How to create a home spa- some clever planning it can really pack a punch
The bathroom may be one of the smallest rooms in the house, but with some clever planning it can really pack a punch when it comes to interior design. It's fun to be brave in the bathroom and try bold wallpaper and bright paint colours - combinations that you might be wary to try elsewhere in the home.
Want a bathing area that's welcoming and serene? Then drawing design inspiration from nature is a great way to infuse your bathroom space with a calming vibe. Spas and hotels often use wood and stone to create a natural and organic atmosphere and it works wonderfully well at home.
"The spa feel is very much the desire," says Dave O'Shea of ODOS Architects. "The 'away from home' look of the hotel suite or spa is something people want right now."
Bathroom design trends currently include hotel and spa styles, nautical looks and nostalgic retro designs. A marble-clad bathroom is the ultimate in luxury and looks amazing with monochrome fittings. Interior designer Eoin Lyons, of Lyons Kelly, often uses marble in his designs but, increasingly, also receives requests for more unusual colours, more richly veined slabs and exotic variations, such as green onyx or pink quartz.
"Frequently, we combine marble with wood panelling to soften the atmosphere," Eoin says. "There's a desire for more glamorous bathrooms and marble helps create that effect. The key is careful use - a vanity counter or shower area is often enough, but it's the particular slab that dictates where it's placed."
For the best suppliers in marble, Eoin recommends Leinster Stone in Kilkenny, Miller Brothers in Wicklow and Paul O'Neill in Ballyogan.
"You can visit their premises and see amazing slabs, which will form the starting point for your bathroom scheme," he suggests. "Tiles and other materials should take their cue from the colours."
Time to spring clean
Before you get to work on renovating, take a good look at your bathroom products and work out what you use and what's been sitting there for years on the off-chance that it might come in handy one day. 'Edit' your lotions and potions and keep only the essentials next to your basin, bath or shower - it's amazing just how much extra space you'll gain. Consider using neat pump-action products that can be stored in a tray, or, for a more eco-friendly alternative, decant liquid soap and shampoo into dispensers that can be used again and again.
On the shelf
Space is usually at a premium in the bathroom, so make sure to optimise your storage. Fitted cabinets that sit neatly under sinks, peg rails for towels and lots of shelving to stash away all those bathroom necessities are essential to create a relaxed bathroom haven. Made-to-measure shelves make maximum use of space in a small bathroom. Consider what you want to store before you get out the DIY tools or, better still - if you have the budget - commission a joiner to build the shelving. Open shelves are great for displaying towels and bottles of smellies, but make sure they are neatly stored.
The muted shade of this Sage green painted panelling by Little Greene Paints, pictured right, feels bang on trend. This sleek spa-style bathroom designed by ODOS Architects, below, combines sleek surfaces with mirrored cabinets. "There have been great advancements in sanitary ware in the last few years with more of a unit type feel to them," says Dave O'Shea of ODOS. "Even entry level models are equipped beyond the previous basic provisions."
Bright white is light, clean and just right in a whole host of bathroom looks. Minimalists love it most, but for almost everyone it is a great place to start - especially as most bathroom furniture is already white. The trick is to balance all that whiteness with a little texture, adding some hints of colour and a few surprises. Fluffy towels add a touch of luxury while dark grouting contrasted against metro tiles looks ultra cool. To make the look feel less stark, try adding some plants such as succulents - you'll find a great selection in Ikea - to add shape and vitality. Then light up a scented candle.
Add a splash of colour to an all white bathroom with these gorgeous Spectrum towels by Christy, below, from €9, available from Arnotts.
Black and white is a bathroom classic and, when used cleverly, is perfect for just about any bathroom design, from the traditional to the cool and contemporary. Black, of course, makes all the bathroom furniture stand out wonderfully. However, think about the balance of black and white - more black lends itself well to bachelor-pad style, while more white gives you more flexibility.
For the ultimate in monochrome decadence, splash out on the glamorous Atlantic Freestanding bath by Fired Earth, which has been painted in Top Hat. Made from enamelled cast iron, €5,405.85. For more details, contact Fired Earth's Dun Laoghaire showroom, 01 663 6160; firedearth.com.
We love the sleek black marble tiles in this ultra-cool bathroom designed by ODOS Architects.
If you're worried that monochrome may feel too stark, consider grey or sage green, which can bring serious sophistication to the bathroom - particularly if you use some varying shades. And if you love the look of über-cool hotel bathrooms filled with dark slate and dark grey granite and other moody shades, then why not move to the dark side at home. "Our experience at present is a move towards much moodier bathroom set-ups - dark rich palettes," says Dave O'Shea of ODOS Architects. "We are doing a lot of marble finishes in both pinks and blacks with lots of brass, steering away from stainless steel."
New England style
Muted colours such as rich off-whites and light, uplifting blues combined with stylish panelling are the basis of New England design. Wide pine floorboards are perfect. Adding in some stripes - in a blind or painted onto a well - and some chinoiserie would be an authentic touch, as it was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries on the American East Coast.