Homes & Gardens

BRADLEY VAN DER STRAETEN Good design with wellbeing in mind



AS architects, we are passionate about the power of good design on wellbeing. We focus on seven design pillars that are essential considerat­ions for a healthy building, and they apply to bathroom design, too.

We all need exposure to natural light – it helps us to focus, improves our sleep patterns and can affect our mood. We think first about how to make the most of the available light, perhaps by positionin­g a bath under the window, so you can also enjoy the view and feel connected to nature. If your bathroom doesn’t have windows, can you ‘steal’ some light from another room, maybe via high-level windows or the roof?

Mirrors and reflective surfaces can be used to bounce light around the room, while light falling onto timber, such as a tall oak cabinet, can add a natural warmth and homely feel. Another way to draw the outside in is to surround the window with timber or a vibrantly coloured tile, which acts like a picture frame.

We work hard to make even the smallest room seem bigger. Being cramped is not a good feeling! Alongside practical considerat­ions, such as plumbing, we try to create a layout that flows. Keep the floor to one level if you can, consider using the same floor tile throughout, and use wall-hung fittings to boost the sense of space.

Bathrooms are echoey, but a mix of textures can help dampen sound. Curved surfaces are great for minimising echoes; avoiding parallel walls helps, too. You may want to install a music system and double glaze the window. Also consider the heating – a warm room is more conducive to relaxation. We favour underfloor heating in bathrooms, as it is usually the best kind for the lowest energy consumptio­n.

Finally, pay attention to air quality by ensuring good ventilatio­n – natural, if possible – or fit an extractor fan. Avoid toxic materials by using environmen­tally friendly paint, labelled either ‘No VOC’ or ‘Low VOC’, or by covering walls in a claybased plaster, such as those by Clayworks. We like to use natural, sustainabl­e materials where we can, such as oak and bamboo, and stones, such as slate, which have a pleasing tactile quality that is hard to beat.



BATHROOM DESIGNS? The thermal baths at Vals in Switzerlan­d by architect Peter Zumthor are an incredible sensory experience. GO-TO BATHROOM SURFACE? We enjoy elevating something simple to something special. Right now, we are using square plain green ceramic tiles everywhere to create a totally immersive feel.

A PRODUCT YOU LOVE? Kast concrete basins; again, a simple material is made special. →

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