De­sign­ing bath­rooms & en­suites

From plan­ning the lay­out to choos­ing prod­ucts and fin­ishes, Ju­lian Owen sum­marises what you need to know to plan a zone that’s both stylish and prac­ti­cal

Build It - - CONTENTS -

Ju­lian Owen’s step-by-step break­down takes you through plan­ning your bath­room, from lay­out to fin­ish­ing touches

ath­rooms are a sur­pris­ingly re­cent in­no­va­tion.

For cen­turies, a tin bath kept on a hook in the kitchen, an out­side privy with a ‘guzun­der’ and a wash­stand in the bed­room were con­sid­ered per­fectly ad­e­quate for an or­di­nary fam­ily. How­ever, af­ter the Vic­to­ri­ans in­stalled pub­lic plumbing and drainage sys­tems, the con­ve­nience of mov­ing such ameni­ties in­side the house was soon ap­pre­ci­ated. It wasn’t long be­fore these func­tional spa­ces pre­sented a new op­por­tu­nity to in­tro­duce a bit of lux­ury to the home. This zone also of­fers self builders and ren­o­va­tors the chance to get cre­ative, thanks to the ar­ray of fin­ishes and ap­pli­ances avail­able to trans­form the bath­room into a stylish area.

The ba­sics

De­cid­ing on the size, lo­ca­tion and num­ber of bath­rooms is a cru­cial stage when putting to­gether your new home’s floor­plan. The tra­di­tional ap­proach of one fam­ily bath­room up­stairs and a WC down­stairs has had its day. En­suites can be squeezed into com­par­a­tively small ar­eas, as it’s now pop­u­lar for all bed­rooms have ac­cess to their own bathing quar­ters, some­times with no shared bath­room. If space is lim­ited, a Jack and Jill ar­range­ment (where one bath­room is ac­cessed via two bed­rooms) can be a clever so­lu­tion. The lock­ing sys­tem can be set up to en­sure pri­vacy for oc­cu­pants. If the first floor is not large enough for ev­ery­one to have their own en­suite, a shower room on the ground floor can work well. This space also dou­bles as a good place to wash the fam­ily dog, if needed.

The num­ber of bath­rooms needed will de­pend on the unique pref­er­ences of the in­di­vid­ual house­hold, with

Above: Durable and hy­gienic, a solid Staron counter top will in­fuse your bath­room with el­e­gance. The cov­er­ing is grout­free and there­fore easy to clean. The ma­te­rial costs from £350 per m2. Right: Priced from £28.99 per m2, units in Gemini Tiles’ Palace col­lec­tion are avail­able in var­i­ous sizes for use on walls and floors

fac­tors such as fam­ily size and the amount of guest rooms com­ing into play. In ad­di­tion to a main bath­room, three-, four- and five-bed­room homes should usu­ally en­com­pass one, two and three en­suites, re­spec­tively.

Prac­ti­cal point­ers

Few of us give much thought to what hap­pens to the waste that dis­ap­pears from our homes into the sewer sys­tem.

But we are forced to con­front this as­pect of the bath­room when the po­si­tion­ing and lay­out of the zone is cal­cu­lated. It’s im­por­tant to re­spect the me­chan­ics in­volved in the re­moval of waste to achieve an ef­fi­cient, block­age-free so­lu­tion. It is pos­si­ble to use pumps or run boxed-in drains along the ceil­ing, and oc­ca­sion­ally this is un­avoid­able. How­ever, more of­ten than not, they can be de­signed out.

There are sev­eral key lim­i­ta­tions to bear in mind as you strate­gise your lay­out. The largest di­am­e­ter drain is needed to con­nect the toi­let, so smaller pipes from other ap­pli­ances typ­i­cally flow into that con­duit, in­clud­ing shower trays raised above the floor level.

In sit­u­a­tions where the shower basin must be at floor level – such as in a wet­room – one op­tion is to have the drain buried into the floor­ing rather than hav­ing a sep­a­rate shower tray. It can sim­ply be built into the con­crete, or for tim­ber floor struc­tures you can thread it through the joists. A waste pipe run­ning at skirt­ing level can be con­cealed with box­ing, but can­not cross a door un­less there is a step, which is in­con­ve­nient and a trip hazard.

Lay­out essentials

Most peo­ple pre­fer the WC to be close to a wall on one side so it’s sim­ple to hang a roll of pa­per within easy reach. A stan­dard shower works best in a cor­ner with at least two solid walls and a cur­tain or glass sheet on the other sides. Wash­basins usu­ally need to have a mir­ror above them, so should not face a win­dow. Also, bear in mind that any draughts could leave you feel­ing chilly whilst in the bath, so tubs are best placed away from fen­es­tra­tion.

