Typically seen as utilitarian, bathrooms have recently evolved into our own personal wellness retreats – with more care and consideration being taken to creating a welcoming feel for the space. Whether you are looking to update your master bathroom, upgrade a shower room or turn unused space into a luxurious en suite, there’s now plenty of bathroom ideas available to suit your style, from colours and materials to shapes and finishes.
Before you dive in, think about the investment you wish to make. Write down your must-have items (is a bath a non-negotiable?) as well as any changes that need to be made to the existing size and layout of the space that will take up a significant portion of your total spend.
1. BE BOLD AS BRASS
Brassware is an important part of any bathroom and should be considered early on in the design process.'Taps are working parts that have continuous water flowing through them,' explains Yousef Mansuri, Head of Design at C.P. Hart.'They are the most used and have the highest potential to break, so investing in high-quality fittings that stand the test of time is essential.'
2. EMBRACE TASTEFUL TEXTURES
Marble adds a sense of luxury, and is a feature often found in hotel bathrooms and spas. High-quality slabs will be water-resistant, but due to its mineral nature marble requires regular maintenance.
Applying an additional sealant during installation will help avoid premature wear from harsh cleaning products.
3. GO BOLD ON THE CEILING
When deciding on your bathroom decor, you may want to take a particular piece of art as a starting point and use the colours present throughout your space.Remember that water-resistant formulas should be used if your bathroom is being painted.
'Don’t forget to paint your ceiling in the same tone, or one that complements the walls – you will be amazed at how often your eyes are drawn upwards when you are relaxing in the bath,' suggests Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director at Little Greene.
4. CLEAR THE FLOOR
When you have limited space to work with, opt for wall-hung sanitaryware, as it will create the illusion of more space. And if you want a freestanding bath, choose one with feet to elevate the tub.
5. LIGHT THE WAY
Lighting should not be overlooked, as it can have a huge impact on the look and feel of your bathroom. 'Assess your lighting at the planning stage to maximise opportunities,' advises Peter Bowles, founder of Davey Lighting.
'You need two types of illumination: shadow-free task lighting for functional tasks, such as shaving and applying make-up, and ambient lighting for when you simply want to lie back and enjoy a soak,' he adds.
Make sure all lighting fixtures have the appropriate IP (Ingress Protection) rating, too.
6. SQUEEZE IN A TUB
If you have your heart set on a freestanding bath but are restricted on space, consider a reduced-depth model.
What material the bathtub is made of may be a deciding factor, too – while a cast-iron bath may have a high-quality appearance, it’s weight may be a drawback if your floorboards are not reinforced.
7. COLOUR CODE
Bright pops of colour don’t have to be restricted to the wall anymore, with options to have colourful tiles, brassware and even sanitaryware greater than ever before.But which shade to go for? Warm, earthy tones create a sense of calm, whereas bolder hues can feel more energising.
8. DELIGHT IN THE DETAILS
Want to create a cohesive look? Try sticking to a theme.Wherever possible, make sure you see samples of paint, fabrics, tiles and even your brassware and check they work well together before committing to a full order. You don’t want to have your whole bathroom tiled before realising it doesn’t match with the furniture you picked out.
9. LET OLD MEET NEW
Vintage vanity units are on the rise in bathroom design, and can be combined with new traditional-style fittings that match without compromising on functionality.
And wall-mounted mixer taps work well in compact bathroom designs, as the pipework can be hidden without the need for a pedestal.
10. BE SMART ABOUT STORAGE
Maintain a clean and tidy bathroom by making sure you have plenty of storage space.
Keep everyday items such as toothbrushes and soap close to hand, while cleaning products and extra toilet rolls can be stored out of sight in cupboards or drawers.
11. ADD LITTLE TOUCHES
Don’t forget about finishing touches – towels, soap dispensers and objets d'art can help pull together the final look of your bathroom, and folded clean towels are a thoughtful touch in a guest bathroom.
Just make sure any valued items are situated away from wet areas of the bathroom to avoid getting splashed.
12. TURN UP THE HEAT
Not only will a heated radiator keep towels warm and dry in your bathroom, but it can also help reduce the relative moisture in the air.But how about going one step further and installing underfloor heating?There are two options to choose from here, an electric system or a wet system.
Electric systems are often preferable in smaller spaces as they are easier to install, whereas a wet system connected to your central heating tends to have an expensive initial outlay but may be more cost-effective in the long run.
13. MADE TO MATCH
Create a link between your bedroom and adjoining en suite by using similar design cues throughout both spaces.With this in mind, you may adopt the same colours or use complementary materials between the two rooms. For example, here, creamy beige vanity furniture is echoed in the bedroom curtains, and the sculptural basin and angular tap echoes the bath on its plinth.
