INTERIORS: Make your bathroom into a tranquil haven

The bathroom revolution

Interior Design
Niamhy Tuohy

Here’s a useless statistic for you. The average human being will spend 1.5 years in the bathroom during their lifetime. Some folk may ask, ‘Now, how’s that possible?’ What I want to know is who took the time to work that statistic out in the first place? And more to the point, why?
But pearls of mindless information aside, it is interesting to find out that a room in which we spend a significant amount of time is one that usually gets the least amount of attention when it comes to interiors and renovations.
We tend to make them too small and pokey and pay too little attention to style and detail. I see the most beautiful bathrooms in countless numbers of interior design magazines, yet it’s rare that I walk into one in real life. So, I reckon it’s time for a bathroom revolution. Convert that spare room and embrace the world of Italian stone tiles and model mixers! Make it a haven of tranquillity, a place to sink back into a well-earned hot bubble bath after a long arduous day at the office.
With an adequate amount of planning and research and a competent team behind you, you could be on the verge of your dream bathroom yourself. Here’s how…

I know I’ve said it before, but I can’t stress it enough, nail your budget down as tight as you can. Obviously, allow for a contingency fee for those unforeseen costs that will most likely crop up. But if you don’t have a figure in your head for the project, it will undoubtedly double, and then multiply, and before you know it, you’ve taken out a mini mortgage to cover fees.

It’s important to consider the house as a whole when you’re changing any one room. It will look more than a little odd if everything else in your pad marries together perfectly in a minimalist finish, but you decide to go completely mad and put in a Japanese-style bathroom. Think ahead, and if you’re going to make changes in style, make them subtle.

Check the competition
I wasn’t going to mention it, but what the heck. RECESSION. We’re in the middle of a big fat one right now, but look on the bright side. Not since the ’80s have we been able to haggle like fishwives and not feel guilty about it. So, run with it. Bargain down every tradesman you can. Everyone’s fighting for business at the moment, so prices are more accurate now than they ever were.

DIY stores
The likes of Homebase and B&Q have great selections of bathroom suites and accessories. However, they tend to carry more-mainstream products, so if you’re searching for something with a designer look or with a quirky feel to it, you might have to go further afield in your search of the ultimate in bathroom vogue.

Bathroom furniture
If you have the space for it, what better way to fit out a bathroom than with cabinets, either pre-fabricated or custom made. There are some fabulous designs out there that can incorporate both single and double sink units, and provide good storage space for toiletries.

Wet rooms
Previously more common in mainland Europe, wet rooms are starting to take off here. They’re ideal if you’re tight on space as you don’t need to segregate off your showering area from the rest of the room. Remember though, get a plumber who’s worth his weight in gold, as with that amount of water splashing everywhere, you’ll need to tightly seal the room.

Centre piece
All rooms love a centrepiece, and  placing the bath in the middle of the room will give it centre stage and a sense of decadence. And who doesn’t want a bit of decadence every now and again?

Built-in shelving
Creating a false wall in order to allow a shelf look like it was built into the wall can offer a clever storage option as well as adding to the design aspect of the room. These little cubby holes/storage shelves can be used for practical items such as towels and toiletries as well as candles and ornaments.

False wall
You can also use a false wall to separate a toilet from the bathroom space. You will need a fair amount of space to achieve this look, but if done right can really give a unique feel.

Unusual materials
Introducing materials and items to a bathroom that would normally be seen in other parts of the house can give a sense of luxury. Curtains or a drop-down light fitting, for example, can give instant depth to a room and allow for a more cosy atmosphere.

NEXT TIME Ideas for bathroom fittings, lighting and more.