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Windows and heating your bathroom

Windows and heating your bathroom

Etched or frosted-glass window panes in bathrooms are designed primarily for privacy but special patterns can be custom-made to make a feature of the window: glass bricks have a hi- tech minimalist look while decorative patterned glass complements traditional styles. Bear in mind that at night, rooms lit from within are clearly visible - even through opaque windows. If you plan to have only frosted or etched panes, or a sheer fabric or voile blind, check that your bathroom is not overlooked. Wooden shutters are useful, as are slatted blinds where the slats can be angled to allow for varying degrees of light- also they will not be damaged by strong sunlight, Blinds and shutters allow windows to be opened fully and are especially good for bathrooms where bottles and jars cover surfaces and could be toppled by flapping blinds or curtains.

Curtains

The style of window furnishing will depend on your bathroom design. Simple drapes, soft shades, and gathered voils have a casual, homely feel. A budget option is to use a spring-loaded pole within the window recess loosely draped with fabric. Curtains are more expensive, especially if they are lined for warmth, but they introduce colour and shape to the room, They can make a focal point of a plain window and help to insulate bathrooms in cold weather. They also provide privacy. Cafe curtains, covering the lower half of windows, keep activities private while allowing daylight in.

Blinds

Austrian, festoon and Roman blinds give windows a soft outline. In a limited space, some shade-opening mechanisms can be fixed either to the left or right side of the window frame, depending on which side is most easily reached. Roller blinds for bathrooms come in a wide range of colours, textures, and patterns and are usually quick and easy to fit. Look for a roller blind with a bead chain or "side-winder" mechanism, as once the height is selected it stays put - spring - loaded mechanisms have a tendency to spring up unexpectedly.

Heating

Although it may not be necessary to use bathroom heating for the greater part of the year, there will be certain times when its presence is invaluable. When planning your layout, therefore, incorporate space for a heater to improve comfort levels and provide a place for towels to dry. Special wall-hung ladder radiators are ideal for bathrooms since the rails double as towel warmers. Where space is limited, consider installing a tall, column radiator with floor-to-ceiling bars that utilise the room's height rather than its width. Kick-space convector heaters, which can be fitted unobtrusively beneath cabinets or at the base of bath surrounds, are designed to work with the existing heating system, or they can be independently operated as a fan to emit warm or cool air.

Underfloor & wall heating

Stone and tiled floors in the bathroom may feel cool and pleasant during the summer but in the winter months, they can be icy. Underfloor heating systems are favoured by designers and architects since they are easy to install, invisible, and do not intrude upon the room's available "living" space. An added advantage is that the heat is evenly distributed about the room and warm air rising from the floor eliminates cold spots. Underfloor heating in bathrooms can be linked to the central heating system, where hot water is circulated through a network of pipes; electric systems work in a similar way to electric blankets, where insulated cables emit heat. A variation on this theme works by using the central heating system to link a series of pipes that are recessed into the wall. Because of the disruption that would be caused to plasterwork, this type of system is best suited to homes that are being newly built.

Style options

With a little imagination and careful planning, modern radiators can transform the simplest bathroom. Ladder and column designs lend themselves to a wide range of uses, such as forming a partition between the toilet area and the bathroom. Set across windows or glass doors, they can also double as a screen, partially obscuring bathroom activities. Probably the most hi-tech radiators of all are the recently introduced glass designs, which are sleek, understated, and highly desirable. Many manufacturers of flat-panel radiators offer custom - colour finishes to match bathroom fittings. Alternatively, choose a dramatic contrast and turn it into a "focus radiator" that is more akin to modern art than heating. Roaring fires look spectacularly luxurious in a bathroom setting but they are impractical for the majority of homes. However, there is a wide range of balanced flue, gas-fired stoves, and fires with the realistic look of a wood-burner or open coal fire. Charred ceramic logs and glowing rock embers create a convincing fire without the work and mess that a real one involves. Choose a model with a heat-resistant glass panel to prevent towels or bath robes from coming into contact with the flames.