Your bathroom may be a restful haven of tranquility or the source of contention and family traffic jams each morning. Yet the smallest room in the house is also the one we’re most reluctant to redecorate, which means it can become dated and depressing. Interiors magazines are often unhelpful, showing freestanding baths in huge rooms with floor to ceiling windows and views over lakes or distant mountains. It’s a far cry from the spaces most of us have available and a non-starter if you have neighbours!

Yet, with good planning, it’s possible to combine an elegant, contemporary design aesthetic and exceptional functionality. Don’t be afraid to move the bath or sanitary ware about to optimise your space. Similarly, altering your radiator’s position and style can remove design limitations without adding significant extra costs. Changing your plumbing is not as expensive as you might think and can make an enormous difference.

If space is at a premium, a bath with shower makes good sense and bath taps that include a hand-held spray head are essential for washing your hair, sluicing off grubby children and even cleaning the bath easily. Look for baths that are hardwearing, scratch-resistant and easy to maintain, and opt for a statement power shower that’ll wake even a teenager up first thing. Prices vary enormously. You can buy a bathroom suite for under £200, or splash out on a hand carved limestone egg bath for the price of a two bed flat in town. If you want something special, have a look at handmade wooden baths, Japanese baths or an Edwardian style.

Walk in showers are a good alternative to a wet room and it’s worth checking out specialist options if you have mobility issues. If you do have the space, consider a steam shower or an infra-red sauna cabinet. The latter have been shown to add to health and wellbeing enormously.

Have a tour round some of the local bathroom suppliers to gather ideas and get some free planning advice. Current trends are moving towards a less angular, more relaxed feel, with bold statement shower heads and streamlined, but generous storage. Taps are tending towards minimalist. Treat yourself to a wardrobe sized bathroom cabinet. Some designers are reintroducing colour to bathroom suites. Black looks dramatic, but white remains the popular choice, so run riot with colour elsewhere. Neutrals may end up being a little too hotel room impersonal, a sunny yellow lifts the morning moodiness and blues and greens are calming. Deep blues and purples can be opulent or overwhelming while a deep baroque red can work startlingly well, creating a luxurious cocoon with just a hint of the sybaritic.

All you need now is to find your rubber duck.

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