One of the more utilitarian spaces in a home, bathrooms can quickly begin to look tired and in need of some TLC. Whether condensation has left its mark on the walls, the grout has worn away and become stained, or the larger installations have seen their best days, it can be hard to know when it needs a simple refresh or a full overhaul.
There are plenty of bathroom ideas to aid your redesign plans, but what works in one person’s space might not work in yours. Consider your practical needs as well as the style you’re going for, and really think about where to spend and save on a new bathroom – there are always ways to make the room work harder without spending a fortune.
But how do you distinguish between the signs that you need a new bathroom and those that just require a quick fix? Instead of spending ages puzzling over your space’s needs, we’ve asked interior designers for the top signs that signal you need a new bathroom this year.
5 signs you need a new bathroom in 2024
A bathroom renovation is a big project, so you only really want to go through with one if you absolutely need to. From dysfunctional layouts to cracked tiles, these are the signs you need a new bathroom, ASAP!
1. The quick fixes are no longer working
If you’ve been making small changes for a while and they start to feel ineffective, it’s probably a sign you need a new bathroom. ‘It’s easy to temporarily fix the bathroom with new towels, or bathroom wallpaper, those updates aren’t going to make a difference for long’ says Natalie Rebuck, Principal Designer at Re: Design Architects. ‘Once the joy of a small refresh is over, then it might be time to think about renovating.’
It’s not just the small fixes that can easily be hidden or rectified to take note of, but over time, the white goods in the bathroom become worn down and discolored, and there’s really no quick or easy fix for it. ‘A sign that you need a new bathroom is if your once white bathtub, shower pan, and toilet seat are now a shade of off-white or cream. I know that is a bit cringe to think about, but it happens,’ says Luis Carmona owner and interior designer at Verde.
‘Most of the items, often made of acrylic, accumulate soap scum and calcium deposits that tend to build up over time. If left untreated, they become extremely difficult to remove hence why the issue worsens over the years. By the time the stains appear yellow, it is time for a fresh bathroom,’ he explains.
Natalie Rebuck is the Principal Designer of Re: Design Architects, an award-winning, boutique architecture and interior design firm with offices in Brooklyn and The North Fork of Long Island, offering all services necessary to see projects through from beginning to end. Natalie Rebuck has over 18 years experience managing a wide range of complex commercial and residential projects across the globe. She specializes in creating luxurious and timeless interiors with a focus on high-end materials and finishes. Recognizing that no two projects are the same, Rebuck strives to create unique designs tailored to client objectives, budgets, and the aesthetic of the space.
2. The bathroom feels cluttered and chaotic
Bathrooms are usually much smaller rooms than any others in the home, so thoughtful bathroom storage solutions and careful layout planning are always a must. However, if the chaos of the space and an above-average amount of clutter are causing you to fall out of love with your bathroom, it might be time to rethink.
Artem Kropovinsky, founder and principal designer at Arsight, recommends replacing your existing bathroom with something more contemporary in design. ‘Modern bathrooms combine function and serenity’ he explains, adding ‘a style mismatch is a signal of rejuvenation. Your bathroom should be a reflection of the overall design in your home.’
Minimalist designs are favorable in the bathroom – these smaller rooms benefit from sleek storage and clean lines to give the illusion of greater space. ‘The contemporary designs involve smart storage and open layout to create an airy effect,’ he says. Don’t forget to look at your current lighting, too – without the right illumination, your bathroom will feel lackluster no matter what you do with it. ‘Lighting should never be poor or harsh. Try soft diffused lighting to change the space.’
Founder of NYC-based interior design firm, Arsight, Artem Kropovinsky has a decade of extensive global design experience, connecting a cohesive, collaborative team of passionate professionals, who work on interior projects in the U.S. and worldwide.
3. Household needs have changed
As lifestyles change and families grow, finding ways to make your existing bathroom work and expand with you is not always easy. With fundamental changes, there is usually no other option than a complete renovation. ‘Household needs can change, and that becomes another reason to renovate, such as expanding a family, or accessibility needs.’ says Natalie Rebuck.
If your family has grown, consider redesigning your bathroom to feature more storage – utilize every space, including under the sink and any vertical wall space you have. If you’re really struggling with a bathroom that’s too small to create a functional room that works for the whole family, you might want to consider extending the bathroom, whether that’s taking space from another room, or adding square footage to the property.
4. Damaged tiles and appliances
When a bathroom begins to deteriorate, it’s not just focused on style and storage. When things start to break, whether that’s cracked tiles or leaky pipes, your bathroom can be rendered unsafe and unusable, so it’s important to address these issues immediately.
‘When things start to go wrong within a space, like key components breaking, chipped countertops, damaged or stained tile, or bad plumbing, it’s time to consider renovating’ says Natalie Rebuck. A chipped counter or stained tile might allow you a bit longer to plan a bathroom renovation, but plumbing problems garner a much quicker fix time.
‘If you have a leak anywhere in the bathroom, it may be a sign that you need a new bathroom. Leaks are a huge red flag that something is wrong and could lead to the discovery of major plumbing issues,’ says Luis Carmona. ‘Whether it be the toilet, the bathtub, shower or vanity faucets, leaking can occur in several places in the bathroom causing water damage on the floor, cabinets, baseboards, and even walls. If ignored, leaking can worsen with time and cause further, more ominous, damage like warping and mold.’
The good news is, if you have to get the plumbing fixed anyway, it’s the perfect excuse to design your dream bathroom that functions for your needs and embraces the interior design styles you love.
5. The paint has seen better days
The very nature of a bathroom means there will be a lot of condensation. You literally can’t avoid it, even if you have windows or a fan. Even though paint formulas have come on leaps and bounds over the years, eventually the signs of water damage will become noticeable.
‘Warped or bubbled paint on the walls or ceiling is another tell-tale sign that you need a new bathroom. Paint used in a bathroom, or any wet area, should be semi-gloss or satin which is more resistant to moisture and mildew,’ says Luis Carmona. ‘When a matte or eggshell finish paint is used, warping or bubbling often occurs causing the paint to peel and crack. In restrooms, especially those with steam showers or without exhaust fans, this can be a clear indicator that it is time to redo the bathroom.’
Luis Carmona is the owner and lead designer at VERDE Interior Design. With almost two decades of experience in the creative space (interior design, advertising, and marketing), Carmona gets to blend his many passions into one design studio, offering services to commercial and residential clients in both Houston and Dallas.
Bathrooms might be small spaces, but there are a lot of signs to tell you a new bathroom is needed. The scale of the re-do is entirely dependent on the condition of your bathroom – if the tiles are unsavable but the bath, sink, and toilet are in perfect condition, a simple re-tile will do the trick.
However, any larger issues, like water damage, plumbing problems, or functionality issues will require a full renovation. It might seem like a big job, but spending the time to create a bathroom that’s not only practical but beautifully designed will make it all worth it!