Room Focus – Bathroom

This fortnight we are looking at bathrooms as part of our Room Focus series.  Whether it’s a main family bathroom or an en-suite shower room, we have some tips and ideas to create everything from the functional to your dream escape-from-it-all bathrooms. 

Plan, Plan, Plan

Whether you project is a new bathroom in an extension or you are renovating an existing bathroom, planning is key.  Creating your perfect bathroom can seem a simple process, but they can be deceptively tricky.  They require a bit of thought and involve a lot of fixtures and fittings which often need technical expertise, all in a tight space.  Talk to your builder and architectural designer to ensure you have thought of everything before work starts on site and prepare for the unexpected.  Bathroom renovations are notorious for hidden costs.  Mold, rusty pipes, rotten joists or poorly installed electrics are just some of the not-so-pleasant things that lifting the floorboards and tiles might uncover.  Allow for a good contingency on a bathroom renovation of 15-20%.


First things first, make a list of everything you want to include in your bathroom.  Be realistic with what you can fit in (the average UK bathroom is only slightly bigger than a king-sized bed). The last thing you need is to make a small room more cramped with too many or oversized fittings. You might not get your freestanding roll top bath AND a walk-in shower in your small bathroom, but with some careful planning you can get a bathroom of your dreams.

Assess your needs.  Is this a family bathroom or an en-suite shower room? The needs are different for different kinds of bathrooms.  For instance, it is worth trying to get a bath into a family bathroom.  You might not want a bath at the moment, but as time goes on your needs might change (be that a family coming along or getting older) and it will also help with resale value in the future.  If you are creating an en-suite, is there opportunity to gain space in the bedroom with careful planning to accommodate all you need in the smallest footprint? An en-suite only really needs a toilet, sink and shower. 

Don’t change a layout of an existing bathroom if it works.  Moving waste and water pipes can be expensive and disruptive.  If the space is not working for you, look into small changes like hanging doors the other way, or creating better storage, before you plan to make bigger changes.  Talk to your architectural designer or a designer at a bathroom showroom about what will work best.  If you do plan to make changes to the existing layout, or you are building from scratch, where your sanitary ware goes will depend on the location of your soil stack.  The toilet must be within 6m of the soil stack to allow for proper drainage and showers, baths and basins should be no more than 4m away. There should be at lease 600mm in front of the toilet and 400mm to the side to allow for ease of movement.  Think about the location of the towel rail (within reach of the bath/shower) and if the shower door can open fully.   


A towel rail will not be enough to heat your bathroom if it is big or in an older house.  You may need some primary heating during the winter.  Underfloor heating works well in bathrooms, creating warmth underfoot while not taking up wall space.  Talk to your heating engineer to work out how much heating you will need.


Feature lighting can create a calm and sophisticated environment.

It is worth spending a little bit of time thinking about the lighting in your bathroom.  Gone are the days where a central light was all you needed.  Creating different “layers” of lighting will improve how you use the space.  Downlights will provide the room with good overall light.  Task lighting around mirrors will make putting on your make up or shaving easier.  Secondary lighting (maybe around the bath or shower) will create a restful feeling for your evening soak, or midnight trip to the loo.  If you are lighting an en-suite, consider a motion sensor on some secondary lighting so those night trips to the loo don’t disturb others.  All lighting in a bathroom needs to be IP rated to ensure protection against moisture. 


The bathroom is the most humid room in the house, making it prone to condensation and the inevitable mould.  Opening a window is not enough. Make sure a good quality extractor fan is specified to suit the size and volume of your bathroom.  It should stay on with a timer for a set period of time after you have left the bathroom. 

A large vanity unit not only looks great, but also provides lots of storage
Niche shelving creates a stylish place to put your shampoo bottle


Storage is key for a calm and uncluttered bathroom.  Invest in as much storage as you can fit into your space without it becoming cluttered.  In-built storage will give you plenty for room for you towels, toiletries and toilet rolls.  But if that’s not possible, there are a huge choice of wall hung cupboards or vanity units on the market that can store everything you need.  Consider some niche shelving in the bath/shower area so those shampoo bottles have somewhere to live.   Design in some table height surface too.  You’ll be thankful of a place to put your make-up or toiletry bag that isn’t the edge of the bath or on the floor. 

Here are some ideas on bathroom storage:


Once you have tackled all the practical aspects of designing your bathroom, it is time for the fun styling!  Taps, shower heads, baths, shower cubicles, tiles, flooring, storage…. The list is long! The amount of choice can be overwhelming so we suggest you first agree what style of bathroom you’d like -  Period, Classic or Contemporary.  Once you have, then you can go get inspiration.  Pinterest is a great place to browse bathroom styles, or check out some boutique hotel websites…they have some lovely bathrooms.  Of course, bathroom showrooms will provide you with a wealth of ideas.

Check out some great trends here:

Now you have your dream bathroom, finish it with some well considered finishing touches.  Moisture loving plants create a calm, natural feel to your bathroom.  Fluffy, good quality towels will help create that luxurious feel and a great statement mirror will finish off the look.

Posted on November 27th 2020

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