Memento 2.0 surface-mounted his n’ hers washbasins in TitanCeram ceramic with precise contours and slim walls from Bathroom Design

HOW TO PLAN A BATHROOM

Published: 10 Jan 2022
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Your step-by-step guide to planning a bathroom

With so many different components to take into account, designing a bathroom needs careful thought and co-ordination. Here’s a guide to help you get it right…

 What kind of bathroom do you want?

First off, consider who the bathroom is for, as that will help you decide what elements you need – a family bathroom will need a tub whereas an ensuite may not. 

‘Make a list of the things you don’t want to compromise on,’ says Clare Zarb from Bathroom Design. ‘Do you want a bath or a shower? Free standing bath? Walk-in shower? Vanity unit and shelf or just a basin? Double or single bowls or just one basin.’

When considering your new bathroom, also take a look at the old one – what don’t you like about it? What would you want to change? 

How do you use it now? What would make being in the room more enjoyable? This exercise is a good way of deciding what is important to you. 

At the same time, you need to be realistic about space – a small bathroom is unlikely to be able to fit in a large bath-tub, walk-in shower and his n’ hers basins. ‘A common mistake is that people think big when their bathroom has limited space,’ says Claire. ‘Trying to fit a free-standing bath or a double sink into a small bathroom will make the space look even smaller.’ 

Courtesy Of Lynchforva.com

 Plan the layout

If you’re renovating an existing bathroom, don’t automatically ditch the existing layout. If it works well, then keep it, this way you won’t need to move the pipework which is costly and intrusive. 

If you do want wholesale change or are starting from scratch then start by thinking about the flow of the room and what you can do to maximise the feel-good factor. For example, if you have a lovely view from the room, position your bathtub so you can enjoy the view whilst in it. Don’t place the toilet in the most prominent position – ideally, the first thing you see when you open the door should be something that looks stylish and relaxing.  

Measure your bathroom carefully so you know, exactly, the size of the room you have to work with. There are numerous online 3D tools available to help you make a plan, or you can do something as simple as cut out the shapes, to scale, of all the features, from the bath to the shower enclosure, toilet and storage, and rearrange them until you find a layout that works. Always remember to leave plenty of space between each piece as you need room to move around. Also, factor in which ways doors open, and the space this takes up. 

Also include ventilation – even if your bathroom does have a window, opening it is not enough; you will need to install a vent fan. Good ventilation will keep your bathroom healthy and also stop excessive moisture affecting the furniture. 

TIP:

There are free room design applications available online. These packages offer a  great and easy way to quickly design a room or a remodel. You can design one room or your whole house without having to know anything about CAD or home design software – here’s four we like: 

1. Floorplannerwww.floorplanner.com

2. 3Dreamwww.3dream.net/jsp/public/content/home.jsp

3. Roomstyler 3D Room Plannerwww.roomstyler.com/3dplanner

4. Plan Your Room – www.planyourroom.com

Porcelanosa bathrooms range from Satariano 

 Storage, storage, storage

The key to a relaxing bathroom is having everything in its right place. A cluttered space will make you feel stressed and work against the wellness vibe you’re after.

Having not enough space to hang everyone’s wet towels will, rightly, drive you mad. As will too few shelves for toiletries. So when drawing up your layout, include as much storage as possible including hooks and rails. 

A combination of closed cabinets and drawers along with open shelving works well, giving you a mix of exposed and concealed storage. This allows you to hide away what doesn’t look good but also display pretty bottles, candles, and other objects that help give the bathroom a decorative feel, creating a mood that is less functional and utilitarian.

Avoid bottles of shampoo on the shower floor or placed around a bathtub by including an alcove in the wall to store them away neatly.

LAUFEN provides a range of different surfaces, all optimised for their intended use and come with a guaranteed long useful life from Banju Boutique

Decide on your look

How do you want your bathroom to make you feel? Relaxed and chilled or energised and ready for the day ahead? The answer to these questions will help you determine the room’s look.

When putting it together choose the sanitaryware, tiles and furniture at the same time so you can be sure they all work together. A mood board can help as it can allow you to clearly see how all the elements work together and if something is missing.   

For a space with a spa-like feel, a neutral colour palette works well, with tiles in natural materials or ones that mimic their look.  If you’re after a more energised mood, then bolder colours and patterns are a good choice although be careful in a small space as highly decorative designs can be too busy and make it appear smaller. 

If you’re thinking colour, use a colour chart as this will help you see how different colours work together. A rule to make it easy is the 70 – 20 – 10 distribution rule: the lightest colour covers about 70 per cent of the room, the second colour 20 per cent and the boldest colour just 10 per cent.

If working with neutrals, don’t choose one colour for the entire room as this will make it appear bland and uninteresting. 

Another idea is to work within the same colour spectrum – so for example, a range of light to darker blues – as this gives the bathroom an interesting but also rounded look. 

Rich dark colour on the walls teamed with white tiles and sanitary ware is another successful scheme. 

Finally, as well as sanitary ware, think about taps as today they are one of the room’s key finishing touches with a wide choice in a range of colours and styles.

