How to design the perfect bathroom

From baths to lighting, here's our step-by-step guide to designing the right bathroom for you

With careful consideration, your bathroom can become the soothing sanctuary you’ve always dreamed of. So where to start? We’ve got a step-by-step guide to designing your perfect bathroom, with advice from industry experts to make sure you’re bang on-trend. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing every element of your dream suite.

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The bath

Us Brits love our baths! While our European cousins tend to go for wet rooms or walk-in showers, as a nation we love nothing more than a long soak in a hot, bubbly tub at the end of a hard day, especially come the winter months.

If you have the space, a freestanding design is the ultimate in luxury. Bear in mind that ideally, you need to be able to access them from all sides and you won’t be able to add on an over-bath shower. If space is more limited, then a built-in bath is the solution and you can find L- and P-shaped styles that are designed for over-bath showering, too.

For a classic, timeless look, consider a slipper style – either with claw feet or a more clean-lined contemporary look – and add interest by painting the exterior in a vibrant or metallic finish.

Current trends include hand polished and lacquered exteriors, curvaceous and circular models as well as shorter lengths that fit easily into a smaller space.

Visit showrooms to try before you buy – it may sound silly, but don’t be embarrassed to pop your shoes off and jump in. All baths feel different, so you want to make sure yours is as comfortable as possible.

Bathroom from Ripples, Boat bath from BC Designs in Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue
Bathroom from Ripples, Boat bath from BC Designs in Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue

Taps and basin

When it comes to choosing the basin and taps, many of us are currently opting for a modern monochrome look with either a glossy white basin teamed with matt black brassware or a matching black tap and basin combo.

‘Black, and in particular matt black, has been a hugely popular accent in bathrooms for a number of years now with no sign of disappearing,’ confirms Yousef Mansuri, head of retail design at C.P. Hart.

He says: ‘This is largely due to its neutral ability to complement any colour or style of a scheme. It doesn’t show fingerprints like chrome does and adds a dramatic contrast.’

Choose the best quality your budget allows, especially with brassware, as you want something that will last.

Coloured ceramics are also on the up. If you want to plump for something different, check out the hand finished porcelain basins (below) from London Basin Company, which come with beautifully drawn intricate patterns and prints. These designs make the ideal statement in a cloakroom or en-suite.

Amara sink from the London Basin Company
Amara sink from the London Basin Company

With countertop basins being one of the most sought-after styles, it’s important to pay attention to the surface or vanity below, too. Freestanding units look stunning while fitted furniture offers the benefit of optimum storage.

The shower

There’s nothing quite like a steamy hot shower to start the day, so make sure you choose the best shower style to suit your needs.

When it comes to luxury extras, an overhead drencher creates that indulgent rainfall effect, while a separate hand shower is ideal for a quick hair wash. If budget allows, consider adding water jets that can target aching muscles.

Concealed valves keep pipework hidden, which makes the most of a smaller space while exposed shower systems are more cost effective and easier to install.

Don’t forget that a shower pump is essential if you have a gravity-fed water system, which is where you have a separate water tank in the loft, common in older properties.

Shower cubicles come in a variety of shapes and styles to complement your space. There are sliding doors, single panels, quadrant enclosures, bi-folds and more. The black trend also continues into shower screens with Crittall-effect panels offering the urban, industrial look.

Sphere shower from Frontline Bathrooms
Sphere shower from Frontline Bathrooms

Partial wetrooms are another option, as Michael Sammon, sales and marketing director for Frontline Bathrooms, explains: ‘It can be time-consuming and labour-intensive to fully waterproof the bathroom but you can achieve a wet-room look by opting for a shower tray with a low profile that can be fitted on, or levelled with, the floor.’

Lighting

It’s all too easy to overlook, but a well-lit bathroom is so important – after all, its where we look at ourselves first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Ideally a layered scheme works well, like it does for kitchen lighting. Think about installing wall lights either side of a wall mirror or go for one of the latest high-tech cabinets that incorporate built-in lighting. Some even come with extras such as shaver sockets and Bluetooth speakers.

An overhead light source will provide good all-round illumination while feature lighting can also be added in the form of recessed spotlights in storage niches or plinth lights around the base of a bath or vanity unit.

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Words by Hayley Gilbert