The bathroom is the place where we can escape to for some much-deserved ‘me’ time. From statement flooring to boutique bathtubs, the latest designs showcase innovative ideas so you can create your own private retreat from the world.
Where once design schemes for bathrooms were focussed largely on wall decor, the latest ideas that are emerging are making the most of what goes on under-foot. Statement flooring can add pops of colour where you don’t expect it and give a visual style statement. Elaborate floor tiling works well in small rooms with an otherwise minimalist look.
Lee Thornley, founder of Bert & May (020 3744 0776, www.bertandmay.com), experts in reclaimed and handmade tiles, agrees: “Tiles are a fantastic way to add colour and pattern into a space, particularly on the floor which often gets overlooked. There are so many different options, ranging from muted and rustic reclaimed terracotta to hand-poured encaustic tiles in gorgeous colours. Tiles such as these work excellently with underfloor heating, and can be sealed for easy maintenance and a polished finish.”
Many bathrooms lack a clear wall to create a statement feature, so the floor is the next obvious area to create a focal point – but one that is often overlooked. In smaller bathrooms, a floor with impact adds an elegant touch without being overwhelming.
Cambridge-based Granite Transformations (01223 843333, www.granitetransformations.co.uk/cambridge) is one-stop-shop for sourcing a range of inspiring materials – such as shimmering glass mosaics, granite, quartz or recycled glass floor tiles. Meanwhile at Tile Mountain (01782 223822, www.tilemountain.co.uk) stand-out options include the stunning Delft-Blue Skyros, a Spanish porcelain tile that is designed to replicate a vintage or encaustic pattern and the Doblo Grey Cube Mosaic, a deco mosaic cut from polished porcelain tiles to create a visual stepped cube effect – a pattern that has been used for centuries on tiled floors.
Renowned for its exclusive range of tiles, Fired Earth’s Cambridge-based store (01223 300941, www.firedearth.com) can help create a new vision for your room. The brand’s senior tiles category manager Caroline Gow gives her expertise:
“There’s endless potential to be creative when it comes to bathroom flooring. Since the key pieces in a bathroom tend to be white, a beautiful floor is the perfect way to introduce colour and pattern into the scheme. Fired Earth’s new Neisha Crosland collections are really versatile and are equally at home in contemporary and more traditional bathrooms. They’re also very much in keeping with the continuing trend for geometric pattern. Choose from pretty porcelain designs – a low-maintenance yet stylish choice for busy family bathrooms – timeless encaustic tiles in sophisticated pastel shades, and stunning, hand decorated metallic motifs.”
She continues: “White marble mosaics will introduce a decorative touch and a welcome sense of texture. They’ll also feel lovely underfoot – something which is even more important in the bathroom than elsewhere in the home – particularly if you opt for underfloor heating. Fired Earth’s new North Haven Penny Mosaics are flecked with mint and verdigris, giving them a really fresh look that’s ideal for bathrooms.”
Over at The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse (020 8993 5545, www.sacw.co.uk), a subtle approach is key to achieving a stylish finish. Director Stuart Wisbey gives his take on the subject: “Lighter coloured tiles can make a small bathroom look bigger as they reflect the light more than darker colours, giving an airy and spacious feel. A top tip is to use the same wall tiles as the floor tiles as this will enhance the feeling of space by creating a continuous look. As a general rule big is beautiful when it comes to tiling bathrooms. Large format tiles have fewer grout lines, which in turn means less grout to clean and keep fresh while creating a stylish seamless surface. Porcelain tile options have broadened greatly due to technological advances and anti-slip finishes can now be applied to porcelain making them ideal for bathrooms and wet rooms.”
KEEP IT NATURAL
The look of natural woods, stone and earthy materials seem to be perfectly suited to a room that is used for pampering and bathing. Creating an organic look can be achieved by simply adding in natural-look accessories. Source rough-hewn storage baskets from BHS (www.bhs.co.uk), wooden ladder towel rails from Next (www.next.co.uk) and burnt orange towels and black laundry baskets at Sainsbury’s (www.sainsburys.co.uk). Marks and Spencer’s (www.marksandspencer.com) new tactile Silk-Route themed lanterns, baskets and copper lighting are perfectly suited to the trend.
