Lack of space in bathrooms

Where space in a bathroom is limited, the illusion of extra space can be created by careful choice of décor. There are three principal ways to visually enlarge a room – by using colour, by carefully arranging the wall decoration or by using mirrors.

Pale colours cause the walls to ‘recede’, making the overall space appear correspondingly larger, while bright dominant shades tend to bring the walls closer together.

The same is true when choosing patterned wallpaper or tiles for the walls of a small bathroom – a small pattern in a muted colour makes the room seem larger while a bold pattern in a bright colour overwhelms small rooms and creates an oppressive, claustrophobic effect.

Hanging wallpaper horizontally is yet another way of creating an illu- 84 sion of extra space, linear-patterned wallpapers being the most effective. This technique can also be employed to seemingly alter the shape of the room, using horizontal wallpaper on just one or two walls.

Mirrors give a more solid illusion of enlarged space. As an added bonus, they make a dark room seem lighter by reflecting whatever space is available around the room. On an end wall, a large mirror makes the bathroom seem twice as long: a large mirror on a side wall makes the room look twice as wide. In a steamy bathroom use an acrylic mirror which has been specially coated to resist misting.

Mirror tiles, either tinted or plain, are another sensible choice for the bathroom. Easy to fix to the wall – they have adhesive pads at the back of them – they are easier to handle than a large sheet mirror. And because the joints break up reflected images, they can be used more extensively without fear of having your reflection follow you around. Like all mirrors, mirror tiles should be fitted so that air can flow behind them – damp tends to ruin mirror finishes.

Ugly pipework

Old bathrooms often contain a great deal of ugly pipework in need of disguising. This can either be done by boxing in the exposed pipes, or by fitting wood panelling over them.

As wood panelling can be secured to almost anything – including old ceramic tiles and chipped walls – it is an effective way of disguising pipework as well as being an attractive form of decoration. The panelling can be applied vertically, horizontally or diagonally for an interesting effect with the timber stained in various shades of the same colour.

An alternative way to approach the problem of exposed pipes is to actually make them a feature of the room by picking the pipework out in bright, strong colours.

Storage problems

In a small bathroom every bit of spare space may need to be untilized for storing things.

Open shelves: Open shelving – made from materials such as sealed or painted solid timber or melamine-faced chipboard – can be used satisfactorily to store many items. Glass needs to be kept spotlessly clean to look its best.

Narrow shelves can be fitted in many places in a bathroom, such as along the wall side of the bath; above the bath taps; above the wc cistern; and even between the wc bowl and cistern. Take care when storing breakable items such as glass bottles and jars on shelves above the wash basin as they could chip or shatter the enamel if they fell. Bath: Where the bath rim is wide enough, it makes a convenient place to store toiletries and manicure implements. Another way of utilizing bath space as storage is to box round the bath.

Around a basin provides a logical place to store toiletries with the added advantage that plumbing and waste pipes are hidden. Drawbacks are that water tends to lie on the surface of the unit in puddles while the edge detail between basin and surface often becomes grimy. Medicine cabinets: Mirror-fronted cabinets are sold in a variety of materials, including pine, enamelled steel and coloured plastic and many are included in co-ordinated accessory ranges. Some cabinets have fluorescent lighting above the mirror, shaving sockets, drawers and shelves, and items such as toothbrush racks fitted inside them. They can be used to store toiletries as well as medicines. If there are children in the household, the cabinet will either have to be lockable or else designed to make it impossible for a child to open. Do not position a medicine cabinet anywhere prone to condensation.

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