70s set to make a comeback in bathroom decor
Today's bathrooms are lathering and lounging spaces – or at least they should be. Gabrielle Fagan taps into three contemporary styles, offering inspiration that's bound to wash off
ARE you living the bathroom dream? The ultimate space for a wash-and-brush-up should also double up as a spoiling home-spa for relaxing – and your room is sadly lacking if it's not offering both.
Before you take the plunge on a revamp, though, it's wise to consider the look you wish to create. It's all too easy to get submerged in the diverse range of styles available, from traditional to chic contemporary, and a whole lot in-between.
"In general, bathrooms are small and getting smaller, so it's vital to make use of every inch of space," says Robin Levien, international designer at Ideal Standard.
"One of the most popular contemporary looks is modern and minimal, but not clinical. We're seeing a desire for a clutter-free room, where storage solutions keep everything, from towels to toothbrushes, out of sight until they're needed. This helps make the area a peaceful sanctuary."
Luxury touches – underfloor heating, LED lighting and anti-steam mirrors – are rapidly becoming must-haves, and technology is increasingly playing a role, enabling lighting, sound and water systems to be programmed and controlled remotely.
Choose from one of three looks, for a bathroom to boast about...
Create your own little bathing paradise with sultry, exotic decor...
"The bathroom continues to be a key element in homes, playing a multi-purpose, multi-function role. It's an oasis of escapism and relaxation, a place for reinvigoration, transformation, and even somewhere to pose, ponder and play," says Levien.
"Increasingly, this room's borrowing decorative elements more traditionally found in the rest of the home, and picking up influences from the catwalk. There's a current trend for dramatic dark colours and pattern on walls and floors, which with good lighting, can actually make a space seem bigger, as well as delivering that boutique-hotel feel."
DECOR TIP: Floral patterns and bright botanical colours, like dark purple, rouge and matte greens, are soon set to feature strongly, as a 70s vibe makes its mark in bathrooms. But avoid going too retro – an avocado green suite is never a good look!
SPLASH OUT: Drummonds' free-standing Spey Bath can be bespoke-painted to feature a lush tropical design, from £2,975 (ex. VAT).
Follow the theme with a palm leaf Abyss & Habidecor Feuille Bath Mat, £198, Amara. Alternatively, create a more purse-friendly far-away setting with a wall done up with Indigo Tropical Wallpaper, £80 a roll, Gillian Arnold, and accessorise with Aqua Tropical Print Towels, currently reduced from £10-£30 to £8-£24 each, Debenhams.
Real tropical plants, or faux ones from Miafleur, whose Artificial Areca Palm branches are £16.95 each, will play up the hot-house theme.
Blue and white's a classic and timeless choice for bathrooms, because it's fresh, crisp and evokes a relaxing coastal retreat...
"It's the subtle finishing touches which make a big difference, so consider taps and fixtures and fittings as the perfect way to refresh an existing sink or bath, and think about these carefully when choosing a new bathroom style," says Chris Taylor, design expert at tap and shower specialists, Bristan.
"Metallic finishes – gold, brass and and copper, through to brushed steel – are popular this year. For a classic look, use a chunky mixer spout to create sleek elegance combined with traditional style. Add contrasting blue nautical-style accessories for a striking, stylish scheme."
DECOR TIP: Hotels treat furniture as interchangeable for the sleeping, living and bathing areas of a room. Keep that aesthetic with pieces which don't shout 'bathroom', whether it's a rug, dressing table or bathroom chandelier.
SPLASH OUT: Refresh a bathroom by updating taps – far cheaper than a full refit. Bristan's comprehensive selection includes a handsome chrome-plated brass Flute Tall Basin Mixer, £210. New handles can also give a lift, and Chloe Alberry has an unrivalled collection.
Supermarket chain George Home makes it easy to work a nautical look. Its range, mostly available in stores only (with some items online) features a new blue and white Tattoo collection (think anchors, sailing ships and seabirds), which includes a Shower Curtain, £8; Bath Towel, £6; Striped Hand Towel, £4; Soap Dispenser, £5, and Tumbler, £3. For more 'ship ahoy' touches, pile up a trolley with their Porthole Mirror, £7; Chevron Print Baskets, £7 for set of two, and Sailing Boat Ornament, £15.
Natural, organic materials are up-and-coming stars in the bathroom...
"Today's best looking bathrooms feature luxurious natural materials and finishes," says James Lentaigne, Drummonds' sales and marketing director.
"Cast iron and crisp white enamel, substantial brassware, artisan tiles, wood and wood veneers, beautifully figured marbles and plenty of glass," he suggests. "Trends are moving away from fitted furniture towards individual free-standing pieces. For a contemporary feel, choose simple and streamlined pieces.
"There's a new focus on lighting – the best schemes incorporate a variety of light sources, all controlled individually to suit mood."
DECOR TIP: Traditional 'brick style' White Metro Tiles, £19.50 per square metre, create a striking look. Lay them in a herringbone, geometric pattern using a dark grey or black grout for a contemporary edge, and play up a natural theme on the floor with Cornish Driftwood Light Tile, £4.95 each of £55 per square metre, Topps Tiles.
SPLASH OUT: Dark wood furniture makes a statement in a room decorated in neutral shades, and John Lewis' free-standing Bali range is brilliant value and good-looking: Tallboy, £195, and Mirrored Double Wall Cabinet, £95. Its roomy Two Tone Laundry Basket, £69, could be perfect for towels or laundry.
There's an informal elegance about ladder storage, and Red Candy's Umbra Hub ladder starts from £100. Clutter's the enemy these days, so pop toiletries in Chevron Bamboo Baskets, from £38 each, MiaFleur. Dunelm's bursting with bathroom bargains, including a Purity Hamper, from £19.99, and a 'Calm' Wood Hanging Word, £7.99.
:: BATHROOM DESTINATIONS:
Bristan: 03300 266 273/bristan.com
Chloe Alberry: 020 7727 0707/chloealberry.com
Debenhams: 08445 616 161/debenhams.com
Drummonds: 020 7376 4499/www.drummonds-uk.com
Dunelm: 08451 656 565/dunelm.com
George Home: direct.asda.com/georgehome
Gillian Arnold: 0800 625 0625/gillianarnold.co.uk
Ideal Standard: 01482 346 461/ideal-standard.co.uk
John Lewis: 0845 6049 049/johnlewis.com
Miafleur: 0116 298 6393/miafleur.com
Red Candy: 0121 224 7728/redcandy.co.uk
Topps Tiles: toppstiles.co.uk