Contemporary style can make your bathroom into a spoiling home-spa

Today’s bathrooms are lathering and lounging spaces - or at least they should be. Gabrielle Fagan taps into three contemporary styles, offering inspiration that’s bound to wash off.

Contemporary style can make your bathroom into a spoiling home-spa

Are you living the bathroom dream? The ultimate space for a wash-and-brush-up should also double up as a spoiling home-spa for relaxing — and your room is sadly lacking if it’s not offering both.

Before you take the plunge on a revamp though, it’s wise to consider the look you wish to create.

It’s all too easy to get submerged in the diverse range of styles available, from traditional to chic contemporary, and a whole lot in-between.

“In general, bathrooms are small and getting smaller, so it’s vital to make use of every inch of space,” says Robin Levien, international designer at Ideal Standard.

“One of the most popular contemporary looks is modern and minimal, but not clinical.

“We’re seeing a desire for a clutter-free room, where storage solutions keep everything, from towels to toothbrushes, out of sight until they’re needed. This helps make the area a peaceful sanctuary.”

And there’s a wide choice of styles out there, but here are three looks for a beautiful bathroom

Tropical zone

Create your own little bathing paradise with sultry, exotic decor. According to Robin Levien again:

“The bathroom continues to be a key element in homes, playing a multi-purpose, multi-function role. It’s an oasis of escapism and relaxation, a place for reinvigoration, transformation, and even somewhere to pose, ponder and play.”

“Increasingly, this room’s borrowing decorative elements more traditionally found in the rest of the home, and picking up influences from the catwalk. There’s a current trend for dramatic dark colours and pattern on walls and floors, which with good lighting, can actually make a space seem bigger, as well as delivering that boutique-hotel feel.”

Decor tip: Floral patterns and bright botanical colours, like dark purple, rouge and matte greens, are set to feature strongly, as a Seventies vibe makes its mark in bathrooms. But avoid going too retro — an avocado green suite is never a good look. (But we’ll wait and see).

Splash out: Drummonds’ free-standing Spey Bath, (seen top), can be bespoke-painted to feature a lush tropical design, from £2,975/ €

Follow the theme with a palm leaf Abyss & Habidecor Feuille Bath Mat, from Amara.

Alternatively, create a more purse-friendly far-away setting with a wall done up with Indigo Tropical Wallpaper, £80 a roll, Gillian Arnold, and accessorise with Aqua Tropical Print Towels, currently reduced at Debenhams.

Indigo Tropical Wallpaper

Indigo Tropical Wallpaper

Safe harbour

Blue and white’s a classic and timeless choice for bathrooms, because it’s fresh, crisp and evokes a relaxing coastal retreat.

“It’s the subtle finishing touches which make a big difference, so consider taps and fixtures and fittings as the perfect way to refresh an existing sink or bath, and think about these carefully when choosing a new bathroom style,” says Chris Taylor, design expert at tap and shower specialists, Bristan.

“Metallic finishes, gold, brass and and copper — through to brushed steel, are popular this year. For a classic look, use a chunky mixer spout to create sleek elegance combined with traditional style. Add contrasting blue nautical-style accessories for a striking, stylish scheme.”

Decor tip:

Hotels treat furniture as interchangeable for the sleeping, living and bathing areas of a room. Keep that aesthetic with pieces which don’t shout ‘bathroom’, whether it’s a rug, dressing table or bathroom chandelier.

Splash out: Refresh a bathroom by updating taps— far cheaper than a full refit. New handles can also give a lift.

New Wave

Natural, organic materials are up-and-coming stars in the bathroom.

“Today’s best looking bathrooms feature luxurious natural materials and finishes,” says James Lentaigne, Drummond’s sales and marketing director.

“Cast iron and crisp white enamel, substantial brassware, artisan tiles, wood and wood veneers, beautifully figured marbles and plenty of glass,” he suggests. “Trends are moving away from fitted furniture towards individual free-standing pieces. For a contemporary feel, choose simple and streamlined pieces.

“There’s a new focus on lighting - the best schemes incorporate a variety of light sources, all controlled individually to suit mood.”

Decor tip: Traditional ‘brick style’ White Metro Tiles, £19.50 per square metre, create a striking look, (seen above). Lay them in a herringbone, geometric pattern using a dark grey or black grout for a contemporary edge, and play up a natural theme on the floor with Cornish Driftwood Light Tile, £4.95 each of £55 per square metre, Topp’s Tiles. Or find similar in your local tile or hardware shop.

Splash out: Dark wood furniture makes a statement in a room decorated in neutral shades, and John Lewis’ free-standing Bali range is brilliant value and good-looking too:

There’s an informal elegance to ladder storage, and there are lots of examples to be seen in all of the good bathroom and interiors shops at the moment. Clutter’s the enemy these days, so put toiletries in chevron bamboo baskets or similar Ikat patterns for a tribal/ tropical bathroom look.

Decor tip: Heatons, Dunnes Stores, Flying Tiger and Penneys all offer good value bathroom accessories that can be chopped and changed at will. You can get versions of most looks mentioned here online, but be prepared to spend money on the big ticket items - like a proper tub and good taps. It will pay in the end.

More in this section


Did you miss our Virtual Event with Alison O’Connor, Aoife Moore, Clodagh Finn, Derval O’Rourke and Vicky Phelan