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Bathrooms, Toilets and Ensuites

In many older houses the bathroom has a bath and a hand-basin, and a rusted chrome towel rail, and square patterned lino on the floor. Or maybe an upgrade 30 years ago put a shower cubicle in and a long vanity with mosaic tiled top and plastic pink basin, now usually stained and discoloured.

It can all go out in the bin (or to the re-cyclers) and we can install modern tiled showers with sliding shower heads, elegant vanities, heated towel rails and fabulous well-lit mirrors. Whatever you want it can be provided (well almost anything!).

Again, bathroom renovations are most successful when combined with an extension (such as adding on a new master suite with walk-in wardrobe and ensuite) or an alteration to an existing internal layout to make better use of the available space.

From the design point of view, the bathroom can present challenges, but along with those challenges come wonderful opportunities as well. With a little thought and planning, you can create a bathroom or ensuite that is truly to your own style and budget.

You need to remember that the standard of the bathrooms in a property can be a make-or-break factor in home-buying decisions. Along with the kitchen, it can be a major factor in determining whether a sale is achieved, and at what price. It can boost the value of your home, increase the overall functionality, and make you feel much more pleasant about being in one of the most used rooms in the house. So it’s not a place to scrimp on your investment in dollar terms.

Here are some design points (and some “let’s-be-practical” points as well) that you might like to take into account in the new layout etc. of your bathroom or ensuite:

  1. Firstly, your bathroom or ensuite MUST work for you and your family. It will probably be used for many years so it needs to take into account your particular needs for comfort and convenience.
  2. And … secondly it must be aesthetically pleasing.
  3. The first visual point upon entering into the bathroom / ensuite doorway should be your vanity and basin. The tallest item, the shower, should be in the farthest back corner.
  4. Obviously, the toilet should be placed as far out of sight as possible. Some people make it the first thing you see when entering a bathroom, but it always creates a negative image in the viewer’s mind, so it should be the last thing they see.
  5. The bath is a focal point as well, and should generally speaking be close to the vanity / basin.
  6. Make use of multiple low voltage lights, as it brightens up the bathroom and the brighter the room the bigger it appears to be.
  7. Use large and stunning mirrors. It creates the illusion of space and quality, and has the obvious practical uses as well.
  8. A bigger tile achieves a number of things. It reduces the grout which gives a smoother and a softer effect, and the installation labour and time. Doing this also makes the room look bigger and better over a longer period of time, as it is the grout that ultimately discolours, and the less there is the better from this perspective. Lighter coloured tiles also make the bathroom look larger. But bigger tiles require a flatter surface under them so there may be some floor levelling needed.
  9. Be careful not to be caught with things like steps in front of a bath. They might look stylish but they take up lots of floor space, are generally uncomfortable to stand on and can be dangerous and slippery.
  10. Also, don’t include a tiled rim around the bath that’s too wide. Again, it might look good from a design perspective but can ultimately prove annoying as you bump the inner sides of your legs every time you get in or out of the bath.
  11. Tip from Ann … Be wary of free-standing baths, as you need to lie on your stomach to clean underneath them. Unless the cleaner gets this job!
  12. Open cupboards and shelves are an often incorporated design feature as well, but use it wisely as all your bathroom “clutter” is visible.
  13. Make sure you don’t put old and new products together as they stand out like a sore thumb. If you are going to upgrade your bathroom, do the whole thing, not just part. Do it once and do it right!
  14. If you can avoid them, do not use products which have been re-enamelled, re-glazed or re-surfaced. They have a relatively short life expectancy in comparison with new items.
  15. Stay with a classic design. Avoid fashion trends as they date easily. Classic is the most widely accepted. But not everyone has to “follow the norm” and some exciting style options are also available for the more adventurous.
  16. Use quality products. If possible, use first grade products where “after-sale” service is readily available. Cheaper products can be useful, but understand the warranties etc.

And … remember the words … “True Beauty Lies Within Simplicity” … so avoid a cluttered / overly busy bathroom.

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