Bathroom Design Secrets
How to build a bathroom that you’ll love for years to come? Design expert Alexandra Rae shares her pro tips.
Designing bathrooms can be intimidating. There are lots of materials and functional aspects to consider, but you want it to be stylish and you want your investment to last. Where do you start? Interior designer Alexandra Rae not only puts together a great bathroom, but her signature style blends timeless tradition with modern energy and bold attitude. “I’m a huge fan of color and pattern, so I always start there,” Alexandra says. “For me the color evokes the particular feeling of a space.”
WHERE TO START
While your roadmap to pulling together a great bathroom design will vary depending on your needs and circumstances, Alexandra always starts by assessing the physical space.
“You start by really understanding how you’ll be using the space.” Alexandra says. “Just like with kitchen design, you have to have a clear idea of what you need. I push my clients to get really honest with me and themselves. Just because you pin lots of beautiful vanity pictures on your Pinterest doesn’t mean you actually use a vanity.
Are you more of a put-your-makeup-on-in-five-minutesin-the-car type of person?”
The next step is to figure out how you’ll use pattern in the space. And Alexandra points out that pattern doesn’t just consist of wallpaper or fabric. “To me tiles and tile patterns, the wood trim and window mullions—those are all patterns your eye will pick up on in the room.”
YOUR MOST IMPORTANT INVESTMENT
Understanding how you’ll really use the space will kick off the decisions in the biggest area of investment: the cabinetry. “Cabinetry is the biggest ticket item,” Alexandra says. “Cabinetry is the most expensive and the most important. You’re not going to change your cabinetry. And if you do want to update your bathroom in 10 years, if your cabinets are well crafted, you’ll be able to refinish and paint them.”
MANAGING YOUR BUDGET LIKE A DESIGNER
“I think the easiest way to maximize your money in a bathroom is to use widely available materials,” Alexandra says. “Save the specialty items for accents. If you fall in love with a very high-end tile, apply it only as your budget allows, as tile liners or accents. But if there is a mirror or light fixture you absolutely love, use it! You’ll regret it if you don’t. Just chip away somewhere else at the things you won’t miss.”
There are a few basic areas in which to save and some that are safe to splurge on. “If the house is going to resell, it has to have somewhat wider appeal. But if you are not planning on reselling anytime soon, and you use quality cabinets and countertops, have fun with the jewelry. Think of cabinets as a good black dress; fun lighting, mirrors and faucets are the changeable jewelry.”
THE PERFECT FINAL RESULT
“To me, the perfect bathroom is more about a mood or a feel than a specific design or formula,” Alexandra says. For her, it’s the tried and true spa effect. “I think your bathroom should make you feel relaxed,” she adds. “It’s where you start your day and end your day. It’s a perfect balance of being able to feel refreshed in the morning, relaxed at night.”
|RIGHT| EASY & ELEGANT. Details make all the difference. To help give this space a sense of subtle vintage appeal, Alexandra took her time choosing the right hardware and accents. “The hardware was important because with the clean blue and white style and classic Carrara marble, I had to find places to insert the details that gave it a vintage feel,” she says. “I like the fabric in the glass-fronted cabinets because it adds that same special element.”
|BELOW RIGHT| BOYS ALLOWED. This upstairs bathroom is shared by three boys of varying ages, so the space needed to be elegant enough for the whole house, and yet feel a little fun and a little masculine. “Space planning was key here because they are all different ages, and we needed them to be able to use it at the same time,” Alexandra says. Lighting and small nautical details in the tile borders underscore the look in a sophisticated way.