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The ultimate DIY bathroom guide: Achieve a luxe bathroom for less

Many people see the bathroom as a functional space, but it’s much more. It’s a sanctuary ā€” a place to relax, unwind, and escape the stresses of daily life. You don’t need a hefty budget to transform your bathroom into a luxury spa. With creative DIY tricks and thoughtful planning, you can have the bathroom of your dreams without breaking the bank.

Keep reading for our ultimate DIY bathroom guide where we cover all the important aspects of a bathroom renovation, and plenty of insider tricks to get a luxe for less look!

Related article: A fresh take on subway tiles: 5 of the most popular ways to lay subway tiles
Related article: Common plumbing problems in old homes

bathroom styling inspo _ bathroom styling inspiration
Styling by @kelliehobbsinteriors. Build by @cjrconstruction. Photography by @nira.creative.

Planning is key

The blueprint of success

Before reaching for a hammer, it’s crucial to have a well-thought-out plan. Sketch your existing bathroom layout and envision what you want the final result to look like. Consider what works well in your current bathroom and what you desperately want to change. Do you lack storage? Or is the shower in an awkward spot?

Use free online design tools to help you visualise your dream bathroom better. But keep in mind, moving your plumbing will increase costs significantly so if you can keep your basin, shower and toilet in the same location or move them minimally.

Or if you’re planning a new bathroom space, consider what’s most important to you, such as a large bath, and prioritise that in your floor plan. Often it isn’t possible to achieve everything you want in a bathroom. It’s better to focus on your hero elements and allow these to shine than try to squeeze everything in.

DIY hack: Use painter’s tape to map out the dimensions of fixtures on your floor and walls. This will give you a sense of the space and help you make more informed decisions.

Budgeting: The cornerstone of your project

Set your limits

A well-defined budget is essential. List down all possible expenses, from tiles to fixtures to labour costs. Because budget creep and unexpected costs always arise, allow an additional 10-20% for unforeseen expenses. Knowing your budget limits will help you make smarter choices throughout the renovation process. It also means you won’t have to compromise on important things at the end of the reno just to finish!

When planning your budget, consider the resale value of your choices. According to a report by the National Association of Realtors (US), bathroom renovations have a strong return on investment.

Tips for smart budgeting:

  • use a spreadsheet to track all expenses
  • be on the lookout for sales and discounts
  • consider the resale value of your choices.
Planning a renovation DIY bathroom guide
We start our DIY bathroom guide with planning because every successful bathroom renovation starts with a plan!

The importance of quality

Investments that last

You often get what you pay for when it comes to fixtures and materials. High-quality fixtures are more durable and will save you money in the long run, as you won’t have to replace them frequently. For instance, taps undergo the most wear and tear, so investing in a good one can pay off in the long run. Check out our tips on selecting tapware for your home.

DIY hack: Mix and match. Splurge on frequently used fixtures but save on items like towel rails or shower curtains.

Plumbing: The backbone of your bathroom

Don’t cut corners

No matter how beautiful your bathroom looks, if the plumbing isn’t done correctly, you’re setting yourself up for problems. Plumbing should never be DIYed ā€” always consult professionals like a plumber in Bondi for a quality job.

Material choices:

  • Copper: Durable but expensive
  • PVC: Easy to work with and budget-friendly
  • PEX: Flexible and perfect for tight spaces.
Plumbing rough in DIY bathroom guide

Flooring: The foundation of aesthetics

Setting the tone

Your choice of flooring can make or break the aesthetic of your bathroom. While materials like marble scream luxury, natural stone also requires careful maintenance and can quickly blow your budget. You can achieve a similar look with high-quality porcelain tiles that mimic the appearance of natural stone without the upkeep or expense.

DIY hack: If you’re renovating, cut costs by doing some of the demolition yourself or assist as a labourer to your trades. Alternatively, if your tiles are in good shape but just look dated, consider painting them! From terrazzo chip paints to tile stencils, there are so many ways you can give your tiled floors a modern makeover.

