The bathroom is typically the first room you use in the morning and the last one you use at night. So how you design the bathroom becomes more important than you think. CHRIS YEO addresses the challenges you can face, especially when space dedicated for the bathroom is usually limited. But with some thought and planning, it is evidently possible to create an enjoyable and aesthetically pleasing bath area that is also wonderfully functional.
DECIDE WHAT YOU NEED
Be honest with your assessment in identifying what you need in the bathroom. When it comes to the sink, do we really need two sinks, or just one large sink? Ask yourself if the family dynamics is such that the parents require their own individual space and are not willing to share. After all, the truth of the matter is that we usually use the sink one at a time; rarely do two people brush their teeth at the same time. The mathematics is simple – minus one sink equals more space and less cost.
The next is the bathtub. This item has to be considered because we always think it is a great idea to own a bathtub, but most of the time, we rarely use it. Unless you are a person who enjoys the occasional weekly soak, you may consider omitting this item and replacing it with either a dressing table or home sauna. Odd as it may sound, but when asking my clients to choose between the two options, jacuzzi or sauna, most would pick the latter, as the idea of a quick heat followed by a cold shower has become the epitome of the modern bathing routine.
Next on the list is the WC or water closet. The selection of WC can sometimes be an arduous task, so the best advice I can give is to not be overly concerned with the mechanics of the WC, as these problems should be addressed by the builder. But rather, be more concerned with the size and how comfortable you feel on it. Personally, I would work towards a more functional system with enough flushing capacity, rather than go for state-of-the-art hand-waving models that require a manual for operation.
Finally, the shower is probably the most enjoyable element of the bathroom, so the selection can be a heart-wrenching exercise. To break it down to its simplest form, you either have a wall-mounted shower or a ceiling-mounted shower (otherwise known as a rain shower). Both experiences are different in nature, as a rainshower creates a dripping effect, while the wall-mounted shower shoots a jet stream at you. Some may opt for both, which is typically the case, as both offer different experiences and functions.
The next item to decide on is whether the wall-mounted shower should be fixed or mobile. The decision is based solely on its functionality and aesthetics. By functionality, we either enjoy holding the shower head or not. From experience the hand shower is the way to go, as it offers the most versatility for every user. Whilst a hand shower lacks the clean aesthetic look for the bathroom, it is usually acceptable as it does not distract or downgrade the look of the bathroom.
Finally, head down to the reputable brands, as what we do not want are sub-standard parts, which may be cheap in the beginning, but would deteriorate over time with issues such as peeling handles, leaking joints and irritating sound pressure. Go with a higher quality brand, as the price you pay will save you stress and disappointment in the long run.
CREATING THE LOOK
Now that we have figured out what we need, the next task is to make it look awesome. In any room, the secret to a well-designed space is to introduce daylight. There is no comparison to natural daylight, as its unique qualities of tone, hue and softness all help to add a sense of calm to the space.
Not all of us have homes that offer ample views in every conceivable direction, but for those who are blessed with such homes, consider the open bathroom concept to create a seamless view across the landscape. By creating this open effect, it releases a sense of freedom and power as you stand in your bathroom overlooking the world.
Other means to bringing in natural daylight with a hint of privacy is to play with your wall planes. Consider a mixture of overhead window panes to create an illusion of floating, as it separates the ceiling from the wall. Introducing a vertical fixed-glass panel also helps segregate the bathing area from the sink, thereby giving each element its own space, while extending the views to the garden outside. Don’t just stick to the conventional window shape, but play with its form to create unique opportunities in creating views and illusion.
Another design effect to take away from this example is the play of planes. Through the use of colours and materials, the difference in tones helps to set the bathtub onto the white-washed wall, while the sink is set onto its own darker tone wall. This interestingly gives a visual zone effect to the bath area. The sink is defined in the left-right axis, while the bathtub highlights the top-down view.
For those with limited views, consider using a glass block wall to bring in natural daylight without compromising on security and privacy. With the new light source as your main design tool, accent the walls with colours and tones to add an additional touch of softness. Avoid stark colours such as whites, blacks and greys, as when mixed with a diffused light source, this may create a clinical look. Add more beige and lighter earth tones for a more homely effect.
Take for example this bathroom where the room is flooded with daylight onto a bluish grey feature wall accented by white flooring and sanitary-ware. The outcome is a monotone clinical look where the bluish hue reflection overwhelms the room, thereby creating a dull, depressed setting. Even the introduction of window views is too little to counteract the starkness.
Similarly, adding too much colour and too many similar tones can have the same effect, but rather than being too stark, it then slides to the other extreme by becoming too overwhelming. In this scenario, the windows are placed too far away to be appreciated from the bathing area, and the lack of contrast between the walls, floor and colours offers a lack of inspiration in the bathroom.
When you start to organize your space, the key then is to look at your surroundings and deem what is the best means to make full use of the light around you. Try to balance out the tones in the bathroom by creating light and dark colour contrasts rather than keeping it to one single tone. And when all things fail, look to the sky, as maybe that could be another option to bring in natural light!