Throw in the towel

Mak­ing sense of bath­room de­sign doesn’t have to leave you all washed up with our easy guide

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If it re­quires 11 dif­fer­ent trades to build a house, nine of them are needed just for the bath­room. From plumbers and elec­tri­cians to tilers, painters and glaziers, this lit­tle room is de­mand­ing in both time and money.

And get­ting the de­sign right is not easy, es­pe­cially if you’re deal­ing with small awk­ward spa­ces.

From where to place the toi­let for a lit­tle quiet time, through to the most con­ve­nient po­si­tion for the hand­basin so that every­one can wash their hands be­fore din­ner, plan­ning a bath­room re­quires a mix of com­mon sense and at­ten­tion to aes­thet­ics.

We’ve bro­ken it down so that small­est room in your house is not only beau­ti­ful to be in but works ef­fort­lessly for the whole fam­ily.

Tak­ing time out

The bath­room and the kitchen are two of the most-used rooms in the house, but busi­ness man­ager for Reece Daniela San­tilli says the bath­room is with­out doubt the most im­por­tant.

As our lives be­come busier, the bath­room has be­come a cen­tral zone for time out, as well as some­where to get clean.

“There is less em­pha­sis on one room be­ing the liv­ing area be­cause the al­lure of tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion is no longer limited to tele­vi­sion and elec­tronic en­ter­tain­ment. It now spreads through­out the home,” she says.

“In cre­at­ing a kitchen space, you’re essen­tially craft­ing a so­cial hub where peo­ple come to­gether, whereas in the bath­room you’re cre­at­ing a liv­ing room that con­nects you to your­self.”

She says it’s worth spend­ing some time with your builder or de­signer to con­sider the most work­able lay­out for your fam­ily, from how many basins to where to store the tow­els.

At the same time, you will want it to be a beau­ti­ful, re­lax­ing space for restor­ing both mind and body.

“When de­sign­ing the bath­room space, you should al­ways con­sider all an­gles, from fam­ily func­tion­al­ity, fu­ture longevity and aes­thet­ics,” Daniela says. “With such a range of dif­fer­ent prod­ucts on the mar­ket com­bined with out-there trends, you re­ally can have it all.

“It’s en­tirely pos­si­ble to craft a bath­room that brings to­gether func­tion, util­ity, beauty and the senses to de­liver a mul­tipur­pose space for re­ju­ve­na­tion and re­lax­ation.”

Bathing beauty

Baths used to be a prac­ti­cal in­clu­sion to wash the kids but in re­cent years, they have be­come sta­tus sym­bols in the bath­room.

A free­stand­ing bath­tub is an ar­chi­tec­tural piece that acts as a fo­cal point in the bath­room, mak­ing it a key part of the de­sign.

“There’s now more choice than ever be­fore,” says Jonathan Carter, mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor at Vic­to­ria + Al­bert. “You’re not just limited to larger, tra­di­tional roll-top baths, you can choose from com­pact mod­ern soak­ing tubs, to clever er­gonomic de­signs, to the Vic­to­rian-style claw-foot tubs.” He says bath­tubs are great for fam­i­lies too. “Bath time is of­ten a re­ally im­por­tant rou­tine for younger kids, but they also rep­re­sent some solo pam­per time for older mem­bers of the fam­ily.”

In­creas­ingly, de­sign­ers are look­ing to make the bath the cen­tre­piece of the room, vis­i­ble from the mo­ment you step in­side.

Place­ment will de­pend on ac­cess to taps but po­si­tion­ing it along the fur­thest wall is pop­u­lar. For those look­ing for a lit­tle ho­tel­style lux­ury, an el­e­vated bath lit­er­ally takes the bath­room to a new level.

“For too long the bath­room has been seen as a util­i­tar­ian space, a place to just wash and go,” Jonathan says. “It doesn’t make any sense to treat the bath­room that way now.”

The lit­tlest room

Just as open-plan liv­ing spa­ces are be­ing bro­ken up, bath­rooms are also be­com­ing a lit­tle more seg­re­gated, with sep­a­ra­tion be­tween the toi­let and shower or bath.

“There is a trend to sep­a­rate the two,” Jonathan says.

This can be par­tic­u­larly use­ful in sin­gle bath­room fam­i­lies al­low­ing two peo­ple to use the space at once — but with some pri­vacy.

“Don’t for­get to in­clude a hand­basin in the toi­let — this is of­ten over­looked,” he says.

Func­tion over fash­ion

Once you have the ba­sics sorted, it’s time to think about stor­age.

Met­ri­con de­sign di­rec­tor Adrian Pop­ple says the van­ity needs to pro­vide am­ple bench space and stor­age while set­ting the style for the bath­room. Think about po­si­tion­ing it near the door for quick en­tries and ex­its.

Adrian says a good bath­room de­sign should be able to tick both the fash­ion and func­tion­al­ity boxes.

“Func­tion­al­ity takes prece­dence and so long as you have a van­ity, bath, shower and sep­a­rate toi­let, the space will al­ways work,” he says. “The space can then be styled with your choice of tiling, paint, tap­ware and fea­tures, such as tiled re­cesses and van­ity lay­outs.”

Tiles are still a pop­u­lar choice for walls and floors be­cause they are so prac­ti­cal in wet ar­eas and come in such a wide range of colours, there’s some­thing for al­most ev­ery style of bath­room. Be­fore you de­cide, con­sider how easy they will be to clean.

What­ever colour you choose, think about how the light will re­flect in the room, es­pe­cially if you spend time ap­ply­ing make-up in the bath­room.

White or shades of grey are still the colours of choice for walls and van­ity bench­top sur­faces, although pat­terned tiles for floors are prov­ing pop­u­lar.

Colour­ful tow­els and the oc­ca­sional in­door plant are an easy way to up­date the space from sea­son to sea­son.

Most of us are look­ing for a clean, hard work­ing space that’s still a plea­sure to be in, even if some of us spend more time in the bath­room than oth­ers.

“Women tend spend the most time in the bath­room pre­par­ing for the day and want to spend their time in a space that’s func­tional but also at­trac­tive,” Adrian says.

More Met­ri­con Homes, met­ri­con.com.au; Vic­to­ria + Al­bert, vand­abaths.com; Reece, reece.com.au

July 15, 2017

An el­e­vated bath and float­ing tim­ber van­ity give this Met­ri­con Homes-de­signed bath­room a sense of lux­ury.

This Vic­to­ria+Al­bert bath is po­si­tioned at the end of the room for max­i­mum im­pact. A sky­light above adds a lit­tle drama.

This tim­ber look van­ity is fin­ished in the El­e­gant Oak Riven fin­ish from Laminex, laminex.com.au

The Era bath from the Kado range at Reece is a mod­ern twist on an old favourite.

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