Bathing has been fashionable since the 3rd century and yet, for some reason, most modern bathrooms are squeezed into the tiniest spot available, often without even a window to relieve the gloom, and the ensuing mould.
Househunters will regularly rule out a possible purchase because the bathroom was so grotty, although countless surveys have found that revamping it can add up to 20 per cent of the value of your property.
So it’s time to take a tip from the Greeks. And the Romans. And the Japanese come to that. And don’t forget the Turks. They all knew a thing or two about bathing and while we’re not suggesting you add Doric columns and solid gold fixtures, it might be time to think about creating the perfect bathroom. It’s not complicated, it will enhance your life, add money to your house and help it to sell when the time comes. It’s not the economy stupid – it’s the bathroom.
Now most of us can’t do anything about the size, and it’s probably not a good idea to sacrifice a bedroom, unless you’ve got at least five, in which case turning the smallest into an ensuite will always be a good idea, says Spencer Cushing, manager of John D Wood’s Battersea branch.
“In the three to four bed market, it’s not cost efficient to turn a bedroom into a bathroom. If you need another bathroom then you need to look up – to the loft. Loft conversions add more value than any other form of home improvement for the money they cost.
“Nine times out of ten, an en-suite shower in the largest bedroom is the most cost and space effective way of adding value.” Although he cautions that in the current market, it’s not worth putting in a new bathroom for sale purposes. “People like to do their own bathrooms and while a bad bathroom may not help your sale it probably isn’t a deal breaker,” he says. “It’s better to do your bathroom the way you want it and you will get the money if and when you decide to move.
So for most of us, creating the perfect bathroom is about clever space-saving tips in the area we’ve already got.
Georgina Spencer of Roca UK says: “The bathroom is one of the key value adding areas within the home despite the fact that its average size has remained unchanged for many years.
“You need to look carefully at products such as corner basins, back to wall WCs and wall-hung designs as they make maximum use of the space available. A really great basin can make a good focal point in the room and show off a bit of style and you should invest in good quality taps. Most taps now offer water saving devices so will save you money in the long term.”
It has also been said that having his and hers basins is the key to a successful relationship.
One of the key elements to consider in a bathroom is the storage. There’s always masses of clutter in there and yet it will be much more appealing if it isn’t full of plastic bottles.
Fitting a back-to-the-wall loo means you can put shelves above it. Consider a cupboard under the basin and if you can inset the bathroom cabinet into the wall, it will give a more stream-lined appearance while giving you ample storage for all that stuff.
If for whatever reason, you can’t fit a shower door and need to have a curtain then try and find one made from anti-mould fabric. Pret a Vivre’s mould resistant material comes in either cream or oatmeal and costs £26m. It’s also good for outdoor cushions as it’s fade-proof too but will be perfect in the bathroom for either shower curtains or window blinds.
Monochrome is always a strong theme in bathrooms and you can now buy black taps to contrast with your white bath. You can now also buy wallpaper for bathrooms which will make a really dramatic statement with the black and white taps.
Nina Campbell is also a fan of monochrome. “The most typical colours for a bathroom are cream, white and black (black and white marble is a lovely combination). Marble tiles, glass and mirrors are good materials.”
Lighting, of course, is key to a good bathroom.Both Nina and Amanda Kaye, of LK Interiors, insist that you should have two lighting circuits. Nina suggests a light that comes on as soon as you enter and turns off when you leave, which will provide bright light for the functional morning ablutions as well as cater for children (who just forget to turn them off) as well as a dimmer switch for that long relaxing evening soak.
Amanda also points out that you should always test drive your bath in the showroom to make sure that it’s the right size for you to soak in.
“If you have the space, it’s nice to install a bath and a shower to give you the option of convenience and indulgence. A bathroom should be luxurious and a place to indulge yourself rather than just somewhere to wash and go.”
To that end, Georgina points out the advantage of a wetroom or walk-in area. “They’re really popular now as they don’t require a large space for installation. They offer a clean look while creating the illusion of more space because you don’t need to have shower doors opening out into the room and taking up space. They’are also easier to clean and give the appearance of a luxurious area without necessarily costing more as you don’t need to buy the shower enclosure.”
TEN STEPS TO THE PERFECT BATHROOM
Fog free mirror
Entertainment – radio, television.
Underfloor heating for when you step out of the bath
Large showerhead for really good pressure which is almost a massage
Two basins so you can have his and hers and give a feeling of luxury
Taps in the middle of the bath to give that spa feeling
Skylights if possible to give more light and feeling of space or failing that go for halogen spots to mimic daylight
Walk-in shower area to give the idea of space and luxury
Good quality towels