The Biggest Obstacle for Women Renovators

The podcast for women who want to create income and a life they love through renovating

Join serial renovator Bernadette Janson as she explores the ins and outs of renovating for profit!

Bernadette has over 30 years of experience in the renovating for profit business. She’s a registered nurse, a renovator, a mum, and a teacher.

86 – 10 Trends For Modern Wet Areas

On today’s episode,

In this episode, I will share with you the 10 things that I know about that people want in bathrooms or wet areas as a result of my trip to the Caroma flagship store.  We met with the delightful Mimi, who is an interior designer, a very accomplished interior designer who helps people make their sanitary ware and tapware choices. In making a decision of what to use when you are renovating bathrooms or wet areas, consider what your market is because there are trends that give a lasting impression and there are styles that are meant for longevity.

Listen to Episode 86: 10 Trends For Modern Wet Areas


Episode Highlights

  • [00:02:44] Caroma Flagship Store
  • [00:05:46] Chalmers Street renovation
  • [00:07:52] Airbnb business
  • [00:08:51] Renovation project for Wonder Women
  • [00:11:25] Chrome tapware
  • [00:12:45] Basins
  • [00:13:30] Kitchen sinks
  • [00:14:56] No drainboard
  • [00:15:39] 2 kinds of toilet suites
  • [00:16:13] Heated floors
  • [00:17:51] Using hooks instead of a hand towel rail
  • [00:18:33] Shower configurations
  • [00:19:46] Back to wall freestanding bath
  • [00:20:52]High tech systems for bathrooms



This episode is sponsored by the She Renovates Live one day conference where we focus on women transforming their lives with renovating. At the event, you’ll have the opportunity to celebrate the passion for creating beautiful homes, to connect with other like-minded creators, to grow your skills, to fan your inspiration, and to be updated on what’s working right now in our industry. This is an exclusive event being held on November 1st in the gorgeous grounds of Alexandria Atrium in Sydney. The delightful Natasha Moy will be facilitating the conference and we have a lineup of truly engaging speakers such as Zoe Gilpin, the DIY decorator who is traveling all the way from Western Australia to share her wisdom and her hacks with us. And we also have a range of top speakers on all aspects of renovating and property from around the country. You’ll be pampered with delicious Grounds of Alexandria cuisine, goodie bags and prizes and so much more. As I said earlier, this is a very exclusive event and already 60% of tickets are gone. And so if you are planning to join us, please jump in and grab your spot at See you there.

Hello there, it’s Bernadette back with another episode of She Renovates. And today I am doing something with a difference. So during the week, I headed down to the Caroma flagship store. I think I mentioned this in an earlier episode and to talk to one of the designers about the bathroom in the renovation that we are preparing for. And I really did it to get an understanding of what the services that Caroma offers there so that I can be informed when I talk to my members about it. But there was an unexpected spin-off from it and that’s what I’m gonna be talking today about. Because the thing is, when you renovate a property to sell, you get feedback from your agent about what people are saying about the renovation, the questions they ask, and so on but it’s often hard to get really direct feedback from your potential client. However, when you’re talking to someone who is working with people planning their bathrooms out on a daily basis, you pick up a lot of intelligence. And I actually picked up a lot of insights into what people are wanting in their wet areas at the moment and found that incredibly valuable. A lot of it was things that I was consistent with my thinking at the moment so I wasn’t completely off track. But it was really good to have that affirmation and so I thought I would share that with you today because whenever we are doing a renovation on the bathrooms and the kitchens particularly are very expensive areas, and you want to make sure that if you do say a bathroom and you do have to sell your home in the not too distant future, that it is going to have broad appeal and it’s going to please the buyers. And so this sort of intelligence really helps.

I’ve got 10 things to share with you. Now, before I do that I want to share how my week’s been going and it’s been going really, really well. Firstly, dry July’s over. Oh, my gosh, thank goodness for that! I think I really didn’t notice it until about the last 3 days and then I was thinking I really wish this was over and all of a sudden it was. So that’s really awesome. So I’ve got quite a few little social outings lined up for the next couple of weeks, which is a lot of fun. Not that I can’t have fun without wine but you know what? Wine always makes things nicer. So there you go. That’s me.

The next thing is I’m moving along with the plans for our Chalmers Street renovation. And yes, so I’ve got the scopes work done so now I am getting quotes from the trades so that we can really finalise our costing, which, of course is really how you make the money. I’m watching the market, the market’s quite patchy at the moment. So, yes, let’s see how we go with that. One of the things that we do in our feaso is we work out what the project is costing us per day to hold. And I know that my per day holding costs are quite reasonable so that’s really comforting because in these times you do need to have your plan B ready. So I’m feeling quite confident about that.

