Bathrooms have been on my mind recently. I have a family bathroom project coming up. While designing them in my last job in London I learnt that the best inspiration is found in hotel bathrooms. They are small spaces but every inch is utilised making them very practical and functional spaces. While style is very personal you can take the basic design principles and implement them in your home. So today’s Ask the designer is a case study of one of my favourite hotels – the Firmdale Hotels designed by Kit Kemp and her small marble bathroom.
I chose this bathroom as a perfect example because even though the room is small, the designer chose dark marble on both – floors and walls. You can see that dark doesn’t make the space any smaller. Many of you think or were told that dark makes a space smaller but that is not true. Get it out of your head once for all. Let me break it down and explain.
Â 1 / Reflective surfaces – notice how the mirror covering most of the back wall which creates the illusion of space. Same thing applies to the polished marble tiles. Using polished / glossy tiles should be the obvious option. No brainer for small bathrooms.
2 / Lighting – is the absolute key in dark small bathrooms. That’s what balance it out. Without good lighting your bathroom will look small. Full stop. The light bounces of the polished tiles, glass and mirrors. It gives you brightness!
3 / The size of the tiles – another vital element which contributes to the clever design. Most hotels (at least the one’s I’ve stayed in) have tiles 30 x 60cm standard. Anything smaller would mean more grout lines and therefore smaller feel (unless the grout lines are so thin that you can’t hardly see them). Also matching the grout colour to the colour of the tile is an excellent idea. With marble you have a choice of going darker or lighter but I always recommend to pick a colour which is most dominating in the stone.
In this case also notice how the tiles are installed. They are placed verticallyÂ making the space taller.Â If placedÂ horizontally it would mean that there would be more rows making the space smaller and shorter and not wider.
4 / Clear shower door – again it contributes to enlarging the space because you can see right through it viewing the side wall. This triggers more spacious feeling. Nowadays the manufacturing of shower door is so advanced that some models are so clear that they are almost invisible. I stopped counting how many times I bumped into the stupid thing as it looked open or with no door at all. Did it ever happen to you? Maybe because I’m blind in one eye I have a good excuse! But it can be so annoying. Clever material though.
5 / Floor and wall tiles are the same – small rooms need simplicity. Some people say it’s lazy to pick only one type of tile for both surfaces but most designers prefer designing small bathrooms with one type of stone or tile. The more complicated the design is the more cluttered itÂ may feel. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong picking one tile/material for floors and another for walls that’s your personal style and preference but if you want to achieve the illusion of space it might be better to stick to one.
Also notice that the tiles cover the area from floor to ceiling – full height. If it stopped just below the ceiling or had a trim again it would make the space smaller.
6 / Using wood panel is so clever. It introduces another texture and colour into the bathroom. Mixing marble with wood is a timeless and elegant combo. If your marble is cool go for warm wood and vice versa.
7 / White sanitary ware used to offset the tiles – keeping the sinks, WC, bidet and bathtub white is also a very smart idea. Yes, you could have black or grey (or gold if you have the budget) but this space needs something more contrasting to break up the symmetry and the flow.
If you’re thinking about using dark marble in your bathroom, here are some examplesÂ for you. Bare in mind that each slab is different so there might be slight variations.
Now to some dark marble options…
If you need any help or have a question, please let me know. I’m happy to give you my advice or second opinion.
Have you got a small bathroom which you’re planning to redesign?
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