INSIDER GUIDE 2 THE NATURAL BATHROOM
British furniture and lighting designer Tom Raffield uses a unique steam-bending method that allows him to create a range of elegant pieces from a variety of woods. He and wife Danielle bought a 19th-century gamekeeper’s cottage in Cornwall and completely
I definitely prefer a shower to a bath, and, in the morning, when it comes to the bathroom, I’m an in-and-out person.
The alarm goes off at six, and I usually head downstairs to have a speedy workout on my rowing machine before I have my coffee. When my children are awake, they tend to join in with me – there are lots of attempts at headstands and press-ups, which I would imagine is hilarious to watch. In the evening, when I’m not in such a hurry, I do spend a bit more time in the bathroom.
My wife Danielle and I tried to design the bathroom so as to make it future-proof.
Once you’ve got kids, it has to be a communal, functional space, but we also wanted it to be relaxing for us too. Space planning was important, to make sure we could fit all five of us in there if needs be – three kids in the bath, plus room to brush teeth and read a story. Wood for us was the perfect choice. A natural material that would be hard-wearing and durable was our main priority, and we loved the idea of having a bathroom reminiscent of a Nordic spa. It also reminds me of a sauna, which adds to the Scandinavian vibe. Wood has such an amazing warmth, both aesthetically and in relation to temperature retention. Large sheets might noticeably warp or distort when subjected to heat or humidity, but our cladding is made up of individual pieces that can move independently – we haven’t had any trouble so far!
The panelling in the bathroom is made from spalted beech, sweet chestnut, ash, beech and Norwegian spruce.
It all came from our own woodland here at the workshops, so we weren’t overly precious about it. We haven’t treated it, apart from the area next to the basin, where we used ‘Natural Oil Woodstain’ by Osmo to make it more water-resistant. The floorboards were finished with a wash of ‘Hard Wax Oil’ by Fiddes. Everything dried really quickly thanks to the underfloor heating.
The main thing to consider when using wood is to balance it with materials that add contrast, but don’t overpower it.
A concrete basin works well with the muted tones and brings in a great masculine edge. This one is by an amazing Australian brand, Wood Melbourne, which we were lucky enough to meet at a trade show while we were building the house. We ended up using lots of its fixtures, as they’re handmade and crafted to a high quality. The taps are Wood Melbourne too – we love the sleek, geometric design. We also included one of our own ‘Urchin’ pendant lights. I built the storage, which is pretty basic but functional. Not having a door on the front of the bespoke vanity unit means it’s easy to find things quickly. We also installed our ‘Coat Loop’, which is a great place to hang wet towels and robes after use – just throw them straight over the steam-bent hoop to dry.
The best thing about working with wood is that, because it’s a natural material, each piece is different, challenging and individual.
I can never get bored. Steam bending the wood makes it even more unique. Each time it turns out differently, and it’s incredibly joyous to experiment with. tomraffield.com ➤
‘WE LOVED THE IDEA OF A BATHROOM REMINISCENT OF A NORDIC SPA. WOOD HAS AMAZING WARMTH, BOTH AESTHETICALLY AND IN RELATION TO TEMPERATURE RETENTION’