Here is part three, the final instalment, of my How to Design series, this time the focus is exclusively on bathroom design. The bathroom is a space that should be practical, yet stylish, well-lit yet ambient for moments of relaxation. Let’s get into it.
Whether you’re renovating or starting from scratch, let me help guide you through the process of designing a bathroom, while achieving a cohesive high-end outcome.
Bathroom Interior Design: Starting from Scratch
If you’re building a new home then the earlier that you can be involved in the design of the bathroom the better. Your architect will work with an engineer to ensure that all of the main plumbing and sanitary points are going to be. By being involved at this stage, you can ensure that the bathroom space can fulfil your needs. This is when you need to engage an interior designer. An interior designer would oversee the layout of the bathroom, select all the finishes and make sure the bathroom’s design, colours and tone work well with the surrounding rooms, I.E. a bedroom.
By creating your bathroom from the beginning, you can include design elements such as skylights or unique features, rather than having to consider them at a later stage. And each bathroom in the home is different. For example, a double shower or basin would work well in an en suite space. If you only have a shower in your en suite, then you would ensure that the family bathroom has a bath. You may choose to have a bathroom that has a ‘wet area’ that is reached after a vanity area. You can be really creative depending on the amount of space you have available to work within.
Bathroom Interior Design: Renovator Recommendations
When renovating an existing bathroom, unless it’s a badly designed space, it’s usually best to keep the plumbing where it already is and work within that. Otherwise, if you need to move fixings around, this can complicate what needs to be done from a plumbing standpoint.
As with any renovation, consider the space that you have to work with in addition to the existing fixtures, such as windows and doors. A bathroom can be renovated within the existing space, or a restructuring of internal spaces can be made to achieve a better outcome, for example, combining a separate toilet and bathroom into one space or vice versa.
Bathroom Interior Design: Cohesive Design
As an interior designer, nothing is designed in isolation. When designing a bathroom you can potentially begin with the layout of the bathroom first or the finishes first, the fixtures and lighting come along somewhere in the middle of the process. Let’s consider some design details.
There is some fantastic natural stone available on the market at the moment (read more – Working with natural stone). If you love a certain colour, you can source natural stone in that colour. For example, if you’d like to use green or blue in your bathroom, this can be the starting point of your design.
Natural stone can be used in lots of different ways in a bathroom space. It can be used as a feature wall, or as the slab for a vanity or bath. The same stone can be used differently throughout the bathroom to create a cohesive design. Sometimes I like to take the same colour of stone and use it as a slab but then also for the tiles; a Herringbone design for the shower and then a brick pattern for floor tiles. This is an opportunity to get creative.
Remember, your floor tiles should always be non-slip to avoid any nasty accidents. And if you want underfloor heating, which is a popular addition to a bathroom, it’s best to decide this at the beginning of your project and factor this into the design. I like to finish stone floors in the bathroom with matching stone skirting.
The whole bathroom doesn’t have to be covered in tiles and turned into a wet room, despite this being the approach in more contemporary homes. Having tiles for wet areas and paint or waterproof wallpaper in other areas creates a different element to the design, particularly in a more classical home.
When selecting the fixtures for your bathroom, it is important to always consider the style of the home to achieve a cohesive outcome. Here are my thoughts on the common bathroom fixtures you will need to consider as part of your own design.
Bath tubs – I personally prefer freestanding baths, when the space allows for it. I find freestanding bathers much more interesting than a built-in bathtub, they have a sculptural aesthetic to them.
Showers – I believe that showers shouldn’t be completely enclosed, especially a steamy hot shower on a cold morning. To overcome this, consider not having full-height glass, leaving a side completely open or a window. My preference would be glass shower screens with a metal frame. It’s nice to have light and skylights provide a natural source of this whilst maintaining privacy.
Basin/Vanity – choosing a basin and vanity for your bathroom will be completely dependent on the style of your design, and the size of your bathroom. I’m fond of the idea of using furniture as the vanity beneath a basin, this would work well in a classical home. Or a floating sink and vanity may be more appropriate in a modern bathroom.
When considering the lighting in the bathroom design, it needs to be both practical and decorative, whilst always being safe for use in a wet space. Practical lighting is task lighting, providing enough light to shave for example.
Decorative or ambient lighting can be achieved using wall sconces or beneath fixtures, to create a more relaxed vibe. Including lighting in the design plans will allow for any additional electrical work to take place before any tasks such as tiling begin.
Bathroom Interior Design: The Details
As we drill down to the details, each individual element still needs to be carefully planned and considered to ensure a cohesive design outcome. Here are some interior designer tips.
Every bathroom should have a mirror above the vanity. But after that, they can be used anywhere in the bathroom, as they give a sense of space, which can work really well in a small bathroom.
The style of the mirror will depend on the design, from mirrors that are built into the wall and then tiled around, hung like a frame or backlit and floating. The latter may be more suited to a modern bathroom, whereas a mirror with an antiqued mirror around the edges would suit a more classical home.
Depending on your bathroom design, consider not only the style but the colour and finish for your tapware. It can even be interesting to combine different colours or finishes, depending on what you are trying to achieve, like combining a gold with an antique brass. We very often use Brodware (an Australian company) or I am also very fond of using Perrin and Rowe.
Interior Designer Bathroom Tips
Some final words of wisdom about designing a bathroom for your home.
Hooks – they are always useful in a bathroom and can go behind the door.
GPO (General Power Outlet) – you’ll need this for charging your toothbrush, but they can be carefully hidden within a vanity cupboard if accounted for correctly within the design.
Design for your family – if you have a very tall person in your household, you’ll need to make sure that the shower is installed at a height that works for everybody. The same goes for where you position your mirror.
Storage – like hooks, storage is always useful in a bathroom. I’m not a fan of shaving cupboards, but it is important to work with the space you have to create appropriate storage in your space.
Well that is the end of my three part How to Design series. As much as I hope that you learned a lot about the intricacies involved in designing these key spaces in your home, to really achieve a high-end cohesive design outcome you will always require the professional assistance of an interior designer.