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Creating a Bathroom Sanctuary

Updated: Feb 22

(image @emma_stergoulis_designs)

The bathroom, along with the kitchen is generally one of the most expensive rooms in the house to renovate. Accordingly, it is common to play it safe and stick to fairly simple designs in a search for a timeless look that will maintain its "modern" look in years to come, thus avoiding the need to keep updating it to keep up with the trends. I completely get it, anyone who grew up in the seventies is still scarred by "Avocado", Orange and "Aubergine" bathroom suites. Not forgetting all out psychedelic tiles, peeling psychedelic wallpaper and matching toilet seat covers.... yes they were top of the trends in their day but did not last the test of time..... and many people are still trying to get rid of them (or secretly hoping the seventies will come back into vogue). Accordingly, it is tempting to play it safe.

For those who want to venture out of the boring then take heart in the fact that the function of the bathroom is changing. No longer is it a place to just get your ritual ablutions out of the way, but the humble bathroom is seen as an extension of our living space and a space for sanctuary and relaxation - and in a world going in and out of lockdown, it may well be the one place where you can lock yourself away from the pandemic woes - a lockdown within a lockdown if you like!

Let's face it whether we like it or not we have to spend a fair amount of time in this room during the day so rationally it should be given treatment akin to making it a space that we want to retreat to and enjoy spending time in..... (she says as a mother of two who barely gets time to answer the call of nature without an audience let alone enjoy a long soak in the tub!!!)

So how can you move the bathroom from a room of daily ritual to an enhancement of that daily ritual?

Think about the space and location of the bathroom....

....there is a long standing movement in bathroom design to make it feel like you are entering a room in a spa or a boutique hotel.... and with the shift in "look" there has also been a shift to where the bathrooms are located. Practically speaking if you are wanting to spend money on enhancing a bathroom to achieve this spa feel, the best bathroom to do this is an ensuite. Recent bathroom trends have shown a shift towards making the ensuite part of the bedroom, with an opulent free standing bath looking out of the window.... personally whilst the idea is stunning, the practicality of having your bathroom in the bedroom with no way to close it off can be a little impractical .... and lets face it the romance kind of dies when you are required to answer the call of nature. I have had questions about adding an ensuite into the bedroom but worrying that closing off a section would block off the natural light... so maybe think about a fluted glass privacy wall which lets in light, but maintains your dignity when nature calls.

If an ensuite is not an option, then look at the bathroom that you have and consider it to be an additional room in the house, treating it as another living space.

Overall spacial planning is the key, ultimately you need to think about what the bathroom is used for and how you want to feel in the space...... If it is a family bathroom then it will also need to be able to function to cater (and stand up to) all the needs for the family. It doesn't mean that it cannot be luxurious but you need to think how it can be adapted to cope wit the family dynamic - ease of access and practicality for small children, resistant to the muck of your sports mad teens and easily cleanable for your budding cosmetic guru tweens and teens... hence why if you have the luxury of an ensuite the ensuite is the space to think about this sanctuary feel..

Give an illusion of space and choosing the bath furniture accordingly.......

There are many times that a client will want something which is in the latest magazines... for example a large double sinked vanity or a opulent free standing bath...... there is no point in having an oversized free standing tub that is jammed in, it will look forced (and not only that ...they are a pain to clean behind) so you need to think about the look and translating it into what space you have. If you have a small space then a floating vanity is the way to go, it creates an illusion of space in that the flooring extend underneath up to the wall. And without the risk of sounding like a broken record the free standing vanity is much easier to clean under and will resist damage from water or mopping on the floor which over time can soak into the vanity kick board / base.

Adding colour or pattern......

You don't have to go overboard with bright colours but to stand out in the crowd, adding colour or a pattern is the best way to instantly inject a bit of your personality to a bathroom. This can be achieved with paint, tiles or even wallpaper - yes there are products which mimic a wallpaper look that can be used in the bathroom without fear of peeling). Alternatively you can use a statement sink or tap ware in a colour of your choosing. It is always best, however, to keep some kind of restraint, the more materials and texture you use can reduce the calming effect that you may be searching for in your bathroom retreat. And if you are a little to timid to go the whole hog in the main room why not stick to the en-suite or powder room, the perfect room to experiment with your personality and give a little wow factor.

Adding ultimate opulence.....

If budget is not a problem then the trend is definitely to go for natural authentic materials.... by this I mean marble, timber and stone..... but be warned not only do they increase the overall cost of your renovation, there is a level of upkeep which is greater than the artificial alternatives (which have been engineered to take cleaning and the humidity of a bathroom) so you need to consider whether this suits your other words can you be bothered to spend the extra time to care for the materials to maintain their life (be honest with yourself).

Some final tips.......

Think about sightline.....where is that toilet when the door is open?

What is the statement piece of the bathroom...make sure that is what you or the guest sees.

Think about your lifestyle.... if you are selecting surfaces or items which require a lot of upkeep is this going to work for you, maintenance can be cumbersome.

Always ensure adequate ventilation.... this helps with the longevity and prevention of mould... and other smells.

Location of windows.... especially if they are wooden framed it may not be best to have a shower right next to the window which can cause water damage to the frame.

Lighting... side lights on vanity mirror are the best option..... avoid downlighting as it creates shadows..... and even think about dimmable lighting for night time callings....

Safety Safety Safety.... There are a number of building code and safety regulations that need to be considered when completing a bathroom ( waterproofing, lighting, ventilation, location and even the distance of doors to the toilet to name but a few). Simple things can mean your bathroom is non complying so it is important to get an expert to assist with any major changes. It can save you in the long run as it generally costs a lot more to put a mistake right. And if you have no idea where to even start I am more than happy to help...

MAKE IT YOURS.....Most importantly, if you are not designing to sell or planning to sell in the next couple of years then go for what you want and what suits your lifestyle.... be gone the boring bathroom.

(images sourced from Pinterest)

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