In recent months, a number of kitchen and bath designers have reported a dramatic increase in bathroom projects, while kitchen projects are fewer and further between.
It seems that many clients are delaying their kitchen undertaking and turning their attention to a bathroom instead with the idea that baths are generally less expensive to remodel than kitchens.
For kitchen designers who offer a “design-build” service to their client – meaning they supply/install and profit from not only cabinetry but fixtures and fittings, as well as all surfacing materials – designing bathrooms can be a good business focus during the current economy.
To win the client over, I recommend you spend more time on the details of your bathroom plan. Decorative and functional surfaces play a much bigger role in the bathroom than in the cooking space.
In kitchen planning, we organize and connect long runs of similar materials: Wall surfacing takes a back seat to equipment and cabinetry specifications. In bathroom design, unconnected individual elements are installed along wall surfaces. The bath walls (or lack of walls) are a major design element for any bathroom plan.
Additionally, while kitchens are oftentimes highly stylized, bathrooms are typically simpler and more subdued – and can be dramatically contemporary, even in the most traditional homes.'
Bathroom specialists can gain inspiration by studying baths created by hospitality specialists for boutique hotels. If you’re not traveling much this year, check out boutique hotels in your local community or a short commute away.
Just call the hotel and ask to see a sleeping room.
The most interesting bathrooms will be in unique, “edgy” small hotels.
There are several design innovations I have discovered from our colleagues designing hotel bathrooms.
We can better allocate bathroom floor space if we rethink compartmentalizing the toilet. Because hotels normally do not have the luxury of devoting a minimum 36"x60" (and that’s the minimum rectangle) of interior floor space to a walled-off compartment, they create interesting ways to shield the toilet from view rather than providing complete privacy.
- Join fixtures. Combining the stall shower and the toilet in a separate compartment can make better use of floor space. Enlarging the compartment to accommodate a 36"-deep x 48"-wide shower with the toilet opposite it and separated from the balance of the bathroom by a sliding pocket door is an attractive solution in the bathrooms found in the Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach, CA.
- Shield rather than separate. After completely understanding your client’s requirements vs. dream list regarding toilet positioning, consider using glass panels and/or glass sliding doors to shield the toilet from view. At the Graves 601 Hotel in Minneapolis, MN (see photos [c, d]), a very small bathroom is dramatically enhanced by the use of glass panels. A 3/4" glass partition on one side conceals the toilet. On the opposite side, a similar 3/4" panel encloses the deep shower.
This bathroom solution uses frosted green glass to add great drama to a small area. Note the intriguing use of the angled “ladder” to house towels. A striking design detail in this small space was a panel of soft sea foam green painted on one wall in the water closet area. I love the idea of just painting the center 80% of a wall space – rather than always corner to corner.
In addition to the frosted glass being very dramatic, consider how space-saving this approach is. If the design called for two typical framed wall systems, more than 12" of floor space would be required for the shower and toilet wall. Individual light fixtures would be required, as well as a swinging glass shower door and either a pocket or wood door in the toilet compartment.