With careful consideration, your bathroom can become the soothing sanctuary you’ve always dreamed of. So where to start?

Bathing beauties

Us Brits love our baths. While our European cousins tend to go for wet rooms or walk-in showers, as a nation we love nothing more than a long soak in a hot, bubbly tub at the end of a hard day, especially come the winter months.

If you have the space, a freestanding design is the ultimate in luxury. Bear in mind that ideally, you need to be able to access them from all sides and you won’t be able to add on an over-bath shower. If space is more limited, then a built-in bath is the solution and you can find L- and P-shaped styles that are designed for over-bath showering, too.

Victoria and Albert circular bath

Luxury British bathing brand Victoria + Albert Baths has unveiled its first collaboration with Hong Kong-based architect, interior and product designer Steve Leung. Taizu, priced from £4,800, is a contemporary round bath made from Quarrycast™, a blend of volcanic limestone and resins, which is naturally white, strong and easy to clean

Installation is easier these days thanks to flexible pipe fittings and push-fit connections while materials can also make a difference.

Solid stone is durable but heavy and must be professionally sealed while acrylic or solid surface composites are lighter and retain heat better.

Cast iron is hardwearing, strong and low maintenance, with little chance of staining or damage - though you may need to reinforce the floor to take its weight.

BC Designs Boat bath

In this classic bathroom scheme designed by Ripples, a painted Boat bath from BC Designs takes centre stage. Shown in Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue, it’s available in three sizes with prices from £1,768

“When choosing between a freestanding or built-in bath, take into consideration the structure of the space,” says Emma Joyce, communications manager at Victoria + Albert Baths.

“Freestanding is a smart design solution, as it can open up floor and wall space and give the illusion of more light.”

For a classic, timeless look, consider a slipper style – either with claw feet or a more clean-lined contemporary look – and add interest by painting the exterior in a vibrant or metallic finish.

Current trends include hand polished and lacquered exteriors, curvaceous and circular models as well as shorter lengths that fit easily into a smaller space.

Visit showrooms to try before you buy – it may sound silly, but don’t be embarrassed to pop your shoes off and jump in. All baths feel different, so you want to make sure yours is
as comfortable as possible.

Wash and go

When it comes to choosing the basin and taps, many of us are currently opting for a modern monochrome look with either a glossy white basin teamed with matt black brassware or a matching black tap and basin combo.

Choose the best quality your budget allows, especially with brassware, as you want something that will last.

“Black, and in particular matt black, has been a hugely popular accent in bathrooms for a number of years now with no sign of disappearing,” confirms Yousef Mansuri, head of retail design at C.P. Hart. “This is largely due to its neutral ability to complement any colour or style of a scheme. It doesn’t show fingerprints like chrome does and adds a dramatic contrast.”

Coloured ceramics are also on the up. If you want to plump for something different, check out the hand finished porcelain basins from London Basin Company, which come with beautifully drawn intricate patterns and prints. These designs make the ideal statement in a cloakroom or en-suite.

London Basin Company Amara basin

Make a statement with a bold coloured countertop basin. The Amara hand finished porcelain design from London Basin Company is priced £850 and looks stunning set upon the
Felix double vanity in steel and reclaimed timber, which costs around £1,260

Material-wise, ceramic is a safe buy for basins as it’s hardwearing and low maintenance, while marble composites are also easy to care for and are available in a wide choice of sizes and shapes.

“Today’s interiors are more confidently eclectic, mixing old and new elements and introducing materials and textures,” says Jane Gilchriest, director of Alternative Bathrooms. “Making the basin a feature can be really successful – it doesn’t have to match the bath and WC.”

The Watermark Collection Brooklyn basin

Save space by choosing a wall-mounted mixer tap rather than a deck-mounted design. The Brooklyn three-hole basin set from The Watermark Collection features industrial-style handles and a spout in Oil Rubbed Bronze. Prices start from £1,263

With countertop basins being one of the most sought-after styles, it’s important to pay attention to the surface or vanity below, too. Freestanding units look stunning while fitted furniture offers the benefit of optimum storage.

Eau zone

There’s nothing quite like a steamy hot shower to start the day, so make sure you invest in the best model to suit your needs.

“The key questions are, who will be using the shower and where is it situated,” explains Sarah Evans, head of channel marketing at Hansgrohe.

“For multi-occupancy properties, thermostatic showering offers safety for everyone as it ensures the temperature remains stable should someone else turn on a cold tap or flush the loo. Without this technology, the temperature could fluctuate quite dramatically, causing discomfort or even injury.” 

An overhead drencher is great when you want that rainfall effect while a separate hand shower is ideal for a quick hair wash. Consider adding water jets that can target aching muscles or a shower pipe that combines overhead and hand shower with a valve for an all-in-one solution.

Concealed valves keep pipework hidden, which makes the most of a smaller space while exposed shower systems are more cost effective and easier to install.

CP Hart Effegibi shower

Making the most of every inch in a smaller space, this walk-in shower fits snugly into an existing alcove. The Effegibi FitBox Shower System is available from C.P. Hart, £POA. The Gessi Rettangolare single lever basin mixer is priced from £399

A shower pump is essential if you have a gravity-fed water system, which is where you have a separate water tank in the loft, common in older properties.

Shower cubicles come in a variety of shapes and styles to complement your space. There are sliding doors, single panels, quadrant enclosures, bi-folds and more.

The black trend also continues into shower screens with Crittall-effect panels offering the urban, industrial look.

Frontline Bathroom Sphere

In line with the trend for monochrome design, this black framed Sphere shower enclosure from Frontline Bathrooms is a quadrant style with black metal frame and unique rolling action. Priced £795, the sliding door is easily accessible to all ages and abilities and is space-saving, too

Wet-rooms are another option, as Michael Sammon, sales and marketing director for Frontline Bathrooms, explains.

“It can be time-consuming and labour-intensive to fully waterproof the bathroom but you can achieve a wet-room look by opting for a shower tray with a low profile that can be fitted on, or levelled with, the floor.”

Light show

It’s all too easy to overlook the lighting, but as Pooky founder Rohan Blacker explains, a well-lit bathroom is so important. “Our bathroom is where we tend to start our day, and good lighting is essential to be confident of assuring a world-beating grooming regime,” he says.

“UK legislation does limit how we use light fittings in the bathroom. All lights within 60cm of any water source must be IP-rated, meaning they are specially designed to keep out moisture.” 

Ideally a layered lighting scheme works well, just like in the kitchen. Think about installing wall lights either side of a wall mirror or go for one of the latest high-tech cabinets that incorporate built-in lighting along with added extras such as shaver sockets and Bluetooth speakers.

An overhead light source will provide good all-round illumination while feature lighting can also be added in the form of recessed spotlights in storage niches or plinth lights around the base of a bath or vanity unit.

Sensio Ainsley bathroom lighting

Ainsley is a mirrored bathroom cabinet from Sensio, which comes in three sizes, each with diffused lights running the height and depth of the cabinet for a floating effect. With prices from £649, it also includes an integrated demister pad to prevent condensation, shaver socket and Bluetooth speaker technology

“Pendant lights are a current trend in the bathroom,” confirms Michael Linsky, managing director of Sensio Lighting, “and are great for hanging over a bath or basin worktop area.” 

“You could also consider wireless battery lighting, especially within cabinets with IP sensors, as the brightness is much higher than it used to be. Smart technology is also now entering the industry and a smart driver can be connected via Bluetooth to your Alexa to control bathroom lighting.

“Voice control will be a game changer and we can see it exploding once word gets out about its ease of use and capability.”

Article by: Hayley Gilbert

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