Upgrade your bathroom
The bathroom is a sanctuary in the home, a place to take some time out from our busy lives. Discover the latest trends and products to make the most of this room
Upgrading a bathroom should be a fun and satisfying exercise, but it can also be daunting when you are faced with the wide array of bathroom products available. Before you embark on this project, consider this advice from Craig Taylor from Bathroom Butler: “Bathrooms are not spaces that get a makeover every year, so choose items that won’t go out of style too quickly. Also choose a style that resonates with you personally and always go for the best quality items that you can afford.”
While you should choose a style that you love, it is handy to be aware of the latest bathroom trends while making your choices. “This year’s bathroom trends are comparatively monochromatic, organic and all about minimalism. As well as incorporating the constantly growing eco-friendly trend, bathrooms are also adopting more open space, as well as striking sanitary fittings and showers that stand as features in their own right,” says Jasmin Kraneveldt from Bathroom Bizarre.
Bathroomware, such as a new shower, bath, toilet, basin or cabinets, will immediately update the look of your bathroom into a modern and fresh space, while retiling or replacing taps and accessories will finish it off.
Jasmin highlights the following on-trend shower ideas:
Frameless shower doors: Less frame and more glass adds a slick look to the shower space and visually maximises the space in your bathroom.
Enclosed steam showers: Combine the benefits of a steam room with a shower, giving them a dual functionality and saving space in the process.
Wet rooms: Ideal for small, awkward spaces and offer the versatility and size that can transform any well-proportioned bedroom into an en-suite.
Rimless showers: These have no lip dividing the shower space with the floor running to the rest of the bathroom. Instead, the shower floor slopes downwards toward the drain to ensure the water from the shower ends up in the drain and doesn’t flood the entire bathroom.
Showerheads: These come in different styles to match all interior schemes and budgets. Body sprays, eco-friendly low flow, handheld, multiple showerheads, hydrotherapy and therapeutic lights are all very much on trend. Rain showerheads, digitally controlled spray configurations and chromatherapy (the use of coloured lights) are also some of the latest mechanical advancements in showerhead technology.
Draining systems: Even these have been revolutionised, with shower channels becoming all the rage. For example, Expand-A-Drain, available from Bathroom Bizarre, comprises an expanded solid grid-type cover that runs along the one side of the shower to ensure maximum drainage without blocking or clogging.
“The bathtub stands as the anchor of most bathroom layouts. Consider aesthetics, comfort, durability, maintenance and price,” advises Craig. Spa baths with hydro-massage jets or air massage settings, corner baths as well as sleek free-standing baths are currently very fashionable.
Craig explains that there are four main types of materials from which modern bathtubs are manufactured:
Acrylic: Affordable, lightweight and available in a wide variety of designs, sizes and shapes. However, acrylic bathtubs tend to be quite flimsy, can discolour over time and are prone to scratches. They also stain comparatively easy.
Cast iron: These free-standing baths can be found in many older homes and are often refurbished. They are made from iron with a baked-on enamel surface, which makes them durable and resistant to scratches and dents. However, the enamel can chip and the iron beneath will begin to rust.
Solid surface materials: Made from a blend of acrylic modified polyester resin and mineral fillers, these free-standing baths made from solid surface materials have a natural colour, are comparatively durable, retain heat well and come in a wide variety of innovative shapes and sizes. They are good value for money compared to free-standing acrylic baths, but can scratch, dull and discolour over time.
Enamelled pressed steel: Boasting elegant thin profiles, impressive durability and high-end quality, these have become the most prestigious type of bath currently on the market. Enamelled pressed steel baths, such as those from BETTE from Bathroom Butler for example, are made from one piece of pressed titanium steel, so there are no joins or welds, and they are finished with a durable enamel finish, which is impact- and scratch-proof, UV-, chemical- and fire-resistant, hygienic and easy to clean.
Modern toilets offer sleek lines and can be wall hung or floor-standing. Consider the following:
Dual flush toilets: “These can save an average of three litres per flush. They have a split flush button that gives you a choice of pressing the smaller button for a light flush, or the larger button for a more substantial flush,” says Debra Retief of Tile Africa.
