Masterclass: beautiful bathrooms

Masterclass: beautiful bathrooms

Masterclass: beautiful bathrooms

A well-designed bathroom will deliver daily pleasure. Follow Darren Palmer’s guide to create a space that looks good and works wonders.

The bathroom is one of the home’s hardest-working spaces, and increasingly a place for relaxation and retreat. So how do you create a bathroom that is ultra-functional and beautiful to boot?


When you’re shaving or applying make-up, lighting should be even and come from the front. This can restrict your design choices, however, since you’ll have to either customise lighting into face-level storage or buy a mirror with lighting built in. The next best option is to position lighting over the tap, making sure the same amount of light hits both sides of your face – either one light right above the tap, or a pair of lights either side of the mirror, an equal distance apart. This is your best opportunity for even light: with the light coming from the front, and reflecting off the mirror itself, you will have less shadowing on your face.

Think about the position of lighting in the ceiling, considering the other areas you need to highlight, such as the toilet, a feature wall or bath as a whole, so that the reflected ceiling plane looks good as well as being functional. Having one downlight above the bath might seem like a great idea, but staring up at it when in the bath will soon put paid to relaxation.


There are three types of bathroom storage: face-level storage, under-bench storage and what I call ‘opportunistic’ storage.

Face-level storage is about functionality and convenience. Some may not find a mirrored cabinet over the vanity aesthetically pleasing, but the convenience of having oft-used products to hand is invaluable. You can buy perfectly good-looking mirrored shaving cabinets online or in stores that simply slot into a cavity wall. Buying off-the-rack saves on design and construction of custom cabinetry, but bespoke joinery solutions will give you optimum storage results.

Under-bench storage is a given. If possible, opt for large drawers rather than cupboards. Drawers allow you to pack every spot tightly while still being able to access everything easily.

Opportunistic storage depends on your bathroom’s layout. In previous homes, I’ve had storage included behind the toilet so the toilet brushes and paper are out of sight. In another instance, a cupboard above the pan served the same purpose. Your bathroom will have its own nooks, crannies and voids that you can take advantage of to squeeze extra amenity from your room.

Bench space

While in planning mode, focus on how you use your bathroom. You will notice things that you need, on a functional level. If you blow-dry your hair, think about where the dryer will rest if you need to put it down during use. Think about where the children’s bath toys might go. Or the steps in your daily beauty routine. When it comes to bench space, you can never have enough.

Fittings and fixtures

There is no one right choice for style, finish or shape when it comes to fixtures and fittings in your bathroom; some spaces call for traditional options, others for ultra-contemporary and there are any number of options in between. Whether the accessories you like are a powder-coated colour or metallic with a polished or brushed finish, it’s important to choose models that suit your home’s architecture and interior style. Make sure the same shapes and finishes apply to all of the fittings, such as taps, towel rails and toilet roll holders.

Pay attention to whether accessories have a square or round profile, if your taps are bright and shiny or dull, brushed or matt. There are few things simpler to get right and having mismatching tapware and accessories is a real bathroom no-no.

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