It’s the most expensive room per square metre in the house but canny homeowners are increasingly realising that’s money well spent.
Rimless smart toilets, freestanding bathtubs and heated towel rails are just some of the big-budget trends as the growing demand for better built, smart bathrooms outweigh today’s cost-of-living pressures.
Harvey Norman bathroom general manager John Cannella says money is no object for customers wanting modern, high-profile designs and accessories by good brands.
“Three years ago, we saw how consumers shopped and it was less about style and more about colour … so we had to change how we sold things,” he says.
“Now we take people on a colour journey, followed by style, brand, quality and then price.”
The Auburn Bathroom Renovation showroom launched just before the pandemic forced most retailers to close their physical stores.
Now the brand is keen for visitors to see its 54 unique bathroom displays, just as thousands of dollars of pandemic savings are being ploughed back into the home.
Whether big or small, hipages chief customer officer Stuart Tucker says bathroom renovations remain a popular category.
Its latest Know Your Home report shows 59 per cent of Aussie homeowners have done home improvement work in the past six months.
“Homeowners are considering bathroom updates, to upgrade and increase the enjoyment of their home (49 per cent), and to update and modernise the outdated home (34 per cent),” Tucker says.
BATHROOM RENOVATIONS: HOW TO GET THE LUXE LOOK
It is no longer simply a utilitarian space as people are now demanding their bathrooms be attractive – a place to take refuge and soak away the stress of the day’s activities.
According to Harvey Norman Auburn bathroom proprietor Michael Sobol, Australians are taking their bathroom design more seriously.
“People are moving away from the traditional chrome and black hardware, and steering towards materials and colours such as brass, gun metals and nickel,” he says. “They’re buying a colour solution for the entire house.”
The showroom’s sales specialist, Natalie Tisano, has noticed a strong interest in fluted vanities and bath tubs as well as timeless pieces including subway tiles.
Sobol says corner or freestanding back-to-wall baths are all the rage. The only problem? Cleaning behind them.
Another big shift has been towards heating – for your towels.
“For a few hundred dollars, it’s the best money you could spend for your bathroom and a feature worth having,” Cannella says.
“The purpose of heated towel rails is not to heat, but to dry.”
Rimless toilets require minimal cleaning, while smart toilets require no cleaning at all. For $14,000, the Toto Neorest XH I can sanitise and flush itself, leaving nothing behind.
Looks to watch for include light and dark colours in porcelain tiles, which can make smaller areas look bigger with less lines. Green and blue are the trending colours for spring.
Cannella says these tiles also have a good slip rating and are ideal for foot traffic, especially for families with pets.
“Bathrooms are arguably the most important asset in the home,” he says. “Aussies are spending $25,000 on a renovation and if it goes wrong, they can’t go back and do it again.”
BATHROOM RENOVATIONS: EXPERT’S TOP TIPS
Noor Jazzar from Dr Renovations provides tips for homeowners looking to achieve a budget-friendly bathroom renovation.
Prioritise essential upgrades: Identify the most critical aspects of your bathroom that need improvement. Focus on essential upgrades, such as fixtures, lighting, and storage, before considering cosmetic changes.
Refurbish instead of replacing: Consider refurbishing existing fixtures and cabinetry instead of replacing them entirely. Repainting cabinets, reglazing bathtubs, or updating hardware can breathe new life into the bathroom without breaking the bank.
Opt for cost-effective materials: Choose cost-effective yet durable materials for your bathroom renovation. Utilise budget-friendly options like porcelain tiles instead of natural stone, or laminate countertops instead of marble.
Shop sales and discounts: Keep an eye out for sales, discounts, and clearance events at local home improvement stores or online retailers. Timing your purchases strategically can lead to significant savings.
Stick to a plan: Create a well-thought-out renovation plan and budget, and stick to it throughout the process to avoid overspending on unnecessary items or changes.
Limit tile usage: Tiles can be expensive, so consider limiting their use to high-impact areas like shower walls and floors. Use paint or other wall coverings in less exposed regions to save on costs.
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Originally published as What you should be spending on a bathroom reno