Redoing your bathroom can be a great opportunity to improve the layout, but there are lots of things to consider, as Julia Gray reports

IF you're happy with the layout of your bathroom, replacing the suite should be straightforward and relatively inexpensive, but if you want to change the layout, expect it to be more complicated and costly. Unless you're a very experienced and competent DIYer, get a good plumber to do the work. They should be able to offer advice about changing the layout and what is and isn't possible or advisable, as should a good bathroom/interior designer. A professional may think of things you haven't, such as what you can and can't do with the wastes, which could affect the layout and the products you choose.

If you're not using a designer and rejigging the layout is proving tricky, try drawing the bathroom on graph paper. Draw the room's features, such as the window, door, airing cupboard, etc, on one piece of graph paper and the fittings you want on another, using the same scale. Then draw different layouts on different pieces of graph paper and lay them over the first plan to see how they work, or make life simple and do all this on a computer or tablet!

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Once you have a layout you're happy with, it's a good idea to make life-size templates of the fittings in cardboard to try in the room. Having an above-bath shower will restrict where you put the bath, for example, and you may come across other problems when placing your templates. Better still, try the actual loo, basin, bath, etc, when the room's empty to see how they work together and in the space you have. If returning them isn't a problem, you could try different loos, basins and baths if you're unsure about which will work best.

Don't forget to work out how much space is needed to comfortably use the loo and basin and to dry off after having a shower or bath. Pack in too much and you'll find that your bathroom isn't particularly easy, practical or pleasurable to use. It's important to choose a suite that's in proportion to the size of the room. Straight baths, for example, come in different widths and lengths, but if you've got a really small or awkward space, a tapered bath may be ideal. If there's more space, a shower bath, which is roomier at the shower end, can be a good choice.

Freestanding baths and separate shower cubicles need room to breathe, so squeezing them into a small space isn't advisable. If your heart's set on a freestanding bath, but you don't have room, a freestanding-style shower bath is a good compromise. This looks like a freestanding bath, but the tap end and one side is flat so it sits flush against two walls, meaning you can have a shower above without water leaking down the sides onto the floor.