The bathroom has become one of the new focal points of the home. With unique finishes, luxury accessories and interesting details widely available – it is easy to turn your utilitarian space into a private retreat from the world.
The high-end feel of boutique hotel bathrooms has become our new source of inspiration when creating the ultimate room to pamper ourselves within the home. Light and space is all important with designers focusing on luxury finishes, generous baths, rain-showers and a sophisticated colour palette.
Offering a furniture-style approach to bathroom cabinetry, designer bathroom specialist CP Hart is a one-stop shop for those wanting to create a slick finish.
Dan Cook, designer at CP Hart, says: “Pampering and relaxation are synonymous with hotel bathrooms and so we want to recreate that level of personal comfort in our own homes. The latest baths are deep and comfortable due to the versatility of new composite materials, which allow more fluidity in terms of shape. Shower enclosures are more streamlined, while shower heads are becoming increasingly nature inspired, replicating the cascading effects created by waterfalls or rainfall. Furniture is another key consideration – units should be decorative yet functional but not clinical, to ensure the room becomes a living and breathing space in its own right. Lighting is also important. For a private sanctuary-style bathroom, consider installing diffused down lighting, strategic spotlights or a chromotherapy bath, which uses light in a mood-enhancing or regenerative way.”
For the wow-factor, The Albion Bath Company offers a range of stand-out baths and basins. Glossy black sinks, pewter-finish baths or classic-style tubs, available in a range of colour finishes, give drama and impact to a bathroom.
ErgoErgo’s modern radiators also make a statement. The free-standing contemporary radiators or heated towel rails, which are shaped like ladders, marry beauty with practicality as they can be moved around and positioned where necessary, but also have a sculptural feel.
Leila Roberts, bathroom category manager at Fired Earth, renowned for its luxury tiles, gives her advice on how to add a touch of glamour to your design: “Eye-catching finishes and luxurious materials, such as copper and marble, really make an impact in the bathroom, adding a sense of glamour to even the most compact space. Opt for classic pieces such as a beautiful freestanding bath or a marble-topped console since they’ll stand the test of time. Use bold tiling and splashes of colour to keep the scheme looking fresh and modern. Combine decorative flooring with one-colour walls (or vice versa) to allow statement pieces to take centre stage.”
Offering top end bathroom furniture, Porcelanosa offers innovative and ground-breaking design. One of its latest launches is the Vitae collection, designed by the late Zaha Hadid and inspired by the fluidity of water. It includes baths with curvy lines, futuristic mirrors and avant-garde taps.
An easy way to ramp up the luxe-factor is to source accessories and accents that add a touch of glamour and warmth to a scheme. Zoe Brady, bathshop buyer at John Lewis, agrees: “The boutique hotel look is currently a big trend with many of us looking to make the bathroom a sanctuary to relax and unwind. Neutral palettes focusing on tones of grey are key, with opulent accents shining out through the use of accessories such as towel rails, mirrors and lighting. Faceted mirror and marble are popular. While chrome is a key metal colour for the bathroom, brass tones have continued to rise in popularity as they bring warmth and luxury to the room.”
For those looking for an uber-luxe bathroom, inspiration is guaranteed at Italian bathroom designers Zucchetti.Kos. From its square bathtubs to the steam shower cabins, indulgence is its ethos. “Symmetrical layouts will help you to achieve the hotel look,” says Sarah Harris, brand manager at Zucchetti.Kos. “Start by creating a focal point in the bathroom with the use of double or twin basins as well as statement mirrors and build the rest of the scheme around this central point. Include accents of wood and high shine brassware to add to the sophisticated theme and achieve an overall boutique hotel feel.”
Organic made easy
Natural textures – such as wood, bamboo and stone – feel perfectly at home in the bathroom. Shimu’s bamboo towel ladder and wooden footbath give a lovely rough-hewn effect, while Scandi Living’s raffia baskets and oak hooks further compliment a scheme inspired by the natural world. Add in the bamboo ‘bath mats’ from Rockett St George for a textural layer.
