Bathrooms can be one of the trickiest areas to design and it's where professional designers really save you time and money. Designs can be limited by technical specifications, legal requirements, structural and drainage limitations. Having said that, they can often be the most exciting space to design. In small projects with budget limitations, bathrooms tend to be the place you splash (sorry for the pun) out, as you aren't buying materials in huge quantities, you can get the extra nice tiles or go for slate floors. Or you might decide that since the downstairs cloakroom is so small and people in there will probably have time to look around them, you might go for that bold wallpaper and make the room more exciting and visually interesting.
Clients who want a more unique or individual looking space often experiment with new and antique or vintage/found at market pieces. They can be a great room for displaying a collection, as long as your objects don't mind getting wet. Or perhaps you've decided that you are going to get that hotel chic feel and go all out for marble and make a grand and relaxing space.
Don't be too swayed by fashionable or trendy images of bathrooms. The room has to be functional, first and foremost. A few years ago there was a huge trend for wooden floors, tabletops and detailing in bathrooms - they look great in pictures but can't handle the moisture and you'll find they look awful after a year and need replacing in 2-3 years time. It's always best to ask a professional what works and how best to achieve the look you want. Likewise fancy gadgets like maserators.
They may sound fantastic, a small machine that means you can place the toilet anywhere you like, no need to be near a stack pipe, but from experience they never work. They break constantly and are tricky to fix, and you will probably have to relocate the toilet back to solid plumbing within a few years.
Bathroom electronics, such as TVs and iPads also suffer. If you're having a steamy bath, the humidity may muffle the sound, or jacuzzi jets will drown it out entirely. No matter what the guarantee says, moisture always gets in and effects performance. There are tricks to minimise this, like piped venting, but that will involve a larger extractor. Attractive basins may not hold enough water, or may not drain quickly and clog easily.
Other problems to consider
- Wet rooms. Some flat blocks and freeholders simply will not allow you to have one, and there is no form of appeal. In order to have a wet room, aside from the necessary access to good ventilation, you will need to raise the entire floor, so bare this in mind if you have low ceilings, or are likely to have to step up into the room. Also, you will have to make sure the drainage is very effective and that is shower is furthest from the door - or you'll have soggy feet or slippers when you nip in to use the loo or do your make-up.
- Bath weight. A large metal or stone bath, when filled with water, can be extremely heavy and you might need to reinforce the floor, or position it over a supporting beam.
- Water pressure. You might need to update your boiler system if you want a power shower or change the position of your storage tank if putting a bathroom in a higher floor or loft.
- No electrical sockets. It's illegal to put any socket that isn't a shaver into a UK bathroom. So if you really want to have your hairdryer in there you might have to be creative and build one in. You can get around this (although strictly, we would never recommend this) by putting an adapter into the shaver socket - that way you can charge your tooth brush etc in situ.
- Built-in features, like hidden cisterns look sleek, but if they go wrong you'll be taking a sledge hammer to your beautifully tiled back wall the first time doesn't fill properly if you haven't left an access hatch. If wall taps are leaking internally, slowly, it can be a long time before you discover the problem and it will usually mean replacing a large area.
So a little professional advice will go a long way with bathrooms. Our next post will be on some beautiful rooms we have created for clients and how we overcame unforeseen obstacles.