How to renovate your bathroom or kitchen

An expert guide for every budget

From planning a layout to choosing a style, these expert tips will help you get started on a kitchen or bathroom renovation.

Bathrooms and kitchens came top of the renovation hit list in a recent report by Hiscox. A bathroom update was being planned or undertaken by 54% of homeowners, while 51% were revamping their kitchens. As these are the two most used rooms in the house, it's no surprise, but renovating these functional spaces isn’t a minor job. Installing a new bathroom or kitchen is a serious undertaking and can be costly, so it pays to be prepared before you start. 


Decide on the basic layout

Before you embark on a renovation project, look at the existing room in forensic detail, so you know what you are working with.

“Get to know your room,” advises Lindsay Blair, Editor of Kitchens, Bedrooms & Bathrooms. “Consider where power and water outlets are and whether they are practical for you; are there areas that don’t function well? Any awkward corners or wasted space? It’s vital to think about how the space could better suit your daily needs, family and lifestyle, and what doesn’t work about the existing room, so you can think about reworking the layout.”

If you decide to alter the existing space radically, it pays to think about everything from the utilities to the wall sockets right at the start, so that all the essentials can be built into your plan. But be aware that moving a gas or a plumbing pipe can be expensive.

The most cost-effective option is to keep the layout as it is, and simply upgrade the furniture, fixtures and fittings.


Back to top

Know what you want

Having a clear idea of what you want before you start is the key to a project’s success. Look online or browse through brochures for inspiration and make a note of the kind of styles you like, whether it’s rustic, industrial or colourful and contemporary.

It’s a good idea to make up mood boards with images of your preferred fittings, furniture and materials, so you can see if they work together. These will also help you decide on a colour scheme. Now call in samples of everything you plan to use – from floor tiles to splashbacks, plus information about how much they’ll cost, so you can create a realistic budget. 

Having a clear sense of what you want to achieve will help to avoid costly mistakes later. It will also be invaluable if you’re getting help with the renovation from a builder or a painter, for example.


Back to top

Call in the experts for the major work

From planning a layout to choosing a style, these expert tips will help you get started on a kitchen or bathroom renovation

Although doing it yourself could save you money, it’s a good idea to get professional help for complex kitchen and bathroom jobs.

“The golden rule is that if you aren’t sure how to do something, don’t do it,” says Lindsay. “Always seek advice for any job that involves an element of danger, such as water, gas and electricity. If you’re a keen DIY-er, then stick to the less complicated tasks, such as decorating or tiling.”

“Any work to gas, electrics or new windows must be completed by a qualified and registered tradesman and should be certified,” explains Tony Passmore, MD of MoreBathrooms, “as failure to get certification breaches building regulations. Approved contractors will be able to inform you of the most up-to-date requirements.”

A kitchen or bathroom specialist can manage the broad variety of trades you need on a job like this – such as a plumber, electrician, carpenter, plasterer and tiler – saving you time and money.

“The most important thing is to have knowledgeable and skilled people undertaking the work, so as not to devalue your property with poor workmanship,” says Stephen Hunt, surveyor for building company Kisiel Group.

To find a tradesperson you can trust, Lindsay advises: “Ask family and friends for recommendations, check local community forums, and seek out approved professionals in your area.” You can do this through trade bodies, such as the Federation of Master Builders, NICEIC (for electrical work) and the Royal Institute of British Architects. Don’t forget to read online reviews and follow up references.

Aim to get three quotes and ask for a written breakdown of the work being quoted for, so you can compare one quote against another. Remember good builders are in demand, so you might have to wait a while for your preferred professional. 


Get a feel for the length and cost of the project

According to research by Houzz1, the average amount we spend on a kitchen renovation is between £8,100 and £11,700. For bathrooms, the average is from £3,500 to £6,300, but the cost can vary widely. “We’ve done bathrooms costing up to £50,000,” says Tony. “Generally, the rule is the more you pay, the more you get in terms of quality, design and longevity.”

Timings will depend on the complexity of the job and whether you are replacing like with like or, say, building an extension to house your new kitchen-diner. “An average bathroom refurbishment can take between 2-4 weeks. Kitchens, unless you have a very small galley space, usually take longer: to renovate a medium to large kitchen usually takes around 4 to 6 weeks,” says Stephen.

One way to finance larger home improvements is by borrowing against your home. Find out about our mortgage options – or, if you already have a mortgage with us, you can apply to borrow more. Note, however, that while a renovated kitchen or bathroom may mean you get more for your home when you come to sell, it doesn’t necessarily mean the value will be adjusted if you’re remortgaging. Another option to consider is a home improvement loan.


Back to top

Consider adding smart features

From colour-wash lighting and underfloor heating to self-cleaning toilets and smart taps, there is now a wealth of new high-spec features that you can add to bathrooms and kitchens. Smart features can significantly increase the cost of a project, and it’s worth remembering that your wish for, say, a light-up shower should be made clear as early as possible in the planning stages. “A good designer will help the customer to navigate all the options, determine where priorities lie and come up with a scheme that fits their needs and desires, and also their pockets,” says Tony.

Don’t forget the details

Sometimes it’s the little touches that can make the most impact in terms of designer looks. “Don't be strictly functional, otherwise these practical rooms can feel so uninspiring,” advises interior designer Abigail Ahern. “Add small accessories to make both rooms feel more personal. Game-changing touches, such as mirrors and lamps, can turn a space around, so don't forget to add in some atmospheric mood lighting.”


Back to top

Be prepared

Most projects overrun and often cost more than anticipated. It’s a good idea to put aside around 15% of the quoted price of the job for any unknown contingencies, such as finding damaged pipework or dry rot when the room is stripped out.

Before any work begins, also make sure you have the right cover in place. You can protect your home and what’s in it with Barclays Home Insurance. Terms and conditions apply.

Back to top

At certain times throughout this article you may be linked to websites owned and operated by other organisations and will be subject to their terms and conditions. Barclays cannot take any responsibility for the content of these sites.

You may also be interested in

Quick ways to spruce up your home

Easy ideas from experts

Check out our tips for easy-to-do fixes that will give your living space a revamp – from adding bold colour accents to rethinking the lighting.

Confessions of an interior designer

Inspiration from expert tips

Looking for a way to redecorate your home? A professional interior designer shares her tricks of the trade.

DIY tips and tricks

Top tips for basic home maintenance

Knowing how to fix things around the house can save you time and money. Discover top DIY hacks from experts.

Improving your home

Transform it into a special place

Whether it’s building a kitchen extension or just painting walls, a refresh could add value to your home and turn it into a place you won’t want to leave. 

Funding your improvements

Home improvement loan

Spruce up your property

Whether you’d like a new kitchen or want to give your lounge a new lease of life, you could get more from your home.

Subject to application, financial circumstances and borrowing history.

Credit cards

Whether you want to start a new project, build up your credit score or consolidate your borrowing, there could be a Barclaycard to suit you. Subject to application, financial circumstances and borrowing history.

Mortgage calculators

Work out the kind of mortgage you could afford

Use our mortgage affordability calculators to work out how much you could borrow and what kind of deposit you need for a mortgage.