As a bathroom is one of the most difficult rooms to design, it’s important you take the time to really think about the space you have and how you want to use it. Start by writing a list detailing who uses your bathroom, at what time of the day and what for. This will give you an idea of the kind of bathroom arrangement(s) and fittings that might best suit you and your family.
Next, think about what sort of look or mood you’d like to create. Start a file for tear sheets from magazines, brochures, computer print-outs and samples so you can begin to get a clear style in your mind. Don’t forget to think about storage. It’s no good going for a sleek, minimalist suite if there’s nowhere to store your towels and toiletries.
Somewhere along the line, you’ll need to consult a specialist to decide on the best layout and fittings, but you can start by drawing up a basic floorplan yourself. Draw it to scale on squared paper at a suggested scale of 1:20. On a separate piece of paper, draw your new fittings to the same scale (get measurements from a brochure or the internet), cut them out and position them on your bathroom plan.
Before you make any decisions, think about who uses your bathroom, how you use it and whether your needs will change in the future. If you love showers and barely use a bath, and your bathroom is on the bijou side, perhaps it’s worth converting it to a wet room. If you have a family and your bathroom is tiny, how about relocating to a larger room? And if elderly relatives are regular visitors or you have small children, you’ll need to consider accessibility. And think about storage, too; a messy bathroom is not a relaxing haven.
Making your space work
Unless you’re in the privileged position of having designed your own home, you probably don’t have a bathroom that’s exactly the right size. If your bathroom isn’t big enough for your needs, it may be worth enlarging it by taking some space from an adjoining room. Designer Ross Lovegrove also recommends thinking about what shapes will best enhance the space you have. ‘Wall-hung or curved lines will help to add a feeling of volume to small bathrooms,’ he says. Corner basins, toilets and showers are now available and fl oormounted taps give greater flexibility. Changing the layout is expensive but the extra cost is worthwhile, especially if you end up with a more effective room. Think about how you move around the room, too.
Wet, wet, wet
Wet rooms (essentially a walk-in shower room) are popular alternatives to a traditional bathroom. But installing a wet room is a big job that requires a professional. The room has to be fully waterproofed and the floor needs a suitable slope to ensure adequate drainage. The waterproof membrane can be heavy, so check your floor can take the weight. Unless the room is at least 3x3m, you’ll find that water sprays around the room and it can be difficult to dry off. Use a non-slip surface for the floor and include storage to keep toiletries and towels dry. For many people, a semi-wet room is a better option. This involves installing a walk-in shower rather than waterproofing the entire room. The latest shower trays are very slim, which means if you lift the floorboards you can set the tray into the floor, giving a wet-room effect and contemporary aesthetic.
Let there be light
Lighting in bathrooms plays a dual role; at a practical level you need illumination for tasks such as putting on make-up or shaving, and on an emotional level it needs to relax, calm and stimulate. ‘We often begin and end our days in the bathroom, so the right light ensures a good start and close to the day,’ says Duravit designer Andreas Struppler. Also be aware of UK safety regulations. Lights must be operated by a pull-cord, or an outside switch, and light fittings within 600mm of a bath must have an Ingress Protection rating of 65.