It’s all about wellness

Design>in Living - Bathrooms

Much like the concept of the open plan kitchen, that has been an essential part of our lives for some time now, the bathroom has finally ‘come out of the closet’. The contemporary bathroom has evolved from being merely a functional space, it’s become a place to revive body and soul. Spaciousness is in vogue, with many ‘bathrooms’ becoming an integral part of the bedroom. This being so, it’s now more important than ever to remove clutter and unsightly mess.

Storage cabinets come in a wide variety of styles and shapes and the retro look of basins poised atop exquisitely lacquered or naturally sealed wooden units is still popular.

“In decorating your bathroom, it’s important to pay attention to the little things,” says Jenny Boon of Red Moon Interiors, suppliers of exclusive new and antique Chinese décor. “Tacky old washing baskets do nothing to improve the atmosphere, nor do bottles and medicines lying around everywhere. A gorgeous wooden Chinese rice bucket, ancient Oriental water buckets and food baskets make great holders for loo rolls and magazines. For medicines and cosmetics, the medicine cabinets used by the ancient Chinese apothecaries are perfect as they have a multitude of tiny drawers that create the ideal storage and they add a little history to your bathroom.”

When it comes to sanitary ware, baths are a focal point, chosen as much for making a statement as for their functionality. Following the eco-trend, taps and washbasins have taken on organic shapes to fit more with the moods of nature.

Self-contained shower cubicles with all their bells and whistles still have a place in the lap of luxury, although in general, showers have become more spacious and even more seamless, with a mosaic or tiled floor blending with the surrounding bathroom flooring. The result is that showers are more visible and are no longer an afterthought. This means that nowadays the tiles for the shower are as important if not more important than the other bathroom tiles: if a shower is the main feature of a bathroom, it is accentuated by using decorative tiles or making patterns using different colors. Showerheads have become design pieces that are multifunctional, with a choice of massage jet and standard flow options, while the more sophisticated models go as far as incorporating lights and music to complement the jets for a perfect result.

For the rest of the bathroom, the tiles and wall cladding are likewise more decorative, adding texture and built-in art as an integral part of the wall finish.

“The minimalism of the past few years has given way to what is referred to as ‘neo-baroque’ and ceramic tiles – through flamboyant colors, curvaceous patterns and extreme sizes, are reviving the splendor of the decorative arts of Europe’s seventeenth century,” says Frieda Tugnoli of Italtile. “Designs are being inspired by florals and damask fabrics. The purity and straight lines of the last few years have been replaced by figurative floral motifs and metallic leaves. Colors are dramatic, with a predominance of black and white along with tones of reds, greens, turquoises and even gold and silver.”

Lighting and mirrors are all-important in the contemporary bathroom, along with an adequate supply of natural daylight. Lighting must be well positioned, particularly around mirrors – there’s nothing more annoying than trying to shave or apply make-up with inadequate lighting that casts shadows in all the wrong places! Good lighting controlled by a dimmer switch provides a versatile solution, with at least one large mirror strategically positioned to add depth to the room.

A simple daybed is another accessory that goes down well in the new bath space. It can be used for laying out clothes while bathing and for home treatments, such as waxing, manicures and pedicures, or simply for reading in this serene soul-space.

For a little privacy at the right times, beautifully carved wooden room dividers are a wonderful way to divide the space in a non-permanent way. When not in use, they can be hung against a wall or in front of a window as part of the decorations. An indoor water feature and a variety of indoor plants will enhance the mood, along with special nooks for candles, flowers and incense.

Slightly controversial in these days of power-saving is the addition of underfloor heating and heated towel rails. For the ultimate indulgence, these luxuries can make a world of difference to the comfort of the bathroom, although a comfy rug and a gas heater, while not as chic, will probably go a long way towards making you feel pampered and special.

Article by: Bev Hermanson - www.designmagazine.co.za