Sleek and functional, an apartment bathroom is designed to cope with limited space and busy lives. Choose simple shapes and gleaming plain surfaces for a modern look.
Creating a stylish, easy-care bathroom in a small space is a common problem for many people, and particularly for city dwellers, where space is at a premium. The newest bathroom designs are focused entirely on using the most up-to-date technology to meet these needs, with high-tech steel appliances, streamlined ceramics, and tough, durable surfaces. Decorative details are an unnecessary luxury – texture is more important… accentuating the differences between matte and shiny, and rough and smooth surfaces. The contrasts of steel, granite, wood, tiles, and glass create interest enough, combined with tough, industrial materials such as concrete, glass bricks, and studded rubber flooring.
The apartment bathroom is a good place to experiment with color, as the areas to be covered are never huge, and are generally seen for short periods only. Try unusual color combinations used in flat blocks rather than decorative patterns; or keep to cool, clinical white and steel, with small pools of concentrated color provided by towels and accessories.
Creating the Look
Aim for a simple, functional look, with sharp, straight edges contrasted with streamlined curves. If you are starting from scratch, plan the layout carefully for maximum space. You may even consider dispensing with a bath in favor of a roomy showering area with a folding seat.
Door and window frames are ideally plain and boxy, with a flush door and sleek fixtures. If you have a window, consider fitting frosted glass to avoid the necessity for any other window treatment.
Walls are best either tiled or painted in a flat vinyl latex or eggshell finish. Plain white or colored ceramic tiles are inexpensive and suit the look perfectly, as do small mosaic tiles. For a bolder look, use plain tiles in an unusual color – perhaps lilac or lemon. Granite, marble, sandstone, or slate tiles have a suitably apartment-style look, and set up satisfying contrasts with gleaming steel and fluffy soft towels.
For a seriously industrial look, cover the bath panel or cupboard doors in galvanized tin or aluminum; or experiment with metallic paint on woodwork for a similar look – a gunmetal, bronze, or silvery color would change the look of built-in louvered cupboards or an existing vanity unit.
For the floor, choose ceramic tiles, or sealed woodstrip or cork for a warmer feel on bare feet; linoleum or vinyl in plain or marbled effect would suit the look, or investigate tough rubber-studded flooring, which is available in a wide range of colors.
Neutral or strong: latex paint in flat colors – either subtle stone, stark white, or bold combinations.
Wallpapers: imitation stone, paint lookalikes, or strong contemporary designs on limited areas.
Tiles: plain glazed ceramic tiles, white or strongly colored; sheet mosaic tiles in ceramic or glass; granite, sandstone, slate; sealed cork.
Frosted glass: replace plain glass with milky white, reeded, or other effects.
Blinds: narrow Venetians in metal or wood; plain roller, Roman, or pleated blind; simple eyeletted panel.
Smooth: pale woodstrip; large, plain white or black tiles, stone tiling; linoleum, vinyl, or rubber in plain or semi-plain designs.
Rugs: short pile cotton bathmat, wood-slat bathmat.
Contemporary: simple sculpted shapes in white ceramic or steel; bathtub with granite or wood surround and tiled, flush wood, or sheet metal panel.
Faucets: space-age, chrome, or nickel-plated.
Metal or wood: spindly metal chair or small stool; tub-shaped stool doubling as laundry basket, with a reinforced lid that you can sit on.
High-tech: recessed ceiling spotlights or simple modern central light fixture; plaster or metal wall torcheres; halogen lights in recesses.
Modern: gleaming, shiny, or satin steel for towel bars, toilet roll, and toothbrush holders; glass, metallic, or sleek blond wood shelves; simple mirror, unframed or with steel/wooden frame; plain white or colored towels