I can’t decide what’s better as an interior designer being given the blank canvas of a show home or new build, or transforming something that has become tired and dated. I suppose if I enjoy them both it doesn’t really matter. Similarly, I’ve loved the freedom I’ve been given to design this latest show home, (the brief was literally here’s the budget, make it look good, quickly). But then you can’t beat the feeling you get when you show a client your designs for their home and they love them, because you’ve managed to capture everything they told you they liked, plus a bunch of things they would never have thought of but love as well. I guess I’m just saying my job rocks.
I’ve come to realise that I like variety in all aspects of my life. I rarely eat the same thing twice in one week, and that includes breakfast. When I’m cooking dinner you might catch me crooning to a little country or throwing age inappropriate shapes to the Prodigy. I like to watch musicals and wildlife documentaries. And my favourite things to read are sci-fi and anything about serial killers. I’m not cultured I just like a lot of different stuff. Thankfully my eclectic taste also extends to interiors as all my customers have different styles, and I don’t think I’d like my job or be very good at it if I had to work with things I didn’t like all the time.
Don’t get me wrong there have been times when I’ve had to steer customers away from potentially disastrous choices, or accept that their sofa (which I don’t like) has to stay for budget reasons. But find me an interior designer who hasn’t had to deal with that. OK, so maybe Kelly Hoppen’s customers can always afford a new sofa. And as the queen of taupe she probably hasn’t had to tell a customer that tangerine orange walls with blue wall tiles would be a bad idea as I did recently……
There’s nothing wrong with an interior designer having a particular look or style of course, quite the opposite. It becomes your brand and customers seek you out because of it. But I just like lots of different styles and thankfully that works for me and my customers.
Two Beautiful Bathrooms – Part One
So this week I photographed two finished bathrooms that couldn’t be more different if they tried and I love them both. I’d love to know which is your favourite, assuming you like either of them of course…. But firstly I have to tell you I’m a little bit gutted as Apple appears to have lost the before pics somewhere between my Mac and the Cloud so I’m going to need you to use your imagination I’m afraid. It used to be two rooms; a shower room and separate toilet and the décor was a little 90’s show home, you know small square shower, pedestal basin, ordinary toilet and two tone tiles with a border. Get the picture? OK lets move on.
The Hotel Bathroom
This wasn’t a typical project for me as the customer already had a strong sense of what she wanted. Initially I was just going to work on her new kitchen and dining room (more pics to follow) but we extended this to include a little help with the bathroom layout and someone to bounce ideas off and help her choose fittings. So ready for the result of this collaboration?
I’m calling it the hotel bathroom because Mr W said “wow, it looks like a hotel bathroom” when he saw it, and I agree, assuming he meant posh hotel in the Alps and not Travel Lodge.
The beautiful porcelain tiles are from Italy. My customer saw them in one of our local bathroom showrooms and we used my trade discount to make a healthy saving.
My absolute favourite thing in this bathroom is the floating basin.
I’m not a huge fan of vanity units as so many are ugly. I often buy regular furniture and fit a sink on it, or I have the fitter build me something. But this wall mounted basin has been designed to perfectly conceals all the pipework. The two drawers below provide some storage and a shelf for towels but they also help give it a little more substance as I think the basin would look lost floating there on its own.
The short stud wall between the shower and the basin gives that feeling of privacy when you’re in the shower (though you’d hope not to have too many unexpected guests..). We also added it so that the shower screen wasn’t butting up to the basin making it hard to clean.
Ben the bathroom fitter suggested the little corner shelf for the hand wash to keep the basin top clear.
The unit above the back to wall toilet and bidet provides extra storage and somewhere to display some of the decorative items the customer has collected on her travels.
The bathroom complies with my ‘must have three sources of lighting rule’ and has recessed spotlights in the ceiling, the over mirror light and small spotlights in the wall cupboard, all on separate circuits of course.
The plants you see were actually props for the photographs but I think my customer will be popping down to the garden centre this week after she saw how good they looked.
