Bathrooms are probably the hardest-working area in a house these days as we demand more of them than ever before.
To be successful, they should work as a practical space for the daily wash-and-go as well as being a haven dedicated to wellbeing and pampering.
“Long gone are the days when the bathroom was simply a functional space. People are moving away from the Victorian-style basic bathroom and towards the modern, spacious spa feel,” says Anthony Howells, bathrooms buyer for B&Q.
“They want the clean lines, minimalism, wet rooms and walk-in doorless showers, enhanced by chunky floating yet stylish fixtures such as units and frosted glass, which they see when they stay in hotels and want to replicate.”
He predicts that, where space allows, the popularity of free-standing baths, becoming more sculptural in shape, will continue to grow as they provide a focal point in large bathrooms.
Experimenting both with design and colour is a growing trend, according to Rita Rendo Castro, a sales and marketing manager.
“People are becoming increasingly design confident, with more opting to make a statement with a brightly-painted bath or patterned tiles,” she says.
“The bathroom is an ideal space to try out new colours in a small area which wouldn’t necessarily work in a larger living space. Dove grey is a chic but safe choice for walls and gives a neutral base which can be enlivened by other colour choices. Salmon pink and yellow are one of my favourite combinations as they’re elegant but have a warm, summery feel.”Taking the waters has never been more pleasurable - so check out a bathroom solution for your home.
Bathrooms are embracing technology so that they can be the ultimate, flexible retreats, says Cheryl Gurner, creative director at Bathrooms International. “The bathroom has benefited hugely from advances in technology in recent years. Bathroom-friendly flat screen televisions, fibre-optic lighting in showers which mimic a twinkling star effect and hidden speakers offering surround sound - all add up to the wow factor in this most personal space.”
Paul Flowers, senior vice president of design, predicts that the bathroom will be transformed in the next 10 years, as it develops into a space fully-equipped to cater for health and wellbeing. “Developments in technology are already allowing us to equip it with personal lifestyle and health functions such as diagnostic mirrors, which measure and monitor the status of our physical health.
“Lighting, projection and sound are bringing “entertainment” into the room, and can be programmed, just like showers, to precisely suit your mood at different times of the day. As the barriers between the bedroom and the bathroom blur, the space will become more sensual, decorative and truly have the atmosphere of a fully-equipped indulgent zone.”
Small but perfectly formed
Although the glossy interiors magazines feature vast bathrooms, Ireland and the UK have the smallest bathrooms in Europe. “But just because your bathroom’s small it doesn’t mean you need to compromise on the quality or style of fittings,” says Robin Levien, design director of Ideal Standard. “By utilising innovative design and clever storage, your bathroom can still be well equipped and a calm rather than crowded space.”
He suggests wall-hung toilets with a cistern neatly hidden behind a wall or fitted unit; basins and showers which fit snugly into corners, and clever features such as a bath with storage drawers at one or both ends.
“A sliding door can release further space, while large-size tiles create an illusion of more space more effectively than small ones,” he says. “Don’t pack out the walls with cupboards and definitely avoid too much at high level as this can reduce ‘head space’ which, if the area is small, is claustrophobic.”
Colour’s back in fashion in homes and that’s being reflected in new ranges of bathroom furniture in a range of rainbow colours, which can brighten even the dullest space. “Add a pop of colour to your bathroom by installing a brightly-coloured basin or furniture,” says Ellen Tietz, marketing manager at Villeroy & Boch.
“Sunflower orange, olive green and petrol blue are popular at the moment and sit beautifully alongside clean bright white ceramics.”
Wash & Brush-up
Revamping a whole bathroom isn’t always possible if the budget’s tight, so it’s worth looking at a more affordable update of features and accessories. “An easy, affordable and effective option is to replace some of the brassware and accessories, such as taps, radiators and mirrors,” says Emma Sturgess, marketing manager at Frontline Bathrooms.
“These relatively simple changes can make a real difference to the look and style of the bathroom - delivering a totally fresh look.”