We’ve recently written about the importance of planning a bathroom renovation, and for us it’s about creating a space where getting ready for the day, an evening out, or just winding down from the day, feels effortless. It’s kind of an escape room for a few minutes or a few hours. 

Creating a feeling of calm in these spaces relies on layout, fittings, finishes, colour and styling. 

When it comes to layout, creating space, or the illusion of space, is a way of bringing luxury to your bathroom. We don’t all live in huge houses, and we don’t live in our bathrooms all day, so most homes will be careful about how much space is dedicated to the bathroom areas. This is where being clever with your fixtures and finishes can help you create a sense of space. 

We’ve renovated lots of apartments in inner-city Sydney, and space is a premium here. Along the way we created our own way of making small spaces feel bigger. 

Wherever we can, we plan to keep the floor space ‘clean’ which in essence means we try to keep the floor clear of clutter. We always preferred to use wall-hung vanity units and toilets as these give your eye the illusion that the space is bigger and doesn’t ‘bring the walls in’. 

In small bathrooms we commonly created our own ‘vanity unit’ by having our builder construct a shelf wall which hid the plumbing, provided a narrow shelf to display products and off which we hung basins and tapware. Above this we installed mirrored shaving cabinets, high enough to be functional and allow space from the shelf wall which created a ‘niche-effect’. We used this design a lot as it offered lots of storage and kept the floor space clean. 

For smaller bathrooms we have also played a lot with mirrors, and with gloss wall tiles to maximize light and the illusion of space. A mirrored wall avoids the business of grout lines and in fact is a lot easier to clean!

Mirrors in bathrooms can be quite confronting, especially when they are full length and full wall! You must have a certain kind of confidence, but trust us, in the right bathrooms they work so well, and double as your wardrobe mirror. 

Whenever you use mirrors in your design the first thing to consider is location. What do you want to see in the reflection, and what you don’t want to see more importantly? Stand at the bathroom door and imagine what the reflection of the mirror will capture. You may have gone to a lot of trouble to hide the toilet behind a door or vanity to have your feature mirror bring it back into view, so take the time to imagine what you will see. Clever placement however might just blow the room out in a good way.

Over the years we have done things like using framed mirrors bought from retail stores to hang on bathroom walls, through to custom cut and installed full mirror walls. 

In small bathrooms we’ve even used a complete wall of smokey tinted mirror in a shower alcove which created a sophisticated and dramatic space. You can play with tinted mirrors when you use them as features however functional mirrors should avoid any tint. 

If mirrored walls are for you, remember bathrooms are wet areas and you don’t want any moisture to get behind the mirror as it will stain and deteriorate the backing, which will be ugly. You should ensure your mirrored walls are cut and installed by experts, who will use the right adhesives and make sure the mirrors are sealed correctly.

Remember, no walls are exactly square, and you can’t bend sheets of mirror, so the finish you get will depend upon the expertise of the installer. You don’t want large ‘globs’ of silicon all over the place! Also, for wet areas any full-length wall mirror must be raised slightly off the ground, so plan on having a 2-3 cm row of tiles along the bottom edge on which the mirror will sit. It ensures the mirror is raised out of any water, and overall, you won’t notice it at all!

In essence, mirrors used cleverly will make your bathroom feel much bigger, bring in more light, create a view, are easy to clean and overall will be a more luxurious space to get ready for the world. 

July 13, 2022 — Mark McKie

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