From antique style roll top baths and stately pedestal sinks to modernist taps and minimalist wall-mounted toilets, your options for kitting out your new bathroom could be virtually boundless – if you have unlimited time, money and space, that is. But if, like most of us, you don’t, here’s some advice on finding a bathroom suite to suit your needs.
- Plastic: Light, easy to transport, warm, readily available in many different styles and sizes, and by far the lowest cost option. However, you do tend to get the longevity you pay for and a plastic bath will become discoloured, worn, and cracked after a few years of use.
- Steel: Enamel-coated steel baths are a longer lasting choice and minor damage can usually be repaired.
- Cast iron: Highly robust. But pricey and heavy, so be sure your floor can support the weight (when it’s full of water) before you install one of these.
Pick ‘n’ Mix Suites
The complete bathroom suite is a popular option, often including the whole shebang – bath and panel, sink, pedestal, and taps, toilet bowl, cistern and seat – all matching for one comprehensive price. This will usually be your most economical choice and ensure everything fits properly. However, mixing and matching could be a good idea if you’d like to have some variation in your suite. Perhaps you’d like to have a basic sink and toilet with a feature bath, or a low-priced bath and toilet, but splash out on an eye-catching designer sink. Just be aware that when buying separately compatibility may be an issue, for example, most sinks only sit properly on the pedestal designed for them.
There’s a wealth of options, so start by narrowing down your choices. Panelled wall-side bath or freestanding? Traditional or contemporary? Corner or standard? Double ended baths are becoming increasingly popular – with central taps to allow you to lie at either end of the tub. Roll top baths are back in a big way, but require a lot of space, and be aware that the plumbing is likely to be on show. Other popular designs include “slipper” baths, where the side is higher at one end than the other, and “boat” baths, which have the lowest part in the middle and taper towards the floor. But don’t be too swayed by fashion, choose a tub you can see yourself relaxing in, that meets your household’s needs and fits with your overall look. Remember, a bath is a big item, so do make sure the one you choose will fit through the door to be installed.
Traditional pedestal sinks are popular because all the plumbing is neatly hidden behind the stem. Or, if you’ve got the space, a vanity unit encased sink is a good way to add storage and conceal the plumbing. Plus, the unit can easily be refreshed and updated, possibly with just a coat of paint, in the future. Wall-hung sinks are a good option if space is minimal and have the advantage of being able to be placed at whatever height suits you. Just make sure your wall is strong enough to support the weight.
Most modern toilets come with the cistern attached close to the back of the pan, making them quieter and neater than the old high-cistern models. However, if you’re going for the traditional look these are still available if you shop around. If space allows, you could have the cistern concealed in the wall, but do ensure the panel covering it is removable for maintenance. This is obviously a more expensive option because of the work involved, but you can recoup some of the cost by using a cheaper plastic cistern. If you really can’t stand the sight of plumbing you could complete the look with a wall hung toilet. These are becoming increasingly popular with their slick, minimalist look, plus they have added benefit of being more hygienic as it’s easier to clean the floor beneath.
Your choice of taps can transform your bathroom, so think carefully about what you want before making your purchases. Mixers avoid the old scorch-freeze shuffle between taps when washing hands, but will look out of place in an antique-style bathroom. Polished stainless steel or chrome finishes look clean and light, or a brushed finish will avoid smudges. Copper gives a lovely antique look, whilst brass gives a luxurious feel. Or, if you really want a decadent bathroom and your budget allows, you could even go for gold plated. Always check your taps fit the holes in your bath or sink before making your purchase.