Walls: More than just a backdrop

Elevate your space

The walls of your bathroom offer a canvas to express your creativity. You can transform your bathroom’s ambience through paint, tiles, or wall fixtures. Neutral colours offer a timeless look, while bold hues make a striking statement.

Wall design tips:

  • consider a feature wall to create a focal point
  • use waterproof paint to protect against moisture
  • experiment with tile patterns for added character
  • VJ panel is an affordable alternative to tile for walls (other than in the shower!). Best of all, it’s a material that’s easy to work with, making it a top pick in our DIY bathroom guide.
Floating timber vanity in pink tiled bathroom
Natural stone makes for a stunning statement in a bathroom renovation | See all the bathrooms from The Block

Lighting: Setting the mood

Illuminate your sanctuary

Next in our DIY bathroom guide is to consider lighting, an often overlooked aspect of bathroom design. A well-considered lighting plan can give your bathroom an architectural look for little expense and set the ambience. From wall lights at your vanity to recessed ceiling lights, LED strip lighting or hanging pendants, there are many ways you can use lighting to add interest to your bathroom. Read our expert bathroom lighting tips here.

Tip: LED bulbs are not only long-lasting but also incredibly energy-efficient. According to the Department Of Energy, they use up to 75% less energy than traditional lighting. These are available in warm or cool light temperature so you don’t have to compromise on the ambience you want to achieve.

Lighting tips:

  • use dimmable lights to set the mood you want
  • opt for LED bulbs for energy efficiency
  • install a skylight, if possible, to maximise natural light.

DIY hack: Use adhesive LED strips under cabinets or behind mirrors to add a soft glow without any electrical work.

Waukivory Estate bathroom vanity
These wall lights are like jewellery in this bathroom renovation | Take a tour of Waukivory Estate

Sustainability: Luxury meets responsibility

Go green, not just for the planet

Incorporating sustainable materials or finding energy efficiencies benefits the environment and can save you money in the long run. From low-flow taps to energy-efficient lighting, going green doesn’t mean compromising on luxury.

Low-flow toilets and taps can significantly reduce your water usage. According to the Department Of Energy, low-flow taps can reduce tap water use from 15-18 litres per minute to as little as 2 litres per minute.

Sustainable choices

  • low-flow toilets and taps
  • recycled or sustainable materials for counters
  • non-toxic paints and finishes.

DIY hack: Sydney plumbers Bayside Plumbing suggest repurposing your vanity where possible by giving it a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. This can give your vanity a brand new look while saving you big and preventing unnecessary waste ending up in landfill!

Styling your space

Adding that final layer of style

Once you’ve completed your bathroom comes the fun and all important job of styling. Styling your bathroom adds warmth and personality, and can elevate the sense of luxury. Couldn’t afford those gorgeous marble tiles you wanted? Why not introduce a hint of marble with a luxe bath tray instead!

You can also DIY some of the styling elements and we have plenty of bathroom DIY ideas on the blog. One idea that’s so simple and affordable is to DIY your own bathroom art. Using online tools like Vista Create, you can easily manipulate photos to turn them into instant wall art. For example, consider using their outline image tool to outline subjects from photos and create beautiful collages or pop art.

We hope this article has given you plenty of ideas on how you can transform your bathroom into a luxurious oasis. Just remember, you don’t need a big budget when you use creativity, planning, and have a willingness to get your hands dirty. By following this ultimate DIY guide, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a bathroom that not only looks high-end but also increases the value of your home.

More bathroom advice and inspo

Gina Beschorner Style Curator

Welcome to Style Curator, your destination for daily interiors inspiration, styling tips, reno advice, home tours and DIY projects!

We're on a mission to help you create a home you love. And with plenty of tips and tricks, tutorials and other home inspo, we give you all the tools to achieve it!

Iā€™m Gina, Founder and Interior Designer, and you can read more about Style Curator here.

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