How to choose the best bathroom for any budget or style
PUBLISHED: 13:06 23 June 2015 | UPDATED: 16:58 03 August 2015
Apart from your kitchen, your bathroom is probably the hardest-working room in your home. It's a frequently used space that has to stand up to the wear and tear of daily traffic and the dampness caused by hot baths and showers.
These factors mean that choosing the right bathroom has to be an investment that will not only add value to your home but will also stand the test of time. But where do you start?
From antique style roll top baths and stately pedestal sinks to modernist taps and minimalist wall-mounted toilets, your options for kitting out your new bathroom are virtually boundless. The one thing that experts tend to agree on is that it’s best not to compromise on the basics.
Leila Roberts from Fired Earth Bathrooms, which has a Hampstead showroom in Heath Street, explains that because a new bathroom is a relatively large investment it’s important that it stands the test of time and performs well, day after day.
“Invest in the key pieces you need for the bathroom such as the bath, basin, shower and taps since you’ll be using them day-in, day-out, and longevity and performance are important,” she says.
“Classic designs won’t date, and you can always use tiles, paint and accessories to give your bathroom a quick and relatively inexpensive update if you decide that it needs a bit of a makeover in years to come.”
Howard Birch, director of North London-based bathroom specialists, Aston Matthews agrees that it’s essential to plan your budget carefully: “When planning a bathroom it is important to have a clear idea of budget so that you can spend on the important items and economise in other areas. You may have your heart set on wall hung sanitary ware but floor standing items can look equally streamlined and tend to cost less.
“The last place to economise in the bathroom is on taps and shower controls. These are the engineered element within the room and you really do get what you pay for. Better quality materials and sophisticated internal workings may cost a bit more but they will last longer, look better and be a pleasure to use.”
He emphasises that it’s important to shop carefully: “Some bathroom fittings, especially items sold on the internet, look like fantastic bargains but in reality you do get what you pay for and these cheap imports can be of poor quality that will not give long service so that the initial saving is soon wasted.”
It’s also a good idea to think about how you need your bathroom to perform. For example, if you’re planning a busy family bathroom then practicality is key. Look for hardwearing, easy-to-clean surfaces, slip-resistant flooring, and plenty of accessible storage for bottles and towels.
If you’re hoping for a bathroom that’s going to be more of a spa-style haven of relaxation to unwind in after a busy day, then luxurious surfaces such as marble and glass are an ideal choice, and there’s nothing quite like a freestanding bath or console for show-stopping glamour.
“The bathroom was once a purely functional space for personal care,” says Kirsten Wienberg, head of global product development and design at Villeroy & Boch. “Today, it represents wellness, comfort and relaxation, which we see as people begin to place more emphasis on design and quality elements for their bathroom.”
Villeroy & Boch is taking the rising life expectancy of Britons into account when designing its bathrooms. “People are getting older and want to live in their own homes as long as possible therefore the private bath has to be designed in a way to accommodate this,” says Wienberg.
She adds: “Also, the bathroom is changing from a purely functional space into a living room. People spend more effort into creating a room with a cosy and appealing atmosphere. Natural forms, colours and materials emphasise this aspect and help to create such an atmosphere. We expect that this development will continue and maybe even increase.”
If you’re looking for design inspiration there are plenty of magazines and brochures that you can start with. “Think about creating a mood board made up of favourite images and swatches,” suggests Roberts. “Showroom visits are really helpful too since you’ll be able to get a feel for the proportions of key pieces.”
“As a general point, bathrooms tend to be relatively compact so you can splash out on tiles and finishes that might be a bit beyond budget in a larger room. You might also want to consider adding underfloor heating. While it’s undeniably luxurious, the modest floor space of a bathroom means that the installation and running costs are surprisingly affordable.”