Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - Neale Whi­taker is ed­i­tor-at-large of Vogue Liv­ing.

Neale Whi­taker ex­plores our cur­rent love for state­ment bath­rooms.

One of my favourite Brits, TV pre­sen­ter Kirstie All­sopp, re­cently copped it big time on so­cial me­dia for declar­ing wash­ing ma­chines in kitchens (as found in so many UK homes) “dis­gust­ing”. I’m wait­ing with bated breath for her to vent against that other bas­tion of Bri­tish in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tion, the car­peted bath­room. That might just whip up a storm to ri­val Brexit. But All­sopp’s com­ments re­minded me how dif­fer­ently we tend to view func­tional rooms – bath­rooms, kitchens, laun­dries – here in Aus­tralia, and how good we are at them. Not so much ahead of the curve as defin­ing it.

And, given our love of all things Scan­di­na­vian, it shouldn’t come as a sur­prise that Nordic Min­i­mal is our favourite bath­room look, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­ducted for bath­room spe­cial­ist Reece ( Last week­end’s win­ning bath­room on The Block, by Mel­bourne cou­ple El­yse Knowles and Josh Barker, demon­strated the trend per­fectly with a soft pal­ette of tim­ber and grey tile, lou­vred shut­ters and cir­cu­lar tub, basin and mir­ror el­e­gantly bridging the gap be­tween func­tion and luxury in a pared-back Scandi way.

“Aus­tralians have em­braced the bath­room as a space where func­tion and emo­tion come to­gether,” says Reece’s bath­room mar­ket­ing leader Daniela San­tilli. In other words, good bath­room de­sign can en­hance the rit­u­als that de­fine our day, in­vig­o­rat­ing and re­lax­ing in equal mea­sure. The trend to­wards open-plan liv­ing has in­creased de­mand for en­suite bath­rooms. “When we feel the need to es­cape and re­ju­ve­nate with some ‘me time’, the bath­room and bedroom com­ple­ment one an­other,” San­tilli says. She sees “smart” toilets with push-but­ton wash­ing and dry­ing tech­nol­ogy (no longer the pre­serve of Ja­panese ho­tels) and ther­mo­static show­ers as im­por­tant com­ing trends. It makes sense that the tech­nol­ogy that in­creas­ingly drives our lives should reach the more in­ti­mate ar­eas of our homes.

And there’s a di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween what’s fea­tured on shows like The Block and what cus­tomers re­quest in stores. My guess is that cir­cu­lar bath­tubs were in high de­mand this week. In­ter­est­ingly, edgier de­sign was once the pre­serve of pow­der rooms, while main bath­rooms and en­suites re­mained stub­bornly neu­tral. That’s all changed too. Other de­sign state­ments from last week’s bath­room reveals in­clude black-sided baths, en­caus­tic tiles, hand-wrought brass ac­ces­sories and bon­sai trees. And, fun­nily enough, not a car­pet in sight. No Bri­tish con­tes­tants, then.

WA­TER WORKS (clock­wise from left) Black and white tiles give this space a mod­ern feel; The Block’s El­yse Knowles and Josh Barker’s win­ning bath­room; Zuster and Reece’s new col­lab­o­ra­tion brings spa-style chic into the home.

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