How to create your dream bathroom

Bathrooms can be dream spaces or terrible nightmares. They are usually amongst the smallest rooms in the house but are often used more than any other. You often have a lot to squeeze into this small space and they need to work perfectly day in and day out. There is nothing more off-putting than a grotty bathroom. If a poor shower or an ill fitting loo is your first experience each morning then it can set the whole tone for the day.

Here is my checklist of things to think about before starting a bathroom project.

The great thing about contemporary bathroom design is that you can mix and match your favourite pieces from a variety of suppliers’ ranges. Simply make sure you opt for whites which  match within the manufacturing ranges you choose. There is so much with which you can personalize a bathroom from the range you choose to the style of taps, the surfaces you opt for and the tiles you use so get creative and work some magic. Or if you’re at a loss on where to start, give me ring and arrange an informal chat.

Things to think about before you start….

Mood and budget – It’s important that you think about the style you want before you begin.  Visit showrooms to see what style you like and how they look ‘in the flesh’. Decide on the mood you want to create – cool and contemporary, warm and cosy, slick and masculine, opulent, retro Victorian or Art Deco? Be realistic about the budget you want to allocate to this re-design.

Who will use the bathroom? Will the whole family use this space or is it a chill out room for adults only? Does it need co-coordinating with a bedroom as in an en suite bathroom? For the family bathroom a degree of practicality is required in the design – storage will be a must as will durability, safety and ease of cleaning.

Layout – make sure you have the room dimensions with lots of detail. Draw up a scale plan so you can plot the size of the room, position of doors and windows, height of windowsills and radiators, toilet and pipe-work as well as current position of the sink and shower or bath. This is important as to move soil pipes is an expensive business so if you are going to move them you need to factor this into the budget.

Lighting – Lighting is all important and needs to play a dual role. For a relaxed atmosphere use dimmers for general lighting. Task lighting is more direct, brighter and placed where activities take place – i.e. shaving or putting on make-up. Plan what goes where and chose your fixtures accordingly. UK requirements stipulate that light fittings within 600mm of a bath or shower must have an IP rating of 65 whilst other lights at more than 600mm away must have an IP rating of 45. Lights must be operated by a pull cord or an outside switch rather than a light switch inside the bathroom. This is important to note as it will affect your entrance and how you access lighting when in the bathroom.

Storage – If you want to maintain an uncluttered look then storage is essential. A bathroom is a very private area and there are some things that are best stored away. A cupboard behind the main mirror takes little room and is extremely useful. Under sink cabinets are now very popular and are best raised slightly off the floor to keep them damp free.  

Heating and ventilation – A cold bathroom is no fun at all. Check whether your existing heating is up to scratch, or do you need additional warmth? A heated towel rail is cost effective to run and can help to top up the heat but if you keep towels on it all the time this will limit the amount of heat it puts into the room. You might want to consider installing under floor heating in small spaces. I always recommend it in wet rooms where you want the floor to dry as quickly as possible after use. You can make a design statement with contemporary radiators – they give you that wow factor as well as being useful. If you are going to use a large mirror you may want to consider installing heated pads on the reverse. These are wired in with the light switch and prevent the mirror misting up after a shower, many off the shelf mirrors and mirror cabinets now come with integrated lighting too. Remember that it is a local authority regulation to have external ventilation and I think installing an extractor fan is a must.

Fixtures and fittings – When you are planning a bathroom it is unlikely that you will be choosing fixtures and fittings all from the same manufacturer. There are no fast and hard rules about this, but do keep to the same style to keep the overall look elegant and coherent.

Always buy the best fixtures you can afford. Cheap taps are a false economy; they will soon start to drip. Good quality fixtures and fittings always add that “wow” factor, they also feel good to the touch.

Bath or shower? A bath is great for relaxing in, but a shower is invigorating. Think about the design of your shower: do you want exposed i.e. surface mounted or concealed mixer valves in your shower? Concealed mixer valves lend themselves to slick and contemporary rooms, whilst exposed bathroom furniture can become part of the “look” especially if it is modern or if you want to enhance the period feel of the bathroom to be in keeping with architectural detailing.

Fixed shower heads or wall mounted? You can have both with a diverter valve – this allows you to switch the water between the two. I’d always recommend this otherwise a fixed head shower is impossible to clean! Washing small children or washing your hair is easier with hand held shower heads. Fixed shower heads can also be enhanced with luxurious body jets if you have good water pressure!

So before you buy anything check your water pressure – a plumber can do this for you. Pressure is measured in bars and most homes will have a water pressure of 1-1.5 bars whilst hotels are nearer 3-4 bars. You may want to fit a pump as some of the new fixtures and fittings may only work with a higher pressure. Many come from mainland Europe where water pressure is higher so you need to check that it can be adapted to the UK standards and pipe sizes. Huge shower heads look fun but require an immense flow of water to operate properly, so bear this in mind before committing.

Finally think about the textures within the room and ensure the space isn’t all the same – add texture with tile finishes, taps, counter tops and accessories. And most of all have fun – this will probably be the first room you use every day so you want it to leave you feeling awake and ready for the day.

If you have a garden, interior or landscaping project which you need help with or ideas for then please give me a ring: Alison 01572 747318 or 07973843020.

I work on interior design and garden design projects in Stamford, Lincolnshire, Oakham, Uppingham and Rutland as well as further afield. I will design a garden to complement the architecture of your home and choose the right landscaping materials to complement it. If you are frustrated with endless searching for the right fabric or wallpaper and paint colours and overwhelmed with the enormous choice, then allow me to make a handpicked selection for you. I will complement the style of your existing rooms and provide a few choice pieces which will bring the whole look together.