The bathroom has come along way in the past one hundred years. Once just a basic tub set in front of the living room fire and filled with buckets of water, the bathing experience is now a luxury in almost every western home. Back then, a "bathroom" was something only the wealthy and privileged could afford to have in their house. It was this trend which lead to the mass production of bathroom products.
The Edwardian and Victorian styles of the time are still a popular choice today. They look exquisite in a villa or cottage bathroom, and never loose their appeal in terms of design.
Today, thanks to advanced plumbing and modern technology, the bathroom may well have evolved as far as it can. With luxury steam rooms and hydrotherapy baths, it's difficult to imagine how bathrooms could get any more sophisticated. That said, the bathroom, like any room in the house, is ever changing in terms of design trends.
Here we look at the five most popular styles of bathroom designs. Traditional, Country, Shabby chic, Contemporary and Fantasy.
The Traditional bathroom can mean either traditional in terms of Edwardian or Victorian style, or in respect to a standard white bathroom with basic sanitary ware and bath. Here, we'll be looking at the style of bathroom design where it all started. The Edwardian bathroom.
Over the past decade, with the popularity of TV shows like Changing Rooms, the trend for old-fashioned bathrooms has seen a real upsurge. A rare gem of an old slipper bath or rusty traditional faucet may be found at a scrap yard or in a skip, but thankfully manufacturers are keeping up with demand with skillfully crafted traditional bathroom products.
Certain rooms only work in certain houses, so if you're living in a modern high rise apartment the traditional bathroom isn't going to work for you. If you have an old cottage or villa retreat this style of bathroom is one you should definitely consider.
Almost always, the bath is the centre piece attraction of the traditional bathroom. A free-standing roll-top or slipper bath sits proudly on a dark polished floor, and only if going for a traditional continental style bathroom will an inset or sunken tub hold appeal. Either a wall-mounted faucet or a free-standing one looks classy. Deep ridges and curved angles are what makes the traditional sanitary ware what it is - bold and masculine.
When decorating a traditional bathroom both soft tones and bold colours can work well. Strong tones of browns, maroons and greens give a nice warmth to the room, but be sure the bathroom is well lit, maybe with a lavish chandelier. With the right colours, antique gold can look better than chrome. Go for curtains, never blinds. If going for a vanity unit rather than a traditional basin and pedestal, choose an oak or cherry finish; or the white Cynk vanity unit is a good look with traditional baths and toilets.
One of the most appealing things about the traditional bathroom is clutter gives it more of a lived-in effect, thus enhancing the traditional look. Don't be afraid to put plenty of pictures on the walls - black and white family portraits in gold frames are a good look. A chest of drawers or corner table with scented candles, aromatherapy oils or flowers will really bring the room to life. As a finishing touch an old style set of weighing scales, a large framed mirror or bulky traditional radiator will give the room that cozy old-fashioned feel.
The country style bathroom is perhaps the easiest type of design to create, and like the traditional bathroom only really works well within the right house. The classic country look is best associated with floral wallpaper, high beams, basin frills and a bath canopy. Following the traditional design, cast iron baths and deep ridged sanitary ware are what gives the country bathroom its nostalgic look.
Check, floral or plaid curtains are preferred over roller blinds, and shutters, though rare in England, offer a great form of privacy as well as adding to the country effect. Wood plays a big part in this look, and almost all furniture works well in this setting, especially beech, maple, ash and oak vanity units and cabinets.
Either tiles or wooden floors can be used. Tiles should be a rustic colour, and can be used to create elaborate mosaics. Wooden floors should be varnished to match the furniture. Decorating may see a stenciled motif used as a border, and the technique of rubbing paint on the walls with a sponge gives the room that worn natural look.
Toilets with high level cisterns and pull chains are very rare these days, but a must have for the country bathroom, as are traditional taps for the bath and basin. Just about any kind of free-standing bath will suit the country bathroom. If wishing to have a shower a tiled walk-in shower is the advisable option with a curtain to conceal the area.
