‘Thrift and escapism’ driving factors in bathroom design

Looking for some practical ideas for transforming your bathroom? Well, here are a few from a man that’s used to coming up with them.

Steve Jusseaume is a plumber working in Denver, Colorado, US, for a company called Ben Franklin Plumbing. He spends his working life remodelling bathrooms.

And he says that the most popular look right now is vintage cabinets and salvaged fixtures for what he describes as “a romantic in-home escape” – reflecting the thrifty and escapist mood of the times.

Steve says contemporary bathroom design has certainly moved on from the times when everything was about excess – be it floor-to-ceiling mirrored walls, hot tubs big enough to seat four and vast water heaters that could be prohibitively expensive to use.

Now he’s finding that bathroom makeovers tend to incorporate new and old elements. And people are going for unusual effects such as chandelier-style lighting to provide a touch of luxury and romance without breaking the bank.

And homeowners are keen to update old bathrooms with modern fittings and fixtures that use less power and water and maybe weren’t available when the room was originally fitted out. This can include water heaters, better-designed toilets, low-flow showers and water-saving taps.

These days toilets employ better bowl design, increased flush velocity and gravity to achieve the effect that litres and litres of water used to. Better design principles have also been extended to taps and shower heads while having your water heating modernised can save a fortune in bills.

Returning to style tips, Steve suggests those people after a vintage look shop for modern taps in bronze or brushed nickel that combine the right appearance with water-efficient design. Paired with vessel-style porcelain basins or hammered copper, he says the resulting design “is rich with estate appeal.”

Here are a few more of his tips for your bathroom revamp:

  • Consider a radical lighting scheme such as wall-hung sconces cut into mirrored walls for double the reflective quality when lit. Chandeliers can provide surprisingly bright lighting for personal grooming – or try coloured glass if you’re looking for serious drama. Of course, you do need to check that your fittings are suitable for bathroom use and get an electrician to ensure that everything complies with the building regulations.
  • Use faded hues on furniture and walls. Steve says that one coat of contrasting paint applied with long, uneven brushstrokes over existing cabinetry works magic. Top off the artistic treatment with a pearl essence glaze for a professional look.
  • Replace modern tile flooring with reclaimed pine floorboards. Treat them with grey lye instead of a high-gloss finish for a truly vintage look. Steve says: “To avoid the floorboards warping over time, be certain the toilet wax ring is solidly installed.”
  • Install some innovative towel racks. For instance, a worn wooden ladder leaned up against the wall is ideal for large bath towels. Or roll towels and stack them on a decorative metal folding table.
  • Find room for furniture. Instead of the conventional and space-hungry vanity unit try an upholstered occasional chair, a small side table for that pre-bath gin and tonic or a magazine rack (perhaps equipped with vintage periodicals) to create a gloriously original bathing experience.

For more bathroom articles and advice, check out the Ben Franklin Plumbing website here.