Last week I told you the three most important questions you need to ask – or should that be answer – before you undertake any redecoration or refurbishment in your home. Those questions were Who, What and When and you can read it again there if you want.
Today I thought I would take you through it again in relation to one room so that you can see the difference it might make. Kitchens and bathrooms are the two rooms we really need to get right because they’re expensive to change, not to mention disruptive. After all, even Enid Cat managed to sit on the floor for a week while the chaise longue was being re-upholstered, but it’s hard living without washing and cooking facillities so it’s a job you want to do once. Or, once in terms of layout and sanitaryware. It’s easy enough to repaint walls and change towels to refresh the look but you really don’t want to be ripping it all out and starting again unless it’s really necessary.
So let’s start with the Who in the bathroom. My mother re-did her tiny bathroom about ten years ago. She had decided that due to low blood pressure and a tendency to faint, she would rather not climb in and out of a bath anymore and she wanted a walk-in shower.
She was persuaded by the fitter that she should absolutely not get rid of the bath as it would affect resale value. Despite the fact that, as she put it, she has no intention to ever sell (that being forecast as my problem not hers). This meant that she had room for a small walk-in shower across the corner. Which meant, in turn, that she had to have a corner loo. And the tiniest basin you have ever seen – more of a cloakroom job really.
Now she is happy because she has a walk-in shower. But that bath lies across the end of the room taking up about a third of the floorspace and my 14yo is the only one who has ever used it in ten years and that was about five years ago.
Meanwhile, she has lived with it being unsatisfactory for the last ten years and is planning on using it for at least another twenty and it will never be quite right for her.
So the Who is vital. Because you shouldn’t decorate your house for the people who may come along and buy it in ten years time. Because it’s you who lives there now. And if those people love everything else about your house except for the lack of a bath then they can put one back in can’t they?
Of course the advice is usually that you should keep the bath, but more and more of us take showers nowadays. If you live in a two bedroom flat that is probably not a family house then taking out the bath and putting in a big shower might be the best solution. We are lucky enough to have three bathrooms – one has a double shower in it and no bath – that’s for the teenage boys. In our en suite we have a small free-standing bath which serves remarkably well as a towel holder and jean draper. When we converted the loft we decided to put a bath up there as it would be the only full-size bath in the house. It has been used five times in three years.
So ask yourself this: WHO is using this bathroom? A family of four rushing in and out in the morning? A bath is useful for evening relaxation and small children. So perhaps a shower over the bath is the best solution? A working couple? Fit the biggest shower you can afford. Maybe even add two shower heads. And I’ll just leave that there, although I will say that if you have toddlers who are happy to shower together instead of bathe then you can stick them both in there at the same time.
So you get the picture. Now the WHAT? Yes washing obviously. But what else? Is this the place that make-up is being done? In which case you need to think about lighting. A wall light either side of the mirror and, incidentally, a heated mirror, will prevent it fogging up so you can get out of the shower and get started on that without having to wait for the steam to clear.
Spotlights in the ceiling are also vital, but make sure they are on a dimmer so that if you want a more relaxing light in the evening you have that option. I wrote in more detail about how to get the lighting right in the bathroom here.
Answering this question of WHAT will also affect any decision you make on the colour of the walls. We have painted our en suite dark grey. It’s a controversial choice for a bathroom but I love it. There is also a large window so there is plenty of natural light as well as four mirrors so bounce that light around. In addition to that I don’t do my make-up in there so it doesn’t need to be forensically light. You might need to go lighter.
Bear in mind though that the white bath, basins and ceiling will also add more light. I have a white floor and a pale grey tiled shower so the dark walls are offset by these things rather like they are in the image below.
The final question WHEN is also largely one of light which we have already dealt with and which is perhaps more important when it comes to other rooms in the house which may be used for a variety of different activities. I’m thinking of the sitting room which may need to be used for television, relaxing, eating, sitting, playing games or working but we can look at that in more detail in coming weeks.
A final word on storage in the bathroom. You will need more than you think. Include it at the start. If you don’t have much floor space then use the walls – shelves and cupboards. And talking of floor space the more you see the bigger the room looks. So a wall-mounted loo and basins are always a good idea.
If you start with these three questions and answer them honestly you will be on the way to getting the bathroom you want and need. We will look at bathroom decor next week. What sort of tiles do you want? How many mirrors do you need? What should you put on the floor? All that sort of thing.
In the meantime, if you are planning a new bathroom, sort out the who, what, when and we shall look at the how and where next week.