A stay in a boutique hotel means relaxing in luxury, with the softest bedding, chic furniture, impeccable décor and a lavish lavatory. But why leave all that indulgence behind, when you could have a boutique-inspired bathroom all of your own back at home?
Interior designer Lisa Melvin recently completed a project that she calls the Wellness Suite. This stunning bathroom would fit in perfectly in a high-end hotel in Mayfair or Kensington, and it’s also marvellous inspiration for anyone looking to create a modern, stylish and functional bathroom.
Her vision for the decadent room was “to create a space based on design rather than products”. The result was a high-end bathroom that is luxurious, easy to keep clean and a joy to be inside. Although the Wellness Suite incorporated some of the very best products on the market, featuring modern materials and technology, Lisa notes that the results could be easily scaled to suit other budgets and spaces. “It’s a room that could, potentially, be in anybody’s property” she explains.
For example, the room includes a Neorest AC Washlet. Priced at £12,000, this top-of-the-line washlet from Japanese manufacturer TOTO boasts not only the most expensive washlet in the world, but also the only washlet on the planet that has a self-clean function. However, other models are available, hitting all price points down to £1,000, so the setting could be scaled back to meet tighter budgets.
On the other hand, additional features could be incorporated to bump up the luxury factor even more. “A heated Sanoasa lounger from wedi – like the type you find in spas – would be a wonderful addition to a more spacious bathroom,” she says.
The Washlet is something of a centrepiece of the room. This high-tech shower toilet has a sensor-activated lid that opens and closes by itself, an automatic flush and an adjustable dryer. There’s a wand-jet system that uses warm water for personal cleansing, while a heated seat and deodoriser help to ensure a pleasant trip to the toilet every time. The Washlet even cleans itself. An integrated UV light interacts with the special zirconium coating on the bowl; this triggers a photocatalytic process that breaks down organic substances and helps to ensure the bathroom is always hygienic.
Lisa also used a sink and bath manufactured by TOTO to complement the decanted throne and create a consistent aesthetic. Another benefit to these TOTO products is that the resin used to make them is translucent, “so you can have this beautiful glow coming through it. It’s not only durable – it’s also really beautiful,” Lisa says.
Dekton is a large-format surface material that is traditionally used for kitchen worktops, and it’s ideal for bathroom surfaces as well. Since it comes in a huge range of colours and finishes, it can also match any design scheme with ease. Another benefit of Dekton is that it creates a – literally – seamless appearance. Lisa explains, “We moves away from tiles by using Dekton. This eliminated grout lines, which can be the cause of potential leaks.” Grout lines can also become soiled and discoloured over time, even with a rigorous cleaning regime in place.
“Using Dekton as wall cladding is a very slick way of applying the material beyond its traditional purpose. Aesthetically, it’s very pleasing, and it retains its good looks for the long term,” Lisa adds.
Large-format tiles were used for the flooring in the Wellness Suite but since each one measures 1200mm square, grout lines were kept to a minimum. In the few places where a joint was required, Lisa opted for an epoxy grout that’s practically invisible. Once it’s set it’s more like an acrylic – non-porous, smooth and very hard – so it easily resists dirt and grease.
Lisa loves to create hidden spaces within her designs. While the Wellness Suite might look like it has no storage at all, it actually has lots.
“In this room, we’ve created two large secret storage spaces that you wouldn’t know were there unless they were pointed out to you,” she says.
Three large mirrors stretch from floor to ceiling. They lift the room, making it look brighter and bigger – and thanks to concealed hinges, one of them swings open to reveal an enormous hidden cupboard with glass shelving and LED lights.
“Everything – from makeup and toothpaste to skincare products and perfumes – can go in these cupboards, hiding it away and helping to ensure the worktops stay clutter-free,” Lisa explains.
She has also hidden a large drawer under the bath surround, perfect for storing towels, spare loo rolls and extra bottles of shampoo. Bespoke floating cubes finished in matching smoked mirror adds both function and dimension to the room. A neat, subtly lit library niche housing your latest reading material is a winning combination when teamed with the TOTO Neorest AC Washlet’s heated seat.
