THE HUMBLE BATHROOM HAS BECOME THE HOME’S NEW SHOWPIECE THANKS TO SOME EDGY UPDATES
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 (reece.com.au). 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.