Meanwhile at Cambridgeshire’s independent tile emporium St Ives Tile and Stone (01480 467800, www.stivestileandstone.co.uk), owners Emma Pratt and husband Jon have over 30 years experience in shaping stylish bathrooms. ‘Trends come and go but there’s definitely a rise in popularity for natural surfaces,” says Emma. “Options such as limestone, travertine and terracotta can look stunning but they can also take a lot of upkeep and may not represent the most practical choice for meeting the modern day demands of family life.
“We pride ourselves on finding what the customer wants in terms of style but we also meet customers’ expectations in terms of practicality too,” she continues. “There are some fantastic alternatives in ceramic and porcelain, that offer a similar ‘natural’ look but without the need for time consuming treating and careful cleaning. Wood-look tiles, for instance, have become very popular of late: extraordinarily realistic, they give all the look and charm of a real wood floor, but with all the benefits of the most hard-wearing surface, that’s easy to clean.”
Those looking for a cohesive natural look should check out the range of natural stone, wood and marble bathroom furniture made by craftsmen at Stonearth (0115 714 8030, www.stonearth.co.uk. The brand sources raw materials, like American oak, Italian travertine and Egyptian marble, to create high-end furniture with the wow-factor, think oak vanity units, walnut washstands and stone basins.
Based in Cambridgeshire and offering bespoke designs for bathrooms, David Hall Kitchen and Furniture Makers (01763 261010, www.davidhallfurniture.co.uk) has also witnessed the rise in the natural look for cabinets. Commercial director Frances Hall comments: “It is the love of wood and fine craftsmanship that makes our cabinets so beautiful. We are noticing a trend towards introducing the colours, patterns and textures of wood, and increasingly successful wood-effect flooring materials are being developed which have none of the maintenance and shrinkage issues of the natural material but bring the warm, natural tones into the bathroom.”
Freestanding curvy bathtubs, custom ‘his and her’ vanity units and super-sized showers – these days our bathrooms are becoming closer to those that are found in design hotels and it is this upscale look that is the point of reference for the latest designs. Sculptural, freestanding tubs, in particular, are a must-have in any new bathroom and give an elegant style statement.
Phil Etherden, managing director of The Albion Bath Company (01255 831605, www.albionbathco.com), which offers 54 different styles of tubs, explains: “The focal point to any impactful design is always a grand bathtub. For a large room with a high ceiling, choose a classical free-standing bath with generous dimensions: nothing too modern but timeless, classical design. When it comes to layout, where possible, position the bath so it’s the first piece you see when you open the door. Tubs are considered decorative as well as functional, so make it a feature piece. If space allows, place the tub towards the centre of the room and, best of all, position the tub so you can have an inspiring view out of a window!”
Also offering a range of wow-factor baths is BC Designs (01206 827100, www.bcdesigns.co.uk), a brand that has been at the forefront of bathroom innovation and design for over 30 years. From a stunning polished bath, complete with ball and claw feet, to the modern, circular Chalice Acrymite Acrylic Bath, you can choose what suits your home style – whether that is contemporary or classic.
For an opulent, budget-busting bathroom, however, look to luxury furniture designers Touched Interiors for ideas (0845 463 0083, www.touchedinteriors.co.uk). Its jewel-inspired wash-basins and bathtubs – shaped like faceted black gems – are unique one-off pieces. While the brass and gold-plated high gloss Bubbles bathtub is a futuristic piece best suited to glamorous, grand mansions.
Creating iconic designs – to appeal to all budgets –is luxury bathroom specialist CP Hart (08458 731 122, www.cphart.co.uk). Designers Dan Cook and Rachel Martin have pinpointed a growing movement towards what they call ‘contemporary classics’.
“A major story in bathrooms of late has been the profusion of modern takes on classic designs and styling,” says Cook and Martin. “Here traditional configurations and details are given a fresh twist. The Urban Chic range from Karol looks great shown with Gessi’s Eleganza basin and brassware creating an interesting classic meets contemporary juxtaposition. An extension of this theme is the widespread use of marble in all aspects of bathroom design, which mirrors its popularity across the home. Particular highlights in this material included Artelinea’s illuminated marble basin and Neutra’s Duo range.”
As well as statement baths, floating vanity units and stylish furniture for plenty of storage is also key in creating a design-concept bathroom. Walk-in showers, with oversize panes of glass rather than walls, are also popular and they help to create a feeling of space and well-being.
