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Rental refresh hits the spot

Small can be beautiful if a renovation is done right, says interior designer Mary-anne Tobin, of Design Addiction, in part one of her shared journal.

By: Mary-anne Tobin

28 June 2023

ABOVE Tiling was kept to the floor only to save costs.

Open plan living is key for small spaces, and a recent renovation of a 98m2 property in Whangarei was a prime example.

This two-bedroom, internal access townhouse was a rental in need of a refresh for a more functional, welcoming interior, practical in form and function.


The key change for this renovation was twofold, affecting the laundry and kitchen. The laundry was to be repositioned from its current spot in the kitchen. By doing this (transferring the laundry into the bathroom) it was then possible to create a more aesthetic kitchen design.

As this was a two-bedroom unit, there was no family requirement for a bath, so there was more value added by having the laundry sited in a discreet location, with noise reduction. No-one wants to watch television or eat dinner with the washing machine ringing in the background.

With a few simple changes the bath was removed, and a nib wall constructed to create a separate laundry within the bathroom.

When undertaking a renovation you need to think like the person living in the space. Listening to the tenant’s problems is usually part of the solution.

ABOVE Moving the laundry improved kitchen aesthetics.

Space saving

The key is to measure your spaces. Appearances can be deceiving, and layout is key. It is amazing what you can fit in when you pre-plan and measure. Robinhood make a slimline 350mm-wide super tub (a standard super tub is around 560mm) saving 200mm in space. This made a substantial difference. The dryer was then wall hung above the washing machine, and the existing window stayed in place for extra ventilation; it pays to always duct the dryer outside regardless.

In order to give an easier entry and exit point, a cavity slider was introduced as the main door for the bathroom, which opens to a focal point of the vanity, the main bathroom feature. The laundry is hidden out of site with the nib wall. A warning here: the options for cavity slider handles can get pricey, so choose wisely.

ABOVE Remember to consider your tenant’s needs with layouts.

Keep it cohesive

In order to create a cohesive modern feel without the price tag, tiling was kept to the floor only. By inserting a shower base tray, and applying a new shower lining, it saves on costs such as additional waterproofing, tiles and tiling labour.

If you are a confident DIYer you may be able to hire a tile cutter to help save on costs. However, I always recommend a professional when it comes to wet areas. There are many options with shower linings today; we selected one that has a built-in mould that allows for shampoo and conditioner.

A new slide shower also came with a soap holder. Storage and practical solutions are essential for smaller homes. Brands such as Methven and Greens have a wide range of tapware.

Pro tip: remember the positioning of your shower slider – your plumber will know a good height position. Unfortunately, you can’t slide a shower higher once it is installed, but you can always slide one down.

ABOVE Confident DIYers could tackle tiling jobs themselves.

Save on plumbing

Once the bath was removed the new vanity was going to be increased in size to 1500mm from the original 900mm and have a splashback to the ceiling. Fortunately, the owner let the tenant dictate the changes as he happened to be a qualified cabinet maker. With the pipework already established from the existing bath, it was a small cost to redirect the pipes to the adjacent wall. Where the existing vanity previously sat also saved on pipework for the new laundry.

My rule of thumb is to use laminate in a small property such as this. However, as the joiner had a spare stone benchtop available we utilised this and reaped the rewards.

Clients often ask whether to keep the toilet separate or include it within the bathroom. The answer to this ultimately depends on the layout and space available. In this case, we left the toilet separate – this gives more privacy. The new bathroom was still spacious with a 900mmx900mm shower, a 1500 vanity and a new laundry, minus the bath. There was no need to add the toilet or an additional toilet.

Mirror tip: Use a circular vanity mirror, they are so chic these days and they look amazing in the bathroom. The curves add a softer touch against the hard lines.

Laundry lowdown

The modern laundry room is no longer just a space for washing machines and tubs; it is now a multifunctional area that can serve various purposes in the home. When renovating, consider these trends to maximise a laundry area’s potential:

1 Additional storage space: If it is located close to the kitchen, consider adding pantry space for food and benchtop appliances, as well as deep cupboards for cleaning items. Benchtops can be used for rollover space for meal preparation when entertaining.

2 Multifunctional entry space: If your laundry room is located near an external door or entrance to the home, it can be converted into a coat closet or mudroom, providing a space to store jackets and shoes. This will keep living spaces free from clutter and make the home feel welcoming.

3 A wet room: If the laundry space is near an external door, it can be renovated as a wet room, providing a dedicated space for cleaning and storing mops, brooms, and other cleaning utensils. By incorporating waterproof and easy-clean surfaces, it makes a great space for kids to indulge in messy play.

4 Consider adding an extra toilet: If your laundry room is oversized, you may consider dividing it into two separate areas and adding an additional toilet. As all the plumbing is close by, this is often a relatively simple improvement.

The latest laundry designs maximises the utility of this space and create a modern, multifunctional area. With various washing machine and dryer configurations available, it’s possible to include lots of storage in a compact space, making a modern laundry room efficient, attractive and practical.

Builderscrack has the specialists you need to create a remarkable laundry space. Post your job on bc.nz.


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