How to guides:

10 ways to design a contemporary bathroom

Planning a bathroom from scratch? Want a modern feel? Lacking inspiration? Read on to create a cool, contemporary bathroom.

1 Let the bath hog the spotlight
Plan the layout of your bathroom around the bath, allowing it to become the focal point, however small the room. If good looks are your first priority, choose a shapely freestanding bath, like this Maderno design, and position it under a window, centrally on a wall or, if there’s lots of space, in the middle of the room. If a back to wall bath is more practical for you, find a pedestal basin with curves to steal the limelight instead – the Janssen basin is one of our favourites.
2 Choose show-off taps
Whichever basin or bath you choose, pick taps for it that can compete for attention effortlessly. Monobloc taps, such as this Dewez tap, are perfect for counter top basins, while wall mounted taps are ideal for inset basins. Taps for baths are similarly varied, but if you have a freestanding bath, floorstanding taps will give you the wow factor you’re after. While it may not matter if your bath is from the same range as your basin, match all your bathroom’s taps as closely as possible for a co-ordinated feel. The look we’re aiming for is Notting Hill basement, not bargain basement.
3 Install a good-looking shower
If there’s space, a shower cubicle is a must-have (but if there isn’t choose a bath over a shower every time). If you want a contemporary wet room look without the hassle, install a low profile shower tray. Small space? Cheat your way to making it look bigger by shopping for pentagonal or quadrant shower trays that can be squeezed into a corner, and hardly-there frames for the shower enclosure. Shower sets need to be chosen with practicality and function in mind, but if you’re looking for ‘I didn’t even try’ contemporary cool, chunky chrome fittings will get you there.

4 Find a basin with character

Second to the bath in the bathroom pecking order is the basin. For small spaces, pedestal basins and wall hung designs are as smart and sensible as a pair of Mary Janes. For larger rooms, consider an inset basin or one that sits on a counter top. Choose from a range of purpose made bathroom furniture to sit these on, or get a truly individual look with a reclaimed table or chest of drawers.
5 Get the heating right 
If there were seven deadly bathroom design sins, having insufficient or impractical heating would be right up there for us. If you’re changing your bathroom flooring anyway, why not consider installing underfloor heating for that always-warm-when-you-want-it approach? Match that up with a good sized bathroom radiator, like this huge but handsome Massari, and you’ll have somewhere to keep your towels toasty, too.
6 Make it seem bigger 
Use every trick in the bathroom book to up the amount of light and the feeling of space in what might be the smallest – but one of the busiest – rooms in the house. Large mirrors, both wall hung and floorstanding, will bounce light around. Put them opposite or adjacent to windows for best effect. Pale, reflective flooring and subtle window treatments will help, too. Think shutters for privacy, window film if you’re on a budget (and have nosy neighbours) or keep them unfurnished if you’re not overlooked.
7 Invest in good looking lighting
Bathroom lighting is governed by building regs and has to be practical – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be dashingly handsome and atmospheric, too. Ideally, you should work in both task and accent lighting. Enough of the jargon – that means overhead lights and wall lights. If you’ve got very little wall space, opt for an illuminated mirror, instead.
8 Lay gorgeous flooring
Never under estimate the power of a bathroom floor. It goes without saying that it’s got to look good, but don’t forget you’re going to be in there barefoot much of the time, so it needs to be comfortable, too. No one enjoys hopping about on cold tiles, so underheat them, and ensure they’re smooth but non-slip. If you go for vinyl, avoid cheap versions that won’t last, and invest instead in hardwearing designs that mimic real wood or tiles. Rubber is a good buy for family bathrooms, and comes in a range of bold colours. Or, if you want high chic bathroom on a low budget, rub back floorboards and treat them with a water-resistant varnish. Check out our Pinterest board of bathroom floor design ideas for inspiration.
9 Get good storage
Before you buy anything, draw up a to-scale floor plan of the bathroom to see if you can fit in extra storage. Don’t forget to use vertical space – in other words, tall furniture that can hide everything from towels to toiletries without using much floor space. Wall-mounted furniture is a practical buy for small bathrooms, too, because it packs in the clutter but takes up no floor space at all, giving the impression that the room is bigger than it is. And don’t forget, if you really can’t be bothered to fold every towel and arrange your bottles neatly every two minutes, storage with doors on is a better buy than open shelves.
10 Future proof your design
Whether you want to create a spa bathroom for two or design a family bathroom, you should always plan a bathroom with the next 10 years in mind. After all, who can afford to rip it all out and start again any sooner than that? So, if it’s perfect for a couple now, will it suit you if you’re chasing a couple of kids around it just a few years down the road? And, while it’s perfect for youngsters now, will it cope when your teens are fighting for shaving/make up/shower space?

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