Interior designer Sara Cosgrove has tubs of ideas to make your bathroom a haven of relaxation
A roll top bath provides a focal point, while colourful tiles can inject some fun to your bathroom
My bathroom is arguably my favourite room in the house. It’s the perfect place to get the energy levels going at the start of a day or to relax and unwind in a deep bath following a long week. When designing a bathroom, the small things matter.
Make your brief
The first thing to do is plan your brief. Start by asking yourself, what do you want to achieve with this space? What are its limitations, such as size, location, and so on?
Not everyone, unlike the rich and famous above, has the luxury of acres of space. You may want a giant tub to soak in on weekends but have space for only a shower — in that case, add a bit of luxury, such as a shelf seat, to make the most of it.
Start by creating a mood board, pulling pictures from Pinterest and magazines. Decide on your direction — modern or classic — and stick with it. Trips to local showrooms will provide inspiration. Alternatively, go online to sites such as bathstoreandmore.ie to get an idea of prices.
Plan your amenities
Once you know what space you have to work with, you can select what you want in terms of amenities. Do you want a separate shower and bath, a shower over bath or a standalone shower? We are seeing a huge lean towards shower-only “bathrooms”, with clients choosing extra-large showers, often with two shower heads, rather than opting for a bath.
Check where the drainage is in your bathroom — it will be cheaper to work with the existing drainage.
Choose your fittings
Choose fittings and finishes in line with your mood board, and your bathroom will start to come together. Chrome is a nice finish as it suits lots of sanitary ware, is easy to clean and will age beautifully. Nickel or antique brass finishes will add glam but may not be so durable. For both bath and shower, install a hand shower for easy cleaning and when you don’t want to get your hair wet. Check out tilestyle.ie and waterloo.ie for good fittings.
Set the mood
Different light fittings will let you change moods. Don’t underestimate the power of a good light around the mirror for make-up and shaving. Side lighting is best; using warm LED or halogen bulbs in IP-rated fittings. Feature wall lights give style and enhance your look.
Put your lighting on a dimmer switch so, in the evening, you can change the mood when having a relaxing bath. If you are aiming for a hotel feel, add a strip light to the bottom of the vanity unit for some extra style. Check out mullanlighting.com.
Don’t forget your storage
A beautiful bathroom can add serenity to your life, and key to this is minimal clutter. Maximise storage, using under-counter cupboards, shelving and drawers. You can never have enough laundry and bottle storage. Under-sink storage is a must.
A small portable shelving unit gives a five-star hotel feel, while a ladder for extra towel storage will give you a hipster vibe in tight spaces. I love the vanities in the Duravit Luv collection by Cecilie Manz (duravit.co.uk).
Complete the look
The finishes you choose also set the tone. A tile with a fun pattern for the floor can stretch your budget a long way. If you want the five-star look, real marble will get you there. The key is to choose something not too trendy — it will date. If you do want to add colour, use paint or towels; they’ll be much easier to change. For tiles, check out bertandmay.com, millerbros.ie and porcelanosa.com.
When you’ve gone through the must-haves, think of the nice-to-haves. A large shower head, but not so large that it affects pressure (6in to 8in diameter is ideal), body jets and steam room functions are luxurious additions. Positioning the thermostat (on/off lever) away from the shower head enables you to get the water going without soaking your arm — it is a trick I use in hotel design. If you have the space and a partner, invest in a double vanity — it gives glamour through symmetry.
A roll top bath is seriously relaxing and provides a focal point. In a Tudor renovation, we used a large copper bath from Drummonds (drummonds-uk.com) in the centre, pictured. The Albion bath company and Fired Earth also have some fab options (albionbathco.com, firedearth.com).