Planning the perfect bathroom 17
Jul '14

Whether you regard bathing as functional or fashionable (like the Greeks and the Romans), there’s no doubt that bathrooms are a key area in the house. Creating a practical but beautiful bathroom can be a challenge as our habits and the choices on offer are constantly changing. But the golden rule whatever you do is to keep it saleable. If you’re thinking of adding Doric columns and solid-gold fixtures, it becomes a highly personal space that is unlikely to appeal to others when it’s time to move on.

  Also bear in mind that on average, a family of four uses a bathroom 26,000 times over 10 years. Considering such heavy usage, the key to getting the project right is choosing the right quality products to ensure the bathroom looks good for many years – not just the immediate future!

  So – where to start?

Whilst you’re bound to have ideas of how you’d like things to look in an ideal world, there may be things you haven’t considered that only a professional would know about. Or indeed, products on the market you haven’t seen. It’s worth working with an independent retailer that has access to a large range of products and specific design expertise for bathrooms. It’s also in their interests to pay good attention to detail – after all, most of them live or die by their reputation! The Kitchen Bathroom Specialist’s Association (KBSA) can provide a list of members that all meet their strict criteria for membership. Check out the website on

  When involved in a self-build project there may be more space to work with but generally the biggest factor in any bathroom is how to work with the space available.

Look at the space you have to work with. There’s no point squeezing a bathroom into a tiny corner, where you don’t have room to even lift a sponge. Plan en-suite bathrooms in as many bedrooms as you can and make a statement with the main / family bathroom.

  There are many products available for every size of bathroom, from space saving corner units to large free standing baths.
Incorporating furniture can make the most of bathroom space as it provides valuable storage and keeps bathrooms uncluttered. Fitted furniture is a great way to hide unsightly pipes and make good use of awkward corners and wall hung modular furniture can create an illusion of space.

Wet rooms are glamorous and practical. With no moving parts, they’re so easy to keep clean, and multi-function shower heads that can alter the spray areas are practical, fun and suitable for all members of the family whatever their height!

  They don’t require a large space for installation and create the illusion of more space as there are no shower doors to open out into the room. However there are technicalities about waterproofing a wet room so it is essential to get expert advice.

  Walk-in showers are another alternative if the full on wet room does not appeal. These are stylish and spacious, also making them suitable for a wide age range. They offer easy access with their low profile trays so a good long term investment.

  If a conventional shower is preferred there are a multitude of shapes and door options to choose from.
Showers can be added over baths in a number of ways with some baths designed with a larger p- shaped or curved end to provide a more spacious showering area.

Most bathrooms contain tons of clutter; plan to deal with the clutter at the outset. Quick tips here include:
Tina Riley of Modern Homes in Leamington says: “We fit a lot of corner basins, back-to-wall WCs and wall-hung designs, as they make maximum use of the space available. They’re great for giving a streamlined look.”

  • Fit a back-to-the-wall loo - this means you can put shelves above it.
  • Likewise, consider a cupboard under the basin.
  • If you can inset the bathroom cabinet into the wall, it will protrude less, giving a more streamlined appearance and ample storage too.

Just like in a bedroom or living room, the bathroom can pull its fair share of admiring glances too. Select one or two pieces and then build the theme around them. For example:

  • A really great basin can make a good focal point in the room and show off a bit of style.
  • Good-quality taps are a great investment. Most taps now offer water-saving devices so will save you money in the long run.
  • Use a strong colour as a theme. For example – bold tiles in the shower. Then pick out contrasting or matching accessories to echo this colour
  • If you’re tiling the floor there are endless possibilities here. Plain, coloured, patterned, there are even ceramic wall tiles that look like wood, much more practical in the bathroom – they can all be a great focal point. Just be careful not to overdo it.
  • Even the radiators can be the star of the show! No longer just a basic necessity they can act as a statement and focal point within the room. From art-deco glamour to chunky industrialised pipes or modern undulating forms. You can find them in stainless steel or maybe with a brushed satin finish. Or if you want real period authenticity – check out your local salvage yard for re-conditioned examples.

Think also about the lighting – how it can instantly create ambience in a room. Modern bathroom lighting can create the right environment for relaxing, along with good strong lighting over a mirror for those times when you need to see what you are doing.

  Designer Nina Campbell always insists on two lighting circuits in a bathroom, suggesting one light that comes on as soon as you enter, and turns itself off when you leave. This will provide bright light for the functional morning ablutions as well as cater for children who just forget.

  Team all this up with a large mirror, and even if you haven’t got much natural light, it will maximise whatever is there.

As well as glamorous radiators, another alternative is under-floor heating – there are many alternatives on the market now. It’s relatively cheap to install and not as costly as conventional heaters to run. It also requires minimum maintenance, so makes practical sense. And on the visual side, it also frees up valuable wall spare. On the eco-friendly spectrum it also makes sense, as it heats from the lower part of a room first. As the heat rises, so does the temperature in the whole room.

  Under floor heating works really well with natural stone floors and tiles but depending on the type chosen it can also be used under many laminate and vinyl floors too.

Monochrome is a strong theme at the moment - you can now buy black taps to contrast with your white bath. Grohe has produced a range of very attractive ones. You can now also buy wallpaper for bathrooms or ceramic tiles that look like wallpaper- these will make a really dramatic statement with the black-and-white taps.

  Textured units are all the rage currently too. If you’re feeling bold, then Mereway Bathrooms have a fantastic animal-themed range called Vogue – look at crocodile, zebra and snake for inspiration. But bear in mind less is more!
In summation – it’s all about you and how you and your family choose to live. Planning as always is the key to success, research well and take advice in order to enjoy the fruits of your labour. We’ll leave you with the foolproof check-list:

  The perfect bathroom: Ten top tips

  • Choose one stunning piece to create impact.
  • If budget allows, don’t forget entertainment – radio, television.
  • Under floor heating is great, but you will need a radiator for warming towels too.
  • A large showerhead with good pressure will act like a massage – and cheaper than a day at the spa!
  • Think storage, storage, storage!
  • Two basins are at the top of many people’s shopping lists these days. His ‘n’ hers, or one for you and one for the kids.
  • Taps in the middle of the bath will give that luxury spa feeling.
  • Halogen spots work well to mimic daylight, if your room is a little dark.
  • A walk-in shower is a good illusion of more space.
  • Use a fog-free mirror for close-up work like shaving.


  Visit for a free guide to planning the perfect kitchen, bathroom or bedroom and to find your nearest retailer.

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  Enquiries: Downing Dunmore PR

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