Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Modern Bathroom Design Ideas

From sleek wall-hung bathroom furniture and spa baths to colour therapy lighting and sound systems, there’s more choice than ever before when designing a bathroom. For this reason, it’s a good idea to involve the professionals. If you’re planning a bathroom from scratch, or you are going to reconfigure the plumbing and drainage of the existing room, then it’s best to employ a designer as there will be structural and practical considerations, especially if you want a wet room. Specialist bathroom showrooms, such as Original Bathrooms, Ripples and CP Hart, provide designers and can organise installation too.
The DIY stores, such as B&Q and Wickes, can offer in-store planning, but advice is generally limited to the layout of basic elements, rather than providing solutions to problems. When buying for your bathroom, take along a plan of the room, with the existing fittings marked, and make sure you know the location and type of water-heating system you have, so that the shop can help you choose the most appropriate fittings.
The latest basins are wide, shallow designs, sometimes even irregular in shape. These can be inserted into a slab-type work surface, wall-mounted with shelves and towel storage below, or installed as part of a basin unit. Conversely, deeper, rounder shapes set into slab worktops are also popular. Teamed with dark wood or lacquered white cabinets, shiny chrome taps and matching accessories, they can add a witty touch to an otherwise understated bathroom.
Baths are usually the focal point of a bathroom, and there is a huge choice. Modern roll-top styles, often mounted in a cradle or on blocks, are designed to sit in the centre of a large room, while non-freestanding designs will need to be set into a surround finished with tiles or timber. New materials for baths include stone, cast-stone composites and even wood. For a larger bath, check that your hot-water system has the extra capacity needed. You should think carefully before opting for a shower instead of a bath, as it may decrease the re-sale value of your property.
Modern fitted bathroom furniture is often in dark wood, such as ebony, mahogany or wenge, which contrast well with white sanitaryware and chrome or stainless-steel bathroom fittings.
Where walls and flooring are concerned, there’s still a strong trend for tiles, with limestone or porcelain lookalike tiles very popular. To avoid a bland look you can add bands of colour to break up plain tiles. Fully tiled walls tend to suffer from condensation unless the room is well heated. To solve the problem make sure your room has adequate ventilation; a heated towel rail and underfloor heating will also help. You can update your bathroom simply by swapping an outdated pedestal basin for a chic modern one with an integral stand.
If your bath and basin are understated, then bold, angular brassware will create several focal points. Many ranges have satin and matt finishes, sometimes in nickel, which will provide a softer look. The trend is for taps to be arched and graceful and showerheads as large as possible, especially in a wet room, to give you a good drenching. Remember that hard water causes shiny brassware to mark and dull quite badly, and be prepared to dry and buff the taps regularly. Take advice when choosing brassware, too, as products vary in suitability for high- or low-pressure water heating systems.
Wet Rooms and Steam Cabinets
The most desirable types of showers around at the moment are wet rooms. If you wish to use the whole bathroom, then it has to be lined with a waterproof membrane, which usually costs at least £2,000. Do take professional advice, as there are many points to consider, from the capacity of the drainage system to the rate of water flow and recovery. You could opt for a semi-wet room, or a walk-in shower; this will be spacious but with fewer technical considerations. Semi-wet rooms still involve extensive waterproofing of part of the room, while glass panels are used to screen off the rest of the room and contain the spray. Walk-in shower enclosures consist of a tray and side/front panels, but are without a fully closing door – the walk-in area serves as a drying-off space. The latest have frameless glass panels and recessed trays to create a wet-room look.
If a wet room is not for you, and you have the budget and the space, you could create a spa-like bathroom with a steam cabinet. Fully enclosed with a roof, these contain a steam generator and usually a seat. Chromatherapy (colour therapy) is also included in some models. If the bathroom doesn’t have the space for a separate shower, look at the range of over-bath showers/steam cabinets from Jacuzzi – some models offer whirlpool bath options as well.
Ceiling-mounted shower fittings, along with body jets, are de rigueur in a wet room. If you want to install a new shower into an existing enclosure, or over the bath, consider a shower panel, such as one from Triton, which includes a fixed showerhead plus a hand-held spray and various body jets. Aqualisa offers remote-controlled showers, which can be switched on before entering the enclosure; the Grohe Wireless shower can be switched on or off from any room in the house.

See also: Modern Bathroom Design Ideas

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