14. RELAXATION ZONE
While organic materials such as wood and stone are becoming more popular indoors to evoke a feeling of wellbeing and connection to nature, they are not always the most practical solution in a bathroom.
Fortunately, there are alternatives available. 'It is now possible to achieve the look you want without the challenges and maintenance the real material can bring,' says Jo Oliver, Director at Stone & Ceramic Warehouse.
'Wood-effect porcelain tiles, for example, can also be supplied in large formats, which reduces the potential for leaks,' she adds.
15. EXPRESS YOURSELF
The terms 'classic bathroom’ and ‘maximalism’ don’t tend to go hand in hand, but that isn’t to say they shouldn’t. Now’s the time to bring your personality into your bathroom decor. If bright colours and bold patterns bring you joy, then you are more likely to enjoy spending time in your bathroom.
16. GO FOR GOLD
Another way to elevate your bathroom design is to switch up your brassware.
While chrome fixtures offer a classic look, popular finishes such as gold and even rose-gold can add an interesting element.
17. PLAY WITH PATTERN
To make a real impact in a small shower room or wet room, use the same tiles on the floor as on the walls.Not only will this add wow-factor to your bathroom, but the continuous running pattern creates a sleek, seamless look. Think of it as the equivalent of using a bold wallpaper.
18. HIGH DEFINITION
In contrast, larger bathrooms benefit from definitive zones.Use different colours and materials as markers in your bathroom, such as tiles in the shower or around a vanity unit.
Another option is to add privacy screens in front of the shower or WC, which can be particularly useful for busy family bathrooms.
19. CLEVER STORAGE
When working with a smaller space, pieces with dual-functionality are a must.
Take a mirrored cabinet as an example; not only can you keep your bathroom tidy by hiding away toiletries, but mirrors will help to reflect light around the room.
20. COSY CORNERS
'Don’t be afraid to use a bold, statement wallpaper in the bathroom, it’s a great way of injecting personality into a small space and can bring character and warmth,' says Lee Clarke, Director at Warner House.
'If you are worried about using wallpaper in a bathroom, ask your decorator to use a water-resistant finish when installing,' he adds.
HOW SHOULD I DECORATE MY BATHROOM?
No matter what size your bathroom, there are several aspects you need to consider when it comes to decorating. Firstly, the essentials. Every bathroom will need a WC, basin, bath or shower (often both), including all the accompanying brassware. The layout of your space will determine the placement of these elements, as well as the size and style. Lighting should also be planned early on, as ideally you will need to account for both overhead lighting and task lighting. The same goes for heating, too.
Once you have an idea of where everything will go, you can start to decide on the bathroom decor. 'Bathrooms can sometimes be the last room that's thought about when it comes to decorating, and it can be easy to forget that it should also be a space to decompress, relax and enjoy,' says materials specialist Fameed Khalique. 'The same attention to detail and personal touches applied to other rooms in the home can be done here, too.'
Finally, when all the work is finished and your new bathroom is ready, put in place your towels, soap dispensers, candles and artwork to complete the look.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH A SMALL BATHROOM?
Every aspect of a small bathroom needs to be carefully considered, but that doesn't mean you need to compromise on style. Clever storage solutions can make all the difference, and thankfully there are now many compact options for bathrooms – from reduced-depth bathtubs and basins to slimline shower trays and frameless screens to enhance the illusion of space.
Also, bear in mind that wall-hung designs will optimise floorspace, and reflective surfaces can help bounce light around the room.
WHAT'S THE BEST FLOORING FOR A BATHROOM?
Durable tiles with anti-slip properties are the most practical option for bathroom flooring. 'It is always a good idea to discuss slip resistance with an expert before you make a final selection, as there are many factors to consider,' advises Jo Oliver, Director at The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse. 'For example, the most slip resistant tiles tend to have a very rough surface with grooves and indentations. These provide an ideal space for dirt and substances to collect.'
Large formats are also a good option for bathroom floorings, as there are less grout lines to have to scrub to keep clean.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ON-TREND COLOURS FOR A BATHROOM IN 2020/2021?
In keeping with the popular opinion that bathrooms are a place for rest and relaxation, there is currently a shift towards warmer colours. 'The ever-so-popular cool grey is moving towards softer shades of clay and beige, and trendy baby pinks are also being replaced by earthy terracottas,' says Yousef Mansuri, Head of Design at C.P. Hart. 'Keeping in line with the natural trend, wood is increasing in popularity, with raw or reclaimed textures becoming more of a stable,' he adds.