Bathroom Renovations

How to renovate your bathroom for under $10,000

An expert’s advice on keeping costs down - and the items worth splurging on.
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It’s often one of the smallest spaces in your home, but a bathroom can take a big chunk of your renovation budget. According to Housing Industry Association (HIA), the average cost of a bathroom renovation is an eye-watering $21,484. Depending on the space and your choice of fixtures and finishes, the cost of a bathroom reno can blow out of control.

You can still create the bathroom of your dreams without going over your renovation budget. The secret? Planning: itemising tasks to be carried out and listing every component and purchase necessary for the job, including taps, tiles, joinery, plumbing and electricals. Down to the last tube of grout. It may seem like overkill, but it’s the key to keeping a lid on spending.

“For a full bathroom renovation, a rough guide would be to spend 40% of your budget on fixtures, 35% on tiling, 20% on plumbing and the last 5% on electricals,” says Wesley Sinclair from Highgrove Bathrooms. “And always allow for a 10% buffer for any unexpected costs that may come up along the way.”

Modern black and white bathroom with hexagonal marble floor tiles and gold hardware
Tiles make a big statement leading right up to picture rail height in the chic bathroom of a renovated cottage in the Blue Mountains. (Credit: Photography: Helen Ward | Styling: Jessica Bellef)

How much should you spend on bathroom fixtures and fittings?

Accounting for nearly half of your renovation budget, the fixtures and fittings you choose can make or break the look and feel of your bathroom. Keeping a bathroom renovation under $10,000 means careful allocation of spending across all items. “The fixtures to splurge on are your cabinetry, toilet and bathtub (if you’re looking to include one),” says Wesley.

“Don’t blow your budget on pricey mirrors, robe hooks, tapware, basins, towel racks and the like,” says Wesley. “Quality, affordable accessories that can coordinate your whole bathroom look are readily available and can be updated later when you’re ready for a refresh.”

If you’re keen to install a bathtub in your new bathroom, a freestanding tub might add that extra touch of luxury but could also make or break your $10,000 budget. On the other hand, a bath adds value to your home.

white bathroom with large square marble tile and set in bathtub
(Photography: Caitlin Mills / Styling: Tess Newman Morris)

When choosing a toilet, consider the WELS (water efficiency) rating as well as how easy it will be to keep clean. Wall-face toilets, where the cistern is hidden in the wall, are an interior designer’s favourite since they take up slightly less floor space and eliminate the need to clean behind your toilet. However, the installation can cost more and because the cistern isn’t as accessible, could be trickier and more expensive to repair down the track.

Ample bathroom storage is a must, so choosing the right vanity and shelving for all your bathroom essentials is vital. “Opting for a wall-hung vanity will free up floor space and give you the illusion of a bigger bathroom,” suggests Wesley. You can also buy one ‘off the rack’ from a bathroomware supplier, rather than fork out for custom joinery.

A minimalist white ensuite with a freestanding bathtub.
Wall-hung cabinetry and basin units provide ample storage but don’t take up too much bathroom real estate. (Credit: Photography: Mindi Cooke / Styling: Tahn Scoon)

How can you save money when tiling a bathroom? 

The cost of tiling depends on the size of your space and how high you want your wall tiling to go. “Floor-to-ceiling wall tiles is a luxury bathroom trend we’ve seen emerge and it can instantly add value to your home,” says Wesley.

 However with prices ranging anywhere from between $40 to $500 per square metre (or more), you may want to be more discretionary about which tiles you choose and where to put ’em. Still want some opulence? Consider using a combination of tiles at varying price points; for example, basic square matte tiles in a neutral colour in the shower then a feature splashback of kit-kat or fish-scale tiles at the basin.

“Complex designs like mosaics and herringbone patterns are more expensive and can cost more to lay, too,” says Wesley. “On top of the price of your tiles, the actual installation can set you back around $40 per square metre – including things like site preparation, labour, glue and grout.”

