Finding a design that works for everyone can be tricky but with the right fixtures, fittings and finishes it’s achievable
A hard working family bathroom really has to be all things for all people. Not only does it have to cope with you and your family for now it will also have to be equipped to deal with guests and any new family members that may come along. It’s important to get right from the start so now is the time to think about making the most of what you have and possibly stealing space from elsewhere to make the new room future-proof.
Sharing one family bathroom between four or more people means you will require a clever design that can cater for so many needs. While you might want an elegant or luxurious bathroom, you will probably also need somewhere to store toys, with a durable design that will withstand regular use and maybe even a little chaos. But get your bathroom design just right and you will be able to create a space that the kids can enjoy, before transforming into a relaxing haven where you can chill out and find a little calm after the storm.
The family bathroom is usually the largest bathroom and fittings and finishes should be selected with low maintenance and durability in mind. ‘Always use porcelain tiles in a family bathroom, including slip-resistant porcelain on the floors, as they are hard-wearing and will still look good in years to come,’ says Ripples’ designer Joanne Crane. ‘They also require zero maintenance.’ Plenty of storage is a must – double up on vanity units, basins and mirrors where space allows and don’t be tempted to evict the bath if it is the only one in the house. Instead consider a space-saving shower-bath.
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In a family bathroom, there will be times when several members are gathered around the basin so the bigger the better is the rule. Try a vanity unit topped with a large trough-like bowl and plenty of surface area to either side for toiletries and toothbrushes. Double basins are a great solution for early morning rush hour, although make sure there’s enough space between them for everyone to fit in.
If there’s room, a bath really is a must for a busy family, particularly those with smaller children. Not having one can also put off potential buyers if you plan to sell in the future. If you have the space, a shower enclosure will be a great addition for those mornings when there’s just not time for a soak. If you’re pushed for space a good solution is an over-bath shower. L- or d-shaped baths with a wider end and glass shower screen are a good choice here as they’ll look more streamlined than an ordinary bath with a plastic curtain. Placing taps in the centre of the bath will ensure there are no arguments about who gets the tap end at bathtime, while a shower mixer tap will make hair washing a breeze.
A family bathroom that’s used by lots of people can easily become messy, so making sure you have plenty of storage from the start is important. Avoid bottles, bags and brushes cluttering up surfaces by adding cupboards in the shape of vanity units below the sink, hanging cabinet mirrors and fitting shelves where you can. In a smaller room, glass shelves will help to create a sense of space and slim freestanding furniture will ensure you still see plenty of floor, so the room doesn’t start to feel overcrowded.
Good task lighting above the sink is great for early mornings so think about where you place your spotlights or hang a glass mirror with integral lighting. For relaxing me-time baths, a gentler light is called for so consider placing your lights on a dimmer switch so you can have just the illumination you want. Candles are great for long soaks but make sure there’s a safe and stable surface on which to put them.
This painted wooden peg rail blends into the wall panelling and incorporates extra hanging space into a family bathroom. A colour-coded ribbon system is a great way to make a batch of all-white towels easy to identify for each family member.
Provide plenty of handy storage; that children can reach, too. Baskets on open shelves are brilliant for clearing away toiletries in a dash, and if you allocate a basket per member of the family then the tidying up will be even easier.