These blissful spaces prove that bathrooms don’t have to be a bore. Just look at it as an extension of your personal style and create a bathroom with serious chemistry
Why be basic when you can be extra? This bathroom elevates traditional elements such as the classic combination of white and brass, vanity mirrors as well as old-school basins by combining them with show-stopping features that include: a custom-designed XXL round mirror; contemporary hexagonal tiles; and bare bulbs hung from cord cables that, creatively, have been positioned on the wall with bespoke brass supports rather than being suspended more conventionally from the ceiling.
* Mirrors in bathrooms, strategically positioned, will make the space feel bigger and lighter.
* A niche recessed into the wall and hung with floating shelves is a space saver as well as an eye-catching architectural feature.
* Maximise storage wherever you can. Here, open brass shelves form part of the basins and provide space for bath and hand towels.
* A round tray can easily be converted into a quirky, compact table that’s ideal for the bathroom – a simple DIY job using hairpin or wooden furniture legs.
SHADES OF GREY
Old meets contemporary meets futuristic in this striking bathroom that boldly places grey on grey on grey. Glossy subway tiles and a painted concrete floor look unexpectedly fresh in combination with vintage-style pressed ceiling panels (who needs wallpaper!) that lend texture and pattern. The interplay of old and new is taken to the next level here: an antique walnut plant stand and ornate period lights (given an update with white paint) as well as the nostalgic aesthetic of the pressed panels act as a bold counterpoint to the fluid curves and ultramodern design of Patricia Urquiola’s Pear vanities for Agape.
* Introduce gloss and matt surfaces for a mood that is very of-the-moment. This nifty style trick also creates a sense of layering and energy in a space where colour has been purposely edited down.
* The introduction of pops of colour – in the form of an art print and indoor plants – as well as natural wood lends warmth and personality.
* Revive second-hand Victorian brass wall sconces and other period lighting with a coat of paint in fresh white or be bold with colour.
The North African influence remains a magic formula for statement bathrooms as is evident in this breath-taking steam and shower room. The main event is, of course, the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling tessellated Zellige tiles in lapis blue with their subtle variations in texture and colour. Restraint in the design details – a simple timber-framed glass door, brass light and shower fittings and a dramatic marble basin and polished stone shelf, set low to the ground – ensures the finished look is classic and contemporary, never gimmicky.
* Creating a bathroom on a budget? Invest in just one ‘wow’ piece – a show-stopping basin, a beautiful light or a tiled or wallpapered feature wall – and keep the rest of your fittings and decorations simple, minimalist and timeless.
* Wet/steam rooms require ample ventilation.
* While there’s nothing quite like the real thing, photo-real vinyl stickers are effective in cheating the North African-inspired tiled look.
BACK TO BASICS
If ever there was the perfect marriage of restrained industrial cool and free-form organic spirit then this bathroom is it. Every element is perfectly curated for functionality as well as aesthetic balance: from the precise lines of the bespoke black galvanized steel shelves set against creamy white, artfully imperfect Zellige tiles to a collection of apothecary bottles filled with scented bath salts and the untamed arrangement of air plants hung from a metal chandelier frame. Large white marble floor tiles and a tree stump table further enhance this union of nature and machine-made, rustic and modern.
* Air plants are ideally suited to the steamy bathroom environment, not to mention those who need their living accessories to be low-maintenance.
* Beware of overcrowding. A space like this calls for decorative restraint to allow the balance to be maintained and the beauty of the features – the tiles, bespoke shower fixture and shelving – to stand out.
* An all-white palette will be given grounding and modernity by interjections of black, living greenery as well as coloured glass, in this instance the warm amber of apothecary-style bottles.
In this bathroom, the juxtaposition of texture and finishes delivers major character and visual interest. A modern, dramatic overall effect is created by polished stone countertops, square tiles, a glossy concrete floor, ornate glass wall sconce lights and curvaceous, oversized basins contrast against an exposed stone wall, painted white, a distressed oversized mirror, chunky exposed ceiling beams and smaller details such as a rough-cut stone stand for soap and body products in the shower zone.
* A reflective floor can effectively serve to bounce natural light.
