Whether you’re looking to redo an existing bathroom or starting out to set up a new one, these simple ground rules will help you make the most of what you have. “You must pay attention to different aspects of the bathroom and also focus on functionality. Look at who is going to use the bathroom and then design it accordingly,” says Vikram B, architect and interior designer. Indeed, aesthetics can always be brought into the picture later, once the basic needs are met.
Tiles and flooring
Since bathrooms tend to be smaller rooms, use smaller tiles. This will ensure limited wastage. “Choose a tile pattern that you like and if you divide the bathroom into wet and dry areas, then you don’t have to tile the entire room. You can tile till about three feet off the ground,” says Vikram. Joint-free tiles are easy to maintain and don’t let dirt and germs accumulate. Non-slip tiles are a great option, especially if you have elderly people at home. Slopes and drains in the bathroom will make sure water doesn’t stagnate. “Many people prefer the shower area to be lower than the WC area. This helps demarcate the wet and dry spaces,” says Vikram. Your budget will determine whether you pick mosaic or ceramic tiles.
There are plenty of options in sanitary fixtures, based on budgets and spaces. If there’s a space crunch, consider wall-mounted WCs. “For wall-mounted fixtures, you need a rear wall that can support the fixture or a ledge with a minimum thickness of 9 inches,” says Vikram. As for taps and showers, decide if are more comfortable with a single lever tap to mix hot and cold water or separate levers. Single lever taps need enough water pressure, so check that first before you install it or you will only get a trickle of water. Decide early if you want a hot water option in the wash basin and add the fixture and line accordingly.
While shower areas can be demarcated with glass, acrylic or fiberglass partitions, a shower curtain works just as well if you are on a shoestring budget. “Lower flooring with the right slope will ensure that water drains out effectively,” says Vikram. His advice is to always have the shower in the far end of the bathroom and the WC in the middle. “People tend to do the opposite but this is the most effective way to set up a shower,” he says.
Storage spaces are integral to bathrooms. “The storage must be out of reach of water and this needs planning,” says the architect. Wherever possible, create unobtrusive storage spaces or niches tucked into walls instead of protruding shelves. “This ensures dry storage as well as safety in case someone slips or accidentally gets soap in the eye!” A ledge or vanity with mirror just above the basin makes ideal storage for toiletries. Lighting above the mirror is a must, for shaving or even make-up. “Add a tissue holder next to the WC and a towel rack next to the basin. Readymade flats sometimes leave these crucial points out.
A few add-ons
An exhaust fan, especially for a much-shared bathroom, is a good idea. It ensures better circulation of fresh air. A small, wall-mounted fan is another good idea for summers and dry floors. Make sure there are plug points for hair dryers and shaving equipment, but make sure they won’t have water splashing on them. Once these basic needs are met, you can personalise the space with easy-to-maintain artifacts, paintings or a wacky poster behind the door.
In case there are senior citizens, children or physically challenged people in your home, follow the basic rules of wide doors opening outwards, a small bench or stool in the shower, grab rails and non-slip mats.