Customising your bathroom for the ladies, a bachelor pad or in the art of zen.
For the Mademoiselle
The key word to remember when developing this look is ‘soft’. Whether you choose the prettiest pink, something softly sage-green or a smoky-blue colour theme it needs to work well with an undercurrent of very pale neutrals. Start with white or cream and build from there. The palest, limewashed wood makes the perfect material for cabinetry doors, which can be complemented with similarly-treated wooden flooring for a more rustic look or polished limestone or even creamy marble if you prefer a glossier style. A fluffy rug on the floor works to soften the room, as do generously sweeping curtains or ethereal swathes of semi-opaque fabric draped over the mirror. This style of decorating lends itself to plenty of accessories, so feel free to overindulge at your favourite homewares shop! Crystal creates old-world charm and can be used for candle holders, vases, light fittings or glistening vessels which offer up an abundance of body lotions, antique jewellery or cotton balls. Painted wrought iron adds a feminine touch and can be used to craft swirling candlabras, chandeliers, door handles, simple furniture pieces and the loveliest of shower and bath caddies. Plenty of the softest linen – robes, towels and facewashers – in delicate shades can be draped or piled and create a relaxed but decorative effect when topped with a bunch of silk flowers, a handful of bathbombs or a set of matching candles, ready to burn. Old-fashioned touches might include perfume bottles, antique jewellery boxes, a silver-topped powder bowl and an array of randomly positioned boxes. Hang a chandelier over the bath and finish with an over-abundance of candles to give the room a softly glowing light.
The Bachelor Pad
The bachelor pad bathroom is built on a foundation of strong tones, bold finishes and the best in quality fittings and fixtures. Many different bathrooms can lend themselves to this look, but the most successful will be those who aren’t afraid to invest in top-of-the-range materials. Chocolate-brown marble makes a stunning choice for the benchtop, as would a stark white marble or a glossy black granite. Cabinetry doors look great in well-polished tones with plenty of depth, such as a jarrah timber or a moulded laminate or polyurethane.
Stainless steel and chrome can be used to create a more modern look, contrasting with the deep tones of the fittings. Think towel rails, shaving mirrors – wall mounted or freestanding – tapware and toiletry holders. Richly-toned fabrics and adornments can also help to transform the room from bland to bold. An elegant table runner can make an attractive base for regularly used items to be displayed in full view, while simple decorations like a deftly placed tassel can dress up the towel rail without making it look tizzy.
Choose quality accessories like soap dishes and storage jars in deeply-glazed porcelain, or look for genuine antique pieces which might co-ordinate with the metal you have chosen for handles and decorative pieces. Metal-based urns, sculptures and statues add an air or sophistication and can work well with framed prints or photos. A personalised trinket box and traditional shaving set will finish off the room to perfection.
The Art of Zen
The combination of stone and water is such a popular theme that over the years bathroom supply companies have developed a vast array of nature’s finest materials with ever-improving technological advances. No longer is the choice between white marble or cream marble!
The astute renovator can sample everything from limestone, slate, ceramics and riverstones to be honed, polished, left au natural or embedded in resin and treated with everything from high-gloss varnishes, anti-fungal agents or waterproofing.
The main thing to remember when deciding on the material for your Art of Zen foundation is flow. Consider using the same material for the wall and floors, and even extending it to the benchtop depending on the qualities of your chosen surface. If it is not possible to use the same material, try to match the colour or texture to enhance the overall continuity of the design. Wooden cabinet doors are an obvious choice, but subtly-coloured polyurethane doors can blend well with a number of finishes, as can frosted or recycled glass.
Bowls and platters create the perfect place to make an offering to the bathroom gods. Soaps made from freshly-harvested fruit and flowers make an aromatherapeutic centrepiece as do beautifully-packaged blocks of amber or a generous scattering of pot pourri.
Sculpted jugs, bowls and jars in organic shapes are ideal for storing a handful of toothbrushes or a packet of cotton buds, while wicker baskets are the best way to display magazines or a fresh presentation of towels. A large glass urn filled with water and decorated with candles makes a relaxing lighting option for whiling away the hours in a bubbling spa, and the liberal use of loose riverstones also adds a sublimely natural touch.