The other thing I have noticed, and it only dawned on me yesterday, I only have 2 properties on Airbnb at the moment. And I was thinking, “Wow! All our bookings are long term.” Like we’ve got people staying for months, not nights. And I realised that when we opened it up again, I asked Judy to make the minimum stay a week. And I was thinking that I would probably have long gaps in if I was making it a week if I didn’t open it up for shorter periods of time. I was actually thinking that I would have to open up for shorter periods of time to fill in the gaps but it’s been booked solidly. And this is what I think, I think when you make the minimum stay a long stay, it actually puts off or it doesn’t show up for people that are booking one or two nights. And that means that it stays free for someone that’s wanting to book a long stay because it hasn’t been filled up with one and two-nights stays. So I’ll keep you posted. But so far, both of them are booked well into September so that’s working out quite well.

The other thing I should mention is with a lot of our students, we have quite a few set up just, I’m going to preface this by saying I would not be starting an Airbnb business now. So please don’t take this as being Airbnb is definitely the way to go. It is under normal circumstances, it’s an absolute game-changer but at the moment because life is so unpredictable and we’re getting locked down every 2 minute, then you need to be, it does make negotiating the landscape a bit tricky. But I have noticed that a lot of our students who have businesses, Airbnb businesses, have become quite creative and established markets other than Airbnb. So I did actually have one say to me that her business is doing better than before Covid. So it’s really nice to hear a positive story coming out of it.

Okay, so and lastly, I have been a little bit naughty and I’ve actually taken on a job that I didn’t think I would but I’m also very excited about it. So I’ve never actually done a renovation other than my own renovations. It’s always been my project. And I was approached by one of our buyers agents, she asked if we would renovate one of her investors’ properties. And I thought about it and I was going to say no. In fact, I was thinking of ways I could politely say no and then I thought, “You know what? This is a great opportunity for Wonder Women.” If we can develop a plan for this, make sure we cover our risk, then it’s a good opportunity for our Wonder Women to blossom. And so I had a chat with Odette, who is one of the Wonder Women and said to her, “What do you think about this? Do you want to navigate this together?” And if it works out, then we are in a position to take on other jobs because really our skills absolutely rock. Anyone else would come along and do this job because we are so focused on managing the value of the property and making sure it comes out with significantly more than what we spend, then it seems to be a no brainer. And so I did a proposal for the client. And so guess what? We’ve got our first job. So I’m excited about that because of the opportunities it opens up for my community. Odette is excited. She’s at uni at the moment and so being able to do renos instead of the other crummy part-time work that’s around at the moment will be an absolute deal changer. So let’s see how that goes.

Okay, so into this week’s 10 things that I know about what people want in bathrooms or wet areas as a result of a trip to the Caroma flagship store. Now, we met with the delightful Mimi, who is an interior designer, a very accomplished interior designer who helps people make their sanitary ware and tapware choices. Now, for those of you who don’t know, sanitary ware is the white stuff in a bathroom and toilet. So the basin, the bath, the toilet suite.


And so the first thing I discovered so I was going down the road of not wanting to go with tapware that was particularly on trend so that the project had longevity. I was actually thinking that the brushed nickel might be a nice finish and I discovered that 95% of people designing their bathrooms go with chrome, which absolutely blew me away. So still beautiful designs but going with something that’s not going to date. So if that’s what people choose for themselves, then we probably need to be thinking about that, too. I think most people I’m actually really surprised that people still specify black tapware because it’s been around for a long time and I think it’s been around for long enough for people to know that it chips and it is going to date and quite quickly, like everything dates with time. But there’s nothing worse than being stuck with last decades on-trend thing. So whether I switch from chrome to nickel, I’ll make that decision prior to putting the order in. But it’s definitely worth considering.


The next thing that I learned is that men tend to prefer rectangular basins and so on shapes. Whereas with hard corners, whereas women prefer the softer, more organic shapes, the round basins. So things that don’t look the shapes aren’t too hard. I guess that sort of makes sense because we renovate more for women. Then, of course, we need to keep that in mind. The style that I think is a really good middle ground is the basins that are rectangular but that have those soft rounded edges. So I certainly think they’re quite on-trend and have universal appeal.


The next thing that we talked about was kitchen sinks. So there’s a big movement away from under-mount sinks that makes my heart sing because I’ve never really liked them. But if people or the public are one, concerned about chipping, that’s putting big pops into an under-mount sink means that it can be quite prone to chipping because the edge is weaker. And also concern around harbouring microorganisms, which I think in these Covid days is very relevant. I personally have always worried about the cleanliness of that sort of crease or joint between the sink and under the dome. And so now more people are going for the overmount. So where they actually have the lip of stainless steel that folds out onto the stone. Of course, porcelain sinks are very popular as well, but it needs to be, we can’t use a porcelain sink in our project because it’s just not suitable for the market. If I was doing a project in the suburbs or I was doing it in a house that was likely to have a family, I would definitely go that way. But we’ve definitely got to stick with the stainless steel.


