Wednesday, 23 January 2013

This Week’s Project: Big Improvements for a Small Bathroom

A friend of mine approached me recently for some advice on a bathroom renovation. She wanted to give her master bathroom a makeover, as her house still had the same bathroom suite (avocado – can you believe it!) that was there when they moved in. I already new the size and shape of the bathroom, and knew that a key factor in any remodelling would have to be efficient use of space; she won’t mind me telling you that this is not a very large bathroom…

Anyway, we started discussing the best methods for making a smaller bathroom feel more spacious and comfortable. There are the classic tips and tricks that have been around for decades, such as ensuring the room is well lit, naturally, or given a little artificial help, and how important a decent sized mirror is. If you’re planning a contemporary style for your bathroom, I would always recommend an illuminated mirror, both for its space-enhancing qualities and the fact that they instantly add a chic, designer feel to your bathroom.

Choosing a bathroom suite for a smaller room can present a few challenges, as you want a suite which not only looks great and performs to high standards, but won’t dominate the room too much. It was at this point that I suggested my new favourite style of contemporary sanitaryware: a back to wall bathroom suite.

In smaller spaces, keeping as much floor space visible as possible will really help to increase the perceived size of the room, and that concept can be stylishly realised with a back to wall suite. Focused around the toilet, there are two options for how you want your back to wall suite to be installed. By far the most popular option is for the cistern to be concealed within a boxed unit, placing the emphasis far more upon form than function. A concealed cistern unit will to create a far more streamlined bathroom, which again will help to make the room feel more spacious and user-friendly.

The next part of this suite, contributing to the ideas of clear floor space and streamlined fixtures, is wall-mounted vanity unit, with the style of the basin matching that of the toilet, (think gentle, understated curves for the most refined, modern finish, and the finish of the vanity unit matching that of the cistern cover. For the vanity and cistern units, there a wide number of finishes from which to choose, but a glossy white lacquer is a great choice to help keep the bathroom feeling bright and fresh. The vanity unit will also provide some storage space to help keep your basin area clear and uncluttered, an important point in smaller rooms, whilst keeping your daily essentials neatly organised and within easy reach.

With those two features agreed upon, we selected a compact, straight-sided bath with a shower unit attached, so that all bathing options were covered, without too much space sacrificed. To make sure that there was sufficient storage space available so that all the surface areas could be kept clear, we also opted for a couple of wall-mounted cabinets, in a matching finish to the vanity and cistern units.

An illuminated mirror, a back to wall suite, a bath/shower combination and fresh coat of paint and we had completely revamped and updated a small bathroom into a bright, modern, stylish room which feels light, airy and comfortable. And I didn’t even ask for a consulting fee! Plan carefully and know what you want to achieve, and you could have a beautiful new bathroom just like Jane in no time at all, and after all that hard work we were ready to relax....

Have any of you guys fitted a similar suite? What do you think? I'd love to hear some other renovation stories, so get commenting!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Bathroom Suites for 2013

January is one of the most interesting and exciting times of year for anyone involved in interior design, as it is the month when we can look ahead and spot those style ideas and trends that look set to come to the fore over the next 12 months. They could be designs which have steadily been gaining in popularity in the last year, more traditional themes which seem ready to make a comeback, or brand new products and looks which can seem to simply appear out of thin air (I must admit, these weird and wonderful left-field products are often some of my favourites).So, in the world of bathroom design, what can we expect to be the success stories of 2013? Here are what I predict will be a few of the top contenders:

Wall-Mounted Fixtures and Fittings

There are a few classic tricks that we all know for making any room seem larger than it is; traditionally that means opting for as much light and as many mirrored surfaces as possible, in order to enhance the feeling of available space. Keeping more of your floor space free is another simple and highly effective trick that is only recently starting to become more widespread. Wall-mounted fixtures and fittings are really coming into their own in this regard, with basins, toilets, and bidets all now readily available. Although a wall-mounted toilet might seem a slightly disconcerting at first, they are more than capable of supporting an adults’ weight, and by virtue of keeping your floor space clear, and by having a concealed cistern, they can go a long way to creating a far more streamlined, spacious and stylish bathroom. Expect to see a lot more wall-mounted fixtures this year.

More Efficient Sanitaryware

I think we can all accept that utility bills aren’t going to be coming down any time in the near future, and as around 60% of our domestic water consumption takes place in the bathroom, expect to see a far greater number of bathroom suites this year where the emphasis is placed just as much on efficiency as style. Ceramic disc technology will become the industry standard in 2013, allowing for taps which not only give much more control over water temperature and flow rate, but prevent drips for far longer than traditional models as well. Standard lever-handle toilet flushes will eventually disappear, to be replaced by far more wallet-friendly dual flushes. Improved materials also mean that baths are now better at retaining heat than ever before, which means that even for an extra-long, relaxing soak, you shouldn’t need to top up your hot water levels.

The Return of Colour

Whilst avocado and peach coloured bathroom suites have long since disappeared from our bathrooms, colour is returning in different ways. Natural stone basins can provide any bathroom with warmth, style and character, whilst also being particularly hardy and resistant to scratches and stains. Elsewhere, slightly more outré products, such as baths and full-pedestal basins with black exteriors are proving to be immensely popular for people who want to make their bathroom stand out with a bold style statement.
Just remember to keep your eyes peeled: I think 2013 is going to bring us loads of exciting, stylish new bathroom design ideas. I can’t wait!