If kitchens and living rooms are the social hub of a home, then surely bathrooms are the ultimate refuge. Bathrooms are where we spend time alone, pamper and nurture ourselves and enjoy some privacy. They are a sanctuary from our busy lives.
That said, a bathroom needs to be functional and well planned. It is often one of the smallest rooms in the house but provide several functions. You want a bathroom that is easy to use, easy to clean and can give you a boost in the morning and soothe you before bed.
Bathroom fittings and fixtures come in endless shapes and sizes which make accommodating your needs achievable. Its best to start by examining your servicing arrangements, ie where the water and waste pipes are placed as these will define where the main items (toilet, wash basin, bath and shower) go. Pipes can of course be moved but this can be costly and awkward. If you are building a brand new bathroom then its best to pick an area that can easily access existing drainage (e.g. above or below an existing bathroom, toilet or kitchen).
Also consider whether all elements of the bathroom need to be together - a separate toilet can be an advantage if the bathroom is going to be used by several people in the mornings and evenings.
En suite bathrooms, which lead directly from the bedroom are a popular choice where another bathroom is available for the rest of the household. Some people with big bedrooms have even gone further and installed a bath or shower enclosure in the bedroom itself - either completely in the open or screened by a low partition wall.
Bathroom layout needs careful planning. A scale plan of the room and cut out templates of the items you want to install allow you to move things around and see what options are feasible. Make sure there is adequate clearance between fittings so that you are not squeezing through a cramped space. This is where narrow sinks or wall hanging toilets can come into their own - saving you valuable centimetres of floor space. Don't forget when experimenting with a scale plan to note where the water supply and drainage pipes are as well as the doors and windows.
If you're installing a bath, work out where this is going to go first. It's the largest single fixture so its best to place it first and then fit other items around it. If space is really limited you may have to cut down on the number of fixtures in the room. Substitute a smaller bath or even consider having no bath and just a shower. Have a wide single sink rather than a double sink, don't install a bidet and suddenly you will free up considerable space.
If you have ample floor space you can really go to town and create a theatrical bathing experience. The bath could be centrally placed in the room or projected out from the wall. You could build a platform for the bath or even look into creating a sunken bath. And you could have a separate shower in addition to the bath, rather than a shower attachment. Bear in mind that walk in showers are easier to access and you will have a more spacious showering environment this way.
A more modern alternative to a conventional bathroom is a wet room. This is a chic but basic type of bathroom design and requires careful planning and construction. It can work particularly well in a small space as there are relatively few elements to the room. All surfaces (floor and walls) must be fully waterproofed and the shower head drains directly to a drainage hole in the floor. The floor therefore has to be laid to slope towards the main drain.
Its important to get your bathroom design right - doing up a bathroom is an expensive and labour intensive job and not one that you will want to repeat until you move to your next home. So plan it carefully and think about the functions and feel of the bathroom that you want to create. And enjoy your ultimate sanctuary from a hectic life.