I’m starting to regret naming this series of posts ‘2016 interior design trends’ part I, part II etc. as it’s starting to sound like a movie franchise from the 80’s that gets worse with every new sequel (think Police Academy 1-7….). So this is going to be my last post on 2016 trends and it’s back to random waffling next week. I have some great before and afters coming up, and a couple of interesting projects I want to show you.
But I couldn’t move on without talking about bathrooms. They used to be such bland rooms (I’m talking post 70’s avocado bathroom suites of course). The most exciting feature being a patterned border tile, or a colourful bath mat. Wild and crazy huh. But not anymore, the trend now is to pay them the same attention we pay our living spaces. And if your bathrooms are bijou then the goal is to make them ‘smacious’. Which apparently is the transformation of a small space to make it feel more spacious. Sounds like a word Nicole Scherzinger would use so it’s not likely to make it into my vocabulary anytime soon….
So anyway lets get on with it. Here are eight trends we can expect to see in 2016, some new and some just continuing to grow, and two that I’m REALLY not sure about. Don’t skip to the end now, thats just cheating.
#1 – boutique bathrooms
The first thing I do when I stay in a hotel is check out the en suite. I can turn a blind eye to shortfalls in the bedroom (ahem…) if the bathroom is good, and that doesn’t mean it has to be big. Size is not everything. Sometimes its just a tap that wins me over. Boutique hotels ALWAYS have fab bathrooms. One way you can create that boutique look in your own bijou space is to paint all the walls dark, even black if you’re brave enough. I would be but Mr W would forbid it. With good lighting this can actually make the room look bigger.
If you’re not brave enough for black walls then another easy way to get the boutique hotel look is by using that timeless classic, marble. I had a nosy around the bathroom below last year when I went on a house tour organised by Living etc. Serious case of bathroom envy I can tell you. With the pale grey walls and gold fittings this bathroom murmurs elegant over and over…. (it would be uncouth for it to scream).
#2 – the homely vibe
If you’re not into glam then another trend for 2016 is to go homely, which is something we’re seeing in kitchens too (see Part II). This is an easy look to achieve as you just need to pretend you’re decorating your living room. Add a mirror that doesn’t look like a bathroom mirror, lights that don’t look like bathroom lights (not always easy I know), some artwork, a few plants and accessories, a chair if you’ve got room, maybe even a rug.
I love this bathroom as there are so many interesting little touches but the neutral colour scheme keeps it from looking cluttered.
#3 – raw materials
Another trend which is growing in both kitchens and bathrooms is a scheme that combines raw materials like brick, steel, wood and concrete. I’ve just taken on a new client who likes this look so I have been scouring the county looking for a local supplier of concrete floors and worktops. I also spent longer than I should ogling concrete lights (check out URBI ET ORBI via clippings.com)
Mixing wood with concrete stops the bathroom looking too stark and cold. I like the way they’ve continued the flow of wood in this bathroom by putting duckboards in the shower area instead of a shower tray or tiles. I’m not sure I could be bothered with the maintenance though as I expect you’d have to re-oil the duckboards every once in a while.
The industrial look is typically minimalistic which leads quite nicely on to number 4…..
#4 – minimal not clinical
In contrast to the homely look, another growing trend in bathrooms is to make them clutter free. This obviously requires great storage. I don’t know about you but I start twitching when I see those chrome or fabric organiser things hung on the back of bathroom doors. Or free standing rattan drawers jammed between the sink and the loo because whoever planned the bathroom didn’t think about storage. I can’t understand how you can forget how many toiletries the average person uses. If you don’t have space for separate cupboards get a vanity unit instead of a pedestal mounted sink, or use the space above the loo (which there nearly always is) for a cupboard or some shelves. Make sure there are alcoves in your shower and/or a space at the end of the bath for bottles. Mr W goes mad as I’m always ‘tidying away’ anything he leaves out in our bathroom. It’s not that I’m averse to a few things on display, quite the opposite, but they need to match the decor, which deodorant and beard moisturiser (weird product which recently appeared in our bathroom) never do.
