If you're planning a new bathroom or en-suite, then there are many things that you'll need to think about, including the color of the suite and the décor, the style of bath, sink and fixtures, the type of materials you'll use, the lighting, what (if any) additional furniture you need and the final touches you might want to add to complete the design.
To start with, you'll need to sit down and draw out a plan on graph paper noting the position of windows and doors, and showing where you want to place the bath, sink, toilet and shower. You'll also need to measure how far away the room is from the existing waste pipes, plumbing and boiler. Make sure you allow space for standing and sitting, getting in and out of the bath or shower, as well as allowing room for sloping roofs and for opening doors and windows.
If you want to simply replace your existing suite with something new, but do not want to change the layout of the bathroom, make sure that you choose items that are of the same size and shape.
There's a huge choice of materials in bathroom fittings and fixtures, which can give you the opportunity to be creative in your design. Just for starters, there's ceramic, cast iron, acrylic, glass, wood and stainless steel. How about a shower enclosure made of glass bricks or a frosted glass basin set in a wooden washstand?
Color is a keynote in the design of any bathroom; not only for the walls and floor, but also for the fixtures and fittings. Although white goes with most styles, a colored fixture can really make an individual statement.
Your bathroom, taps, shower fittings and levers can have a huge influence on the atmosphere of your bathroom. There are many different styles to be found in bathroom fixtures, from Victorian taps and overhead showers to state-of-the-art chrome shower mixers or levers, so you can choose the style that reflects your personal taste or the rest your house. Are you a clean-cut, modern design type of person, or are you keen on traditional fittings, sumptuous sculpted baths and basins?
Simply replacing fixtures such as the taps and cistern handle can give your bathroom a new lease of life, without having to buy a new suite.
The average family bathroom can accumulate a large amount of clutter, from children's bathroom toys and toiletries, to cleaning materials and medicines. Choosing the right bathroom furniture can help to eliminate clutter; for example, a bathroom vanity cabinet can hide many of the bathroom toiletries, whilst a lockable medicine cabinet provides ideal storage for items that need to be kept safe. Space that would otherwise be wasted can be efficiently used by the addition of fitted bathroom furniture.
The correct lighting in a bathroom can make it feel warm and inviting, calm and relaxing, or dramatic and opulent. Bright halogen downlighters will flood a room with white light creating a feeling of space, whilst floor level lighting shining on tiling or simple wall lights can help to create a subtle ambient light perfect for creating the feeling of a sanctuary. A dramatic chandelier in a large traditional bathroom will help to create an instant feeling of luxury; however, if you don't have enough space, simple wall sconces can give create a similar effect of sumptuousness.
Downlights can cast awkward shadows on the face when you look at your reflection. Wall lights mounted either side of a mirror create the ideal light for applying makeup or shaving.
The majority of bathrooms tend to have at least one window, which allows for natural ventilation; however where there is no ventilation (usually the case in en-suites) you'll need to install an extractor fan. The right sized extractor fan can be found by calculating the volume of the room by multiplying its height by its width by its length. The required flow rate is achieved by multiplying this figure by the number of air changes needed in an hour (20 for bathrooms, 15 for cloakrooms).
Even the smallest details can help draw your theme together, such as slatted bathmats, matching fluffy towels, steel baskets or toiletries decanted into simple glass jars. In a period bathroom you can afford to be adventurous by introducing rich fabrics and gilt mirrors; in a modern bathroom it's best to keep accessories to a minimum.
Designing for Smaller Spaces
If you don't have much room, look for corner sinks or toilets. Wall-hung units can also save floor space and give the visual impression that the room is bigger than it actually is. Heated towel rails can mean you won't need to make room for radiators.
If you can't fit an en-suite or bathroom near a waste pipe, then a macerator toilet can be a useful solution. Although they can be somewhat noisy, they're worthwhile if it means you get extra flexibility.
The Final Design
Once you have your layout and your ideas for colors, materials and lighting, then it's time to work out how much you want to spend, making sure that you don't invest more than you are likely to recoup if you plan to sell your house. Make a list of priorities - what you need and what you would like to have. Once you've come up with a few designs and are sure of all the products you want to include, it's time to start looking to find if you can find the best price.
Once your new en-suite or bathroom is complete, it's important to make sure that you have the relevant building regulations approval - including drainage, ventilation any and electrics and checking that any glass meets the required safety standards.