizes, and styles.

Check out these five before and after example to gain further inspiration and think about what we can do for you:


New Brighton – Bath/shower removal and remodel

Riccarton – Stylish small bathroom upgrade

Blenheim – Luxury transformation of large bathroom space

Hamilton Central – New villa bathroom addition

Takanini – En-suite bathroom renovation


Whether you now know exactly what you wish to achieve with your bathroom or still need a little support with the design process, Smith & Sons are here to help. Give us a call on 0800 764 846 to get your project started in style today!

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