From statement tiling to sleek showers, bathroom design has come a long way since the avocado-green suites of old. Here’s how to elevate your washroom into the most stylish space in the house.
Of all the rooms in our homes, it may seem that the bathroom is the most functional, and so it’s easy to overlook when it comes to interior planning. But, as it happens to be the place where we usually kick-start and end each day, a few stylish touches will turn its prosaicness into prettiness.
Reflecting the current leaning towards artisanship and craftsmanship, is the new trend of patterned tiles, especially used on the floor. From bold zig-zag designs to elaborate Spanish patterns, like those available at tile specialist Walls and Floors, statement flooring is most effective when paired with clean lines and no clutter.
“Opting for traditional-style patterned tiles will create a classic look in your home that you’ll love for years to come,” says Tile Trader. “Our beautifully decorative La Fayette range, for example, features traditional motifs from around the world.”
Stone and Ceramic Warehouse, meanwhile, advocates porcelain tiles for the bathroom as being the most practical and versatile. “Firstly, they are both indestructible and stain-proof, as well as being impervious to water,” says Chris Grainger, managing director. “They also won’t be damaged by detergents we frequently expose our bathroom surfaces to. Another benefit is that they can now be manufactured in a whole range of realistic finishes, including marble, natural limestone, concrete and metallics.”
When it comes to wall colours, look to Little Greene’s newly updated ‘Colours of England’ collection of paints, for a nod to heritage décor. As well as contemporary shades, it includes many authentic 18th, 19th and 20th century colours.
For a beguiling statement wall, meanwhile, the Paint and Paper Library has launched its new ‘Tresco’ wallpaper collection, designed by artist Hugo Dalton. The range of eight wallpapers includes ‘Chart’, a digitally-printed mural, that depicts the lines found on nautical charts and perfectly suits the watery surrounds of a bathroom. While Abigail Edwards, renowned for her artistic wallpapers, has designed a ‘Dragonfly Mural’ made of 18 hand-drawn ceramic tiles, to add a whimsical touch to a bathroom.
“A tile mural is a way of creating interest and adding personality to a room while also serving a practical purpose,” she says. “The Dragonfly Mural is really delicate so it adds a bit of softness to the modernity of the classic white bathroom suite. It is a nod to the historical mural but used in a contemporary way.”
Large format tiles are perfect for creating a luxury feel to even the smallest space. Shirley Holland, marketing manager at Gemini Tiles, agrees: “We’re seeing a trend to embrace serene spa-inspired bathrooms in the home. Taking inspiration from the world’s luxury boutique hotels, is the use of large format tiles to create a feeling of space and capture the essence of spa tranquility.”
Lorna Williams, of flooring specialist Amtico, reveals her top three trends
*Simple naturals: rustic woodgrains add an authentic feel.
*Organic patterns: soft geometric abstracts give a modern look.
*Botanical inspiration: nature is the source of multi-tonal neutrals.
Three little touches
Fired Earth’s brand ambassador Laura James gives her style tips
*Fresh colour schemes, such as blue and white or mint green, are perfect for bathrooms.
* Use small tiles – such as our Nordic Glass mosaics – in a herringbone layout for visual appeal.
*Splash out on luxurious finishes, such as marble, for a glamourous look.
According to Simon Taylor, marketing director of Roper Rhodes, a luxury bathroom specialist, new developments in bathroom furniture is playing a pivotal role in bathroom design. “Vanity units remain incredibly popular,” he says. “People are continuing to look at ways to create more storage in their bathrooms and the easiest way to do this is to add a furniture unit under the basin. If chosen wisely, a modular vanity unit also has the added effect of creating a real style statement in the bathroom.”
It goes without saying that the bath-tub remains all-important, however, with a stand-alone tub being the aspirational piece of furniture to lust after. Phil Etherden, managing director at the Albion Bath Company, agrees: “For many, the quintessentially traditional bathroom has at its heart the classic freestanding bath. Styles range from roll or flat tops to single or double ended. Incorporating a freestanding bath in a bright colour really does change the feel of the whole room.”
Showers, meanwhile, have also become style statements with waterfall showers, wet rooms and elegant shower screens becoming in vogue. At the Majestic Shower Company, its new matte black ‘MetalCraft’ collection channels an industrial theme. Tom King, managing director, comments: “At Majestic we embrace the storytelling aspect of interior design and encourage people to curate their own sanctuary. Our shower screens and enclosures bring colour and texture to the bathroom.”
When it comes to taps – the more opulent the better. THG Paris, for instance, stocks a range of fittings available in luxurious finishes – such as dark bronze, rose gold and matt gold taps. Its latest collection, ‘West Coast’, created in collaboration with interior designer Timothy Corrigan, features a range of taps with stunning black or white onyx inlay.
Anthony Smith, director of Waters Baths of Ashbourne, give his top three trends
*Curved shapes – basin and baths that feature gentle, rounded edges give an elegant look
*Scandi design – encapsulates warmth and simplicity for a calm haven
Botanical-inspired – use lush, green ferns for added colour to a neutral-coloured bathroom
Fantastic final touches
From ultra-modern radiators – look to The Radiator Company for inspirational choices – to stunning mirrors, such as The French Bedroom Company’s velvet range –it’s the finishing touches which will turn a practical bathroom into a pretty one.
Store toiletries in baskets or chic boxes to keep surfaces clear – Kaleidoscope has a range of storage drawers and tubs that fit the bill. Dunelm’s ‘Elements’ bathroom collection is made up of accessories, such as towels in modern colour palettes and modern, minimalist soap dispensers. You can’t beat piles of white towels, such as those available at Linen Me, if it’s the boutique-hotel look you are after. While elegant glass lighting from Fritz Fryer will add a classic French aesthetic.
For character and warmth, however, invest in a row of beautiful baskets to lift an otherwise pared-back bathroom. La Basketry offers a range of brightly coloured, ethical baskets created in partnership with artisans in Senegal.
Co-founder of the brand, Tabara N’Diaye, gives the final word on washroom style: “Ensure you create a soothing environment with enough storage units so the space doesn’t feel too cluttered, as we all know it’s impossible to relax when your surroundings are untidy. Plants can bring calm to any room and even purify the air around us. Channel the botanical trend and add a plant, such as aloe vera, bamboo or a philodendron, which are all easy to look after. You can even use one of our Diamond or Etoile baskets to house them.”
MY TOP TEN BATHROOM PRODUCTS
Diamond Handwoven Storage Basket, from £42, labasketry.com
Christy Indigo Kalifi Towels, £12, kaleidoscope.co.uk
Grey Marble Storage Jar, £12, sainsburys.co.uk
George Home Gold Geo Dispenser, £5, asda.com
Pineapple Trinket Box, £32, oliverbonas.com
Tangier Wall Tile, £39.95, wallsandfloors.co.uk
Alameda Venetian Mirror, £265, frenchbedroomcompany.co.uk
Ledbury Ribbed Bathroom Wall Light, £160, fritzfryer.co.uk
Bloomingville Marble Tumbler, £45, amara.com
Chevron Bath Matt, £19, very.co.uk
A version of this article is published in the September 2017 issue of The Cambridge Edition Magazine