Bathroom designs are not to be taken lightly. This is not only a costly undertaking, but it is also one that your family and visitors to your home will use on a very regular basis, so it’s vital that you get it right. This is a highly functioning space so it’s vital that it delivers on every single aspect of its design.
- Ascertain how much you have to spend on the project before you start to explore the options. “Set a budget and then you need to get some quotes on the products you like” advises Edel Hegarty of Fieaga Bath and Tile (formerly Bathrooms 2000). “Then contact a couple of fitters and get some quotes from them. Ask about their availability to do the work and also delivery times on the goods. Take your time choosing your products and pick good quality items that will last a long time. Not all good quality items are as expensive as they look, and everything can be dressed up with nice accessories. If you purchase good quality items and then are fitted correctly you should get a long lifespan out of the products.”
- You can’t really make a proper plan for a decent design until you know exactly what sort of space you’re looking for. “Know your needs and know your style” advises Catherine Spillane of btw. “Ask yourself what exactly you want from the bathroom space and make sure it will accommodate the features you wish to add. Measure your space and get professional advice from a plumber and/or electrician.”
To figure out your wants and needs, ask yourself some crucial questions about your bathroom use. “Who will be using it? Do they prefer bathing to showering? What storage will you require? And what would be the best layout?” suggests Edel Hegarty.
- Visit lots of showrooms, grab lots of brochures and, perhaps most importantly, have a chat to in-store experts who will be happy to give advice and make suggestions. You’ll get the most from these visits if you go armed with the dimensions of your room as well as a wish list of what you would like to include in your bathroom. “The latest trends in bathroom designs are clean lines, with simple but interesting material, i.e. stone and wood with lots of classy storage” notes Paddy McQuaid, director of Antica.
Wise homeowners will want to invest in sanitary ware that will last the pace, so it’s important not to have your head turned by style and be careful to focus on the quality of what you’re buying. There is a dazzling array of choices on offer, but don’t cut any corners when it comes to research; do your homework and make sure that you’re getting good value from your purchases.
- “There is a huge array of differing sanitaryware on the market” notes Brian Grey, marketing manager for Ideal Standard. “You need to be careful in your choice. Seek out quality products. Cheap copies can seemingly save money, but in reality can end up causing a lifetime of problems. Quality ensures trouble free enjoyment of a new bathroom. A bathroom refurbishment could last over 10 or even 20 years. It is vital that it meets your expectations from the start and will continue to do so for many years.”
- “Take into consideration the plumbing in your existing bathroom” says Catherine Spillane. “Note the water pressure in the home as this will determine the type of brassware and shower units that are fitted. Take note of the position of your waste. Some wall mounted basin options require your waste to come from the wall rather than through the floor. Whirlpool baths require an electrical feed therefore you will need to consult an electrician. When choosing a bath or shower, don’t forget to check the size of your water tank. Some tanks require more powerful pumps in addition to larger storage units.”
- “When choosing a shower bear in mind that showers with only a fixed head make the shower area very difficult to clean” notes Sinead Moore.
- Then with the practical considerations taken care of, you can have a little fun with the style of your sanitary ware. “Do think about how different items can affect the look and feel of your bathroom” advises Eugene McCarthy of Tubs & Tiles. “For example, two basins will add a touch of luxury. While semi-pedestals and wall hung toilet bowls can really open up a space. Though remember, full pedestals will cover up unsightly pipe work. It’s important too to measure your space carefully to see what will fit. Often pieces can look great in the showroom, but may be too large when you get them home.”
- Don’t forget the essential finishing touches – elegant taps can make the simplest sink look super glamorous.
Tiles are probably the ultimate bathroom decorating material. Whether you use them on floors, walls or both, you’re certain to find a stylish solution out there that will bring some colour and pattern to your bathroom. Your main consideration needs to be the material that your tiles are made from so that you know your tiles will be able to withstand bathroom traffic, you have a good idea of what the cost will be and, of course, you need to know what look they will lend to your bathroom.
- Ceramic tiles start out as clay and other natural materials and are formed into a shaped ‘biscuit’ by heavy pressing, which is then glazed and kilned. Because of the glazing it is possible to have a much wider variety of colours and patterns than on the porcelain, but it does mean that if the ceramic tile chips, it will be noticeable.
Floors or walls? Ceramic is suitable for both bathroom floors and walls, but check with your supplier that you are buying the right type.
Price: Ceramic tiles are one of the cheapest available and prices can go as low as €5.99 per square metre.
- Porcelain is the most commonly purchased tile, both domestically and commercially. Porcelain is created from a mixture of materials that are pressed into a tile. Porcelain does not need to be glazed, which results in a matt finish, but proving more popular is polished porcelain, a sharp, contemporary finish created simply using an industrial brush on the surface, which will increase the cost of the tile. Matt porcelain tiles are commonly 10mm thick but the polishing treatment will reduce it to 9mm. Porcelain tiles are ‘full body’ which means they are the same colour throughout, so if they chip it won’t be as noticeable.
