The Good Oil

I'm worried about my new bathroom going out of style, how I can pick something that is stylish and modern, but won't age too quickly?

If you’re after a design that looks as good tomorrow as it does today then opting for a timeless style will alleviate those worries. At its core, functionality plays a key role in timeless interiors that translates into a cohesive and built-in space. Timeless design has real staying power and opts to bypass trends and fads in favour of creating balance and order.

Natural materials are best.
Central to the timeless style are the materials that you use in the space and this is no different when it comes to designing your bathroom. Materials in their natural state will add warmth and character and provide a platform on which you can then introduce smaller decorative pieces to enhance the individuality of the space. Materials such as timber and stone will age gracefully and keep the space looking fresh for years to come.

Neutrals rock.
When it comes to choosing the base palette of colours and materials, neutrals will be your go-to. Combining natural materials with neutrals will keep the bathroom in style and ensure it doesn’t age quickly, but rather, gracefully. This doesn’t mean you're opting for a boring bathroom of plain white tiles. In fact, layering interest through textures or subtle patterns, created either through the type of tile you choose or the way in which tiles are laid, will add character to the space. The same can be achieved by using a feature wall tile on one wall. You’ll want the grout to match quite closely with the tile colour to blend and provide texture rather than hard lines. When it comes to the basins and baths opt for those that are matt and textural rather than shiny and organic shapes as opposed to straight lines.

Tone in your tapware.
To continue the layering, choosing tapware that has an aged patina will remove the sparkle that comes from traditional chrome. Because by its very nature bathrooms can often be linear you might think about adding subtle organic curves to the space through the tapware to soften the overall look. Once you’ve chosen a product line, see this through to all other fittings such as the towel rails, toilet roll holder and robe hooks to bring cohesion to the bathroom.

Build in your functionality.
If you want the bathroom to have real staying power then building in as much functionality as you can is going to give you a win. Recess the shaving cabinets, wall mount the vanity, bring symmetry through wall sconces mounted either side of the shaving cabinet, add underfloor heating, include a shower niche and if space permits built-in additional storage for bulkier items like toilet paper or towels improves daily use, gives you a modern and gives your bathroom staying power.

I'm getting my bathroom renovated but only have a small budget, how can I still get a modern, designer look?

The bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the home second only to the kitchen. The design and aesthetics of the bathroom can have a huge impact on how you begin and end your day and as such we are seeing the focus shift from one of pure function to spa-like amenities that respect the ritual of bathing. Even if you have a small budget, there are ways you can achieve a modern designer bathroom.

If the layout works don’t change it.
If your current bathroom works on a functional level then there’s no need to make any changes. Keep the plumbing in the same place and this will keep your costs down. If you need to make changes because the layout isn’t functioning properly then do so now because there’s no point in spending money on a renovation if you’re only going to hate it all over again.

Choose your tiles wisely.
Even if you’re working on a tight budget, consider tiling from floor to ceiling or include an interesting application to one of the walls. This will provide a sense of luxury and give you that designer look you’re after. Use a simple palette of materials and colours for your finishes because you’ll have more options available and by virtue many price points to choose from. If the budget stretches you could add a feature tile, or, you could create a feature wall using the same tile and lay this in a different pattern to differentiate it. A third alternative is to introduce a second wall application such as wallpaper to add a wow factor.

Image Credit: Photography Amanda Prior.

DIY custom.
Unfortunately custom pieces are out on a tight budget but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a custom piece yourself. Repurposing an old sideboard as a vanity can add character and bring a sense of history to the room. The total vanity height should sit somewhere around the 850mm mark so knowing if the basin will be inset or mounted is essential before you make the purchase, otherwise it could end up being too tall. Talk with your builder before you go down this path so they can advise if the piece is going to work or not! Stick to chrome fittings to ease the budget and try to use fittings from the same line to bring continuity to the bathroom.

Storage.
Even on small budgets, include good storage to keep the bathroom from looking messy; you’ve worked hard to get a designer look so don’t undo it because there’s nowhere to store all the necessities! At a minimum ensure the vanity and shaving cabinet has storage and use smaller storage containers to easily access items from within (that should stop you from leaving everything out on the bench!). If the layout and budget allows, incorporate additional bulk storage through built-in cabinetry. One storage item I would recommend is the shower niche - for this I would say make the budget stretch because it will change your life!

