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DIY bathroom design in 5 easy steps written by Man with a Hammer

Bathrooms, whether in a modern house or a period property, are often not blessed with original features or an abundance of character like some other areas of the house. The good news is that there are ways you can easily add some old-world charm with a little bit of imagination, some know-how and the right tools for the job!

The first thing to do of course is look at your space. As you can see here, I was starting with a very blank canvas and quite an awkward shape. I wanted this to feel like an elegant sanctuary for friends and family that come to stay and have a timeless feel.

DIY bathroom design ideas
DIY bathroom design ideas

Step 1: Define the focal point

When planning your bathroom design, take into account that as with all rooms, you will need a focal point. As this was such a long, thin room with the eye naturally being drawn to the window, it made sense to create this to be the real ‘showstopper’. I found a free-standing bath second hand online that was in good condition save for being tatty on the outside.
I sanded down the exterior lightly, then used a tack cloth to remove any dust. I then taped all the bits I didn’t want to paint using frog tape and finally painted it using a Wagner paint sprayer which made it look brand new and really gave a factory finish whilst all in costing less than 10% of the cost of a brand new bath. Part one of your DIY bathroom design complete!

DIY bathroom design: what you’ll need

Find the focal point in your bathroom design
Find the focal point in your bathroom design

Step 2: Panel your design

So many bathrooms are just tiled floor to ceiling which, whilst practical, can feel a bit cold and clinical. The first thing to ask yourself is, do you need so much tiling? Secondly, could wooden panelling be used instead or alongside? It has the benefit of feeling a bit warmer than tiles and allows you to add some colour to the room (and works great with wallpaper too!) It’s simple to install yourself being glued straight to the wall and held in place with pins, and then you can paint it any colour you wish. I used a laser level from ManoMano which really helped get the lines nice and straight despite being a very wonky room. The rest you can do with hand tools but a few power tools such as a circular saw and plane certainly make life easier.

DIY bathroom design: what you’ll need

Adding some panelling to the bespoke bathroom design
Adding some panelling to the bespoke bathroom design

Step 3: Lights, camera, action!

It depends on the space you have available, but do you really need a grid of spotlights? It’s rather hard to have a relaxing bath whilst staring up at a blaze of bright spotlighting across the ceiling. If spotlights are a must, then make sure you install a dimmer switch during your DIY bathroom design! If you have the space, think about the lighting as you would any room. Here I’ve cleaned up and rewired a chandelier that was already in the house which brings an elegant, vintage feel to the room. I’ve then used brass wall lights either side of the mirror. Lights either side rather than from the top are far more flattering!

Bathroom lighting makeover
Bathroom lighting makeover

Step 4: Make a bespoke basin

Here’s where you can really add some character to your bathroom design. Vintage pieces bring so much texture and character to a room and with the availability of countertop basins, it’s easy to create your own vanity unit. Repurposing old furniture can also give you some much needed storage (the drawer on this still functions) whilst hiding the pipework. ManoMano sell all the tools and plumbing you need to create this look too.

DIY bathroom design: what you’ll need

Add a vintage feel to your bathroom design
Add a vintage feel to your bathroom design

Step 5: Floor it

Again, so often an area where plain tiles go down… it’s always worth having a look to see what your floorboards are like. With some elbow grease you can create an exciting floor for your bathroom makeover that’s still practical. In this instance I secured all the old boards and filled any holes. I sanded it all back with a hand sander hooked up to a vacuum to keep down the dust. I then primed it with Zinsser bin, caulked the gaps and finally painted it leaving a hardwearing and water-resistant floor. I went one step further and, with the use of frog tape, created the chequerboard design. This created the optical illusion of making the narrow room feel wider!

DIY bathroom design: what you’ll need

From this…
DIY bathroom flooring design
To this!

So, there you have it – 5 simple DIY bathroom design ideas to turn a plain space into a warm, interesting bathroom – all possible at home with the help of ManoMano. 

Greg, AKA, Man with a Hammer
Greg, AKA, Man with a Hammer

Greg, AKA Man with a Hammer, is slowly renovating a 30 roomed ex-Naval Georgian home in Devon, one room at a time. He does the work in his spare time and is hoping to create a comfortable forever home and rescue a beautiful, if dilapidated building.

Did you enjoy this article from Man with a Hammer on his 5 creative DIY bathroom ideas? Why not learn how to build your own work from home desk or read our guide on how to install a bathtub!

Are you designing your own bathroom? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the the #mymanomanoway#manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!