David Millon, marketing director of luxury bathroom manufacturer Villeroy & Boche (www.villeroy-boche.co.uk), comments: “The trend for incorporating hotel-style additions to the bathroom has gathered momentum over the past few years, but recently a shift in approach has meant that homeowners are spending more on statement pieces – as they would in the kitchen or living room perhaps. Freestanding baths have been popular for a while, but consumers are now considering pedestal washbasins and wall-hung furniture as their standout pieces. Freestanding and wall-hung are still the preferred methods for installing bathroom suites. I believe people enjoy the space and freedom they provide in terms of floor space.”
Of course, a vital piece for any bathroom is a focal-point mirror. The latest trends are seeing feminine-style Venetian mirrors, quirky hexagonal styles and vintage black and gold porthole mirrors, as seen at Luku Home (0118 348 3878, www.lukuhome.com), being incorporated into modern-day bathrooms.
HomeSense, in the Beehive Centre in Cambridge (01223 462457, www.homesense.com), is treasure trove when it comes to finding unique home-wares. They currently have a range of bronze and monochrome mirrors that reflect (pun intended) current trends.
Launching its new L-cube collection of bathroom furniture, which utilizes mirror technology is Duravit (0845 500 7787, www.duravit.co.uk). Martin Carroll, UK managing director, comments: “The demand for mirrors and mirror cabinets with integrated lighting systems has increased year on year. Consumers are moving away from basic mirrors and mirror cabinets towards sophisticated designs with integrated technology, such as Bluetooth connection and LED lighting, which provide not only a functional space in which to wash, shave and apply make-up but also it gives ambient mood lighting to enhance the room.
He continues: “Our brand new furniture range L-Cube, for example, offers mirrors with a frame of light which can be turned on and off with a simple hand motion. The dimmable LED lighting ensures a perfect glare free illumination. Consumers have come to expect more from designers and manufacturers and the demand for extra features and gadgets is continuing to grow as technology advances. Future mirror cabinet designs will not only reflect the simple minimal designs of today’s modern bathroom, but will understand that function is as equally as important as design. For us, one important feature with all these innovations is intuitive operation. Having to study the instructions before using the sound system, for example, is not everyone’s idea of convenience.”
The latest technology is also stretching to other areas in the bathroom – such as intelligent showers and taps.
Designers Dan Cook and Rachel Martin at CP Hart (08458 731 122, www.cphart.co.uk) give more detail: “Digital technology remains a key focus in the bathroom and is beginning to meet the needs of our technology driven culture, creating a more liveable space that strikes the right balance between design and experience. Digital showers emerged onto the market with button controls, but are now starting to feature simple touch screen controls that control the lighting, scents, varying water temperatures and pressures. The Dornbracht Sensory Sky is the ultimate luxurious shower, it has different types of rain, mist, light and fragrances that complement each other and provides a selection of three pre-programmed choreographies.”
The way in which a bathroom is styled is also changing with the times – out are taupes and neutrals and in is an increase in dramatic colour schemes – think inky blue walls, metallics and Moroccan-inspired decor. Adding to this is the use of glamourous lighting – such as the shimmering chandeliers found at BHS (www.bhs.co.uk) – previously confined to living areas. Coloured feature radiators are also having a moment and add to the drama.
“We have noticed that there is a growing trend for alternative designs in towel rails and radiators,” says Dave Thornback, UK sales manager at radiator specialists Vasco (01254 704420, www.vasco.eu). “Customers want to make more of a design statement. A trend is emerging for soft natural colours, earthy tones and metallic, such as bronze in a matt finish; these designs blend seamlessly with modern and traditional interiors and are definitely a popular trend. Texture is also something to look out for. A subtle, tactile finish to the radiator, especially when combined with colour, adds depth and interest to interiors.”
Finally, Charlie Surbey at Andrew James Bathrooms in Cambridge (01223 211970, www.andrewjamesbathrooms.com) gives us his insight into the modern day bathroom: “Feature bathrooms are all the rage right now. We are seeing people making real statements in what used to be the smallest, most forgotten room in the house. Glamourous lighting, opulent tiling, touch screen shower valves and stylish sanitary ware give a feeling of a bathroom as a true retreat. Some even have built in televisions, circular baths and cabinets inspired by antique furniture. There is even an option to install an app on your mobile to correspond with your bath at home, you can fill your bath up at a set temperature with just a click of a button and you can do this out of the house so it is ready for you when you get home. The bathroom has truly come into its own.”