Bastide washstand in a finish called Blue Ashes

Decluttering Designs

Display your expensive bathroom brands and hide the bleach! Lucy Baker-Kind dips into the world of storage and space-saving solutions

22 August 2017

Our bathrooms are groaning under the weight of potions and lotions, yet we don’t want to see rows of items cluttering up our surfaces. Bathroom storage is a sensible solution and there are various options available to hide the day-to-day ‘stuff’. 

Richard Griffin, managing director of RGC Inspirations Kitchens and Bathrooms in Dartmouth, is finding his customers prefer concealed storage to keep the look streamlined, with cupboards being the top choice: “Drawers in bathrooms are best if they are tall, deep and single, otherwise there is generally insufficient height for large bottles,” he says. 

While the latest fashion in materials and finishes always has a market, Richard is seeing a move towards Shaker-style and heritage design, to complement the popular Victorian roll-top baths. Freestanding furniture lends itself to a period feel – think floor-standing towel rails, tall cupboards and drawers. 

Handcrafted oak cabinetry from Fired Earth at Darts Farm is a popular choice for storage, especially the tall Bastide linen cupboard, which offers generous shelves and drawers in a timeless design. Leila Roberts, from Fired Earth Product Development, says: “Our range includes everything from classic washstands and cabinets in oak or teak, to minimalist basin and drawer units in contemporary finishes.” 

For those with freestanding baths with no surrounding ledge, Leila advises a washstand with built-in storage, wall-mounted soap dishes and shower stacks: “Accessories like these are sophisticated finishing touches and really help to bring a scheme together.” 

Simon Willmott, Project Manager of Devon Stone in Topsham, agrees that freestanding units are a simple addition to a room, and they can also incorporate lighting and mirrors. For durability, all floor-standing items should be water-resistant, “as water can track from a shower floor up into the units and cause the bottom of the units to degrade.” He recommends the Bisazza Quadro Bloem unit, which also comes with matching mosaic tiles: “if the client is adventurous enough!” 

For a modern look, Richard advises wall-hung and fitted units, often topped with practical DuPont Corian worktops. With wet rooms growing in popularity, modern waterproof materials are a necessity, which have the added benefit of being easy to clean and maintain – available in wood-grain effects, a rainbow of colours or a glossy sheen. “Greys and whites are by far the most popular colour choices, followed by muted pastels, but with a smattering of hot pink and lime green,” claims Richard. 

If customers are considering storage in a new-build, Leila recommends recessed cabinets above basins. Creating tiled niches in walls in the shower cubicle ensures bottles are to hand. “If you’re creating a completely new bathroom, you can plan your storage requirements from the outset, to make the best use of partition walls,” advises Leila. 

Simon also advocates the wall niche, which can be left open and lit, or installing a flush-mounted mirror door to hide unnecessary clutter: “They can be incorporated with minimal expense, but need to be considered at the planning stage.” 

If floor area is at a premium, space-saving solutions are always in demand, with vanity units and hidden cupboards under sinks really coming into their own. Simon sees storage installed in the unlikeliest of places, including within bath panels: “Using a flush door to match the panel design, with magnetic catches, the storage is almost invisible.” 

Storage can be achieved on a budget; the advice from Richard is to keep it simple and prioritise what’s needed, with the minimum number of units. Even bathroom storage can’t escape technological advances. “Some wall cabinets include sensor-activated lighting as well as having charging points tucked away to help declutter surfaces and keep them clear from bulky electric shavers and toothbrushes,” says Leila. 

The humble mirror unit can incorporate de-mister pads, radios and even TVs. “These can be linked to home-automation systems along with bathroom lighting, providing a bright room in which to start your day and a softly lit, relaxing room in which to wind down at the day’s end,” concludes Simon.

“Freestanding furniture lends itself to a period feel – think floor-standing towel rails, tall cupboards and drawers”