Is it the Frenchness of the word or the privacy that makes an en suite feel like a luxury? Clare Hunt finds out what to consider when installing one.
With a tang of luxury and indulgence, a master bedroom with its own bath- or shower-room can feel a bit, well, boudoir-ish. But increasingly, multi-bedroom properties are expected to have a master with an en suite. So if you haven't already got one, it's worth considering how to carve out a niche of space to transform into a private bathroom.
Like hotel bathrooms, en suites tend to be small, certainly smaller than main bathrooms; they often have restricted natural light (or none at all), and are always immediately connected to the bedroom. So, looking to boutique hotel design can be a source of abundant inspiration. But don't get carried away by the glamour and forget about the practicalities: installing a bathtub in the bedroom might feel opulent and continental, but will it work day-to-day? David Aspinall, Bathroom Design Director at Sapphire Spaces in Topsham says: "Steam showers and shower toilets are becoming more popular. Our clients are really thinking about relaxation, hygiene and future-proofing their homes should mobility become an issue in the future. If you invest in well thought out design and good quality products, your room should remain ageless and last you for years to come." So where to begin?
While all-white is traditionally considered a space-maker, en suites benefit from a sense of luxe. This can be conjured by rich colours or wallpaper with striking patterns. If you're using artificial light anyway, pale colours aren't necessary. Palettes may be rich, but keeping them restricted will prevent things getting too busy. Natural wood and stone feel cocooning and evoke a luxury spa feeling. You can choose to either reflect the style of the bedroom (without being painfully matchy) in the en suite, or treat it as a completely distinct space. Just remember to take into account what will be visible from the bedroom when the bathroom door is open, and vice versa.
You wouldn't ordinarily choose to sleep in the bathroom, but with an ill-planned en suite that's what you could feel like you're doing. Managing noise, smells and steam is vital and should be a priority when planning your room. Exploiting existing plumbing will benefit your budget – it's certainly going to be more cost-effective than a layout that needs all-new pipework. And things that might seem like cosmetic details should be considered upfront too. "What kind of flooring materials are you going to use? You need to decide this early on to ensure that you have the correct floor levels to accommodate your tile choice, without creating unseemly lips and thresholds. Try to avoid being left with visible tile edges around shower enclosures. Bring the plasterboard forward to create a flush finish with a shadow gap detail. Are you going to add underfloor heating? Electric pads are a good option in refurbs. Remember to add wiring for mirror demisters and don't forget storage!" says Matthew.
En suites are commonly bijou, so making good use of limited space is vital. Think hard about the fittings you really need and choose slimline styles or space-conscious designs like corner toilets. Choosing a shower rather than a bath is an obvious option, but if you must have a bath opt for slipper or sunken models. Matthew Robinson, Director of JAM Interiors in Exeter, recommends a wetroom shower floor with a single glass screen fixed floor-to-ceiling to create a sense of space. Walk-in showers that fill the width of the room feel airy when combined with ceiling-mounted showerheads and clear, frameless doors.
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