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Updated May 7, 2013, 12:00 pm Words by Catherine McCormack, Photography by John Downs, Yahoo!7
Create the ultimate private pamper zone, in the tradition of the smartest hotels.
If you’re lucky enough to be building from scratch, think big, says bathroom designer Robert Dyson. “Parents are using this area as their retreat, but they’re often using the room at the same time,” he explains. You may have to work within an existing area or have the option of knocking through into another room, claiming space from a walk-in wardrobe or opening the bathroom into the bedroom. “People often make the mistake of putting in too much stuff,” says industrial and hotel designer Alexander Lotersztain. “For me, it’s about pulling back to the basics. Space these days is a luxury – if you can accentuate that, that’s good design.” For example, it might mean rethinking the huge, statement bath in favour of a larger shower enclosure and a double vanityBEST-LAID PLANS
Bathrooms are arguably the most complex rooms to build or renovate, requiring several trades at different times, so it can help to employ an interior designer or bathroom specialist to design and manage the project. If you go the DIY route, you’ll need licensed trades for electrical or plumbing work, a builder for adding or removing walls, and possibly an engineer and asbestos-removal specialist. “You also require council approval if you’re changing the function of a room or adding new plumbing,” advises Robert.
It costs from about $500 for a specialist to draw up plans that include layout, plumbing, custom cabinetry, fixtures and finishes, plus consider essentials like clearance distances. Most specialists can also act as project manager, but if you prefer, you can manage the process or shop around for tradies who meet your budget, as you own the plans.
Current trends include having your ensuite open to, or even integrated into, the bedroom, but privacy is an obvious factor. The toilet and shower should be screened, or at least tucked well away from view. Other things to consider include who will use the room – it needs to work for both parties. So if your partner is significantly taller than you, seek advice on the right height to fit the loo, vanity and wall mirror, and choose an adjustable rail shower or an overhead rose.LET IT RAIN
Shower design and technology are constantly evolving. “Current trends are flat-wall showers, super-thin profiles and chrome-faced shower plates,” reveals Belinda Geels of Reece. Rain showers are becoming more water-efficient and can be mounted flush in the ceiling, which reduces clutter, ideal for compact ensuites. Kohler’s WaterTile Body Spray, $249 from Tradelink, has a three-star WELS (water efficiency) rating. Frameless toughened glass screens – or none if design and waterproofing allow – reduce visual noise. Ventilation is key, especially if your ensuite is open to the bedroom. Ensure your extractor fan is sufficient to avoid condensation in the sleeping area.THE LOOK OF LUXE
“I like thinking of the ensuite as part of a larger canvas rather than a separate entity,” says Alexander, who prefers a muted palette that blends with the bedroom to create a feeling of spaciousness. Similarly, interior designer Eileen Middleton suggests harmonising the materials you use on the walls, floors and cabinetry to create an integrated look. “I like stone, but always specify a honed finish, which doesn’t show up stains and scratches,” she explains.
Playing it safe with neutral and timber tones helps prevent your bathroom looking dated too quickly, but feature walls, standout lighting and brightly coloured cabinetry will give your ensuite individual flair, and can be updated down the track. Mosaics, currently right on trend and available in myriad colours and finishes, including metallic, can look gorgeous. Robert suggests using them on a clear wall, not one with a door or window. Dark grey limestone or crosscut travertine floors add subtle drama, although porcelain tiles, which are cheaper, are equally appealing and come in a vast range, including timber effect. Whichever you choose, look for ones with a high slip resistance.
Consider finish in other decorating aspects, too. If painting, consider a mould-proof interior product such as Dulux Wash & Wear Kitchen & Bathroom, $79.95/4 litres, and as a general rule, avoid wallpaper in wet rooms.CABINETRY CUES
Cabinetry is often the first focal point in an ensuite – particularly in a room without a bath – but its looks should never override its functionality. Twin vanities, or a single cabinet with double basins, can be useful if you and your partner need to use the space at the same time each morning. Wall-hung vanities leave the floor clear, creating the illusion of space, while custom-designed cabinetry can integrate bins and power points to minimise clutter. One recent trend is a new take on the traditional washstand: this elegant piece of freestanding furniture, generally with an integrated, unobtrusive sink, will give your ensuite a boudoir vibe. Pair it with a standout tap, but for true eco-chic, look for a model with a high WELS rating.BATHING BEAUTY
You might crave a bath, but think carefully before you splash out. “I only include a bath when there’s space to do so,” reveals hotel designer Alexander Lotersztain. “Openness is more important – a generous shower footprint feels way more luxurious.” A freestanding bath appears to take up less space than a built-in, and curved designs, like the Falper ‛Scoop’ bath, from $9950 from Rogerseller, boast architectural appeal. Apaiser’s beautiful stone baths, from $6155, can be made to measure, while Tradelink’s Adesso ‛Bianco’ acrylic freestander is priced from an affordable $1509. Asian-style soaker baths are so deep you can wallow up to your chin, but short. The Japanese Bath Company’s ‛Hana’ model, $570, is just 1220mm long.''EXPECT TO PAY
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