Shah Rukh Khan claims to spend hours in his bathroom. “That’s where I can be myself and do my own thing, without even the wife or kids troubling me,” he once said. He isn’t the only person to think this way. For many people, the bathroom is a sanctuary. A place they can truly call their own. And they spend time there for many more reasons than the purely basic.
“No longer do people just walk into their bathrooms only to finish their morning and evening jobs,” laughs Amit Khanna, a consultant with a multinational company. “Since the bathroom is the quietest place in my house, I do some of my most important work there, such as clearing all the mail on my BlackBerry. That takes over an hour. So obviously, my bathroom needs more than the essentials.”
Khanna’s bathroom is chic and contemporary. “The colours are steel and black, with well-demarcated wet and dry areas. I have a steel book case, a comfortable chair made of steel and chrome, enough vacant place for my phone and sometimes even my laptop, and of course power points and connectors to charge both,” he says.
Since his home is centrally air-conditioned, his bathroom is always cool, and there’s a music system in a glass cabinet to keep him entertained. not just another room. Interior designers and architects insist that, today, bathrooms are given as much importance as any other room in the house.
In some cases, even more. “In terms of design, there was a time when bathrooms were the lowest on the priority list, and their planning was the easiest thing. But today, they seem to require the maximum planning,” says architect Pallavi Sen from Sabyasachi Sen & Associates.
Agrees interior designer Aneel Constantine of Studio Constantine, “People are treating their powder rooms with a lot of care. For many of them, it is the space to connect with their inner selves. They think and introspect there, so of course that space becomes as important as any other part of the house.”
So now the bathroom is minutely planned. Concepts matter, from the bathroom’s most basic fittings to its ambience and overall design. And of course there are options galore. “From basic minimalist to blingy, from a serene Zen look to a vibrant pop culture look and feel, bathrooms take on whatever shade you want,” says Pallavi Sen.
Here’s a look at some of the coolest concepts
The luxury bathroom
This look is popular only among high flyers, and is usually a fine balance between luxurious, traditional and contemporary in terms of design and fittings.
Space: “A rich look can make a small space look even smaller. This look is best suited for big homes with ample space dedicated to the powder room,” says architect Pallavi Sen.
Materials used: One can use fabrics and tiles that are handmade (that is, they should have texture). Roman tiles, rich wood or stone work well too. Bronze and gold lines and leafing can also be added as motifs on the walls. Aged brass, steel, silver and gold are central to the faucets, showers and general fittings. Rugs and curtains add to the look.
Colours: Striking colours like pristine white, beige, maroon and red should be used. Rosewood and walnuts are ideal for basin tops etc.
Ambience: “Create a rich ambience with lights, carpets, etc. Instead of going for straight lighting, use reflective light. It creates an affluent look, adding glamour,” says Sen. Be prepared, these are high-maintenance bathrooms!
The Zen bathroom
Though Japanese in nature, this concept actually came into being in 6th century China and combined nature with Feng Shui. “It was believed that Zen helped one get in touch with the natural self,” says Aneel Constantine.
Space: Light, materials, etc., are all elements of Zen, and they come into play when we use the Zen concept.” Space Creating space or at least a semblance of it is the biggest factor in the Zen style. “The trick is to keep the area as uncluttered as possible. Neat, clean, wide and open spaces with big or small windows, preferably overlooking a garden or artificially created green area, gives a feeling of being close to nature,” says Constantine.
Materials used: Natural materials like wood and stone, textured and non-textured. Wooden art pieces juxtaposed with polished stones also give a strong Zen feel. Colours “Mostly whites and creams contrasted with wood in its natural hues, green plants and stones in white give the perfect Zen look,” says Constantine.
Ambience: Natural sounds like birds chirping, water flowing, etc. Artificial waterfalls can be created in a large area, and in small bathrooms, you can introduce sounds via discreetly placed speakers.
The bling bathroom
“It isn’t everybody’s cup of tea,” says Constantine. “But it’s for those who want a dash of drama in their lives. And what better place than a powder room, which is private and very personal?”
Space: The bigger the better. But if you have a small bathroom, you can bling up a single wall or just add a chandelier or fittings in gold and silver.
Materials used: “Over the top. Well-finished lacquered glass, gold and champagne leafing, rich and shiny leather on walls and floor give the desired effect. Fabrics like velvet and satin can be used to cover walls and cupboards. Fittings can be made of crystals or with metallic finishes,” says Constantine.
Colours: Anything that shines. From maroons and reds to pinks, purples and magentas. Gloss and matt should be high in contrast. Use metallic finishes.
Ambience: All the colour, shimmering lights and mirrors can jazz up an otherwise mundane powder room.
The minimalist bathroom
It can be as bare and as sleek as one wants it to be. Clean, clear-cut lines with a straight, modern appeal. “An uncluttered, almost cold look is what we can call it,” says Constantine.
Space: Is not an issue. Small or big, your minimalist bathroom can incorporate basic features and look amazing.
Materials used: Not much apart from the necessary fittings. You could use stone, steel, metal and glass.
Colours: Whites, greys, blacks. No warm colours or contours.
Ambience: “A strictly uncluttered look with no fancy lighting or fixtures. All fittings should have a modern and contemporary edge to them,” says Constantine.
The Al fresco bathroom
Either you bring the outdoors inside, or you actually take your bathroom outdoors if you have the space and privacy. The al fresco concept is similar to Zen.
Space: Depending on space, you could have an open-air shower abutting a garden or terrace, or spa beds or a bathtub under the open sky. In a closed area, you can create an illusion of the outdoors with wallpaper representing the open and wild. Or perhaps replace the bricks on one side of the room with a glass wall.
Materials used: Wood, plants, steel railings etc. Anything that is nature friendly and will be able to hold its own if placed outdoors.
Colours: Mostly greens and woods, with some reds and pinks for a dash of colour.
Ambience: If indoors, use the sounds of waterfalls and birds, with bright, white lights for the natural effect.
Ideally, the bedroom should not lead into the bathroom directly anymore. There should be a lobby between the two that acts like a dressing area. This can accommodate the entire wardrobe for the occupants of the bedroom, and may also have other things like a chest of drawers or an ironing board.
If there is an open space available, get the bathroom to open out into a little courtyard with a miniature garden or bamboo patch, and if possible, place a showerhead or a massage area there.
There is a conscious effort to be as environment-friendly as possible. So not only do we have faucets and showerheads that work in low pressure water, we also have urinals that use no water at all for flushing and nano water closets that use only 1.5 litres of water to flush. And used water is recycled for various purposes like gardening through a fluid treatment plant set up in the house. Almost all good brands available in the market these days have a LEED rating that certifies the product as a green one.
Use anti-skid tiles for the floors. Wall tiles are either handmade or with interesting designs, such as sea shells. Images made of mosaic can be fun and dramatic.
If you want a bathtub, but haven’t got the space, create one within the shower cubicle itself. This will give you the luxury of a bathtub without actually taking up the space it requires.
Use lighter colours like beige, cream and white on the walls to give an
impression of space.
Place a large mirror on the narrow side of the bathroom to make it look spacious.
For a sense of luxury even in a small bathroom, use a normal washbasin that has a counter without sharp ends.
Use large tiles and joints and, if possible, have a window in the bathroom.
The shower cubicle is best at the farthest end of the bathroom.
Place a money plant in one corner of your bathroom and see it come to life.