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New Zealand Home & Building, October-November 1985

Plugging the Bathroom

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Plugging the Bathroom

Freed from the hangover of Victorian prudery, the bathroom has become one of the leisure areas of the modern home: a luxury place where we can loaf a little, soak a little, relax in peace and privacy — and feel perfectly justified in doing so.

It is natural, then, that bathroom design and decor should reflect this theme of indulgence. Uninspiring bathrooms are a thing of the past. With the fittings and finishes available today, this very necessary space can be made as alluring as any other room in the house, with tiles, carpets, stained glass, mirrors, colour, patterns, plants and beautiful baths, basins and showers to help things along.

A bathroom can be designed as a retreat. It can open onto gardens and courtyards or into bedrooms, and (with a spa bath in situ) can even become one of the social areas of the house. And the mood that is created in a bathroom can be as wide as your imagination. Dramatic perhaps, or elegant, sensual, frivolous or bizarre. On the following pages we have brought you four bathroom interiors which illustrate a few of the possibilities for imaginative creation in that one room of the house which, not so long ago, nobody liked to mention.

Timbered for Warmth and Richness

Like most of us who have to live within our means, the owners of this Titirangi home had to work around some of the existing features of their family bathroom for the sake of economy.

The bluestone vanity was to be kept, and so was the large window which overlooked the backyard.

The room is east facing and surrounded by high bush, and so has a tendency to be cold. The blue vanity did little to help.

It was decided to carry the blue through to the bath, the shower and the coved vinyl flooring and to visually warm the room with the use of timber.

The T & G boards are selected Fijian kauri selected at random for variety of colour and grain.

Their diagonal placement further emphasises the timber as the dominant feature and, together with the placement of opposing mirrors, helps to increase the apparent size of the room.

To make use of the existing window, it was decided to landscape the yard behind and integrate the waterfall pool and rock gardens into the whole design, instead of relying on blinds to shut out the inside.

The effect of all these considerations is a rich, warm and dramatic bathroom which is lightened by the visual inclusion of the landscape.

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Designed for Interest

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As part of a fascinating house full of shapes and corners, this bathroom was designed to fit into a tall, circular tower with a diameter of only 2.4 metres. The mezzanine, which is close to the master bedroom, with small steps leading up to it, is so mall it will only hold the bath. The washstand and shower are on the lower level.

For the owners this was an ideal solution. They are not so concerned with how a bathroom works practically, but now it looks and feels; and this one is a little outrageous with a sense of fun and interest. As it is, it still works well in a practical sense. While "she" is soaking in the bath looking up through the circular window at the top of the tower, "he" can be downstairs taking a shower.

"Having a bath up there," says the owner, "feels like being in another realm. I just retire up to that height and sink into the hot water to be alone with the moonlight and the stars. It is a delicious and indulgent sensation."

The mezzanine height also plays up the shape of the bath which, being an old one, is individual and, painted purple and pink, adds to the sense of fun. The interior walk of the tower are rough trowelled plaster painted white, which gives it a light Mediterranean look. The rest of the fittings are simple and subservient to the shape and texture of the room.

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Combined Areas Make an Opulent Room

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The bathroom in this large, turn of the century home was originally composed of two rooms — a kitchen and a bath-room. The owners opened it into one room (4.26 metres by 4.57 metres) for a large, spacious bathroom in keeping with the rooms of the rest of the house. The large mirrors and the colouring of the room, which tends towards neutral tones (malt brown, primrose and ivory) further increase this sense of space.

The fittings are also outsized. A large whirlpool bath is surrounded by cream tiles and has a raised platform of tiles to one side. The shower, which is a roomy 1.52 metres by 1.37 metres was specifically constructed, to the owner's requirement, of tile and smoked glass.

Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of the room is the orange glow of the timbered flooring built of New Guinea Yaka and surfaced with a hard, high gloss finish. A touch of interest is the cast iron cupboard door handles which are 120 years old and come off the printing trays from an old Dun-edin printing company.

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Enlarging with White

This small upstairs bathroom is not en suite to the master bedroom but close enough to be easily reached. It tucks in under the sloping roof to make use of an otherwise awkward area.

Simplicity is the key to its design and decor. The room is small, and the idea was to make

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it seem larger. This has been achieved with an all-white colour scheme, large floor tiles and a shower over the bath. The small size has also been increased by the uncluttered effect of continuing the same size tiles up the wall and on to the wash bench. Two layers of tiles around its edge, instead of one, give the bench a substantial, solid appearance.

There is also a surprising amount of storage space; under the basin and in an airing cupboard at one end of the room.

A long horizontal window and a small skylight allow plenty of natural light into the room and help give it a glossy finish.

"The moonlight and the overhead trees viewed through the skylight at night have quite an amazing effect," says the owner/designer, "and we have managed to create the atmosphere that I think is essential for a bathroom — serenity. I feel bathrooms should be tranquil places where you can go and shut the door and commune with yourself. I would even go so far as to say that this is my favourite room. There is nothing more luxurious — more indulgent — than having your own bathroom after years of sharing one with squeezed toothpaste, muddy football shorts and dirty rings around the bath."

The focal points of the room — the dried flowers in the cop-Per urn and raffia fans on the wall — were chosen because they conjure up the feeling of wooden scrubbing brushes and natural sponges which, with the white walls, are reminiscent of old whitewashed bathrooms.

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