Designing your bathroom

There are only two basic types of bathrooms: science bathrooms and arts bathrooms. 

A pure science bathroom has all the latest technology but doesn’t really encourage lingering. A pure arts bathroom looks like a designer’s dream but nothing works quite as it should. Plus that pretty wallpaper isn’t going to last.

So a brilliant bathroom, the Leonardo da Vinci of bathrooms, cleverly combines science and art. Here the most efficient equipment brings out the brightest early morning smile or the deepest late evening sigh. There may even be some dodgy singing.

So let’s get blending...

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Flooring

You probably think we’re going to say ‘there are a huge number of flooring options’. Well, you’d be wrong.

Bathrooms are damp, steamy places, and most of the usual choices just don’t cut it. Carpet may sound luxurious, but it can soon start to smell damp. Wood and laminate is better, but it can warp and split. Tiles work, but can be fiddly to lay.

Stone flooring is the way to go, and you’ll find there is still choice within what might seem a narrow option. Waterproof, durable and stylish, a well-sealed stone floor gives a bathroom instant, practical luxury. Avoid slippery marble or polished stone though.

Walls

Well you could use paint or wallpaper, but make sure it’s the right sort of paint or wallpaper.

Paint colour should be white or light; bathrooms are small and dark colours can make them even smaller – although having said that, black and white combos are on trend at the moment. Go for specialist bathroom paint which has mould-inhibiting agents and a glossier surface for water resistance.

Wallpaper can bring colour into the bathroom, but it should be the thicker, vinyl-coated wallpaper made just for bathrooms. And even then it won’t last as long as wallpaper in any other room in the house.

But ceramic tiles are the practical choice; large format tiles are in, and obviously there’s less grouting.

Grout is the weak spot with tiles. To make sure it doesn’t go black over time use a squeegee on the walls after bathing, air the room well and scrub grout occasionally with a mix of bleach and bicarb, applied with a toothbrush. (An old toothbrush, unless there’s been a recent argument...)

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Bathroom suite

It has to be white.  At the moment, any other colour is odd. One of two very different trends will give your suite a contemporary edge – organic shapes and square shapes.

A few more thoughts: trendy stand-alone baths are for large bathrooms only, or you get an awkward space against the wall to clean behind.

A walk-in shower is a very good thing, but you need about the space of a bath to fit them. We’re told shower seats are happening, which sounds perfect for a hangover morning – or, to be more serious, for an older user.

And why aren’t more British bathroom sinks set into a cabinet?  That way you can spread your stuff out beside the sink, like you do in a hotel.

Water saving is becoming more of a trend, particularly in areas with water meters. You can get low-flow, or dual-flush toilets, water efficient showerheads and water-saving taps.  Mixer taps are useful, particularly when you’re gauging the right temperature for a bath.

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Extras

With white, grey and black the dominant colours in modern bathrooms, you need to use bathroom accessories to bring in the colour. Start with towels, that’s easy.

A pretty bathroom blind can be as colourful as you like. So can a nice thick (and unlike carpet, easily replaceable) bath mat, or even an Oriental rug, which also introduces a touch of luxury and warmth – that stone floor can be cool to the touch.

But too much open shelving, another current trend, is over-arty. It would take an interior design genius to make cleaning products and a four-pack of toilet paper into an attractive display. So get a cabinet: most bathroom bits and bobs need to be out of sight.

Make the bathroom mirror as big as possible; it adds light and makes the room look larger. Occasionally lather it with shaving cream and wipe clean and it won’t fog up.

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Light and heat

Bathrooms need to be well-lit, with no dark corners, and cosy even before they get filled with steam.

Little downlights are the way to go; half a dozen set into the ceiling to give an even light. Or spotlights, which can be angled into awkward corners.

If you want a more relaxing ambience occasionally, and you can’t be bothered with candles balanced precariously on the side of the bath tub, fit a dimmer switch. You will probably need a tube light above the bathroom mirror too, for shaving/make-up.

Also, a really effective way of maximising the light in your bathroom is to inset a large mirror into your wall so it’s flush with the tiles. You’ll be amazed at how this simple technique can create a feeling of extra space – even in the smallest en-suite.

If your bathroom heating is part of the central heating, consider a heated towel rail rather than a radiator. It’s a unique three-for; storing towels, drying towels and heating the room.

And finally, get professional advice about any supplementary bathroom heaters that give you a quick blast – your granny’s electric bar heater is probably illegal now.