11 Mistakes to Avoid During Your Bathroom Renovation, According to Interior Designers

·6 min read

Although it's a smaller area of your home, your bathroom is a workhorse. It's where you shower, do your skin care routine, and store essentials—from towels and toiletries to makeup and medicine. But if your bathroom isn't living up to its potential, you may be considering a renovation. From small tasks (like installing more light fixtures) to bigger ones (like adding an antique clawfoot tub), there are several common pitfalls homeowners run into during bathroom renovations. Being aware of those common bathroom renovation mistakes will ensure you pull off the project stress-free.

Related: 10 Mistakes to Avoid During Your Kitchen Renovation, According to Interior Designers

white master bath with black accents and gray tile
white master bath with black accents and gray tile

Molly Winters Culver

1. Not Setting a Budget

Setting a budget is the first thing you should do before starting any home renovation project. "Having a budget will help you make many of your design decisions, decide which elements you are willing to spend money on, and overall feel happy with your project," says Tamara Hubinsky, interior designer and founder of Tamara Hubinsky Interiors. Ideally, your budget will include a contingency for cost overruns or unexpected expenses. But if you don't have that flexibility, a budget also helps you decide where to cut costs if needed mid-project." If you're working on a tight budget, focus on design details with the most impact, like fresh paint and layered lighting.

2. Not Having a Plan

Planning ahead will prevent you from running into workflow-disrupting issues later. "A bathroom is a puzzle made up of functional and decorative plumbing, heating, ventilation, electrical, finish materials, accessories, and more," says Hubinsky. "Most of the renovation work happens in a specific order and not having the right item available at a certain time delays the entire project." Because the project is so time consuming, planning ahead will help you minimize the amount of time your bathroom is out of commission.

floral-patterned bathroom with double sink vanity
floral-patterned bathroom with double sink vanity

Bethany Nauert

3. Not Adding Storage Space

Adding some type of storage space in your bathroom is a must, so prioritize this during a renovation. "We spend a lot of time in the bathroom so it's important to take full advantage of the space available," says Kerrie Kelly, creative director of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. "Skimping on storage can make your bathroom less functional."

Make sure you add enough storage space to hold things you often keep in the bathroom, like cosmetics, toiletries, towels, and medications. Storage can be as simple as installing hooks on walls to keep towels off the floor—or as high-quality as well-lit medicine cabinets.

4. Forgetting to Install Ventilation

Don't forget to consider ventilation when planning your bathroom renovation. "Ventilation ensures good air exchange, which transports unpleasant odors, moisture, harmful particles, and fine dust out of the room quickly and easily," says Kelly. "Good ventilation brings in fresh air and prevents mold growth."

5. Renovating Alone

Some bathroom renovation projects will require a professional, especially when it comes to tiling. "While installing tile may look easy, leave it to the professionals," says Kelly. "A DIY job will be much more expensive to fix than letting the professionals do it right the first time." A good installer will tell you how much tile you should order, so you don't get too much or too little and will also lay the tiles out before grouting them in place to adjust the layout if needed. "Having the tile cut at an awkward point or size is a mistake hard to rectify once the grout is set," says Hubinsky, which is why this task is best left to a pro.

kristen blazek home bathroom with grey muted color
kristen blazek home bathroom with grey muted color

Courtesy of @virtuallyherestudios

6. Choosing Too Many Tiling Styles

There's likely more than one area in your bathroom where you want to add tile—on the floor, on the walls, and in your shower to name a few. But when it comes to tiling, simple is best. "Too many tile styles in one space can often be a bad thing, so understand your style to determine the right tile aesthetic for your renovation," Kelly says. Start with one key element, like a color, textile, or material, that defines the ethos of your bathroom and then use that to guide your tiling decisions.

7. Not Considering Drainage

How well your bathroom functions is just as important as how it looks, and proper drainage is a crucial element when it comes to the functionality of this space. "Bad things happen when you don't consider drainage in the bathroom," says Hubinsky. Water damage in the bathroom is a common cause of unexpected repairs to walls, floors, and other areas. "Some water damage is slow and hidden from view, and could promote unseen, unhealthy mold," Hubinsky says. A good drainage plan and good installation saves you from future costs and hassles.

southern california house natural light master bathroom
southern california house natural light master bathroom

Lauren Pressey

8. Not Layering Your Lighting

As this is a place where many spend time getting ready for the day, layering your lighting is a must. "Some believe a single overhead light or a single sconce above the mirror will be enough to light a small bathroom," says Kelly. "However, even if the room is small, a single light fixture is often insufficient, so layer your lighting." This can be achieved by using ambient lighting for overall illumination, layering in strategically-placed sconces for specific tasks (like applying makeup), and using accent lighting for focal points, like artwork or tile work.

9. Not Investing in Quality Finishes

Although fixture and hardware finishes are likely low on your bathroom renovation priorities list, they play an important role in ensuring products perform well. "Quality finishes provide protection from corrosion, cleaning products, wear, and rust," says Kelly. "The best quality fittings and finishes last a lifetime with minimal care and maximum enjoyment." Plus, quality finishes will make everything from your cabinets to your toilet look more luxe.

new jersey home tour bathroom tub
new jersey home tour bathroom tub

Emily Gilbert

10. Choosing Unsuitable Materials

Be thoughtful when choosing materials for your bathtub, shower, sink, and toilet. "Generally, I would avoid materials in the bathroom that react to harsh chemicals or acids found in lotions or bathing products," says Hubinsky. "For example, a natural stone bathtub may be the epitome of luxury, but would not make sense in a room used by young children." Vitreous china or a ceramic with a specialty finish are generally the go-tos when choosing a material for toilets, as both are easy to clean and long lasting.

11. Not Considering Clearances

To avoid traffic jams in your bathroom, ensure you provide proper clearances during your renovation. Think about who is using your bathroom and how many people will need to access it at one time. "Shower and bath controls should be reachable from outside the bathing area, and don't forget considerations and clearances for towel bars and toilet paper holders," says Hubinsky.