By Annabel Karim Kassar
The bathroom is often something of an afterthought when it comes to interior design. Perhaps this is because it is a relatively recent development. Most houses did not have a dedicated bathroom until the Victorian middle classes began squeezing them into existing layouts. To this day, bathrooms often remain stuck awkwardly next to bedrooms or hidden at the end of corridors.
Yet we would do well to think more about the bathroom. It’s a place we go to seek peace and privacy, to prepare ourselves — mentally as well as physically — to face the world outside.
It’s time to celebrate the bathroom as a place of sanctuary. This modern home in Marrakesh, on the market for €3.9mn, is a great example of how the bathroom can be as carefully designed as the rest of the home, and includes a hammam and massage room. There are a few things it does well and a few things that can be added to make sure the bathroom gets the focus it needs.
Rethink the bathroom
If you have the chance, consider choosing a prominent, unexpected location for your bathroom. Why hide it away upstairs, far from family life? You could have a central bathroom with rooms radiating from it or even combine your bathroom with a gym, as the Romans did. For the Marrakesh property, I would channel the spirit of the thermae in the hammam with this set of leather and brushed bronze weights by Giobagnara.
Flee the tyranny of white tiles
Textured walls and sensual colours can make a bathroom feel enveloping and womblike. A toilet can be transformed into a secret cave with the addition of lacquered red walls or by papering it with reading materials. I decorated the walls of a toilet in one London house with embossed leather and this washable Taupe Koruku wallpaper by Graham and Brown would create a similar cosy effect. Bathrooms are where we can be most ourselves — for those who enjoy displaying their lotions and potions, make sure to include plenty of shelving space on the walls.
Let there be light
Bathroom lighting is frequently a disaster. It is either too garish or too murky, in an attempt to hide normal human bodily functions. I would suggest adding strong, well-positioned spot lighting to make it easier to read while sitting on the loo or luxuriating in the bath. And make sure there is enough light to do make-up properly. Big mirrors are essential and this one by Damien Langlois-Meurinne, which is designed to be suspended from the ceiling, would be a great addition to this space.
Bathrooms are often reminiscent of antiseptic hospital wards or garish pink boudoirs but they should be places that you actually want to spend time in. Comfortable armchairs or couches can provide places to rest and read, and period furniture — such as this armchair, designed by Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand — can help establish the bathroom as a place to relax.
Don’t follow trends
The trend to choose bathroom fittings as sculpture or a design statement has reached its predictable nadir. Designer baths can be uncomfortable to get into, they may have taps in the wrong place or be fitted with complicated plugs that don’t work when you need them too. Choose bathroom fittings for practicality and comfort, not primarily for their minimalist looks. I would recommend something like these dependable Victorian-inspired Chatsworth taps.
Photography: Colombe Clier; Morocco Sotheby's International Realty