Bathrooms can be one of the most exciting rooms of the home to design. These days, with such an enormous range of fittings and finishes to choose from, it can actually be quite daunting.
A good starting place is magazines and brochures followed by a visit to several bathroom showrooms. Think carefully about the look you want, and how you intend to use your bathroom.
Are you, for example, the sort of person who dashes in and out and doesn’t have much time for housework? You will need something simpler that does not harbour mould.
Or do you like to spend hours in the tub or simply hanging out pampering yourself? In that case the sky is the limit in terms of fittings and finishes. You’ll want plenty of storage for all your cosmetics and a decent-sized bathtub.
Obviously the latter option will cost more than the simpler solution and needs more space. You may even want to have large glazed doors that open to a private courtyard. You are likely to spend far more time (and money) selecting fittings and finishes that match your taste in order to ensure that your bathroom is a great place to hang out.
Light and ventilation are extremely important in any bathroom in order to avoid mould becoming a problem. An openable window is certainly a bonus in a bathroom, but you should still supplement this with an efficient exhaust fan.
Why not connect the fan circuit to the light switch so that it is automatically activated when the room is in use? This is by far your best insurance against mould and mildew. If your bathroom is not against an external wall, is it possible to install a skylight to provide natural light and ventilation?
Towels, robes etc. should not be stored in the bathroom, as they will tend to absorb any mouldy smells that develop and even become damp if your exhaust system isn’t entirely efficient. A nearby linen closet in a hallway is a good alternative.
Cosmetics and toiletries are, of course, a different matter and you will want extensive storage within your bathroom for these items. Large, deep cupboards below the vanity can be difficult to access.
You may find that shallow shelving concealed behind mirrored doors provides a better storage solution for the type of smaller items generally kept in the bathroom. Two deeper drawers below the basin could accommodate larger items such as hairdryers. Another option is a tiled niche with glass shelves for the more decorative items.
The choice of bathroom finishes has increased significantly in recent years mainly due to the development of reconstituted stone technology as well as engineered surfaces such as Corian. Benchtops and walls can now be finished with seamless materials that greatly simplify cleaning and result in a slick minimalist appearance.
Of course, the range of ceramic tiles available is vaster than ever. From tiny mosaics to large format tiles, from hexagons to standard shapes and glass through to marble, the options are simply endless.
Unless you are the type that enjoys sifting through thousands of product samples your simplest and safest bet is to take your lead from proven examples in a showroom, varying colour and format to suit the application. This won’t make your bathroom stand out from the crowd but if you’re pressed for time at least you can be confident of the end result.
Timber can look great in a bathroom, but remember that it requires substantially more maintenance than ceramic tiles and other resilient finishes and, if it gets wet, it will warp and rot. Ensure that there is adequate ventilation and be aware that you may need to refinish the timber every few years.
When you are fitting out your bathroom be sure to avoid small nooks and recesses that are difficult to access. These are a cleaning nightmare, as they quickly become filled with dust and moisture, not to mention bathplugs and bottle tops.
The ideal bathroom has continuous surfaces and clean junctions between fittings that are easily cleaned. A wall-mounted, raised vanity, for example, can be handy to allow easy mopping of the bathroom floor below.
Whether you take your inspiration from a bathroom you saw in a catalogue, a hotel room on your travels or from your own imagination, the resources are now available to make your dream bathroom a reality.