* It’s not always necessary to tile an entire wall, which in turn will save on costs. As this space demonstrates, a large section of tiled wall suffices in the shower zone, the remaining wall acting as a frame.
* Think about shape when creating contrast: the square tiles in the shower area connect visually with the mirror, their differing textures amplifying the interplay between rough and smooth, old and new.
Unique details, layered textures and a rich, warm palette give this space its inviting character. The ruggedness of the raw brick wall has been exaggerated by a distressed finish and, while it is the main architectural feature, it harmoniously aligns with the raw concrete that makes up the rest of the flat surfaces. Vibrant plants with reflective, waxy leaves and the high-sheen copper ball-and-claw tub provide a smooth, glossy contrast to the rustic textures. Furniture, accessories and fittings bring a touch of nostalgia and individuality, the end result being the antithesis of showroom sterility.
* The bathtub has bee slightly raised on a tiled platform, drawing the eye and introducing a sense of architectural layering.
* Indoor tropical plants thrive in a steamy bathroom environment but remember that natural light is still important to their wellbeing.
* A plumbed enamel basin on a converted dresser makes for a beautiful and unique bathroom vanity.
In an open-plan bedroom, the bathroom zone has been defined by a raised concrete platform. The industrial-style glass and steel shower cube is a showstopper, the restrained glamour of the space enhanced by elegant details such as tessellated Zellige tiles, an oak bathroom vanity, a shell chandelier, a large framed mirror and decorative ladder used for towels rather than hooks. The limited colour palette gives the area a clean, fresh look.
* Take a note from the stylists and lean decorative items such as mirrors, artworks and ladders instead of affixing them to the wall – it’s called casual chic, darling!
* You can never have enough baskets in the bathroom (or your home, for that matter): larger ones will work as a laundry basket while smaller baskets can store everything from cotton wool and plasters to toiletries, make-up and hair accessories.
BAROQUE AND ROLL
What at first seems to be a traditional bathroom space reveals itself have a modern edge thanks to contemporary drop-pendant lighting, a beautiful gold side table with a delicate profile and a deep Victorian-style ball-and-claw-foot bathtub that has been updated with a coat of glossy graphite-hued paint. The carved framed mirror – an antique shop find – is a dramatic focal piece and connects visually with the ornately framed portrait by South African artist Andrew Putter from his African Hospitality series.
* Indulgence and functionality don’t have to exist separately in a bathroom situation. Introduce elements such as beautiful lighting, a feature rug and a striking piece of furniture for a feels-like-home statement.
* As long as a bathroom is well-ventilated and light, there is not reason not to introduce a few artworks. Just make sure they are not in the direct line of bathtub or basin steam.
* Engineered hardwood has the look and feel of solid hardwood flooring and, under certain conditions, can work well in a bathroom that is properly ventilated, not overly humid or prone to frequent flooding (kids, we’re looking at you!).
PALE & INTERESTING
A monochromatic scheme makes this bathroom feel poised and contemporary. While simplicity reigns, there is still plenty of interest: from the contrast of the shiny tiles with the matt finish of the bagged stone floor and main walls to the play of angular shapes (the taps and bespoke black metal cupboard) versus round (the mirrors, basins and pendant lights). The basin stand – made from reeds that have been lashed together and set on bespoke white-painted steel legs – is an unusual choice of material but effective in injecting an element of texture and warmth.
* Play with shapes such as circular elements in rectangular rooms. Round mirrors and curvaceous vessels are a good starting point.
* When limiting colour it’s still possible to create interest with contrast – think matt vs glossy and sleek vs tactile.
* To keep a monochromatic palette fresh and modern, curate your colours carefully and stick with blacks and whites that have the same tonal depth.
PRETTY IN PINK
Don’t shy away from all-over colour in a small bathroom or washroom. As well as enlivening the space, colourful walls will deflect attention from any design shortfalls. Pink, a shade that has crossed the line from accent colour to full-on classic, is a fun, lively and fresh choice.
* Repurpose an office drawer by painting it a fashionable shade to use as a quirky bathroom storage unit.
* When not in use, leave the bathroom door open: a pop of bright colour adds joy to a home when it catches the eye, especially in a small space.
* Take your passion for colour to the next level and extend the wall colour onto the bathroom door, both inside and out.