Put function before form in the planning and add drama in the detail to create a bathroom with timeless appeal
A bathroom should be a haven of relaxation and calm but it’s also one of the hardest working rooms in the house. Julian Brenchley of Brenchley Architects offers some design tips and tricks to create a private bathroom sanctuary that looks great and functions even better – for every member of the family.
Stage One: Zone your space
If you are working with an existing bathroom think about how you use the space, what works and what doesn't. Can the floor plan be changed to accommodate better functions, and can your budget cover this?
While it may add to the cost to move the services and door or window spaces around, the ambience of the bathroom and its reflection in relation to the rest of your living space can pay big dividends.
Consider how the space ought to flow and function for the people who’ll be using it. A young family’s needs are quite different to those with older children or no children at all. Think about things like toilet placement to avoid it being in the sightline when the door is opened and if space is at a premium, whether you really need a separate bath?
Stage Two: Decide on function then style In early 20th century Germany, The Bauhaus movement created a revolution in modern design. Founder Walter Gropius’ form-follows-function philosophy transformed architecture, people’s living spaces, and aesthetic expectations in fundamental ways.
The functionality of a bathroom should be your first priority. You have to be aware of how much space you have to play with and select fittings that work within those limitations.
Building Code Compliancy must be followed when laying out your floor plan; toilets have to be set a certain distance from a door, vanity basins and showerheads need to be at a comfortable height and towel rails easily accessible. Waterproofing and drainage, as well as power point placements should be resolved early with exact finishes in mind to prevent problems.
You will need plans and elevations of the new bathroom showing the plumbing set out and the position of the fittings. The drawings should also show the set out of the selected wall and floor finishes and any design features you intend to add.
Look for products that are innovative; they will keep your bathroom feeling new for longer and often deliver other long term benefits.
Sustainability is another key factor we always consider when designing a house, a kitchen or a bathroom. When it comes to bathrooms, sustainable and green go hand in hand these days. There are a lot of bathroom products now that deliver a minimal footprint in both their environmentally responsible production and for the term of their natural life.
Methven’s Aio tapware range fits well into this category, featuring EcoBrass®, a high strength, high quality material that is lead free (containing less than 0.2% lead). The Methven Aio showerhead features the new generation Aurajet technology which delivers a three star WELS rating with a peak flow of only 9L per minute while giving fantastic body coverage.
Write a list of the primary fittings you will be installing. Once these elements are in place you can set about choosing the products that will suit the aesthetic of your bathroom. Try to avoid ‘now’ styles and research timeless finishes. Do you prefer a modern, a retro, a monochromatic or a colourful look? Soft furnishings can also change the mood of a room and are cheaper than re-tiling.
Stage Three: Choose the right finishes Make sure that the finishes you select have longevity not only because renovating a bathroom is a costly exercise but it’s a room you will use often.
Invest in top of the range products that will have a long lifespan and create the ambience you desire. It’s fine to be on trend but for longevity ensure they also have classical appeal. Natural stone and neutral palettes can be updated with accessories that are easily replaceable, giving a new look seasonally if you wish.
Make sure you research the products and their properties to ensure they will stand up to steam, water and heat, are lime scale resistant and water efficient. Timber is beautiful, but not if it gets wet or moist. Natural stone is always a great choice although some are better suited to wet areas than others. Mosaics with lots of grout lines are acceptable provided the sealants and drainage are well considered in advance. A beautiful new bathroom with a cold damp floor is a failure so consider adding an extra layer of luxury and comfort with underfloor heating.
Stage 4: Put your storage options in a box Custom-made joinery in your bathroom can transform a space from ordinary to extraordinary, making the most efficient use of the space. Clean joinery lines provide a visually appealing look and calm ambience while hiding all the clutter of bathroom essentials.
There are little tricks you can use to create storage, like adding an overhead mirrored shaving cabinet as opposed to just a mirror and ambient lighting to the underside of the cabinet to create a bathroom feature.
Lifting the cabinet off the floor and suspending it from the wall will make a small space look bigger and still provide ample storage.
Stage 5: It’s all in the details
As Benjamin Franklin said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Look at the functional element of your bathroom and add drama in the details. Think bold feature tiles and statement taps and showerhead, like the Methven Aurajet that combines good looks, design innovation and water efficiency.
While you will need practical lighting for shaving and applying make-up, you can also include feature lighting by adding a pendant light in keeping with your style or LED strip lighting to cabinetry.
Bathrooms are a very complex space, often requiring all the trades that would be required for an entire house build. The devil lies in the detail so careful and thoughtful planning is a prerequisite that will always pay off.
You’ll find that if you’ve planned well, considered all the options and implemented your must-haves and at least a few wants, your bathroom will be your sanctuary for years to come.