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Designing your dream bathroom...

Whether you are designing your dream bathroom or just a more functional interior design solution for your home, there are some key tips I recommend you follow to help make things go smoothly. <

  • Layout – This may sound fairly straight forward, but changing your existing bathroom layout can make or break a bathroom and add hundreds of pounds on to your labour bill if you decide to move existing plumbing, waste drainage and/or pipework. Of course, you want your bathroom to look as stylish as possible, but always beware of style over function. If you are able to keep the bath, toilet and sink in their original place, this will help keep costs down, but there are times when an existing layout just doesn’t work and you need to make changes. My advice is to assess how your current plumbing structure works. Toilets are often situated flush to an outside wall for the purpose and ease of waste disposal so if you need to move anything, consider moving the sink, bath or shower, over the toilet, if at all possible. Bathroom design can alternate between a one wall, two wall or three wall layout. The most common and cost effective is a two wall layout where the sink and toilet are plumbed in near one another, with the shower and bath on the other wall. Putting your design down on paper, either a free-hand sketch or a computer aided graphic, will help your trades people understand what it is exactly that you are aiming to achieve and cut out any ambiguity. There are a number of great free software packages out there that you can utilise just for this purpose and be your own interior designer!

  • Style – This is the fun bit but it’s worth keeping in mind the style of the rest of your home when installing a new bathroom suite. For example, would a highly ornate, period bathroom suite suit your modern 1980’s semi? Possibly not. Like all good interior design, you want the style of your rooms to flow and feel natural. Not only for your own enjoyment but if you ever decide to sell your home in the future, not all buyers can relate to disjointed design. Spaces that don’t flow or appear dysfunctional in some way, don’t often as work well, can spoil your enjoyment of the space and its likely you will become bored of them more quickly. Take some time to identify a style you like and that you think might work well in your own home. Pinterest is a great way of collecting ideas or inspiration and you can start to compile your own mood board.

  • Budget – You really need to be realistic about this from the off-set as it can be very easy to let the budget get out of control if you don’t factor in every element of the project. One area most clients forget to incorporate is the cost of trades. You might be lucky to find an experienced bathroom fitter that can do it all, plumbing, electrics, tiling etc. Shop around, go with recommendations and ask to see an example of the fitters work so you understand exactly what you are paying for. Better still, ask for testimonials and the opportunity to speak to a past customer. Not only do you want to know that he/she did a good job, but you also want to know that they turned up on time, that the client trusted them to leave them alone in their home, that they delivered the project within the timelines agreed and they didn’t move the budget goal-posts. These details are especially crucial if you are managing works yourself and not instructing an experienced interior designer to help project manage them for you.

  • Lighting – All too often lighting, both natural and artificial, is overlooked in a design project and it really is quite critical to how a space is used. Is the room South West facing, where does the natural light enter the room and leave it, will this impact on placing a mirror on the facing wall. Will you opt for ceiling mounted spotlights or a statement piece pendant or chandelier. Do you want to incorporate mood lighting and what about that all important task lighting above, around and/or recessed around the mirror / vanity unit. Three-point lighting around a task area like a mirror illuminates your reflection better and helps eliminates shadows. Wattage of the bulbs you install is also key. Bright white light can come across very cold and harsh in a bathroom. Soft warm light, is more cosy and potentially more flattering. Think about amazing bathrooms you’ve been in previously and consider what made them feel that way.

  • The Sink or Basin – Your selection of bathroom suite will no doubt depend on the style you have opted to decorate your bathroom. Here are a few common choices: -

  • Pedestal sink - A stand-alone style sink that takes up little floor space and is a great choice for a small bathroom where storage isn't a priority. Features a wide basin and a narrow base.

  • Console sink - This style is a cross between a wall-mounted sink and a pedestal sink. Can be wall mounted with two legs or free-standing with four legs. Often very ornate and perfect for period properties.

  • Self-rimming or ‘drop-in’ sink – Quite possibly the easiest sink to install and can be fitted into an existing counter. A rim encircling the bowl sits on the countertop to support the sink's weight. A very popular choice as it’s easy to install and as it sits in a cabinet, offers much needed (hidden) storage space.

  • Wall-mounted sink – Ideally suited for the bathroom that needs extra floor space (or create the illusion of space).This sink is supported by the wall and doesn't require a vanity base, countertop, or legs. Often used for small downstairs toilets.

  • Vessel or counter-top sink – Typically a bowl-shaped unit that sit on top of the counter surface. They do not require an under-mount installation. Often a statement piece used in to achieve a modern or spa style feel.

  • Bath choices

  • Free-standing or roll-top bath - Roll top baths usually come with feet or some kind of mount. Roll top baths are ideal for large bathrooms and perfect if you want to make a statement, especially in a period property with say a cast iron or copper Bateau bath. Indeed, a beautiful free-standing bath will no doubt be the main focal point of the room, especially if placed in the center. Floor mounted bath taps work well with centrally situated baths, or wall mounted taps for tubs located just flush from the wall.

  • Corner bath - Corner bathtubs are great if you have a compact bathroom as it doesn't occupy that much of space. Corner tubs come in two variations, a simple triangular tub and an offset corner bathtub. Not as fashionable as they were, but still very effective as a space saving solution.

