Splash out on bathroom renovations

Bathrooms no longer have to be modern or period, but can combine both, with heritage taps, shower heads, and towel rails added to an otherwise pared-back contemporary design, says Kya deLongchamps

TODAY’S best bathrooms are crisply detailed to the millimetre. With uninterrupted sightlines, robust, handsome materials, shameless super-showers and confident styling, this is a room you should love to visit. Some designs and features have staying power, so don’t take a bath with fleeting fashions. Go with what works to future-proof that next renovation.

Pull the Period Pleasures

Increasingly, period touches are accents in bathroom design, rather than the dominant element in a Downton Abbey downpour of style.

Heritage and modern are no longer an either/or. Pare back to an intelligently laid-out, bright, contemporary bathroom with great tiling (rectangular, mid-size ceramics indicate those 19th century, subway metropolitan brick tiles we love) and add heritage-inspired ‘jewelry’ in taps, shower heads, and toweling rails.

Sleek, no-fuss, pale colours allow these elements to sit up and be seen. Be wary of 1980s Victoriana in rope edges and gold-plating, and add some sharp, reimagined Art Deco character, instead.

Black-and-white, fiercely monochrome bathrooms can be unpleasantly dated and cold, if not carefully handled. Think about gentling all that hard surfacing with honed wood in splash-proof veneers.

Le Fleur brassware from a selection by Villery &Boch.
Le Fleur brassware from a selection by Villery &Boch.

  • Villeroy & Boch’s LaFleur brassware offers traditional, 1920s lever and cross-head deck-mounted valves, €580. Two-hole bath mixer, €2,066; suppiers nationwide. Add flash with chrome stand-alones.
  • Nostalgic Home, freestanding and wall-mounted chrome towel rails start at €22.50; Argos.

Fade to Grey

Popular taste has settled so firmly around delicate grey and stone-dark palettes that they are likely to remain a classic colour assembly for some years to come.

Grey can deliver all the bounce of white in a smaller space and it has a cool, modern presence. Bring it into your bathroom furnishings, along with the purity of your white sanitary ware, or go to the walls in dedicated bathroom paint, to slough off humidity and mould problems.

Faux marbles and receding stone effects (fossilsed marbles are calming) are superb value, going deep into slate greys or holding off at cloudy, grey-white.

Ensure your greys work together, as the base colour can make a huge difference in natural and artificial light. Continuity, with one larger, plain tile taken to walls and floors, cranks open even smaller bathrooms.

Avila Sandy, from €360 for 60cm unit.
Avila Sandy, from €360 for 60cm unit.
  • Avila: Sandy grey has a softening wood grain we love, from €360 for a wall-hung, 60cm vanity with storage, Sonas Bathrooms nationwide.
  • In paint: Colortrend are now leading lights, and proudly Irish makers. Take a look at their stunning grey collection, from Winter’s Breath to Grey Wolf, in their high ceramic content soft sheen, €22.50 per litre.

Handle free

Where space is at a premium, overstated handles add jarring static to crisp, clean surfacing.

Again, with new eyes on an old issue, there’s room for manoeuvre. First — try recessed handles that form part of the moulded front face of the door, or you could include discreet, 1970s-style, chrome trim pulls that run the entire edges of vanity drawers.

Then, there’s a discreet pull, formed from the top edge of the cabinets — it’s popular for kitchens. This does leave a perceptible, and not unattractive, ‘shadow-gap’ for the fingers to access. Finally, there’s bump operation, closing with a caress.

Visible pulls, integrated into the fronts, are the least expensive and a great choice for most bathrooms. With bump operation and handle-free, handling is still needed, and glossy surfacing can carry nuisance marks that have to be wiped down daily.

Bauhuas Glide II in driftwood: citytiles andbathrooms.ie.
Bauhuas Glide II in driftwood: citytiles andbathrooms.ie.
  • Braviken Godmorgen: 82cm vanity with sink (no legs or tap) in gloss grey, with top trim pulls, €350, IKEA.
  • Bauhuas: Glide II range in driftwood finish with recessed-shaped pulls, POA, City Bathrooms & Tiles, Cork (Togher and North Point), Dublin and Limerick, citytilesandbathrooms.ie.

Showering takes to the floor

Few of us bought into the open, dedicated wet room. No screen meant water spattered toilet seats and pooling.

What it has delivered is the frameless walk-in shower. The best feature is the ultra-low level tray or tiling matched to floor-mounted wastes and guttering.

Again, this look is sleek and uninterrupted, and it’s gloriously easy to stroll into and use, and ideal for special needs people and for the elderly.

Splash out on bathroom renovations

Choose the right combination of tile to mineral/stone finish and the floor appears to run right into the shower. To be utterly up-to-date, while keeping a tray, go to 40mm/45mm in a stone-style finish. Walk-through sliders and centre-pivot doors are ergonomic and minimise the intrusion of a handle, or swing out and into the room.

If the threshold of the shower is very low, and the water pressure high, the flow of water out of the tray (flow rate) may need some help.

Saniflo have just introduced Showermatic pumps and complete tray/pump systems that suck the water away; saniflo.ie. Otherwise, go with a 90mm fast-flow shower waste or a more generous, 90mm up-stand.

Unidrain Highline panel.
Unidrain Highline panel.
  • 40mm-rimmed low-level Pearlstone trays in light, stone resins with an acrylic top coat, from €106, taps4less.ie.
  • Complete wetroom kits (for your plumber) can included linear drains like the one shown right, which is guttered between wall and tray are available from Unidrain to create a sleek, modern look with easy clean and easy drainage design features.


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