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No so long ago bathrooms were simply functional areas, but lifestyles have changed and today we want our bathrooms to be living spaces where we can relax and unwind.  We want bathrooms which look great and feel integrated into our homes.

The starting point.

To begin planning your bathroom, firstly identify your needs and requirements.  Think about who will be using the room, their ages, anyone with a disability, any special needs?  Is this a main bathroom, or an ensuite?  Is it the only bathroom in your home?  
The fittings you choose will naturally be influenced by the people who will use them, and their wants and needs.

Consider the space.

Lack of space can be a massive problem.  You might have a bathroom which is just about big enough to fit a standard suite into, offering no scope for moving things around.  Look carefully, can the space be improved?   Can you take away an airing cupboard to gain some extra space?  This is often possible when a heating system has been changed and a combination boiler fitted so the hot water tank is no longer there, but consider also the implications of losing the storage.
Are there other ways to improve what you have by maybe rehanging a door to open in another direction?  Would it help if a radiator was moved?
By looking closely at your existing room you might begin to see possibilities.

The services.

Bathrooms require a water supply and also a drain for waste.  The position of these services will impact on the possibilities for any design.  Sometimes they can move, sometimes this could prove expensive.  The water pressure is an important consideration, and will impact on your choices of brassware.
As well as plumbing, think about the electrical supply for lighting, shaver point and possibly a shower.  Ventilation is important, and also the subject of some building regulations, so make provision for some form of extractor.

The basic plan

Now that you have an idea of what facilities you require and the options for where they can be positioned, you can make an initial plan.  At this stage practicality has to be considered. People need to gain access to the room, need moving space and have to be able to use the items with ease.  Your plan might need to be refined when you consider this aspect.
Remember to look at how doors open, can windows be reached and is it possible to climb out of the bath without putting your foot in the toilet?
A common problem is placing a basin below a window, making it impossible to have a mirror above.

Making a sketch

You will need to put your plan on paper, or make use of one of the several planning facilities available on line.  The drawing needs to be to scale so that you can check the distances between fittings and the clearances and available spaces for moving around.

The choice of fittings.

With so much to choose from you will find suitable items for you particular requirements.  Often there is too much choice!
Some styles might be better suited than others.  For example a free standing bath can look great, but unless you can walk around behind it can cause a headache when the room is being cleaned.  Wall hung fittings can really increase the feeling of space, but will require special attention when fitting, especially if on a stud wall.
Your choice of taps and shower fittings can be restricted by your water pressure, so it it essential to ensure your choice is compatible with the water system in your home. 
Storage.
Every bathroom needs some storage.  It might be just for the spare loo roll and a few toiletries , but do think about where everyday items are to be stored.  This is really important if you are considering taking away any existing built in cupboards.  

Budget.

Sooner or later the cost comes up, as always!   Know what you want to invest in the project, and consider the total cost.  The actual bathroom suite with fittings is normally only a small proportion of the overall cost.  Floor and wall finishes, whether tiles or otherwise, need to be counted, but the greatest proportion of the cost will normally be the installation.
Working out your budget will help with your choices of products and fittings.
If you are looking at finance options, interest free deals etc.  Look at the total figure you pay back.  Interest rates can be very confusing, so always check the total payable, check if the interest rate is fixed and ask what happens if you can repay early.

Putting it all together

You will now be at a point where you can make a list of the items you need and start checking out the local stores and showrooms.  This is the exciting bit where you can begin to visualise the finished project, and will also give you the chance to see some alternative finishes and colour ideas.  Now you can look at the lighting, the colour scheme and don’t forget about keeping your bathroom warm.
Accessories like the loo roll holder and a towel rail can be chosen now, and you can look at essentials like a mirror.  These little bits are important, but easily overlooked.

Finishing touches.

The final stage is adding the little personal touches.  There are so many simple ways to add a splash of colour and put your individual stamp on your bathroom.  Window blinds or curtains, lotion jars and bottles, soaps and of course towels and maybe a matching bathrobe.  All these little details can make a huge impact on the final appearance and atmosphere of your new bathroom.