Of all the rooms in the house, the bathroom is where we have always ventured the most design daring.
Chrome, jets, Italian whip lash curves, all those glittering, high-end hard surfaces — we’re not about to throw in the towel (well, not unless it’s a high thread count, Egyptian cotton).
With luxuriant comfort and keen performance, the Irish bathroom must remain flush with style whatever the economic weather.
Loos and basins are being re-drawn to deliver a rimless whole. Causing an involuntary cramp to the underparts and a flurry of surprise in design circles, Noken Mode, from Porcelanosa, features vivid poster paint colours and wafer this rims and lids, with a frisson of period Art Deco opulence.
Having ripped a roll holder from the wall in confusion in a Paris hotel in an attempt to flush, I would need a certificate course to get water out of the Mode’s digital spout on the tulip-shaped basin.
Still, it remains curiously elegant. Designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners, and Luis Vidal +Architects, Mode drew gasps at a concept showing at 100% Design in London last month.
The team at Ideal Standard here in Ireland, who take a keen interest in our most private moments, assure me that the styling is all for our own good and not simply aesthetic flair:
“It’s an influence from commercial circles,” according to Robin Levin’s hotly anticipated 2014 market predictions.
“There’s now a marked trend towards rimless sanitary ware in the home. They are easier to clean, and combined with a specialist type of glaze they reduce bacteria.”
Expect to see trimmed down rims, integrated counters and basins, and anti-bacterial surfaces in the more sophisticated end of the showroom, running downhill to the rest of us in the coming seasons.
Taking off another edge, you’ll notice low profile shower trays are becoming standard for enclosures and wet rooms. If you want a tiled-in tray, ensure it’s perfectly balanced to the delivery rate of the shower and tanked perfectly by a very good plumber as this is a vulnerable area for cunning leaks and annoying over-flows.
The re-imagining of existing rooms is driving clever space saving for the standard bathroom revamp, maintaining a sleek horizon of uninterrupted, floating white ware. Unless you’re a towel roller, unguarded metres of open shelving will just annoy. Save hooks and shelving for the most attractive items.
Ikea’s new Ragrund pieces include two lithesome, bamboo corner units, ideal for slipping into lazy unused nooks from €24. Insist on disguise and logic for those 300 plastic bottles.
Argos’ Padstow Bay range in chunky woven fronts is a steal in country classic, and includes a white unit to make use of that intolerable waste of room under a pedestal sink. €72.
Most modular ranges come with mix and match selection, so rather than boxing yourself in with one piece, introduce mirrored areas, glass, veneers and open shelving.
Vary the volume, size, shape and depth, of built-in cabinetry, a designer standard for keeping things interesting, practical, and tight to the wall where needed.
With floor space at a premium, shallow depth and vertical thrust is vital in most floor mounted cabinets. Tall legged cabinets take their cue from our enduring love of mid-century styles, slender metal ankles on show.
Frankly, I’ve been shocked at the light, tinny profile of some plastic cabinet work, tacked onto sinks in particular. If it’s carrying a ding on the showroom floor, walk away. PVC-style cabinetry might be wipe-down and maintenance free but it’s impossible to repair, and can add as much as €150 to a bog standard sink.
The bath is likely to see little use in many family homes from 2014, but if you’re installing afresh, see what you can get behind that formerly entombed area under the bath by framing out a simple cupboard door dropping down from the top edge of the bath’s longest side and hinged at the base. Storage pockets fixed on the inside face of the panel can carry a legion of products.
Kitchen storage and bathroom storage solutions are often interchangeable.
We applaud B&Q’s suggestion for ergonomic pull-out larder cabinets in the bathroom for as little as €267.
Dressing the bathroom has come on in leaps and bounds in terms of affordability and there’s a full-on charge back to colour. Even where funds are low, you can have a frolic too. Using a feature stand-alone coloured cabinet, joyful blocks of what you fancy can supplement all that pure white and monochrome.
Add a supporting chorus with towel colours. If you have a stark white cabinet you’re tiring of, a prime and re-spray of even drawer or door sections can ring the changes for about €30 for Plastikote products. Give up mashed, greyed out rags, tearing them up for good polishing clothes and replace them as one whole with a suite of towels in complimentary colours. Mix up two solid shades or white bath towels with a stripe, wide or slim in the same colour family for hand, guest sizes.
If the blind in the bathroom is exhausted, that’s a quick update for a relatively small window. Try Tuiss (www.tuiss.ie) for self-installed rollers from €34.80. They have a strong palette of those popular urban sophisticated cement greys in the Habitat collection, and we love the Element Deep Teal, still a leading hue for this year and next.
If there are sections of walls left un-tiled (and your grout is suitably sparkled up with a mash of baking soda and lemon juice) what about a new paint job? Few bathrooms survive more than two years of use and humid abuse without needing a freshen with a good anti-microbial, humidity-sloughing emulsion from around €15 per litre.
If you’re pining for the Art Deco look prowling the showrooms, one deep grey wall, teamed to clean white ware, a great jazzy mirror (look for Greek Key and other 20s motifs) set with plump monochrome towels, is clean and crisp as a starched shirt front.
Wall brackets to take dedicated lights on either side of the mirror says Moviola in a flattering whisper.