Concealed cisterns: Offer a sleek, modern look and also save space in the bathroom.
Colour: “White remains the colour of choice when it comes to sanitaryware as it offers longevity of style and hygienic appeal,” advises Jasmin.
Taps and mixers
Updating your bathroom taps and mixers will give your bathroom an instant upgrade. Saville Jacobson from Bathroom Bizarre describes the latest tap and mixer trends:
Design: Taps and mixers are available in any number of styles, including curved, organic, sleek, modern geometric or symmetrical. Today’s most popular taps and mixers comprise almost sculptural designs.
Types: Choose from wall-mounted taps, single-lever mixers, two-handle basin mixer taps, high spout basin taps and extra tall basin taps and mixers. The most popular is single-lever mixer taps as they offer increased functionality and ease of use.
Finish: Finishes include nickel, bronze, stainless steel and even gold, however chrome is definitely the most popular choice as it is a functional and durable material, and offers a classical appeal.
Water-saving: Taps with built-in aerators and flow restrictors save water; they reduce water consumption without affecting the water pressure and amount of water delivered.
Technology and electronics: Today’s modern taps and mixers come with a host of high-tech features such as coloured LED lights that switch on when the mixer is turned, as well as hands-free taps and mixers, which operate using a sensor switch.
Wall and floor coverings
“The wall and floor finishes in any bathroom frame the space and lay the foundation for everything else that is to follow,” says Jasmin. Consider the following options:
Tiles: “Tiles are durable, easy to clean and, if they are treated or glazed, they never fade, scratch or stain,” says Jasmin. “Tile trends for the year ahead will be taking their cue from the fashion catwalks – we will be seeing exciting bold graphics, more textures, faux naturals, including faux wood tiles, and colour palettes that range from ultra bright to dark and dramatic,” says Bathroom Bizarre’s Saville. “Larger tiles are more popular as fewer grout lines create the illusion of space.” The combination of ceramic or porcelain wall tiles and mosaics remain an ever-popular and practical choice. Other current favourites include natural stone, manufactured stone, glass block, glass tile, porcelain and acrylic. Subway tiles are also popular.
Lustrolite: This is a high gloss, acrylic décor sheet ideal for decorative panelling. It has a mirror-like reflection and comes in a variety of trendy colours. “It won’t crack, chip, scratch or discolour, making it perfect for shower and other bathroom applications. It is easy to install, doesn’t need grouting and can be installed over existing wall finishes,” says Jasmin.
Vinyl: There has been a massive resurgence in the popularity of vinyl as a floor covering. It is water- and stain-resistant, warm underfoot, cost-effective, easy to clean and durable. It is available in a wide range of colours and patterns, the most popular being those that simulate natural materials, such as natural stone and timber. It is available in sheets, tiles and planks, and is easy to install.
“Cabinetry comes in a wide variety of sizes and styles,” says Jasmin. “Wall-hung cabinetry looks as though it is floating, and creates the illusion of more space. It also adds a streamlined, designer look to the room.” “Upcycling is also a huge trend,” says Debra from Tile Africa. “Instead of tossing out a chest of drawers, why not use it in the bathroom as a vanity? Add a coat of paint or varnish and incorporate your existing basin on the top.”
Heated towel rails
Although heated towel rails will take the chill off your towels, their main purpose is to keep your bathroom towels dry and free of damp-loving bacteria. “Numerous technologies have been developed to limit the energy consumption of these bathroom beauties – namely DET (dry element technology), which allows for rapid heat-up times and allows for temperature control,” says Craig from Bathroom Butler.
When it comes to finishing off your bathroom, nothing is more important than sealing it. A good sealant, apart from giving your bathroom an aesthetically pleasing finish, will seal gaps and restrict water flow between basins, cupboards and shower frames, which, if left, could cause rotting and, in turn, unpleasant odours. A product like Den Braven’s Silicone-Sanitary, which has a mildew and bacteria inhibitor, is a good idea as it adheres very well to a range of surfaces, without peeling or breaking off. Use it to seal around baths, basins, showers and cabinets to protect them.