Plan a handy shelf. Design the storage area for shower items. Any storage area needs to be outside of the water flow so soap does not get “gooey.” Corner shelving installed in the shower area can be effective. Recessed niches in the tile can work well – they do cost more, but eliminate any danger of a user bumping into a protruding element in the shower. If you do plan a recessed area, consider creating a slot for a glass shelf to be slid into – and then easily removed for cleaning.
Two winners in the 2008 NKBA Design Competition (see related story, Principles of Design) provide great examples of elegant bathrooms.
The first, pictured on page 51, is a study of a beautiful tile surface covering all major walls in an attractive combination. Note the use of the glass L-shaped panel to define the shower and separate it from the toilet. The wall area is open above the vanity, allowing light from the vanity area and ceiling to spill into the shower.
The next example, pictured on page 53, utilizes the concept of an open area approach to bathroom zoning. The shower is the only part of this bathroom that is totally enclosed. A partial wall (perhaps needed for piping?) is at the end of the bathtub. However, the bathing pool then extends into the vanity area. The two vanities have floating mirrors above them, which separates the vanity area from the dressing closet section of the space.
I was recently quite impressed with the design detailing in an airport hotel in Frankfurt, Germany. The Steigenberger Airport Hotel had great bathrooms. Who would have thought design brilliance would be part of an airport hotel!
Note the way materials are stacked and layered in these bathrooms (see photos, [e, f, g]). The designer considered these wall surfaces as vertical shapes to be defined by material changes. Large gray square tiles are used on the floor and on some sections of major wall surfaces (notably inside the shower).
The simplicity of the square tile with matching grout and a stacked installation pattern is contrasted to vertical stripes of 1/2"x1/2" glass tile. Once again, glass sliding doors and walls separate the toilet compartment and enclose the shower area.
You will note that in all of these examples with sliding doors, the panels go to the ceiling. These types of sliding doors need a top-mounted rack, so they do not work well unless the panel extends to a ceiling or dropped soffit area.
In all of these bathrooms, an element of wood is introduced for added drama.
- In the smallest bathroom (see photo [e]), it is a cube at the end of the vanity and a small wall section.
- In the middle-sized bathroom, it is a corner column separating a make-up counter from the vanity (see photo [f]).
- In the largest bathroom (see photo [g]), it is an entire wall section stretching from the edge of the vanity through the toilet compartment.
Note how eye-catching the horizontal wood graining is in all three of these installations. Additionally, enjoy how the wall sections covered in the glass tile are used to create the sense of a column in the shower that is otherwise finished in the gray tile.
Another winner in this year’s NKBA Design Competition has taken a similar approach (see photo [j]). The vanity is framed with the counter surface – note the higher splash to accommodate the wall-mounted faucet.
Horizontal wood graining extends throughout the corridor space on cabinet and wall surfaces. There is a design detail of a contrasting vertical stripe of glass tile. A functional ledge is created by the inclusion of a tankless toilet and bidet. A hanger system you should be familiar with when considering this type of fixture is Geberit (www.geberit.com).
Bathroom sales and profits will be expanded for designers who rethink their approach to bathroom concept planning, plan the wall surfacing as carefully as the cabinets or fixtures – and search for innovative alternatives to typical materials and hardware.