Make the most of the bathroom with these six ideas on how to create luxury for less
Make the bathroom a relaxing haven so you can unwind in style
Close the door, run the bath, light the candles and pop the cork. There’s no need to pay for a fancy day spa because luxury can be as close as your own bathroom.
Once a functional, practical room used purely for washing and grooming, today’s bathroom is the ultimate place to soak, meditate and recharge in private.
Interior designer and stylist Kat Collins of Sydney company Urban Splash says there are six easy, inexpensive ways to make your bathroom the best space in the house.
1. Open up for light
It’s easy to make a small bathroom appear larger by maximising light.
Install a large window, and retile or paint the walls white or a lightly tinted colour. To reflect more light, hang big, strategically placed mirrors.
‘Mirrors can create the illusion of space through reflection,’ says Kat.
A large mirror placed opposite a window with an open outlook works twice as well and produces an instant indoor-outdoor effect while making the most of the view.
TIP If the vista is less than desirable, manufacture a view by adding bamboo screening, outdoor artworks, bright perennials or pot plants.
2. Increase the airflow
A mouldy, damp bathroom is as ugly as it is unhealthy. Kat says the best way to create effective airflow is with an exhaust fan and natural ventilation.
‘Most bathrooms have a combo of mechanical and natural ventilation.
‘My tip would be to go for louvred windows and an exhaust that is connected to the light switch. That way there is no excuse for not turning the fan on,’ says Kat.
‘There are also some great combination heat, light and exhaust fan systems available.’
Kat is a big fan of opening windows. ‘My bathroom is very small so we added a large bifold window above the bath to give the area a feeling of increased space and to bring the outdoors in, creating a space that is light, bright and airy.’
TIP Kat’s pick for a stylish look is a sleek, flush-mount exhaust system.
A bifold window brings the outside in and a mirrored wall makes the room look twice as big
3. Bathing in style
Kat’s bathroom luxuries vary depending on if she’s at home in Sydney or at her holiday house in Mudgee, NSW.
‘At home I use decorative glasses with tea-light candles and at our weekender I use oversized floor candles around the clawfoot tub.’
In both homes, Kat has underfloor heating and heated towel rails. She always makes sure to have quality soaps, body wash, shampoo and conditioner on hand too.
‘I also have a liquid soap and matching hand cream on the vanity so you can moisturise after each wash. They look great, complement the bathroom decor, smell divine and feel amazing,’ Kat says.
4. Streamline for space
Diagonally laid floor tiles make a room seem much larger compared to those laid in straight lines. Choosing the right fittings also helps enhance the illusion.
‘Wall hung vanities and toilets are not only on trend but they are the biggest space savers in the bathroom, making the area look larger and more open,’ says Kat.
‘A cistern concealed in the wall cavity looks great with clean, modern lines and it’s more hygienic.’
Wall-hung basins and vanities create a more spacious look as they appear to float in mid air. A tub with claw feet has the same effect because it’s elevated.
Kat says hiding powerpoints inside the vanity is another designer trick as it minimises break lines in your sight to increase the feeling of space.
Save space with a wall-hung toilet and a sink without a vanity cabinet
5. Refit with classics
There’s no need to give your bathroom a complete overhaul, just a few cosmetic fixes can instantly transform a neglected area.
If you can’t afford to upgrade the big ticket items like the toilet or the vanity, look at simple treatments such as tile paint, bath resurfacing or new cabinet doors.
Good quality towels and a compact heated towel rail are worthwhile investments, contributing to the look and the luxury of the room. Even a new soap dispenser makes a difference.
‘The quickest and most economical way to update your bathroom is by replacing and modernising the fixtures but new light fittings are also a fun way to change your look.’
TIP A feature light with a dimmer creates ambience while a sconce suits an elegant, traditional bathroom.
6. Add a little atmosphere
A deep bath, plush towels, soothing scent and soft light all add to the sensory appeal of a well-designed bathroom. These little things turn an average room into a home day spa without the hefty price tag.
‘There is nothing better than coming home to a long soak in a deep tub with the lights dimmed, a candle burning and a glass of wine waiting,’ Kat says.
‘If space is limited, install shelves to display candles. I love candles and have them in all of my bathrooms.’
Kat also recommends clean, light scents because potent aromas can overpower a small room.
TIP Add underfloor heating for midwinter luxury.