The Artis collection from Villeroy & Boch – Four forms, nine colours, thousands of possibilities: Artis comes in a broad range of forms and colours to cover all tastes, from bold statements to subtle highlights in the bathroom. From Bathroom Design

Heating

The most popular option now for bathroom heating is underfloor heating. Danny Zikic from Ecomaxx explains why and gives you the options…

Traditional heating solutions such as radiators heat the air from one source. To achieve a comfortable temperature in the lower part of a room, the top of a room can get overheated, resulting in a room that feels uncomfortable or stuffy. 

Underfloor heating, however, gently warms your room from the floor upwards, resulting in the perfect spread of heat which is far more comfortable. An underfloor heating system also runs at lower temperatures than traditional radiators making it more efficient and with lower running costs.

All underfloor heating systems can work when divided into several heating zones (rooms) with each having its own separately controlled programmable room thermostats. This means that you can simply switch off the room that you don’t use and lower the heating cost. 

Wet or dry?

Today the dry or electric system is the most popular, taking over from the traditional wet, water or hydronic system in which warm water was propelled by a pump through a pipeline beneath the floor. A dry system is an electric conductor (copper cable, thermal mat, copper mesh or aluminium tape) that is laid beneath the floor with a thermostat that controls the temperature on the wall. The advantage of this system is that it has moderate running costs, installation is simple and swift and can be done under almost any floor surface. It is also maintenance-free.

High voltage or low voltage?

Some electric underfloor heating systems run on high voltage. Here, thick, insulated copper cables are installed beneath the floor, using 220-240V alternate current (AC) from the grid. The cable is plugged into a regular wall socket and the temperature is regulated by a thermostat on the wall and usually a probe that measures the temperature of the heater (cable).

The advantage of this system is that installation is simple, there is no maintenance and no need for transformers to convert the high voltage AC from the grid to low voltage DC (direct current). The disadvantages are the use of high voltage electricity, the high temperature of the cables (they are relatively thin, so a high temperature is needed to compensate for the gap between them) and copper oxidation.

This is why today more advanced underfloor heating systems use low voltage direct current. Some systems use copper mats or insulated copper mesh made of very thin copper wires while others use thin insulated aluminium foils or tapes.  Both are very thin and can be installed under any floor surface, and both systems use transformers to transform high voltage AC from the grid to low voltage DC. 

A low voltage current is not only safer but it results in lower consumption of electricity and a lower temperature of the heaters. The only issue is the use of transformers which need to be in a dry, ventilated environment. For a bathroom, they would need to be positioned in a corridor, storage room, or any other convenient place outside the bathroom. The electronics have their own housing which can be chased/chiselled into the wall so the only visible part would be a lid with louvres. 

At Ecomaxx we prefer to use thin insulated 10cm wide aluminium alloy tape. Relatively new to the Maltese market, it is highly flexible and customizable. As the tape has a very large heating surface, it works at a lower temperature, resulting in very low consumption of electricity. It can also be connected to batteries and solar panels. 

At what stage in a bathroom renovation do you install underfloor heating?

If you’re installing it in an existing bathroom, the existing floor (tiles etc) has to be removed. Then a 4-5 cm thick concrete screed is applied onto which is insulation is installed, followed by the tape (or mesh). Both the insulation and aluminium underfloor heating tapes can be installed on top of the existing floor (usually tiles), but this would inevitably raise the floor level. You could not have the insulation but this would considerably reduce the efficiency and impact the electricity bill’.

Pastilla lights are stylish cylinder-shaped lights designed by Patricia Urquiola, from Light Design Solutions

Lighting

What’s the best way to light a bathroom? Peter Cutajar from Light Design Solutions gives his advice…

‘Bathrooms should be places in which well-considered lighting brings out the best in all the materials used and lighting control really makes a space work to create different moods.

The best approach is to treat the space as you would any other room and create different layers of lighting effects.

Well-designed lighting is of the utmost importance in the bathroom. The principle of evenly illuminating the face originated in the theatre, where actors applied makeup in front of mirrors surrounded by bare lamps in porcelain sockets.

For the best task lighting use, two lighting fixtures flanking the mirror, surface mount or recessed at eye level to provide a shadowless task light – lighting above you will create shadows on your face.

General illumination is another layer of lighting that really helps make a bathroom work on all levels; this is done by using recessed or surface mount ceiling light fittings.’

ARIANA Nobile ceramic tiles from FAENZA Bathrooms

The timeline

You need to start planning your bathroom as early as possible. ‘Today most items take 8 to 12 weeks for items to arrive if they’re not in stock,’ says Claire Zarb. ‘I suggest, especially as we’re talking about one’s home, that you plan ahead so that you won’t be compromised on time when it comes to the way you want your bathroom to look.’

You also need to be clear on the timeline of how work is done as changes that require completed work to be removed and redone will be expensive, both in time and cost. 

The order of work:

1. An existing bathroom is stripped out and/or space is prepared by a builder

2. If carpentry is needed, such as creating an alcove to store bottles, this will be done next

3. The plumber ‘roughs in’ pipes and drainage – the pipes are there, but as yet not connected to the bathroom fittings as they are not installed yet

4. An electrician does the same with wiring. If the work needed is not too complicated and extensive, a plumber and electrician can work together. It is at this stage that underfloor heating is installed

5. A tiler prepares the floor and walls 

6. The tiling, grouting and painting is done

7. The plumber returns to install the sanitary ware. At this point shower screens, mirrors and accessories are put in.