Q: While traveling around Europe, I saw bathrooms that didn't look at all like the standard American variety, all white, sleek and sterile. Now I'm about to remodel my own home, and I would like to create a combined bathroom and dressing area. Can you help me plan a setting that's relaxed and inviting, perhaps in an English or country style?
A: The room shown in the photo would seem to meet your specifications. While it's certainly functional, the design is quite inviting as well, due to its charm and non-aggressive approach. In fact, this is a space that doesn't immediately or exclusively define itself as a bathroom.
All the necessary equipment is present and appropriately sized. You'll note, too, that the lavatory fix tures are discreetly and compactly placed against one wall. The sink and the tub are built into mahogany cabinets whose rich surfacing has been treated with several coats of waterproof sealer.
This room surely will not be seen as all white and sleek, even though the usual white ceramic tiles have been used on the floor and on those portions of the walls that need to be protected from wetness. The sterile look of the typical American bathroom is avoided here because the white tiles do not extend all the way up the walls. The section above the tiles is dressed with the same wall covering and decorative border used elsewhere in the room.
Area rugs further help to diminish the lavatory look while also defining sub-areas within the overall space. One of these consists of the comfortably cushioned chair and the small trunk that serves both as a storage compartment and as a surface for holding a pot of tea and some reading material. This little ensemble is by itself sufficient to indicate that this is no ordinary bathroom.
The casual atmosphere is enhanced, too, by the use of fabrics and other colorful and patterned items. A lighthearted pastel floral print from Laura Ashley was selected for the chair, balloon shades and shower curtain. The combination of soft pinks, lilacs and blues on a white ground goes nicely with the simple blue-and-white stripe wall covering.
Accessories like mirrors, books, potted plants and prints, none of them expensive, provide the finishing touches.
Follow this general scheme, and you'll produce a most pleasant bathroom and dressing area.