Once you’ve worked out the ideal lo­ca­tions for the ap­pli­ances, re­mem­ber to leave enough space around them for easy ac­cess. Any­one who has stayed in a bud­get ho­tel

will be able to con­firm that it is pos­si­ble to fit a shower, wash­basin and WC into what ini­tially seems to be an im­pos­si­bly com­pact area. This is partly down to the fact that mod­ern ap­pli­ances are much smaller than be­fore. If the door to the zone opens out­wards or slides back into the wall, the room can be shrunk even fur­ther. This space­sav­ing ap­proach is very suc­cess­ful for tight en­suite zones – how­ever, the op­po­site strat­egy should be adopted if you’re keen to es­tab­lish a bath­room with an op­u­lent feel.

Be­low: Bath­room Take­away’s Homely white wall hung van­ity and basin is priced at £219.97. Wall-mounted units work well in com­pact rooms; max­i­mum floor­ing cre­ates the im­pres­sion of a larger space

Above: A bath tub that’s free­stand­ing is the per­fect ad­di­tion to your home’s spa-like bath­room retreat. Priced from £1,655, Al­bion Bath Com­pany’s Nep­tune Slip­per de­sign in­fuses the space with an op­u­lent vibe

While the day-to-day pur­pose of the bath­room is to pro­vide a user-friendly, func­tional space, this area of the home also of­fers the chance to cre­ate an aura of seclu­sion and tran­quil­lity. A ca­pa­cious, clut­ter-free en­vi­ron­ment is cru­cial to set the right mood. Am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture and hu­mid­ity are also im­por­tant fac­tors to con­sider. The more con­trol there is over these el­e­ments, the eas­ier it is to en­sure com­fort for who­ever en­ters.

Un­der­floor heat­ing is un­doubt­edly an as­set be­cause it re­duces draughts, cre­at­ing a cosy warmth un­der­foot. While the elec­tric ver­sion is rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive to run com­pared to water-based piped sys­tems, it comes into its own in a bath­room. Be­cause this type of dry setup can reach a warm tem­per­a­ture rel­a­tively quickly, it can be switched on for just a short pe­riod of time that you’re us­ing the space and switched off eas­ily when no longer needed.

Me­chan­i­cal ven­ti­la­tion is es­sen­tial to re­move un­wanted odours, steam and hu­mid air, es­pe­cially in win­ter when there’s a higher risk of con­den­sa­tion. A con­cealed unit that works in the back­ground, qui­etly and con­tin­u­ously, will en­sure that a serene state of mind is not shat­tered by a loud setup. A heat ex­changer can also be fit­ted to re­cover the en­ergy from warm air as it’s ex­tracted.

Prod­ucts & fin­ishes

Ce­ramic tiles are an ex­cel­lent choice for the walls, as they will hap­pily en­dure con­stant soak­ing. If your bud­get al­lows,

it can be worth spend­ing a bit more on them to add a touch of glam­our to your bath­room. Large tiles are cur­rently en vogue – typ­i­cally, they cost more to buy but in­ter­est­ingly less to in­stall. Con­sider in­te­grat­ing small, bright mo­saic tiles to add fur­ther aes­thetic in­ter­est.

How your floor cov­er­ing will feel be­neath bare feet should also be con­sid­ered. Ce­ramic tiles (not the wall ver­sions) win here again, be­cause wood floors are li­able to move when wet – un­less you opt for a more im­per­vi­ous tim­ber species, such as bam­boo or teak. Car­pet is harder to keep clean and may not be prac­ti­cal some­where with a high risk of water be­ing splashed around. Vinyl is an­other op­tion and comes in an ar­ray of colours and pat­terns. Re­mem­ber, how­ever funky a floor looks, the most es­sen­tial re­quire­ment in this zone is for it to be non-slip.

When it comes to spec­i­fy­ing prod­ucts, light­ing is an­other area that will re­quire some se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. The bath­room moves through a va­ri­ety of moods and func­tions through­out the day, so plan­ning a lay­ered il­lu­mi­na­tion scheme that ticks all the boxes is es­sen­tial. From a prac­ti­cal point of view, light from a main fix­ture in the cen­tre of the room or ceil­ing-mounted mini spots will pro­vide the bright­ness you need for ev­ery­day groom­ing. Task light­ing or LED strips around the mir­ror will be use­ful for putting on makeup or shav­ing. For a re­lax­ing evening bath, you can es­tab­lish a more mel­low mood by in­te­grat­ing dim­mer switches and re­flected light, plus a warm glow from strate­gi­cally placed can­dles.

Large for­mat Ox­ide Silver tiles have been used to cover the walls in this mod­ern bath­room. The units are priced from £96 per m2 from Stone & Ce­ramic Ware­house

De­signed by Ce­cilie Manz, Du­ravit’s Luv se­ries ex­udes a time­less feel. The basin is made from Du­rac­e­ram, a ma­te­rial that can be moulded to cre­ate sleek edges just 5mm thick. This is avail­able in three dif­fer­ent sizes, with an op­tional glazed coat­ing on the ex­te­rior

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