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The overall plan for bathroom storage in the bathroom

The overall plan for bathroom storage in the bathroom

A bathroom can be anything from the all too familiar minimum of a bath, basin, and possibly WC, all grouped together in an alternately chilling and steamy confined space, to a room a good deal larger than many living rooms, lavishly equipped and luxuriously furnished to cater for every ablutionary need and many more besides - including making up, hair drying, keeping fit, dressing, telephoning and just relaxing, to name but a few. In any form, however, bathroom storage contains a number of fittings that are difficult and expensive to renew or move around. No other room in the house is likely to be changed less frequently and the kind of rearrangement that would be routine elsewhere tends to be rarely undertaken, if at all.

It follows that, whether you are contemplating the comparatively simple job of refurbishing an existing bathroom storage with, perhaps, a few new fittings and decorations or a more radical rearrangement in an existing space, or even creating an entirely new bathroom from scratch, the greatest consideration must be given to all the factors involved. Whatever the limitations in terms of space and cost, you will have to live with your basic decisions for a very long time, irrespective of any changes you may make to the decorations later on. All bathrooms have certain items of equipment in common. The list gives details of the types of fitting available and their selection. In terms of planning and design, however, there are a number of general principles that we should con- sider before going on to look at how the main items of equipment - basins, baths, showers, bidets and WCs can be used in the contexts of various sizes of room. The minimum requirement with which we are likely to be concerned is a basin, a bath or shower, and possibly a WC.

Small bathrooms need the greatest ingenuity in obtaining the most satisfactory arrangement of the bathroom storage and ancillary equipment, such as towel rails, mirrors, lighting, cupboards and other accessories. Where there is more space available we can consider having the WC separate from the bathroom - which can, to some extent, relieve congestion when several members of the family have to get washed at the same time in the morning, particularly if another basin can be provided in the WC. Alternatively, a separate shower room with a basin can be formed in any space that can be spared elsewhere in the house, or additional basins can be fitted in the bedrooms, to ease the pressure on a single bathroom. It is worth remembering that a combined bathroom storage solution and WC will give more usable space in a single room, and may even make space for an additional fitting such as a step-in shower, a bidet, or a second basin. Although the larger bathroom is less exacting in terms of tight planning and ingenuity, imagination and design skill are equally necessary if a functional and pleasing result is to be achieved.

A room of, say, 50m with a bath on one wall, a basin on another and a WC in the corner is not likely to be either convenient or beautiful, however luxurious the fittings themselves may be. It will simply mean that you have to walk long distances from one fitting to another and it will look as empty and under-furnished as it is under-utilised. A warm, close-fitted carpet, rather than chilly lino flooring, will not go far towards relieving the bathroom storage situation, nor will heavily patterned wallpaper and curtains. On the other hand, where space is available, good planning and design can produce a room where the function can be combined with pleasure and relaxation. In addition to planning the layout of the bathroom and its fittings, we must also give careful thought to the appearance we wish to achieve. There may be an optimum layout for the needs of the family concerned, but the opportunities that exist for influencing the appearance of the room at the design stage through the use of different materials, colours and textures are enormous. The fittings themselves are the most permanent elements in the scheme and these should be chosen not only to function well but also to last in visual terms.

Generally speaking, simpler forms are more aesthetically durable, while exaggerated shapes and fashionable colours, however appealing they may be at the time, can easily look very out-dated ten years later. Similarly, permanent finishes, such as tiling, mosaics, plastics laminates and wall panelling, although they are easier to renew than fittings, are likely to be part of the room for a relatively long time. When choosing them, therefore, we have to ask ourselves how long they are going to remain and whether we will continue to be happy with them. As with the fittings, the simpler the permanent finishes, the longer they will last visually. Of course, if you want to express yourself strongly in terms of the interior design of your bathroom and there's no reason why you shouldn't - painted or applied wall coverings, painted or polished woodwork, and curtains, blinds and floor coverings are all elements through which a striking decorative effect can be imposed and changed from time to time without resorting to major structural alterations.