For the final touch add wicker baskets filled with pot pouri, wire basket shelves and stylish wall lamps.
"Shabby chic", a relatively new phrase used to describe room designs, is an obscure blend of neglect and style. It is one of the most difficult bathroom designs to create, and it takes a bold decision to go for this bathroom style. It almost certainly achieves its full potential in a continental house, either a French chateau or old Spanish villa.
The absolute opposite of a fitted bathroom, the shabby chic look is a mismatch of styles and products. You can even do the unexpected, like put a put a refrigerator in the corner. Nothing is expected to match and pipework and plumbing are on show rather than concealed. This style is best suited to those who have inherited a bathroom and want to update it a little rather than fork out on a brand new bathroom suite.
The key to decoration is neutral tones with a few dark colors. For the walls choose a matte or flat wall paint. Pale golds and yellows work particularly well as does floral or check patterned wallpaper.
As with the country and traditional bathrooms, cast iron baths are a must. Either a roll-top or slipper bath will do, and although you don't want holes or rust, the more dilapidated it looks the better. Even consider running sandpaper over the paint work and claw feet. It's always worth looking out for old fittings at antique shops and car boot sales.
Counter top basins are highly recommended in this setting, and the look out for extremely unusual decorated designs. Place it on a washstand or run-down vanity unit. Add unique ornaments and antique framed mirrors.
Modern bathrooms are all about what you do with the space you have. Within many bathrooms there is little room to work with, so making the most of the space is essential. This is why fitted bathroom suites are now so popular. Having bathroom furniture made to measure is one of the most practical design solutions when remodeling the bathroom.
How many of us have had a bathroom with a cluttered airing cupboard? With the modern bathroom there's no need to cram your toiletries, towels and cleaning fluids around the boiler. With fitted vanity units, storage units and cabinets you'll have all the space you need.
When examining modern bathroom design, wall-hung furniture has to get a mention. White gloss will never go out of fashion, but more recently furniture finishes such as wenge, beech and maple have made a real emergence in popularity.
As well as the furniture, wall-hung sanitary ware is a great space-saving solution while giving the bathroom a contemporary feel. Also, concealed cistern units are a more eye-pleasing look than the standard close-coupled toilet.
Showerbaths are a great practical way of optimizing the space, so that you have the comfort of both bathing and showering. Walk-in showers are also very popular in the modern bathroom, and if buying a shower enclosure for the modern bathroom choose one with a chrome structure over white.
Chrome and stainless steel are the ultimate choice in the modern bathroom, and taps and bath mixers are available in a number of contemporary designs, rather than the traditional style faucets. Also, choose chrome towel rails over standard white radiators, as well as matching chrome accessories..
Don't be afraid to decorate with bold colours when tiling or painting, getting the contrast right with the chrome and the gloss. If using curtains be subtle with the designs and colours, but preferably go for stylish roller blinds.
Daring to be anything more than conventional, the fantasy bathroom design lets you be truly innovative with your fantasies and tastes. With the emphasis on futuristic, this style of bathroom is the antithesis of the traditionalist.
The fantasy design is ideally exclusive to only larger bathrooms, as with all futuristic interior design large open spaces are what brings the room together. Steam cabins and whirlpool baths are the ideal choice for showering and bathing. Or combine the two will a well designed bath screen and a glass shower panel. Because of their minimal effect, Walk-in showers also work well with modern tiling, chrome shower fixtures and classy shower lighting.
For the sanitary ware go with wall-hung or standard close-coupled toilet and basin with pedestal with acute angles and a contemporary design. Abstract towel rails and wenge wall-hung furniture fit well in the fantasy bathroom, giving it that calm almost surreal look.
The ultimate luxury in a fantasy bathroom would have to be a waterproof TV. You could even think of doubling the bathroom up as gym, complete with exercise bike and rowing machine.