#5 – mirror image layouts
So by this I mean his and hers, or his and his, or hers and hers for that matter sinks and mirrors side by side. Obviously you need space to do this but very nice if like me you have to share your bathroom sink with someone who likes to trim his (well moisturised) beard and doesn’t clean up after himself properly……You don’t need to splash out on a big vanity unit either, providing of course you have another storage solution, you can do this quite cheaply with two simple pedestal mounted sinks. Obviously the ones below weren’t cheap but it’s the dark walls with matching skirting, and the mirrors that give this bathroom the wow factor.
#6 – Wide bath ledges
For a while it seemed like everyone wanted a roll top, clawfoot bath in their bathroom. I have a period property so obviously I have one, and I do like it but am I the only one that sloshes water all over the floor when I get out? I also wish I had somewhere to put my kindle and wine glass for the two occasions in a year when I actually have time to relax in the bath. Apparently I’m not alone on this and we can expect to see a move towards built in baths with wide ledges around them for candles and wine glasses. Still need to resolve the problem of never having the time for a proper bath though.
#7 – Metallics
The metallics trend continues in just about all areas of the home. So I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say that the trend for fittings in different metallic finishes like gold and copper will continue. If you can’t afford to spend a lot on your bathroom then keep it simple and all white and blow your budget on a statement tap, its what people will notice most.
#8 – Big tiles, bold tiles and creative tiling patterns
In my post the bijou bathroom I talk about how big tiles can make a small bathroom look more spacious (fewer grout lines). Just be careful on the floor. You don’t want to find you only have space for one full tile and lots of cut ones. Ideally you want to see at least four full tiles in the centre of the floor space.
I know I’ve already talked about the trend for raw materials, but there are some great concrete effect tiles for those of us who can’t afford the polished concrete floor.
Bold tiles will continue to be popular, particularly geometrics and encaustic designs, more commonly used on floors but now appearing on walls.
I get proper excited (as we say up north) when I see creative laying patterns. Last year it was straight and diagonal herringbone patterns, and now we’re seeing patterns on walls that used to be limited to patios and kitchen floors, like basketweave, windmill and pinwheel
Last word on this topic, ok two words, tile rugs. Love ’em. Great way to sneak expensive tiles into a bathroom without blowing your budget. Can also be used to create zones around a bath or sink area to make the room look bigger,
#9 – underfloor heating
Underfloor heating is a luxury but one more and more people are opting for. And according to Ideal Standard international designer Robert Levien, heated bathroom walls are next. I’m not convinced. I just had an electricity smart meter fitted and now know exactly how much my bathroom underfloor heating costs me every day. So even if I could afford to splash out on heated walls I don’t think I would. I’m already turning off lights and appliances left right and centre and running back to the meter to see what effect it has. I’m such a northerner.
#10 – hi tech toilets
A few years ago I landed at Heathrow late on a Friday night and they kept us on the plane for ages until they could find a bus to drive us to the terminal. I’d had a glass of wine (possibly two) during the flight, so by the time I was on my way to passport control I was crossing my legs. As I passed the Nippon Airways First Class lounge I thought what the hell, they’re not going to say no to a woman in need, so I scurried in and blagged entry to the loos. I got quite a surprise when I sat down on a heated cushioned seat. I was even more surprised when I noticed the buttons and menu of options on the wall to my right. I could have avoided toilet paper altogether and had my bum washed dried and deodorised if I’d wanted to. But I’m British so I didn’t.
Apparently these toilets/bidets or washlets as they are called are common in Japan and are now gaining popularity in the US. I don’t know why I’m averse to the idea, I mean when did you ever see a toilet brush you’d be proud to have in your bathroom? And how many times have you been stuck in a loo with no paper and had to shout for help. I’m just not sure……
So hope that was useful. If you’ve got any questions or want to share your experience of scary Japanese toilets feel free to get in touch. I’m heading back to Google now to search for concrete.