Next thing is no drainboard. Most prefer not to have the drainboard, mainly because it takes up a lot of bench space, makes the sink look bigger than it needs to be. And as most of us put our dishes in a dishwasher, you really don’t need a drainboard. Of course, 2 things. So 1 1/2 sink is almost essential. Because if you’ve got a sink full of water, you can’t empty something out. But also the sinks coming. They come with accessories like a chopping board to go over it to create more bench space and are also gaining popularity. So definitely worth thinking about in your project.


So the next revelation is that toilet suites can be purchased in 2 different kinds. That there is a taller style of toilet suite for elderly people and especially tall people, which is something that I was not had not been aware of. And I certainly think if you’re looking at downsizing properties, properties for downsizes or people that struggle with mobility, that would certainly be something that you would look at.


Heated floors. So Mimi shared with me that a lot of bathroom renovators are going for heated floors because it is so inexpensive that it’s often cheaper to put in a heated floor in, than a heated towel rail. Now, I’m still with the heated towel rail, to be honest, because I think in a family bathroom it’s almost a necessity. Otherwise, you’re ending up with wet towels, particularly in the winter months lying around. And I don’t really fancy drying them on the floor. But if you’re going for that absolute luxury finish in your project, then it might be something that you consider. I’m actually really surprised that people in Sydney actually install it because I find it very hard to see the need. But apparently it is a thing. And so if you’re going for luxury appointments, then you might consider that it goes into the bedding under the tiles, the sand, and cement bedding. So there you go, who knew? My daughter got a new car sometime last year and she said it had heated seats. And I thought that is absolutely ridiculous. But she does live in Melbourne. And then I drove her car when I was down there and I thought, actually, this is quite nice. In the dead of winter, it is really lovely to have heated seats. So I’m guessing it’s the same deal with the floor in the bathroom.


Next point, using hooks instead of a hand towel rail. I like this idea because it’s quite a nice look to have your hand towel hanging off a hook, especially if you go for something that’s quite luxurious or fringed. And rather than having that standard old hand towel rail for the hand towel by the basin. I have actually seen quite a few designers use hooks instead of towel rails full stop. So it’s gonna take more than that to get me to dispense with my heated towel rail but there you go. It’s quite a nice look.


The next thing we talked about is shower configurations. So this surprises me as well. So a shower that has both a rain head and a hand-held. So the complete assembly is very appealing and popular among bathroom renovators. I personally don’t like the rain head because it means that you can’t have a shower without washing your hair. However, by having both, that means you have the best of both worlds. So if you’re only going to have one, like you’re only going to have either a rain head or a handheld, a handheld is preferable because it serves a lot of uses. So you can have a shower without washing your hair. You can use it to clean the shower so you can hose down the shower, which is essential. And then just for general use. So the first preference is both. If that’s not in your budget, then just go for the handheld, and then lastly is just the rain head but that’s not preferable.


The next point was that the back to wall freestanding bath has risen in popularity. So that’s where you have a free-standing bath but it looks like it’s attached on the wall side. Now, it doesn’t necessarily need to be attached. In fact, often they are installed where they’re not attached. However, I think my preference would be to silicone that joint between the bath and the wall so that you couldn’t have dust and things falling down there. I think most people are concerned about how you clean around a freestanding bath. And normally freestanding, you can actually pull it out and clean behind it. I guess that’s a decision you make when you’re installing it. We’re actually putting it back to wall freestanding bath in Chalmers Street. And so I think it’s really the best of both worlds between the inset and the freestanding.


And then the last point is that we now have high tech systems for bathrooms. And so this is another thing that I think is suitable for the bathroom of the future, may not be suitable for profit renovations because obviously it may blow the budget, but bathrooms where you don’t need to press the button to flush the toilet, you don’t need to press a button to turn the water on the tap like a commercial bathroom. And also has a panel on the wall that will tell you how much water you’re using so that you can monitor your water use. There you go. That’s the state of the art renovated bathroom.

So that was the outcome of my trip to the Caroma flagship store. And I think if you’ve got a minute and you’re in the area, so either in Sydney and Alexandria or in Adelaide, believe it or not, on the parade in Norwood, drop in and have a look, because it’s really an amazing bathroom inspiration. Okay. So that’s it for this week. Next week, I have got an interview, a special interview. I’m not going to tell you who. I’m just going to keep it a surprise between now and then. There are lots of exciting things happening.

Now, I really want to. I just feel so energized when I read the reviews of the She Renovates podcast. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I think when I first started this podcast, I thought, “Who on earth is gonna listen to my boring voice?” But it just blows me away that you not only listened to it but that you actually get great value out of it. And that’s what you told me. And it just makes my heart skip a beat because if you haven’t noticed, my passion is to make a difference. I want everyone that I come in contact with to leave better off having had that encounter. So thank you so much for listening.

I really am so grateful to you. And thank you for those who have left me a review. I love them. I love reading them. And thank you for taking the time. And on that note, I’m going to leave you and I’ll look forward to seeing some of you in the She Renovates Facebook group where I’ll be doing my live tomorrow. And if you’re not a member, please come over and join. The more the merrier. And on that note, goodbye and see you next week.

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