Real marble with its vein-effect also gives an organic finish but can be pricy. Available at The Stone and Ceramic Warehouse are unique marble-effect porcelain tiles, which are an affordable and practical alternative.
Chris Grainger, managing director, The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse, comments: “Not only is real marble often unaffordable for most people, it can also create application issues due to its extreme weight. Marble effect porcelain, on the other hand, gives an impressive finish. A computerised program prints the marble vein pattern with a ’natural’ variation from tile to tile; the reproduction is so accurate that our porcelain often gets confused for the real thing. Recent technological advances have also meant that marble effect materials are now available in large format tiles. These are excellent for making spaces appear bigger than they are and creating the ultimate luxe look of marble at the fraction of the price.”
Amtico’s vinyl flooring also comes in natural finishes and is another cheat’s way to recreate the look of slate, stone and timber, but without the necessary expense or upkeep. “For a raw, organic feel that is currently in vogue, opt for the soft tones of the grey slate or the classic oak style,” says Karen Quarterman, product design manager at Amtico. “Smoky hues, smooth lines and organic layers deliver soft flow to open areas and intense drama to intimate spaces. Analogue photography, darkroom processes and the movement of light are the inspiration behind the innovation that created the unique, non-repeating patterns.”
The latest bathroom designs are combining a mixture of finishes to give a fresh, modern feel. Copper, stone, marble and metallic effects compliment each other and touches of each can look innovative and chic.
Metal finishes, for instance, work well with natural materials and bring a sense of glamour. Brass and pewter give an old-world charm while brushed, matt metals give an industrial look. Whether you opt for a stunning copper bath, like those at The Albion Bath Company, or go for a smaller splash in metal hardware, towel rails and shower fixtures, the use of metals can uplift and inject light into a bathroom.
For a talking point opt for a statement sink, like those available in a range of unusual materials at Unique Sinks (above). The company makes gorgeous circular sinks in semi-precious stones, such as the emerald green malachite or the deep blue lapis lazuli, as well as pretty mother of pearl versions and hand-painted Mexican floral designs.
Noted for its luxury bathrooms, Cambridge Kitchens and Bathrooms has seen a demand for customers looking to use different materials in their bathroom, in a quest to create a bespoke room that is unique to them. Sarah Wade-Gledhill, director, reveals: “Copper mosaics and stainless steel pebble mosaics are the latest new trends,” she says. “Wet rooms are popular and because of this, the tiling can run throughout giving a clean look and making the room feel more spacious. People no longer want bulky shower trays that are difficult to clean and are opting for free standing baths and sinks, such as the Cape Cod model from Duravit. Mood lighting and niches in the wall give the final luxury flourish.”
Meanwhile, at Cambridge-based Mandarin Stone, it’s marble that is currently in vogue. “Marble oozes natural beauty and timeless elegance, it is also practical and hard-wearing,” says director Louisa Morgan. “For a more modern twist to this classic material try the ‘Pyrenees’ mosaic chevron design and accessorise with a marble basin, such as the ‘Calacatta Pluto’ basin. The ‘Palisandra’ marble floor also gives a beautiful luxury finish.”
Sarah Harris, brand manager at Zucchetti.Kos, also agrees that it is a ‘mix and match’ approach that is currently bang on trend: “Due to the growing popularity of spa-like bathrooms, the trend for luxe materials and richer tones has become prevalent,” she says. “Consumers are beginning to experiment more in terms of texture, colour and finishes and, with the wide range of choices available in the market today – from luxurious marble surfaces to colour taps and bright accessories, – different elements can be put together for a bespoke bathroom to suit the homeowner’s own style and taste.”
Available at tile specialist Reed Harris is the new Cocciopesto collection of porcelain floor and wall tiles, providing a contemporary take on a traditional material to great effect. Karen Brimacombe, Reed Harris’ business development manager, says: “ “This chic and sophisticated new range gets its name from, and plays homage to, the decorative technique of Cocciopesto, which was used in ancient Greece and Rome and saw tile fragments mixed with mortar to create an incredibly durable material. Featuring a beautiful, handcrafted look, Cocciopesto tiles see the markings of terrazzo paired with plain cement. Particularly noteworthy are the beautiful dual colour hexagon tiles, which can be used to create unique, eye-catching designs for a real tailor-made look.”