  • Shower-over bathtub - Shower bathtubs usually come in P or L shape and often installed with a shower screen. For bathrooms that don’t have the space for a bath and separate shower cubicle, this is a practical, functional choice.

  • Whirlpool or Spa bath - Whirlpool baths were once only found in high-end hotel suites or spas, but now they are much more affordable for the home and can offer a bit of luxury to your bathroom if designed correctly. Famous for their relaxing properties, jet sprays and hydrotherapy health benefits, these baths are becoming a much more popular choice. Whirlpool baths can range in size from large freestanding hot tubs which hold several people, to compact corner baths, which even the smallest bathrooms, can accommodate.

  • The Shower - Shower choice has moved on considerably over the last few years, with more and more people opting for just a shower cubicle in there bathroom (in some cases), rather than a bath. Installing a luxury shower that comes with an array of jets and sprays can make your bathroom feel like a spa experience, but be warned, a quality installation isn’t cheap. Other options include the traditional ceiling mounted fixed rain-head shower or the handheld shower. Whatever shower style you opt for, you will need to consider how you might house the unit to keep you wet, but the rest of your bathroom dry. That is unless you want a wet room… Shower cubicles come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles now. You could opt for glass walls, glass brick walls, tiled, marble or stone walls. The options really are endless but you need to consider what might be fit for purpose for your home, and consider how slippery surfaces and lots of glass might work if you have small children, for example.

  • Taps – For me, are the ultimate luxury and can often finish off a bathroom suite. For example, a quality three-hole basin set with country spout and cross head handles in satin can exude charm and style. Polished silver standpipes for a freestanding bath finished with the simplicity of either lever or crosshead handles, add to overall design. A wall mounted or deck mounted bath and shower mixer unit with overhead rain head shower are just divine… If you are clever, you can sometimes get away with a cheaper bathroom suite and finish it off with quality designer bathroom taps, to suggest an overall higher end finish.

  • Storage – I touched on this earlier when covering some of your sink options, but you really shouldn’t under estimate the need for bathroom storage, especially if it’s the only place in your home that houses the boiler / airing cupboard etc. Built-in bathroom storage is popular if implemented in a style that compliments your existing bathroom design. However, free-standing or even up-cycled or vintage pieces are becoming more on-trend and a more cost effective, interesting alternative that can add an instant flash of colour or design interest.

  • Flooring – Quite possibly the area that is going to see the most amount of wear and require the most amount of cleaning in your bathroom, so better to make it stylish but practical. Your bathroom floor-covering needs to be impervious to water, hard wearing and slip resistant. Common choices are ceramic, porcelain, stone, rubber, resin based with some engineered wood or polished concrete. All can be very effective and work well with certain design styles. If considering a stone or marble floor, which can be cold underfoot, why not look into some underfloor heating.

  • Window treatments – There’s nothing I love more in a bathroom that letting the natural light stream in. If you have beautiful windows and not overlooked, that’s pretty much job done. Unfortunately, not all bathrooms have windows and some that do, tend to be overlooked or need to be able to provide some form of privacy from time to time. Whatever you decide to opt for, one of your key considerations must be the window treatments ability to resist humidity and moisture. Frosted, waterproof privacy films that you can apply directly to glass can be stylish and add design interest to a space, although can sometimes leave a room feeling cold and harsh. Soft furnishings in the way of a blind or even curtains can work well and will often frame and help soften a space. Especially if made in acrylic fabric that will be mould and mildew resistant. Shutters are also a common choice as can be folded open, closed or left tilted slightly to allow a romantic pattern of light to filter across the room in the sunshine. Café shutters, of course, can be half open or half closed.

  • Adding Colour – A large majority of bathrooms are often painted white in order not to detract from any beautiful tile or stone design that may have been introduced to the space. Ornate sinks, baths, taps and toilets with overhead cisterns, can all add to the feel of the space and overall design. If you’ve opted for a fairly neutral suite and your bathroom space is screaming out for some colour, consider the mood you are looking to evoke in the space first. Soft blues, creams, beiges, whites and greys are calm relaxing colours but can feel cold if there isn’t enough natural and cleverly installed artificial light in the space. More vibrant colours can warm up a space but might not be what you want to look at whilst soaking in the tub after a long day at work. Feature walls are also very popular in bathrooms these days, and can be achieved with wood panelling or even wallpaper. Again, humidity and moisture has to be a consideration if opting for the latter. Wood will contract and expand and wallpaper will peel if not applied and treated correctly.

  • Finishing Touches – Finally, your new bathroom has been fitted and you just want to add a few finishing touches to dress the space and make it feel more you. Scented candles in a beautiful hurricane jar or lantern can look lovely. How about some pictures or a framed mirror collage to finish off a blank wall. You could go all out with a nautical theme and add some seaside touches like shells, striped towels or mat. Natural textures like sisal and jute always look great in a bathroom, as does driftwood, sea hemp or Adirondack style chair, if you have the space.

Cornwall Lifestyle Blog, Cornwall Lifestyle Blogger, Relocating to Cornwall

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