Renovating a bathroom for as little as possible is a great idea, until a bathroom no longer feels like a bathroom and you start to erode the value of your home. Bathroom renovations that involve ripping all the old tiles out and only retiling the floor and the shower area are now quite common but are home owners getting the balance right? I’m not so sure. If done well they can look beautiful but finding the fine line between saving money and the room looking cheap is rather an art. Today we’re going to discuss 5 things that determine success in a minimal tile bathroom renovation and how to avoid a flop when you’re attempting a flip.

1. Decor and accessories: If you are going to cut back on tiling then you are going to have to increase spending on decor items to add some serious visual interest otherwise the space is going to look really empty. To give you a rough idea of costs to furnish and style this room you would be looking at adding a runner (like this one for R3600 from Hertex ), wood or grass accents (like this free standing bath side table from Iconomy for R1899), living decor through plants (like this Areca palm in a basket from Woolworths for R599), fancy special towels like this range from Weylandts (for R600 a bath sheet) and lighting like this natural pendant from Lighting Warehouse for R1699. That’s close to R10 000 extra just to add some non-tile interest… hmmm maybe there is budget for a bit more tile or a better tile after all. Remember the labour cost is the same to install an average tile and an amazing tile.

2. Tile to paint joins: This is the number one mistake people make when embarking on a minimal tile bathroom renovation. If you are not going to tile an entire bathroom then deciding how far to tile is one of the most important decisions. Stopping a tile at an odd point in the room with no natural finishing point or join (like 85% up the wall) just draws attention to the fact that you’ve cut costs on tiling. It is far better to tile all the way to the ceiling or half way up a wall. Tiling around a sink or bath is another area that can be tricky. Rather run a stone to ceiling mirror behind the sink than a 30cm high section of tile in the middle of a blank wall. Also when it comes to the bath area it is better to shop around for a well priced free standing bath than to have to run an odd amount of tile around just the bath. The second problem when stopping tiling is what colour you decide to paint the rest of the bathroom. Tile’s and bathroom paint colours should match or at least tone into each other extremely closely. Installing a white marble look tile on a yellow/beige/grey wall does not work well. These tiles always look best when the background colour of the tile is the same as the wall.

3. Hero or splurge items: Every story needs a hero and so does every room. In a bathroom a free standing bath is a beautiful feature but it’s not enough to bring a room together. Custom built vanities can definitely be a hero as long as there is something special about the piece like a colour, unique cabinetry or interesting stone. It’s important to support the hero with a few side kick items like feature lighting. Shutters in a bathroom instantly make a space feel more luxurious so that’s a splurge that’s always worth it specially if you are dealing with burglar bars or a dated window. Opt for lower cost and water proof PVC shutters available per metre through Builders.

4. Type of fittings: If you’ve decided to save on tile then be careful to buy modern sanitaryware and modern fittings as the room is really going to rely on these items to make the space feel updated and bring the space together. High contrast designs with black taps can certainly add interest in a minimal bathroom and if you shop around you can get bargains. I’ve even seen flippers buying mixers from Amazon to get deals or source special finds so experiment with 1 piece and see how it goes.

5. Big picture decision making: Having worked with house flippers over the years on the staging side of my business I’ve seen first hand how retailers running tile sales can result in a bathroom renovation that is more of an adjacent move than a move forward. A brand new bathroom that still looks old is a decor tragedy so be very careful not to be thrown by one off deals and lose track of the overall vision. Sometimes a sale is a sign that something is not appealing to most people. If you want to sell your house for a good return one day then it’s important to renovate according to mass market appeal while making sure you get what you also like. We advise all of our clients to start with a detailed plan before making any purchases so they can see how the whole space looks before committing to any purchase. This gives flexibility to trade out items if it’s not working before it’s all installed.

If you need help tackling one of these minimal tile bathroom renovations we offer an hourly decor consulting package (the Pre-renovation Bundle) to help you choose the final look and feel and finishes.

Need help tackling your mismatched interior?
We offer an hourly decor consulting package (the Pre-renovation Bundle) to help you with advice and decor choices so get in touch.