Lighting.
Good lighting elevates the ritual of bathing. Choose up-down IP44 rated wall sconces and position them either side of the shaving cabinet to give you subtle mood lighting. I guarantee you’ll be flicking that light switch rather than the overhead downlights because of the mood it sets in the space. Although a little more expensive, IP44 rated light fittings were traditionally quite unattractive, however, because of their increased popularity there are some beautiful budget friendly options now available.

By Kathryn Trentini, Trentini Design

My ensuite/bathroom is very small, how can I make it look larger?

Working on small spaces is always interesting because it challenges the designer to become creative, to think outside the box and to adapt ideas from grand proportions, all with the aim of appearing effortless. The key to good design in a small space is to remove visual clutter and incorporate considered items with a minimal palette of materials and colours. This doesn’t mean your bathroom will be boring, it just means restraining the palette to achieve a better sense of space.

Plan it well
Don’t renovate a small bathroom or ensuite before you’ve done your space planning! Larger spaces can be a little more forgiving, however, make one wrong move in a small space and it's a disaster akin to a volcano erupting! Pinterest and Google will give you plenty of ideas on planning for a small bathroom so researching some of the best uses for the shape of your room is going to give you a really good head start to the project. Use graph paper to draw out your space first and then baking paper over the top to draw out as many ideas as you want until you come to the right solution. Swap out swing doors for a cavity slider to gain as much space as possible within the room.

Natural light is your best friend.
To make a small space appear larger definitely look at how much natural light is available to the small bathroom. If you need to add a larger window, skylight or light well then do so because natural light is going to help the space feel lighter and larger.

Image Credit: Photography Anthea Williamson.

Look to the ceiling.
If you can add volume to the room, even though the footprint remains the same, it will improve the sense of space in the small bathroom immediately. Yep, I’m talking about a pitched ceiling line here! Chat with your builder about the ceiling line following the roof line to add volume to the room.

Hang it from the wall.
A wall hung vanity and WC adds clearance underneath the fittings and gives the appearance of space as the eye travels over the room. Likewise, use a wall mixer tap and recess the shaving cabinet to pull back a tiny bit of space to the room. Incorporate a shower niche into the wall cavity and a frameless shower screen as both will remove any visual clutter in the bathroom and give you the sense of space you’re after.

By Kathryn Trentini, Trentini Design

I want my bathroom to look bold and creative, what should I focus on?

The dream of any designer is being given free reign by clients to go bold and get creative! Layering a well curated mix of materials is really the key to achieving a bold design that is both impactful and cohesive at the same time. You’ll want to have an eye for detail and the creativity to use materials in unusual applications because bold and creative goes way beyond choosing tiles, so get ready for some hard decisions!

Materials matter.
The number of materials you bring into the space is going to dictate the feel you’re creating. You can choose one outrageously amazing material, think a heavily veined maroon marble, and use this to add a depth of richness that oozes luxury or you can choose several materials and layer them to achieve the same result. If you opt for the second idea then take the stand-out material and take reference from this to choose the other materials and colour palette from this. If the budget allows you to use these materials throughout the entire bathroom then great! Otherwise, concentrate around the vanity area for the biggest impact.

Check your patterns.
If the above makes you feel a little faint - because that can be a little exxy! - there are other ways to achieve a bold and creative look. Layering is still the key here, it's just applied in a different way. Coloured grout, patterned tiles, coloured concrete basins, coloured vanities, patterned wallpapers, overscaled mood lighting and the list goes on. Whatever you add to the design, it should add punch to the design. No wimps allowed here! If you go bold you have to go bold the whole way. There’s no halfway point if you want the design to look complete, cohesive and intentional. If the budget allows you to use your palette through the entire bathroom then great, otherwise concentrate on tiles and the vanity area.

Image Credit: Photography Anthea Williamson.

Single colour.
An alternative to layering rich materials is to create a monotone space. Not one for the faint-hearted, think about having the tiles, tapware, basins and other joinery being custom coloured into a single colour. You can add subtlety through varying tones but you’ll want the colour choice to be obvious. Pastels and rich, deep colours alike will give you the bold and creative look you’re after. Crazy? Nay, bold!

Outdoors.
Natural light into the bathroom immediately brightens and adds comfort to any bathroom. But what if you could look up into the night sky while bathing? Installing a skylight or fixed glass ceiling into the shower or over the bath elevates the design and creates a whole level of enchantment otherwise not experienced. The same can be said for a shower or bath area that protrudes out into a lush garden. Installed with discreet mood lighting of course! Or if privacy isn’t an issue, an oversized picture window to frame the bath is quite magical, and just think you might even spot a shooting star!

By Kathryn Trentini, Trentini Design