Freshen up your bathroom

Be inspired by nature when choosing fittings, writes Susan Edmunds.

Bathrooms are the little luxury that you enjoy every day.

And whether it's a heated towel rail to make getting out of the shower in the morning a bit easier or an extra-deep bath to submerge in after work, small improvements to your bathroom can have a surprisingly big effect on your life.

But unlike living rooms and bedrooms, where most people are comfortable adding throws or ornaments to adapt the decor to their own style, too often we revert to the tried and true when it comes to bathrooms.

There's no reason to - taking on some of the season's trends can really change the look of your bathroom and make it that much enjoyable to relax in.

One of the biggest design shifts has been to bathrooms that take their inspiration from nature. Instead of white, they are decorated in very pale beiges and browns and instead of ceramic fittings, they usenatural stone or even concrete. Even wooden floors are taking over from tiles and there is a growing trend to use recycled materials.

If you are using tiles of any kind, the trend is for them to be much bigger than in previous years, and often in the same style on the walls and floors, giving a cocoon-like effect.

Opt for gloss tiles on the walls and matte on the floors. Frameless glass screens are really popular- anything that makes the elements of the bathroom appear to flow together, rather than sit apart.

Showers are also becoming much bigger. Homeowners with small bathrooms are often opting for a big shower at the expense of a bath. Some are taking this even further, turning the entire bathroom into a wet room, with no partition at all for the shower.

If you're contemplating this, call in the experts- correct drainage and waterproofing is essential. Decorators are opting for square taps and fittings, rather than round ones, and basins are now usually the kind that sits on top of the vanity, rather than being recessed.

This fits in with the natural theme - it's almost as if you've rested a bowl of water on the vanity. Rather than pure chrome, look at bronze for your fittings.

The step away from traditional vanities often comes with a loss of storage, so vertical cupboards and shelving units are becoming really popular. You can pick these up cheaply and they can look great - stacked with brightly coloured towels, for instance.

This allows you to add and remove storage space as you need it. If you are painting your bathroom walls, it is important to choose paints that are specifically designed for wet areas.

Acrylic paints are easier to handle than enamels but enamels are a lot more durable, especially in areas where there is a lot of moisture.

If you are unsure, ask an expert for help. A fabulous way to add colour in a subtle way is to opt for something a bit different on the ceiling. You might have very pale colours on the walls and then a slightly darker shade on the ceiling, giving a kind of halo to the room.

Your bathroom accessories are your chance to play around with different looks. At the moment, grey driftwood tones are extremely popular for towels and bathmats.

Otherwise, greens and browns complement the nature-in-yourbathroom idea. Grab a pile of driftwood and pop it in a vase in the corner.

You can really go all out and add in things such as flat screen TVs for true luxury and indulgence in your bathroom. Some designers even report people sneaking in televisions that look like

- Hamilton News

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