While white sanitary-ware is here to stay, colour is making a comeback in other areas of the bathroom.
Harry James of Cambridge-based Flawless Kitchens and Bathrooms, comments: “I have found that people are going for more simple, clean lines in their bathrooms. In fact, the days of fully-tiled bathrooms seem to be going out of fashion and while neutral colours, such as white and cream, seem to be the most poplar for bathroom furniture, it nonetheless gives a good foundation to add splashes of colour elsewhere, in the form of flooring, accessories, paint or wallpaper”
Charlotte Cosby, head of creative at colour specialists Farrow & Ball, agrees: “Bathrooms are often painted white or neutral tones, but they are actually a great space to add colour or pattern in your home. Bathrooms are often smaller and lacking in natural light so people choose to paint them neutral tones in the hope of creating light and space, however this can often create quite a dull space lacking in character. Instead using a bold colour like Hague Blue, Brinjal or new colours Vardo and Inchyra Blue will create a dramatic, cocooning look that’s full of character.”
As well as the potential to add colour on walls, a good way to add interest to an otherwise neutral colour-scheme is with statement flooring. Geometric patterned tiles or brightly patterned encaustic tiles, such as those available at Spanish tile specialist Alhambra Tiles (above), are the latest thing when teamed with an all-white bathroom.
The trend also feeds into another fashion for artisanal tiling. Instead of mass-produced tiles that all look alike, hand-crafted tiles, considered beautiful for their imperfections, will infuse a bathing space with rich texture as well as visual appeal.
For those wanting a lesser commitment, however, add your hues by complimenting a neutral bathroom with bold accessories – fuschia, purple and black – are the latest statement colours to add in with accents such as towels, soap dispensers and mats.
Create an ambience
At the end of the day, a pretty bathroom will turn into our ultimate retreat from the world. Create the perfect relaxing environment by choosing atmospheric lighting, luxe touches and window dressings to shut out the world.
For smaller bathrooms, The Window Film Company offers a range of stunning window films – such as the Frostbite or bright blue design in the Rainbow collection – that mean you can do away with the fuss of blinds or elaborate window dressings.
Wooden shutters, however, seem perfectly suited to the bathroom, giving an organic, plantation feel and can be chosen in white, for a utilitarian look, or a bright colour to add interest and to match a scheme.
Mark Carter, director at Shutterly Fabulous, advises: “If the bathroom is neutral enough, then opt for coloured shutters – look for a shade you may have in the floor or tiling detail. Take that colour and create a real focal point, and a pop of colour, by choosing shutters in the same shade.”
For a rough-luxe feel, hide clutter in mismatched baskets and hang muted hammam towels, a range of both are available at Urbanara. Instead of the bog-standard bathroom mats usually available, opt for one of Dash and Albert’s cotton rugs – in jewel colours, stripes or Fair Isle print. MiaFleur’s marbled accessories and monochrome bamboo baskets add an opulent feel, while Oliver Bonas has a stock of modern geometric baskets, hexagonal mirrors and trinket pots to add a dash of personality.
A stack of thick, soft towels – like those available at Sheridan – is an essential in any bathroom, while the correct lighting can also change the mood from practical to inviting. Vita Copenhagen’s Ripples pendant and Conia lights create a stylish effect when hung in a group, while Besselink & Jones’ over-mirror light fittings give the optimum amount of light for practical make-up and skincare sessions.
Finally, Karen Wallis-Smith, director at lighting specialist Fritz Fryer gives her lighting tips for creating the perfect ambience: “Place a wall light either side of a mirror at face height, this provides the best lighting and helps to eliminate shadows. A more economical option would be to place one wall light in the centre above a mirror. Having the bathroom lighting on a dimmer system gives you the option to combine task lighting with a more ambient soft light when needed. By matching the finishes and materials of your lights with other metal hardware in the room such as the taps and door handles it helps to create a cohesive feel.”
This article is also published in the September issue of The Cambridge Edition Magazine