The latest design advice to help you create a brilliantly practical and stylish scheme.

Duravit white modern bathroom with Happy D.2 Plus fixtures, fittings and sanitaryware

Image: Duravit’s Happy D.2 Plus collection is designed to encourage relaxation. Vanity unit, £4,187; wall unit, £2,346; mirrors with synchronised integrated lighting, £3,394 set of two; deck-mounted mixers, £250.80 each; and basins, £427.20 each.

Once upon a time, planning a bathroom was barely thought about. A plumber made a trip to a merchant, stocked up on a matching suite and the job was done. But there has since been a revolution, with manufacturers offering a variety of stylish products that reflect the role of the space as a personal haven for calm and relaxation, as well as the zone for a speedy wash and brush up.

‘The big change is that bathrooms are now designed,’ says Travis Gurr, interior designer and specifier at Saneux

Starting out

The Watermark Collection sanitaryware and fittings in a modern bathroom designed by architect Philippe Harden

Image: A custom-designed vanity unit forms the focal point in this small bathroom by architect Philippe Harden ( London cross handle mixer set in tarnished brass, from £1,036, by The Watermark Collection

Get your design plan underway by compiling a wish list of the features to be included, taking into account who will use the room. A freestanding tub and double basins might be just the thing in an en-suite bathroom, while hard-wearing surfaces and a large walk-in shower are practical choices for a room used by young children.

If space is limited – the average UK family bathroom is about the same size as a king-size bed, according to Ideal Standard – can you increase its size by stealing some square footage from an adjacent room? Or replace an inward-opening door with a sliding version to create extra inches?

Most manufacturers offer compact ranges for any room that’s a tight squeeze, such as Concept Space by Ideal Standard.

Take a view

Catalano Zero Verso 50 Basin with 1 door unit in Fenix Blue in a stylish small bathroom 

Image: Wall-hung furniture enhances the sense of space in an en-suite bathroom or cloakroom. Catalano Zero Verso 50 basin with one door unit in Fenix Blue, £852, 52x50x25cm, shown with a Zero 50 WC, £500.40.

Sketch out a plan with dimensions, position of windows and doors. Note any special features, such as sloping ceilings, which may affect the position of fiings such as an overhead shower.

‘To begin designing the layout, stand at the door and assess what will be in your eye line,’ says Travis. ‘Can you make a basin vanity unit the main feature? Or a freestanding bath? By contrast, try to avoid having the loo opposite the door, if possible.'

Where to get help

 West One Bathrooms Arco sanitaryware and bathroom fittings in a stylish monochrome black and white bathroom

Image: This clever all-in-one solution comes complete with basin, countertop, mixer, mirror and shelves. Ex.t Arco unit, £3,663, from West One Bathroom

Many retailers offer layout and design services, including Bathwaters, which operates a free online service. Send a few snaps of your space along with its dimensions, and the company’s experts will respond with a 3D design.

Some manufacturers offer online planning tools and augmented-reality apps: try Villeroy & Boch and Duravit. West One Bathrooms has an in-store virtual-reality theatre to help you experience your new bathroom before it is built.

Work the system

hansgrohe RainFinity shower head in a bedroom ensuite 

Image: In this broken-plan bedroom-shower-dressing space, the wet area is marked by a change in flooring. The spa-like scheme is accentuated by the large matt white shower head. Hansgrohe Rainfinity shower head, from £683, with a selection of spray patterns, including micro-fine and ultra-quiet Powder Rain

Taps and showers must be compatible with your water system because some will not work effectively below certain pressure levels. Rates can vary from about 0.1 bar (low pressure) to high-pressure rates of three to five bar.

Generally, the higher the water pressure, the be er the shower performance. If you wish to use several outlets at once, such as a shower head and body jets, higher pressure is required to help cope with the increased demand for water. Some retailers have working shower troughs, allowing you to see a variety of shower heads and feel their spray rates at different pressures.

New-build homes are subject to water efficiency regulations: see Approved Document G: Sanitation, Hot Water Safety and Water Efficiency on the Government’s Planning Portal site.

Getting technical

CPHart bathroom brassware fittings and fixtures in sleek modern bathroom

Image: Select all your brassware fittings in the same finish for a co-ordinated look. Dornbracht MEM three-piece basin mixer in Cyprum finish, £2,667, CP Hart

There are good reasons to gather a reliable team of tradespeople at an early stage of your project. ‘You may need to involve an electrician as well as a plumber from the start if you are specifying more sophisticated products, such as furniture with integrated lighting, LED mirrors or shower toilets,’ says Martin Carroll, managing director of Duravit.

Move or stay?

A stone walled bathroom with Alpine White steel enamel with Gold Classic waste channel cover by Kaldewei Nexsys

Image: A neutral colour scheme unifies the separate areas in this unusual stone-walled room. Nexsys shower surface in Alpine White steel enamel with Gold Classic waste channel cover, £1,857, from Kaldewei

With a refurbishment project, it generally makes sense to leave the loo where it is to avoid problems in moving the soil pipe. But if the success of your project depends on moving the toilet, then it can usually be done for a cost.

Soil pipes are wider than standard water pipes and must have adequate fall to ensure proper drainage, so consult a plumber for advice.


Words: Amelia Thorpe


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