By Dianne Carian, Interior Designer & Colour Specialist, by Dizine
Today, greater emphasis is being placed on a home’s bathroom and its presentation, and bathroom fixtures and fittings are meeting the home owners functional needs better than ever before.
Aesthetically, as is the case with kitchens, a sleek bathroom is also a significant drawcard for home buyers; this is after all where the day begins and ends for most. An appealing bathroom often provides an emotional connection with a prospective property owner, and this is reflected in the resale value.
In the past, often only a single bathroom was often included in homes of a small to medium size. Today, the average size family home will often have two to three bathrooms in order to ease congestion and accessibility, supporting the busy lifestyles we lead. Larger homes also commonly include separate powder rooms.
The modern trend for bathrooms where space limitations exist is to install larger showers at the expense of a bath. This may suit the lifestyle needs of the existing family, however careful consideration should be made with this decision as the lack of a bath may reduce the size of the resale market for the home. This is because some people see a bath as a highly desirable sanctuary to relax and unwind from the day's stresses, and for others it is a feature that is a priority for a young family.
The use of a shower-over-bath option is a great compromise. A single-ended reclining back-support bath with a glass door panel from the Athena Solace range is one option that is suitable for a small bathroom.
Above: Astivita Napoli Drop In Bath – Plumbing World
The latest free-standing bath designs are quite stunning in their presentation and create a luxurious and sanctuary-like statement in any bathroom space. Their soft graceful lines, sweeping curves, soft squares and classic ovals are a perfect balance between form and function. They can be easily positioned within the bathroom footprint to create a visual statement and will support almost any design theme. Although the cost for a free-standing bath is higher than the cost of a traditional built-in bath, overall costs are potentially reduced as they do not require framing or tiling.
Space availability, storage needs and the number of people using the bathroom at any one time will be key factors that influence the choice of bathroom vanity, and modern designs no longer mean style has to be sacrificed over function. The choices for modern vanity styles are extraordinary, and these personalised furniture pieces provide an opportunity to lead the design theme for any bathroom space. Athena’s Create vanity range allows you to “hand pick each component of your vanity from an array of carefully selected options”.
Wall mounted or console vanities are popular today and are well suited in small to medium rooms, making the space look and feel larger (they are also well suited to large bathrooms). Their sleek and often minimalist designs are also inviting in any modern setting.
The vanity can also provide an opportunity to bring colour into the bathroom. The timeless “White on White” still bodes well in any setting, however mid to dark and natural earthy tones provide great contrast and are popular colour choices today’s bathrooms. Even bolder colour choices are a great way to make a statement.
Vanity top options are also varied. For a modern or contemporary look, a thicker top profile strengthens the horizontal lines of the cabinetry. The three main materials used for vanity tops include acrylic, vitreous china and mineral composite. Natural stone options such as granite, marble and woods are also regularly used when custom manufacture is required.
Each of the vanity top options above has their pro’s and con’s when it comes to making a choice of one over the other, and often it will come down to personal preference and cost.
The choice of basins is often a matter of personal preference also. For a lengthening, minimalist look, an inset or sweeping basin are great options. If you wish to make the basin a feature, a top-mounted style is worth considering. Double basins are popular when two people wish to use the bathroom space together, and they help to personalise these areas in the bathroom.
Black is becoming the colour of the decade in bathrooms, featuring as a high gloss finish for cabinetry, stone tops and basins.
Space utilisation in a bathroom is an important consideration as a lack of adequate storage for toiletries, towels and cleaning products will often result in a cluttered look. Recessed mirror cabinets above the vanity are ideal for storing smaller items and keeping medicines and other dangerous substances safely out of the reach of children - their design can also add a visual statement to any bathroom. Small slices of space alongside the vanity can also accommodate a stylish tower or a side cabinet.
It is without question the shower that is the most important bathroom feature for modern day lifestyles, so it is highly desirable to install a shower that will perform it’s required duties well. The feeling of space and the technology used to deliver the water are the two key elements of a good shower.
Tiled walls and floors used in conjunction with frameless (or semi-frameless) glass surrounds are gaining popularity. Such designs offer a seamless look, helping to extend the visual space, and provide an opportunity to introduce colour, pattern and texture.
The Methven Satinjet ® shower provides a luxurious showering experience that will have you feeling both relaxed and energised at the start of your day. The technology uses twin jets of water to create a collision of thousands of water droplets which produces a water flow that is soft enough for your face, and powerful enough to cleanse your body effectively.
When choosing tapware, design, performance and durability should all be considered equally. In most cases, chrome finishes are being used to accessorise the bathroomware. Tapware is manufactured in "families", to make it easy to achieve visual continuity from the vanity. to the bath, to the shower.
Above, left to right: Tahi, Minimalist – both by Athena
The choice on how to introduce colour, texture and pattern is unlimited, even within the bathroom space. Tiled wall and floor surfaces help to achieve this and are increasing in popularity.
Smaller bathrooms, including master ensuites, are best detailed with continuity of colour to enhance the feeeling of space.
The crisp, clean "white on white" is classic, timeless and is a safe bet in the modern bathroom. Variations in tile sizes between floor and walls, mosaic or textured, matt or gloss finishes help create visual stimulation and a sense of luxury.
Darker floor tiles offer a great contrast to help showcase a feature bath, and when extended into the shower area will also enlarge the entire space visually. Using larger tiles such as 600 x 600mm will enhance the feeling of space even more.
When using feature tiles for pattern and texture, be bold. In the past, tiles were reserved for the line above the vanity top and mirror. Greater impact is achieved when larger wall surfaces are highlighted, whether this is the wall where the vanity is positioned, or one or both shower walls, the face of an inbuilt bath, or any area where architectural lines are worth making a statement of.
Large mirrored areas are invaluable for adding luminosity and reflecting light, helping to open up rooms visually. Mirrors need not only be positioned above a vanity basin, they can also be used as feature wall panelling.
Natural light levels in bathrooms can be restricted due to window size and location, and bathrooms are often located on the cooler side of the house where insulated walls are preferred over glass and/or louvres.
Light positioning ideally should be both functional and ambient. It is important to have good light above or close to the vanity where shaving and make up application takes place. Choosing light emission which is equivalent to natural daylight is also desirable. Lights, if connected to a dimmer, can be adjusted to create mood lighting when desired. It is important the shower is well lit, general bathroom areas will ideally be on a separate switch.
Strip or concealed lights around or above the vanity mirror, along the front of a feature built in bath, or in a decorative wall recess are great ways accent attractive design elements, contributing to a luxurious, spa-like ambience.
Larger homes often include a powder room close to main living areas, to provide a private retreat for guests who would otherwise be required to share the main family bathroom. The decorative elements for powder rooms trend toward opulence, feminism and romance. They are generally significantly smaller in size, and there is often an opportunity to embellish the walls. Decorative wallpaper, ornamented wall mirrors and soft mood lighting are popular trends - or maybe even that much-desired chandelier.
Time spent in the powder room is more transient, and therefore features that are almost mandatory in family and ensuite bathrooms are not always required.