 If your tiles are still in good condition, you could stick to a bathroom renovation under $10,000 by re-grouting instead of completely replacing. “A bit of facelift rather than a complete overhaul will save you a lot of money. In some cases, some fresh white grout is all that’s needed for a brand new look!” says Wesley.

Contemporary coastal ensuite, blue vanity and rounded bath.
A freestanding bath is a luxury that will add value to your home, if you can swing it. (Credit: Photography: Simon Whitbread / Styling: Corina Koch)

Don’t go too cheap when it comes to plumbing

While saving money on your bathroom renovation is a top priority, plumbing is not something you want to cut corners on. “Don’t scrimp when professionally fitting your basin, toilet, shower and bathtub, as poor plumbing can lead to many problems later down the track,” Wesley warns. A leaking tap or busted pipe could cost you so much more to fix than the initial installation fee.

Some products are only covered by warranty if they’re fitted by a licensed plumber too, so do your research. The average cost of a plumber is $110 per hour; they can also charge a flat fee per task.

If you were to completely renovate and rearrange the space, your plumber would need more time to change the bathroom layout, so sticking with the existing plumbing ‘footprint’ of your bathroom is an easy saving.

Modern Scandi style ensuite with subway tiles.
(Credit: Photography: Simon Shiff)

Don’t forget about the cost of electricals when renovating a bathroom

Often overlooked in a bathroom reno, the electricals need to be considered up front and included in your budget planning. “Think, exhaust fans, down lights, LED mirrors, heated towel rails, power points and light switches,” explains Wesley. “Always plan your electrical layout before doing any tiling because this will make it much easier to run the necessary wires and cables.”

Effective lighting is a must, for shaving, make-up and brushing your teeth. But keeping a bathroom renovation under $10,000 may be challenging if you opt for statement lighting or fancy appliances. Keep it simple. “Since most everyday tasks centre around your vanity, having a wall sconce or an LED mirror will help illuminate this area,” suggests Wesley. A couple of down lights should complete the job.

hamptons inspired bungalow upper north shore guest bathroom quartzite vanity
Don’t forget to include room for lighting in your bathroom renovation budget. (Credit: Photography: Chris Warnes / Styling: Lucy Gough)

Consider the big picture, too, to keep running costs down in the long term. Heated towel rails, when fitted with a timed eco wall switch are an energy-efficient way of ensuring your towel is toasty warm and dry, year-round. It might be cheaper than under-floor heating, as well.

You can complete your bathroom renovation for under $10,000 – and on time. Set a firm budget, plan it well from the start and get several quotes. Speak to the experts first: plumbers, tilers and electricians. “Their advice is free and can help you avoid costly mistakes,” Wesley adds.

Budget bathroom buys


‘Penley’ wall hung single vanity with quartz countertop, Temple & Webster


Upgrading a stock-standard, builder’s grade vanity for something with a little more pizazz will instantly upligt your bathroom. This classic white vanity features two spacious drawers and a durable quartz stone countertop. 


Elysian minimal mixer & spout set in brushed nickel, ABI Interiors


Coming in at uner $200, this mixer and spout set is easy on the hip pocket and super stylish to boot! Brushed nickel is versatile and timeless, but this set is also available in brushed brass, brushed copper, brushed gunmetal and more.


Bao pill shaving cabinet, The Blue Space


Replacing a dated bathroom mirror with something more sleek, modern and functional can have a huge impact on the look and feel of the space. This Bao shaving cabinet is contemporary, features trendy curves and has plenty of room for storing products and daily essentials. 


‘Sicily’ Bianco white gloss cushioned edge porcelain tiles, The Blue Space


It’s ok to splurge on feature tiles, but work with your tiler to find a creative way to lay them economically. These handcrafted tiles celebrate the beauty of imperfection and will stand the test of time. 


Elysian single towel rail in brushed nickel,  ABI Interiors


Dated, wobbly or rusty towel rails can really bring the look of a bathroom down. Give your bathroom a refresh by replacing the hardware – keep metals consistent for a harmonious look. 

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