There’s a lot to take on board when designing or redecorating a bathroom. As well as the usual considerations of materials, lighting and colour schemes, one must also factor in hardware, clever storage solutions and all the fittings, from shower to sink.
Creating a bathroom that balances both form and function can be challenging, especially when the space is expected to provide for practical family needs whilst also taking the form of a calming retreat.
Design-wise, bathrooms have a tendency to be the most overlooked opportunity of the house – often stark, all-white and lacking in character. Yet your bathroom should be an extension of the rest of your home. In a room where you are at your most exposed, it’s important that this environment feels warm, comfortable and inviting.
Decoratively, don’t be afraid to use colour, textures, or dial up the drama by experimenting with bold design choices.
Whatever aesthetic you lean towards, ditch the boring clinical bathroom clichés with these creative ideas.
#1 Tackle small spaces with open vanities
Shoehorning everything you need into a compact bathroom is certainly a challenge, especially when balancing both style and practicality.
At Greenknowe Avenue, we maximised the feeling of space in the smaller bathrooms by keeping the vanities open and concealing the storage in a floor-to-ceiling, mirrored unit to the side of the basin. Leaving the floor space less cluttered tricks the eye into thinking the room is bigger than it is, creating that much-desired illusion of space.
This is a great solution if your bathroom has unusual proportions and you don’t want to compromise on the design of the room, or make it any less luxurious. Creative storage leaves room to have fun with the fittings, so you can opt for sculptural basins as we did at Greenknowe Avenue.
#2 Embrace awkward windows
Windows can be awkward to navigate when designing a bathroom, but they don’t have to restrict your layout. If you want to place your vanity below a window and don’t want to compromise on a mirror, make it a feature by placing your mirror directly in front of the window.
Opt for a smaller size than the window so as not to block the natural light. Arch and round shapes look pretty contrasting with angular windows, just as we did at Ada Avenue and Jersey Road. As a bonus, the natural light behind the mirror will illuminate your face, doing away with the need for a vanity light.
#3 Go for drama with dark hues
Rethink the usual all-white palette in favour of a dark and dramatic colour scheme. Far from dreary and depressing, and contrary to the idea that dark colours shrink a space, moody palettes give plenty of depth to a room and provide an instant sense of luxe.
To achieve a sense of space and drama, the key is to incorporate contrast. At Raglan Street, we offset the pale grey Carrara marble with a dark walnut vanity. Darker tones are the perfect companion to light marbles, creating a glamorous and timeless statement through contrast.
At Wharf Crescent, we gave the small powder room a daring treatment, opting for all dark tones. The trick here is using different materials and textures to prevent a one-dimensional feel; we combined black marble, black veneer and a bronze mosaic tile to create depth.
The inclusion of the reflective metallic tile and an elongated mirror bounce the light and lift the space for a truly show-stopping effect.
#4 Incorporate drapes to soften the space
Windows in bathrooms are tricky. Leave them bare and you risk privacy issues. Cover them and you compromise on the natural light.
A simple and elegant answer is to use floor-length sheer drapes to maintain privacy needs without interfering with your best source of natural light. White or off-white drapes work in almost every space, no matter the style or colour scheme. They’re crisp and timeless, and can also be worked to soften harsh spaces – an issue that often requires attention when it comes to bathrooms.
At Mosman House, we balanced the concrete – a traditionally cold element – with soft, inviting drapes. The effect is a striking contrast, as the drapes diffuse the harsh daylight from the large window and provide a warm, textural component in the otherwise concrete surrounding.
Drapery was also incorporated at Raglan Street, this time as a means of taking advantage of the harbour views whilst maintaining privacy. In a bathroom that makes several bold design choices, the drapes complement the space without distracting the eye or making a separate statement.
#5 Place your bath under the window
There is nothing more luxurious than a freestanding bath under a generous window. The positioning frames the bath, creating a regal sense of glamour, and allows you to enjoy the views as you soak.
In an otherwise dead space, which can’t accommodate a shower or lavatory, it makes sense to place your bath under the window. If privacy is an issue, again, add soft window treatments or blinds that can be drawn when needed.