Picture your perfect luxury bathroom — what do you see? A large roll-top bath, a sunken tub with jets or a generous walk-in shower with overhead rainfall fittings? Or you might envisage a serene spa-inspired suite with ample space, paired-back materials and décor that invites feelings of total zen.
Whatever your vision, there are ways to design a bathroom with a luxury aesthetic that looks expensive and is a pleasure to use. But there’s a caveat: you’ve got to plan out every last detail of your modern bathroom from the very beginning. It’s all about being cohesive in your design approach and ensuring that all elements – whether architectural or the final fittings – work in total harmony.
‘Investing in the finest quality materials and pieces offers quiet luxury in an understated look,’ says Richard McGrail, CEO of modern hardware brand Armac Martin.
1. Go for top-to-toe wall coverings
Not only super practical, but elegant too, taking your wall covering – such as bathroom tiles, waterproof panels and natural stone – from the floor to the ceiling will form a coherent basis for the scheme. By using the full height of the space and dedicating it to one material, you’ll achieve a considered look that maximizes the square footage available. This is a great trick in small bathrooms as the all-over wall covering will enhance the feeling of space. Start with top-to-toe marble with intricate veining and the space will instantly look more luxurious.
‘Progressive designs and carefully chosen materials, finishes, and colours, combined with high-end technology, will stand out in any bathroom project, creating a luxurious feel,’ says Lewis Neathey, Leader of Product Management at Grohe & Lixil EMENA. ‘When creating a luxurious, spa-like bathroom at home, the color scheme is key. The aim should be to create a calming, neutral space that can be supplemented with touches of color through accessories and soft furnishings.’
Keep to a restricted color palette for a thoughtful and cohesive result and use the wall covering as a base. For example, you may like to pick up a darker shade of a marble’s vein to use as an accent elsewhere in the design.
2. Specify great storage
Nothing will make a bathroom look inexpensive more than an excess of things on show. To avoid clutter, invest in suitable storage that can house all you need, including charging points, space for electricals, toothbrushes, products and cosmetics – and don’t forget room for cleaning products, spare towels and laundry organizers.
Bespoke bathroom storage solutions will allow you to create great storage in areas that have structural quirks, such as pitched ceilings or rooms with a chimney breast. It may also be possible to recess cupboards into the void of a stud wall with the doors finished in the same material as the walls so they appear hidden at first glance.
3. Zone your bathing space
‘Luxury bathrooms move away from the typical shower head over bath set up and more frequently include wet rooms and/or freestanding baths in favour of a more open plan layout,’ says Lewis.
There’s a growing trend for creating showers or wet rooms within sectioned off areas, with the ability to fully enclose yourself within it. This can be achieved by specifying a showering area within a stud wall framework with a glazed door for entry, or even by housing the bathing area within architectural features such as an archway. A solution may be to utilize boiler cupboard or part of a walk-in wardrobe.
‘Showers tend to be the preferred option as they are much quicker and convenient, whilst still offering the relaxation factor,’ says Lewis. ‘If you do opt for a bath, freestanding tubs do provide many more design possibilities as there is space around the entire area to install fittings as desired. Floor mounted freestanding bath fillers are an elegant touch to add to a spa bathroom, and wall and deck mounted styles are also popular.’
4. Keep the floor clear
When designing a small bathroom, plan to mount the main fittings, including the basin, vanity and WC, on the wall.
‘Choosing a wall hung WC and vanity optimizes the floor area where a basin pedestal or conventional cistern would usually be,' says Lewis. 'From a planning perspective, it means you can install these fittings in any convenient place near a water source which opens up the space for other more creative decorating ideas.;
5. Do the double
A double bathroom vanity with two basins instantly adds an expensive aesthetic to a bathroom. It’s crucial to factor dimensions of this addition into a new design from the start of planning, since it will take up a significant amount of space and may require additional plumbing outlets. A long vanity along one wall will offer the space for a double arrangement and you’ll get the added benefit of plentiful storage.
Decide on your brassware early too, including whether you want fittings to be wall or deck mounted, as this will impact the dimensions of the vanity, available wall space and plumbing routes.
‘Choosing brass or bronze and suiting it across hardware, brassware, and accessories will effortlessly elevate any bathroom scheme to create an inviting and luxurious appeal,’ says Richard.
Lewis agrees: ‘Metallic finishes such as brass and copper are a great way of adding color in a subtle way and will add warmth and grandeur to the space. If working to a more industrial or monochromatic scheme, explore options of graphite or nickel for something a little more understated.’
6, Hide heating and plumbing
Keep pipework and fittings to a minimum to give the bathroom a sleek look. Technology has now facilitated concealed showering, which means almost all of the pipework of the shower system can be hidden behind a wall. This can also be achieved through wall-hung WCs when combined with slick recessed flush plates. Avoid boxing in pipework when the housing juts out of the wall creating an awkward area. Instead, plan to conceal as much as possible for a sleek finish.
When it comes to heating, electric underfloor heating is ideal for a bathroom, whether large or small. It can be easily installed atop the subfloor without the need to fit additional pipework like with a wet heating system. By placing the heating underfoot, you’ll free up wall space that would otherwise be used for a radiator, creating a refined and slick interior.
7. Layer lighting
Never an afterthought, consider bathroom lighting from the start. For an expensive aesthetic, make sure to include a combination of task and ambient designs. This may include wall lights either side of a mirror, overhead lighting and LEDs housed within plinths and recesses to accentuate the design features.
A pendant light or contemporary chandelier will elevate a bathroom to designer level and allow for the introduction of a statement feature or material, as well as adding a dose of personality.
Finally, add low-level warm lighting with motion-sensor operation that can be used at night when anyone uses the bathroom. Rather than be faced with a bright glare in the early hours, the light will automatically turn on when movement is recognised to provide a soft glow leading the path to the WC.
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Lindsay Blair is a freelance editor, writer and content consultant with a focus on home design, interiors and lifestyle. Having spent more than a decade working in the UK publishing industry, she worked her way up to become the editor of Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms magazine and now writes about all things home design for a range of national media. Follow Lindsay @lindsay__blair and check out her work at lindsayblair.co.uk.
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