What’s new: Porcelain is catching up with ceramic in terms of versatility and it is now possible to buy styles that look like leather and wood.
Floors or walls? Again, porcelain is suitable for both floors and walls, but be careful with the floor- it can be very slippy when wet.
Price: Start at around €20 per square metre to €70/€80 per square metre.
- Natural Stone: The most common natural stones available for your bathroom are marble, limestone and travertine. Each has similar attributes but due to different quarry conditions they all look very different, so it is usually taste that will dictate your choice. Marble is generally stronger than limestone, while travertine has small holes in it from build up of sulphuric gas. This would need to be filled before your bathroom is used. Natural stone is cut from a cube from the quarry and then cut into tiles to order.
What’s new: Most homes lean towards cream when they buy natural stone, but there is an emerging trend for darker shades such as smokey grey, anthracite grey and deep browns.
Floors or walls? Perfect for both floors and walls, but make sure that your floor is appropriately waterproofed
Price: Natural Stone is one of the most expensive tiles and starts in the region of €50 per square metre. Natural stone will normally be graded from the start, which will dictate the final price. Grades range from one (being the best) to around six (which is rare as this grade is not a saleable quality). The majority of this cost is due to its huge weight, making it difficult to import into Ireland. Fitting natural stone will also add to the cost; while fitting other tiles might cost around €25 per square metre, marble could be twice that, as marble tiles are not always uniform and the fitter will have to work around this, as well as cleaning, polishing and returning to seal it at least three times
- Mosaic tiles are essentially any type of tile cut into smaller pieces and applied to a mesh backing, for your convenience. This includes ceramic, porcelain, glass or even small pebbles. The creative opportunities with mosaic are endless.
What’s new: New technology means that computers can print bespoke designs on a mosaic to fit your specifications or they can simply be used for a little embellished flair to an otherwise boring wall.
Walls or floors? Depending on the material, mosaics are available for both your floor and walls. Your supplier will suggest some designs that have been designed specifically for the floor, walls or countertops.
Price: From around €25 up to €300, or more for innovative glass or digitally designed mosaic.
Since the bathroom is a room that very frequently does not have access to a great deal of natural light, lighting merits consideration on a number of fronts, from the type of lighting that you will want for a long relaxing soak in the tub, to the kind required when shaving or putting on make-up.
- Dimmer switches are the key to flexible lighting.
- “There have been great improvements in bathroom lighting so you can light your bathroom in a number of ways and with a number of styles” says Sinead Moore. “Different light fittings are rated for different areas; for example, the fitting suitable for above your sink will not be suitable for over the shower or bath area, so it is always important to check the suitability of the fittings you like for the area where you would like to fit them. Also – will they work on low energy bulbs?”
- There are some funky new options that are becoming more commonplace in people’s homes. “Though ambient lighting is often now positioned around the bath, not many people think about lights in the shower area” says Julie Holliday, brand manager for Shades. “Coloured LEDs within the shower can really help pep you up in the morning and light reflects off the steam/water droplets to great effect.”
- “At the moment LED lighting is proving to be very popular” agrees Edel Hegarty. “Make sure that you have good lighting around the handbasin area. Mirrored cabinets with lights are a good option here, as they offer a dual purpose.”
- Radiators: Radiators come in several forms. Traditional styles are still available, but make sure the shape and size is sympathetic to your bathroom. For a real vintage touch consider cast iron salvaged radiators. If they come from a reputable dealer they should work fine. For a more modern touch a panel radiator will work well; its clean design it will sink into the walls of your bathroom. It is helpful to attach a rail above these designs so the heat can be used for wet towels. Steel is the main material used for radiators and it can be finished in many colours, including chrome, white and nickel, while the antique varieties are mainly available in cast iron, which should not effect their performance, depending on the condition. Tubular copper styles can be made to order.
- Heated towel rails: these designs are recognisable for their intricate, usually tubular, design and they are available both to heat your room and towels, or solely to dry your towels. Designers have noticed the potential for a showpiece in the bathroom and there is no end to the imaginative design available in towel rails. The most common design is the ‘ladder’ style, but look out for double sided rails, S-shaped joint-less styles or the snake like serpentine.
- Under floor heating: this ancient form of heating pipes hot water through a series of continuous loops under the floor. The initial cost of under floor heating is generally more expensive than radiators, but in the long run you could see yourself saving money. Radiators must heat a much larger space, while an under floor heater doe not emit as much heat per square meter because of its wider coverage. Therefore the boiler consumes less fuel and the running costs are reduced. Each room is easily controlled and there is uniform heat throughout. Under floor heating is only suitable for certain types of flooring so check with your dealer before purchase.
Source: House & Home