Bathrooms are this decade's must have household accessory, not just one bathroom but several and with the increasing conversion of larger houses into multiple flats as well, squeezing a beautiful bathroom into compact spaces requires skills experience and the right kit specifically designed to do the job.  Our bathroom designer shares some of the many secrets and trade tips that always ensure a perfect outcome.

 

 Modern housing and in particular new build, seems to require bathrooms for almost every bedroom and for those too the skills of building a bathroom on a small footprint are the same but it is the ‘retro’ fit where the installer faces most challenges.  This newsletter will provide a quick and whistle stop tour through the first 5 of 10 considerations and equipment that will get your projects talked about.

 

1. Doors 

 Clearly there has to be access but a traditional door requires ‘swing room’ some have overcome the problem by having and ‘open out’ door but (this may not be possible if the access is opposite the stair case. In an en-suite it is not ideal to have the door opening into the bedroom) it never looks right.  The solution we feel is the sliding door or to be more precise ‘the pocket door’. It takes up little space and provides a solution that can be a beautiful design feature itself.  We have searched to find the best sliding door solution and we promote it to consumers and trade alike in our showroom with several versions to view.  The Eclisse Pocket sliding door delivers an effective, efficient, robust and reliable solution. These are a world away from the old dirt collecting, rickety sliding mechanisms that our grandparents used to have. 

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2. Toilets

An essential piece of equipment that is functional by its very nature but the function element, has over the years, driven the design size and often the positioning.  Perception and the way we see and judge space is important when designing in a small bathroom. The use of wall hung sanitary ware allows the floor space to be uninterrupted and appear larger thus giving the perception of more space. Close coupled wall hung WCs are available but almost never seen in the UK. The introduction of wall hung pans to the UK market was almost always in conjunction with a combined frame and cistern. Separate frames and cisterns are available and sometimes allow a designer even more options. Depending on the construction of the bathroom wall a frame can be let in or surface mounted. If the WC is fitted to an outside wall then it will usually be surface mounted which can be argued takes up as much space as an exposed ceramic cistern. This is where the perceived space and practical useable space is created. There are short projection WC pans on the market which also help. The space is saved by reducing the platform behind the seat but keeps the seat the same size. An important factor when using these is the position of the flush button. If a low level frame is used with a front flush then the seat and cover will not stay upright. The location of the WC is important. Far too often a WC is squashed into a small space leaving the user tight up against a wall sometimes close to a radiator or trapped by a basin. It can be advantageous to position the pan in the corner of the room or even on an angle in the middle of a wall. The Missel compact corner toilet frame can offer the perfect solution.         Some immediate considerations that reduce the visual effect and feeling of space include the pedestal, the cistern and the position.  Removing the pedestal whilst not changing the size of the toilet will immediately increase the floor space not just of the footprint of the pedestal but all of that wasted space behind and around it. The cistern tank protruding into the room takes up more space and should be hidden within the wall but often its size and shape force the location but our solution   is often to put the toilet in the corner of the room (always assuming there is a corner as we like to round the walls- more later) and we have found the perfect solution to deliver this the Missel Compact Toilet Cistern.  The missel also enables other great spaces to be created in the walls for those essential shelves and storage areas.

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3. Basin

As for toilets, similar arguments apply to basin pedestals, these are not there to support the basin as is often thought but they are simply to hide the pipe work. you don’t need them, in a compact bathroom the clean lines that can be achieved by using a frame system and hiding all the pipe work enhances the perceived space. Wall hung storage units are useful and can hide unsightly pipework or alternatively a minimalist chrome bottle trap could be used for a simple solution. the basin can be supported by a storage space or floating like the Missel but we also question the value of anything other than a very small basin.  Plainly put the basin is a device to rinse something under the tap, the toothbrush or razor, or just to ‘spit’ in.  Rarely is it used for washing that is the job of the shower.  Recognizing that the basin only needs to be small but is also a prominent piece, this is an opportunity to make a bold statement and add some real luxury, round stone basins are one answer.  Classic natural stone in a variety of materials from contemporary Black to creamy classic Roma Limestone.

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 4. Shower or bath?

 Many people opt to remove the bath and include a shower enclosure. The permanence of the shower encroaching on the room space can make the room feel smaller than having a bath with a fold away screen thus leaving the full width of the room visible. There are two main things to consider when showering: the space and the plumbing. A shower tray is not considered luxurious if it is anything less than 900x900mm or 1200x800mm. The base should be flat and safe to stand on and the texture will depend on the material that it is made from. The plumbing refers to the shower itself. The expression ‘power showers’ stems from adding a pump to a traditional gravity plumbing circuit. With an increase in unvented systems the powerful shower does not require a separate pump. This then leads to another question, what flow rate and pressure is the valve and shower head designed to work with. Many European countries have their mains water delivered to the home with higher pressures. Many high-end European brands sold in the UK do not perform as they were designed to do because the water pressures and flow rates are not sufficient to give the intended performance.  When choosing to shower over a bath the standing area and the position of the shower rail should be considered. Most would assume that in a compact space we’d recommend a shower tray particularly as like the toilet, most baths are functionally shaped and apart from freestanding baths usually fastened to a wall.  Perhaps surprising for some, we actually see value in a shower over the bath so as to get a dual function but we use a certain shape of bath with a much wider space than most shower trays at one end.  A shorter wider bath surprisingly feels much more luxurious as a bath but serves also as a great area to shower too.  We also have been pioneering curved shower walls and walk in showers as another great way to make small spaces work but we’ll feature these next time.

 

5. Waterstop- at long last a solution to avoid using silicone. We design and build luxury that is often then spoiled by excessive use of silicone during installation. We know that over time the silicone fails and the shower or bath leaks causing huge problems and collateral damage in compact bathrooms.  We’ve discovered and now sell a new innovation that provides a PVC permanent seal around a bath or show tray resulting in a better cleaner finish and a more reliable job.

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Later this month we’ll share the next five of our top ten tips for building a bathroom in confined spaces covering taps, floor colours and lighting, tile trims and backing boards.

In the meantime please feel free to work through our website, we are adding more products, ideas and examples daily, not just for bathroom but for beautiful and efficient homes or visit our showroom here in Congleton.