Lustrous surfaces such as marble and limestone are a top choice for luxurious bathrooms but they are also unquestionably high maintenance. Ceramic tiles are an easy-care alternative, more affordable and, thanks to new digital printing techniques, can convincingly replicate more precious materials. Use them in a single colourway over the walls and floors for understated elegance, or combine different colours in intriguing geometric designs, as shown here.
MAKE AN IMPACT
As a decorating trend, murals seem set to last and in small rooms especially, they offer a powerful visual hook for the room’s design. Printed in panels and hung like wallpaper, they’re usually confined to one wall, away from wet areas, but if you want a large-scale image in the bathroom you have options. Mural producer Surface View can apply any image in its library to ceramic tiles, and tailored products such as Wet System wallcoverings provide a waterproof surface.
Decorative lighting gives a bathroom style but it must be designed for safety. All bathroom lights are coded with an IP rating indicating the zone in which they are safe to use. For Zone 1, the area above the bath or shower tray to a height of 2.25m from the floor, choose lights rated IP65. In Zone 2, a 60cm wide area around the perimeter of the bath, shower and the basin to a height of 2.25m from the floor, lights rated IP44 can be fitted. In areas further away, there are no restrictions, so indulge your taste for glamour with an antique chandelier.
FURNISH FOR COMFORT
If you have space, an attractive armchair can be all it takes to turn the place you wash into a sanctuary. In bathrooms used only by adults, there’s little risk of moisture damage, but spill-resistant upholstery fabrics or loose linen covers will give extra protection. Keep accessories handy on a painted cabinet, a rattan table or an art deco drinks trolley.
LOOK AT YOUR REFLECTION
Prioritise practicality when choosing a mirror. Steam can spoil an antique frame, so opt for one made from durable materials. Adjustable mirrors are ideal for putting on make-up and those with a shelf are both useful and pretty.
FEEL THE QUALITY
Plain towels may have a sumptuous look but make sure they feel good, too. There are textures to satisfy every taste from smooth hammam style to thick pile. These are made from cotton and bamboo for softness and absorbency.
Use matching accessories to give the vanity or bathroom shelf a well-put-together look that’s much smarter than leaving toiletries in their original containers. There are many designs to choose from but brass is the material of the moment.
TAKE A SPA-STYLE SHOWER
While a freestanding tub (preferably antique, and benefitting from a beautiful view) elevates any bathroom, the shower also has the power to add allure. Not just for busy weekday mornings, showering can be a restorative experience at any time. A large enclosure and good water pressure are the basic requirements, but your choice of brassware and wall treatment will determine its style. Traditional fittings often have a large rose shower head to deliver a heavy downpour, and tiles, taken up to the ceiling or ending at picture rail height, as shown here, complete the look.
Double basins offer real value for the space they occupy. Twin basins allow two people to wash at the same time, saving precious minutes when you’re rushing to get ready for the day. An added benefit is that there’s also more room for toiletries on the wide surface. Here, the basin is set into a weathered wood vanity base with louvred doors chosen to reflect the bathroom’s country styling.
HEAT UP YOUR SPACE
Don’t underestimate the impact warm towels can have – they are an everyday luxury that gives any bathroom spa quality, so install a heated towel rail for a ready supply. A single rail won’t necessarily be enough to warm the space and a supplementary radiator may be needed for the room to reach a comfortable temperature. Your installer should calculate the required heat output and help you choose the right size of towel rail or combination of heat sources to keep the room cosy and the towels warm.