How to design a bathroom – expert bathroom planning and layout advice

How To Design A Bathroom

Much like planning a kitchen, when approaching how to design a bathroom you can get the ball rolling by analyzing how you use your current room, noting what works and what doesn’t. Then, look at bathroom pictures for inspiration and draw up a wish list that takes into account all potential users, their individual needs and imagine how these might change in the future. For instance, a family bathroom will usually require a bath, hardwearing and splash proof surfaces, while a master bathroom or en-suite can afford to be a bit more luxurious.

How Do You Plan A New Bathroom Layout?

As there are so many bathroom layout ideas to choose from, how you plan your new bathroom layout will depend on many factors. This includes the function of the bathroom, the size, who will be using the bathroom and how often.

Let's start with the design effects that a good bathroom layout can create:

The view upon entrance: This is an important part of design, so makes a good starting point for your bathroom layout – you want to see the bath or basin first, not the toilet.

Choose one key piece: Be it a freestanding bath, heart-stopping vanity unit or a beautifully tiled shower area and build the layout around it.

Symmetrical layouts: if the room’s proportions lend themselves to symmetry, it is worth plotting a symmetrical layout, perhaps aligned with an architectural gem like an original sash window.

Make space: ensure there is adequate space around each fitting for comfortable use and pay attention to the swing of shower doors. In a tight space choose inward opening doors or an over-bath shower.

Ask experts: ‘Seek specialists' help to see beyond the existing layout. It’s surprising how even the smallest of bathrooms can be imaginatively planned,’ adds Darren Paxford, National Sales Manager, Vitra.

Create drama in larger bathrooms: avoid everything clinging to the walls and instead experiment with angles. An offset bath can prove more dynamic, or incorporate a clever walk-in shower idea behind your bath by bringing the bath forward.

How To Design A Family Bathroom

This is usually the biggest bathroom in the house, accessible from the main hallway. Fittings and finishes in a busy family bathroom should be selected with low maintenance and durability in mind.

How To Design A Master En-Suite

In a master en-suite bathroom, only used by responsible adults, you can afford to throw caution to the wind and splash out on luxurious materials and a more complex lighting scheme to create a relaxing mood. If there’s space, opt for his and her vanity areas with attached dressing rooms if you’re very lucky.

Planning Shower Rooms, Wet Rooms And Guest En-Suites

Shower rooms and guest en-suites can often be squeezed into a surprisingly small footprint using space-saving fittings and a cloakroom basin. Keep it simple, safe with thermostatic valve showers and easy to clean.

Pick The Perfect Bath

'Baths come in many different shapes, styles and materials, and consequently there are baths for every budget, style and need,' continues Yousef Mansuri.

'Freestanding stone, composite and cast-iron baths are at the high end of the price spectrum and offer substantial benefits compared to inset steel and acrylic tubs. Composites are warm to the touch and can be repaired easily, while cast iron baths arguably have the best heat retention properties.'

Find The Best Brassware

'Brassware is one of the the most important elements of any bathroom. As working parts with continuous water flowing through them, they need to be durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of daily use,' says Youssef Mansuri.

Prioritize Bathroom Lighting At Planning Stage

Smart bathroom lighting ideas can have a massive impact on the end result and should be planned at an early stage to ensure all key fittings are illuminated properly.

Achieve Beautiful Bathroom Flooring

Porcelain, natural stone, terracotta and encaustic bathroom tile ideas are all beautiful if you're looking at bathroom flooring ideas. 'Think about the look you want to achieve and the practicalities involved,' advises Fired Earth's Colin Roby-Welford. 'Repeated contact with water makes certain materials unsuitable, such as wood flooring, which may warp and stain.'

Ensure You Cater For Bathroom Storage

'At the very starting point of your project, think about bathroom storage ideas, particularly the amount and type of storage you require, so that you can tailor the arrangements to your specific requirements and to the amount of space you have available,' says designer Anna Haines.

What Else Do I Need To Consider When Planning A Bathroom?

So you've got your plans in order, but what else do you need to consider when planning a bathroom? Shiny new fittings can highlight imperfections in the original space, so it's worth updating architectural elements like doors, plinths and cornicing. A simple skim of plaster can tidy up a scrappy ceiling. Well-dressed windows will also help create a really smart finish. Plantation shutters designed for bathroom use will provide privacy and are easy to clean. Don’t forget to keep some budget back for beautiful accessories that will bring the whole look together. ‘Take your lead from boutique hotels and make sure there are plenty of lovely toiletries and squishy thick towels,’ adds Alternative Bathrooms’ director Jane Gilchriest.

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