Your bathroom can be an effective and safe space serving the needs of several people at once, while retaining the soothing qualities looked for during those restful afternoon baths.


While your bathroom is probably your smallest room, try seeing it as a comfort zone. Once you've worked out your practical needs, it's a good idea to sketch a scaled-down outline of your ideal bathroom before the trades people make a start.

Visualise the space by standing in the doorway and looking at the floor plan and the best place for your main fixtures. As a rough guide, you'll probably need a minimum of 70cm of empty space in front of the shower and bath, 60cm in front of the toilet, and 70cm in front of the vanity (with plenty of elbow room).

Think about your storage requirements, how much cupboard or bench-top space you'll need, where to put your towel rail. Much will depend on the needs of those using the bathroom and whether you have other storage space nearby. Ask family members about their preferences and requirements. Refer to magazines, showrooms, manufacturers' brochures, display homes and friends' houses for design ideas.

Bathrooms are mood rooms and can lend themselves to a theme. Think about creams, warm timbers, and quietly toned laminated surfaces.  Or try a strong base colour. If the rest of your house has a particular style, look at ways to extend this theme into the bathroom.

When renovating an existing bathroom try to use existing plumbing. Changes to pipes and the position of water fixtures can be very expensive!


Creative ideas

       Here are some creative ideas to help you visualise your new or renovated bathroom:
  • Many bathrooms today feature 'his and her' sinks on opposite ends of a long counter. Vanity pedestals may provide a sleek look, but traditional cabinets offer more storage. A lack of storage space is one reason why many spouses decide on separate bathrooms.
  • Some basin designs have the bowl mounted on top of the counter like a large 
    bowl on a table. Alternatively, a large square porcelain basin can be supported by thin steel legs.
  • Would you prefer a standard shower, or a larger design? Most showers measure about 90cm x 90cm. People who go larger (120cm x 90cm) often say it's best  thing about their new bathroom. You may not need a shower screen; many designs simply have tiles, good drainage and taps on the wall.
  • If you'd rather store your bathroom items on shelves, you can choose a slender bench and a semi-recessed basin.
  • Do want the toilet in the bathroom or in a room by itself? Your preference may be affected by available space.
  • Do you need a bath? Many people find that having extra floor space (and a 
    bigger shower area) is a better option than trying to squeeze a small bath 
    into a small room.

  • Mirrors provide a wonderful illusion of extra space. Any additional cupboard
    space should remain at eye-level for convenience and to add to a feeling of
  • Inquire about central heating or floor heating for winter warmth.
  • Ensure exhaust fans are vented to the outside of the house. Steam 
    will eventually cause damage to wall surfaces and within the roof-space.
  • If possible, locate the bathroom on an outside wall to allow lots of natural light.  Bright bathrooms are always welcoming so think of windows above baths and  spas to add to this effect. Privacy can be handled by screens and shutters or outside vegetation.

    Bathrooms with windows looking into small landscaped courtyards can have 
    • privacy, light and a gorgeous outlook.
    • When choosing your colours, make them simple and bright. 
    • Write a list of everything that you want in the bathroom space.
    • Write a list of everything you will have to do i.e. plumbing and electrical, 
      carpentry, tiling, painting and so on.

      Think safety

      Your bathroom brings together water, heat and electricity so safety is an important issue.  Plan with this in mind and consider installing features that can help reduce the risk of accidents, particularly to children, the elderly and the frail.
    • Slippery Surfaces - The likelihood of slipping and falling because of water and condensation can be reduced by non-slip mats and special surfaces inside the bath and shower recess. Also grab-rails at suitable positions.
    • Water Temperature - Temperature control thermostats enable you to set the 
      maximum water temperature to avoid scalding. Check whether there is any  
      dramatic change in temperature should other water appliances be used around the house. Supervise the bathing of small children at all times.  Seat them facing away from the taps to deter them playing with them and possibly scalding themselves. Avoid the risk of scalding by always putting the cold water in the bath first.
    • Electricity - All light fittings operated from within the bathroom should be fitted  with a pull cord. If a light switch is used, it should be situated outside the bathroom.  Any electric heaters should be fitted with fixed and permanent wiring. Electric heaters should be situated out of reach of the bath. Be very careful if using electrical appliances near water.  Ensure that appliances are unplugged after use.  Should an appliance come into contact with water, unplug itbefore touching. Make sure all electrical outlets are the required distance from any water outlets.
    • Hazardous Products - Lock all medicine cabinets to secure them from small 
      children. All medicines should be clearly marked.  Any out of date medicines should be removed and disposed of safely. Avoid leaving any cleaning materials within easy reach of small children, as they are toxic. Store them out of sight in a cupboard with a childproof lock. Never store hazardous liquids in soft drink bottles. Razors, scissors and other sharp objects should be also be securely stored.

      Any other personal risk factors relevant to you own circumstances should be taken into consideration when designing your bathroom. With careful planning your bathroom can be a safe and efficient space capable of handling several people at once, as well as a delightful retreat for those long and restful afternoon baths.