Bathroom DIY: Q&A with interior designer Hamish Dodd

  • 12/06/2023
  • Sponsored by - Resene
Bathroom DIY: Q&A with interior designer Hamish Dodd
Photo credit: Getty Images

Whether you're wanting to update the current look of your bathroom or starting a DIY project, it can be overwhelming if you're not quite sure what to do. We've asked interior designer Hamish Dodd to share some of his best bathroom tips, tricks and advice so you can be prepared before you make a start.  

1. What sort of lighting should we look at using?

In bathrooms, I prefer to have two different sets of lighting. There is task lighting which needs to be bright and well positioned. This is what you need for working in front of the mirror, and when you just need the entire room to feel bright.

Then there is ambience lighting. This is for when you were wanting to have a nice relaxing bath or wanting to set the scene for when guests are coming over.

Typically, we want to use a whiter brighter light for task lighting and warmer, more yellow lighting for the ambience. LED lighting allows us to play with exactly what we want. I prefer to have the lighting in my bathroom on a few different circuits so I can tailor the effect I am after. Having an LED lit mirror is an easy way to add a bit of ambience to the space.

2. Rain shower heads or standard? We can't decide!

This is a question for the ages and you will hear many different opinions.

The answer in my opinion is you need both. Rain heads are amazing if you can dry your hair easily so most men love them. However if you have long hair that you don’t want to wet everyday then they are not for you. This is why I would have both to keep everyone happy. 

Another benefit of having a standard shower on a rail is that it's great for rinsing the shower after cleaning, or for children if you share a bathroom with them and if you're like me to wash the dog. But that's a secret so don't tell anyone.

You can buy them as a combo unit however I like them to be separate and make sure that the rain head clears the shower rail!

3. Our bathroom doesn't have the best storage. What are some things we can do to help with this problem? 

Depending on the size of your bathroom, this can be a little bit tricky. If you have the space there are amazing freestanding cabinet options available on the market that you can use to give you that much needed extra space. A lot of the design stores make amazing stools that are hollow on the inside and allow you to store things such as toilet paper or anything you want inside them.

If you only have a mirror on the wall, you can look at getting a medicine cabinet styled one that has the mirror on the front. Some of these are designed to be recessed into the wall and you can do that, or you can get one that is surface mounted. Although they’re not very deep, they can hold a large amount of the consumables we use daily. Just remember depending on the vanity you have below. You don’t want them to stick out too far as this can make it awkward doing your teeth. I learnt this lesson the hard way.

If you have the ability you can also use space as you normally wouldn't have to store things. It's all in the presentation. A couple of floating shelves can hold rolled up towels. There is often plenty of wall space in bathrooms that is overlooked for storage.

4. We are giving our main bathroom a big refresh. What should be our first starting point? 

It’s not sexy but you need to start with planning, and then a bit more planning and finally some more planning. The more effort you put into planning the project the less unforeseen costs and problems you will run into.

You need to think about your existing plumbing layout and work from there. Depending on the age, if you're home you may or may not need to upgrade some of the existing lines for water and waste. You may also need to change things to bring them up to code.

I would have a chat with my plumber first to see if there are going to be any pitfalls before going out and choosing new fixtures and fittings.

Sometimes this can be the type of vanity you can have. The type of toilet that can be used in terms of the way the waste is set up and so on. If you have a concrete floor, you may need to do a lot of work if you’re wanting to have a channel drain put in with a tiled floor. All of the things I have mentioned can cost a lot to change.

So honestly planning at the beginning before you get to choose all the pretty stuff and see if you have a lot of heartache.

5. What are some of the bathroom trends for 2023 that I can include that won't break the bank? 

Colourful cabinetry is possibly one of the biggest trends for 2023. People are moving away from just plain white cabinetry, or wood finish. This really does give you the opportunity to personalise your bathroom and now there are different price options depending on the finish you go for.

Back lit mirrors both square and round with led lighting are now a lot more pleasant in the price department and add a lot of lux for very little and they have the bonus of working well also.

Tile if possible floor to ceiling if this is outside your budget to save on cost you can still paint a wall using colour that works with tile choice. 

We are still seeing dark moody bathroom trends for 2023. Sticking to chrome tapware either brushed or polished is cost effective, always looks fabulous and won't date. You can bring it all together with coloured towels and accessories. It is about introducing some boldness and giving it a certain Gene Se qua.

6. What's the key to bathroom colour design?

Plan your bathroom palette. You can take inspiration from other areas in your home. Possibly an accent colour you have used in furnishings or accessories, this can be used as part of tile selection, cabinetry or tapware. 

Limit how you use it with neutrals like warm whites taupes greys soft blues for example you can now get coloured wastes and matching overflow covers.

Coloured cabinetry is just being launched in New Zealand as off the shelf options. 

Your tiles give you colour using two different tiles means you can have a more neutral colour say in the Grey Family in contrast with a rich colour on one wall or sometimes in the back of the recess for products.

7. We want to turn our guest bathroom into an Instagrammable moment when our friends and family come over. Is this a good idea or should we stick to similar design elements we have throughout the house? 

Look to be honest, it is nice to have the guest bathroom have certain elements that tie in with the rest of the house. This could be as simple as the flooring. But when it comes to wanting to have an exciting guest bathroom, I say go for it. It’s your opportunity to have a bit of fun with colour which is very on trend now. Push your boundaries a little bit when it comes to wanting the Instagram moment! If, however, you find yourself wanting to keep the bathroom more neutral, bring the colour in through towels, plants, and even the containers that hold hand wash and shampoo. There is an amazing array of different types of towels and bath mats on the market. Once you start looking, you realise that it’s not only colour but also patterns you can introduce into the bathroom. Honestly life‘s too short to be boring, so get out there and have some fun.

Please remember that your bathroom is yours and not everybody else's so if you want to have something exciting and bold, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks.

Resene has a large range of paints and wallpapers available on their website. Ask your friendly Resene ColorShop team if you can borrow wallpaper books or order samples – it's important to view them in your own home to see how they work with your space, style and different lights.

Article created in partnership with Resene.