Paying attention to the smallest details is essential in creating a decadent bathroom, and recent innovations have led to a seemingly endless range of choice. When it comes to taps and ironmongery, homeowners are no longer limited to chrome or brass finishes. Hansgrohe’s Axor FinishPlus range of taps and bath fillers comes in 15 different polished or brushed finishes including black, bronze, stainless steel and two shades of gold. “It’s all about the detail,” Lisa adds. “Ordinarily, taps and showers are brass with a chrome finish. But metallic like gold, bronze copper and brass are becoming more and more popular in interiors, and with the Axor range, you get a choice of what colour your taps are coated with.”
In the Wellness Suite, Lisa opted for an Axor Uno² wall-mounted tap and a Massaud bath filler in brushed nickel.
“The beauty of being able to choose from so many colours means you can really fine-tune the overall look you’re trying to create,” she says.
“The room has a moody, glamorous and luxurious feel, with the Dekton surfacing in black and dark brown, oversized mirrors and a Japanese-style theme to the window. The brushed nickel finish on the ironmongery completes the look and helps this already dramatic room make an even stronger statement.”
No matter how beautiful a bathroom is, it also needs to be comfortable – nobody likes the feeling of a cold floor on bare feet first thing in the morning. So Lisa has included an electric underfloor heating system. This is a secondary heating source, specifically to take the chill off the floor – and since it’s connected to a timer/thermostat, cold tiles are a thing of the past. The main heating is supplied by an Aeon radiator. Made of black granite, it looks more like a piece of art than a radiator. Plus, the stainless-steel towel bars ensure your towels are always warm and dry quickly – saving on laundry too.
In every interior, lighting is key, as it sets the mood and ensures the space is functional as well as good looking. The TOTO bathroom includes a combination of mood, ambient and task lighting, so users can set the scene as required – whether you want to jump out of bed and quickly get ready for work, or you want a soft glow for a lovely long soak at the end of a hard day. As mentioned before, the TOTO sink and bath are made of a translucent resin material and they incorporate LED lights that can be adjusted from a bright light to a soft glow, perfect for a relaxing bath.
“Homeowners could also consider using RGB LEDs, which can be charged to any colour, depending on the atmosphere they wish to create,” Lisa adds.
A set of glazed pocket doors slide open to reveal the shower room, which features an Axor Shower Heaven. This large overhead shower measures 1200 by 302mm and incorporates built-in lighting. It can be adjusted to provide three different spray patterns: RainAir (rain jet entrenched with air), mono and powder rain. The three options can be used individually or in combination, and can also be aimed at different spray zones.
When planning a new bathroom, appearance isn’t the only thing to think about. For example, choosing features that simplify cleaning could save you time and money, and will help ensure the room’s appearance remains perfectly polished between cleans.
“One of my main thoughts when designing a bathroom is ensuring it’s easy to clean,” Lisa says.
When planning hotel rooms, ‘time in motion’ is an important consideration. Several hotel chains have carried out research to compare the time it takes to clean different elements of a room – and how much money the faster-to-clean items can save them over the lifetime of the design.
Even if a bathroom feature saves just one minute for the cleaning staff, the cost savings quickly add up if you multiply that across several hotel rooms, factor in the cleaner’s wages and consider each room is thoroughly cleaned nearly every day for several years.
This concept can also be applied to private homes.
“Paying a little bit more for a bathroom could actually save you money in the long term. So you can have a beautiful room, while also cutting down on the cleaning bill,” Lisa explains.
Lisa shares some of her favourite techniques for ensuring a bathroom’s luxurious aesthetic is easy to maintain:
Avoid grout lines – It doesn’t matter how meticulous your cleaning regime is, grout will eventually start to look grungy. Using large format materials like Dekton or Nuance panelling on worktops and walls will eliminate or reduce grout lines.
Using an epoxy grout – if tile work is a must, or seam lines unavoidable, then opt for a resin-based material, rather than mortar. The non-porous material will retain its attractive appearance easily and ensures effortless cleaning.
Choose a wall-hung toilet – No more scrubbing around the back of the bowl, or worrying about silicone sealant on the floor becoming grubby. Just run a mop underneath, and it’s done. A self-cleaning toilet like the TOTO Neorest AC Washlet can also save time.
Incorporate hidden storage wherever possible – This minimises clutter on the worktops, and allows surfaces to be quickly wiped clean.
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