A finely tuned design, careful product selection and ample storage provision will create a well-planned bathroom that you'll find a pleasure to use for years to come.
After the kitchen, the bathroom is considered the most important room in the home, and demands an incredible array of fittings, often in a small space. Carefully planning the layout from the outset can prevent costly changes later. 'You should devote as much time and space as possible to the layout so all the elements, from shower to basin, can be fully appreciated,' advises Steven de Munnich, design director at Smallbone of Devizes. Masco's online bathroom planner (bathroom-furniture-guide.com/virtual-bathroom-design.htm) lets you experiment with basic layouts but for major problem solving and design inspiration it pays to commission an experienced bathroom designer.
How is the space used?
Start by outlining the way you intend to use the room and listing key priorities. A family bathroom or serious spa-style sanctuary will demand a higher specification list that may include a bath, separate shower, his 'n' hers basins, and substantial storage. A smaller en-suite or guest bathroom may benefit from forgoing the bath in favour of a large walk-in shower. Steam cabins are a growing trend amid the luxury sector – CP Hart offers a bespoke service – but it's important to be realistic with both budget and space. A freestanding bath loses its impact in a small bathroom, and double basins only really work if there's elbow room for two people to stand side-by-side.
Plan the layout
When planning the layout, first consider the view upon entrance, particularly in an en-suite if the doorway is open to the bedroom. You may want to consider hiding the WC from initial sight, behind the door or even concealed behind a frosted screen or half-height wall.
If you are renovating an existing suite, moving the WC can prove pricey. WCs are generally located close to the external soil stack, with minimal bends in the pipe to avoid blockages, and relocation is an expensive building project, although not impossible. 'Also check that the waste trap outlet for a new toilet will fit the existing soil pipe location as they are either floor or wall positioned,' adds interior designer Robyn Falck.
It helps to choose one key focal point – be it a statement vanity unit, freestanding bath or luxurious walk-in shower – which is given prime position. Windows can also dictate the layout; position the bath or basin(s) to best appreciate any available views. Ensure there is adequate space around each fitting for comfortable use and pay attention to the swing of shower doors; in a tight space choose inward opening doors or an over-bath shower. In a larger room, avoid everything clinging to the walls and instead experiment with angles – an offset bath can prove more dynamic – or bring the bath forward and create a walk-through shower behind.
Words Linda Clayton