Master plan

30 Mar, 15

The three-piece suite is all but irrelevant for the main bathroom reports Philippa Turrell

Where once the starting point of bathroom design would be based upon a suite, the general consensus is the overall aesthetic now determines an on-trend project. The bathroom is now a more considered area, as it is just as likely to incorporate bathing and showering experiences, plus furniture, as it is to include the sanitaryware. Marketing manager of Victoria + Albert baths, Jonathan Carter believes: “the concept of the main bathroom has become more amorphous with baths, mirrors and vanity tables spilling out into the master bathroom in designs that are more akin to hotel suites.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean sanitaryware isn’t still an integral choice for the bathroom. It’s just that a one-size fits all approach no longer exists. Marketing manager of Laufen, Sarah Holey explains: “Where the overall styling will most likely be uniform throughout the suite, there needs to be a range of solutions to choose from when it comes to size and execution, for example enabling customers to tailor the suite to meet their own needs.”

And it means to create the overall aesthetic of the bathroom; it’s just as likely the starting point could be from the colour palette offered by furniture, through to a bath, basin or tap. Marketing manager for Roca Group (UK), Georgina Spencer explains: “Design of the bathroom is now quite likely to start by selecting a statement washbasin or bathtub and then building the rest of the space around these, either to complement or to contrast.”  And national sales manager of VitrA, Darren Paxford agrees, pointing out: “People take all sorts of springboards for their bathroom design; it could be a striking tap, a beautiful vanity unit or a wonderfully sculptured basin.”

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With the burgeoning list of specification for the master bathroom, what it does mean is sanitaryware styling has been influenced by the growing trend for furniture. Think back to wall and wall hung WCs, as well as countertop or drop-in basins for the most popular styles. Head of trading (bathrooms) at PJGH Group, Rob Higgins says: “Designs are adapting to fit around this influx of furniture, such as vanity units with integrated basins, semi-recessed basin, and for use with WC furniture units – back-to-wall WCs and concealed cisterns.” And channel marketing manager for showroom at Ideal Standard, Clare Surplice agrees, fleshing out the details with her company’s most popular models: “We are seeing more people opting for wall hung WCs, while vanity or vessel basins with furniture are more popular than pedestals. When it comes to size, furniture units tend to be 600 or 800mm, while those with more available space will go up to 1200mm.”

While wall-hung sanitaryware is an undoubted trend, there has also been a gentle influence of period styling, as Georgina Spencer of Roca points out: “We are also seeing something of resurgence in traditional bathroom fittings, including pedestal basins.”


Of course, the wall-hung trend is not just for looks alone, it also lends itself to rooms which may be compromised for space. With the master bathroom expected to be used by an entire family, and incorporate products allowing bathing through to showering – such an enclosures or cubicles (see Expert View) , wall-hung sanitaryware makes the most of a reduced space.

Marketing manager of Frontline Bathrooms, Emma Gaskell comments: “A reduction in space has also influenced how sanitaryware is typically mounted and wall-hung options, which free up all-important floor space, have surged in popularity.” She adds: “Space-saving sanitaryware has also become popular.” And Georgina Spencer agrees: “One of the biggest factors influencing sanitaryware design is space-saving, which is [one of the reasons] why we are seeing an increasing amount of wall-hung basins and furniture being included in the main bathroom.”



The pared-down look of wall-hung sanitaryware, in particular basins, is not only emphasised but bolstered by the latest fashion for straight and slim-lined models. The slim-rimmed sanitaryware provides visual weightlessness in terms of the material, complementing the uncluttered ambience of a room where designers have removed furniture and sanitaryware from the floor.

Sarah Holey of Laufen agrees: “Sanitaryware with thin profiles is set to be a key trend going forwards.” And her view is re-iterated by product manager of Twyford, Gemma Cornes, who goes into a little more detail: “The trend for slim-style washbasins will continue to evolve for basins to be even slimmer, with anything from 25-45mm thickness with the bowel depth discreetly concealed into the top drawer of the vanity unit and hidden overflows will complete the streamlined, high-end look.”

However, just as the design pendulum reaches the length of its swing for straight lines, comes the news curves will make a return. Although it is more than likely these trends will run concurrently.  Brand manager of Aquadi at the Symphony Group, Jack Hendy points out: “This year, we’re going to be seeing curves become a key trend in bathroom dseign. Offering sumptuous detailing whilst still maximising the use of space, curves offer a statement piece in the bathroom.” And his view is reinforced by head of marketing at Keramag Design, Sabine Mane who comments: “The design trend has moved towards what we call ‘soft geometry’, which has a curvier design that is modern, yet timeless. Bathroom washbasins in particular are embracing these softer shapes.”



But arguably the greatest trend to affect the master bathroom, moving forwards, will be one of demographics rather than ‘pure’ aesthetic design. With a growing ageing population, and rising house prices causing more generations to live under one roof, multigenerational design will lead the trends in master bathroom design. Already we have seen a growing presence of rimless WCs to ease cleaning but also shower toilets, which have been adapted from the care market to become a luxurious experience. Managing director of Duravit, Martin Carroll points out: “Bathrooms have to adaptable to accommodate our changing lifestyles. With an ageing population and also many more multi-generational families, they need to fill different requirements for people of different ages and also be capable of enlargement or modification. Architects and bathroom planners are called on more than ever to think in terms of all-round comfort and relaxation to accommodate families’ different needs.”

So when faced with planning a master bathroom, don’t only think of the activities and the storage, sanitaryware and bathing/shower requirements for the users now. Think of how you can future proof your projects, so the ‘living’-style bathroom grows organically with the users.

The full article appeared in Kitchens & Bathrooms News March 2015 issue