Linda Barker is a designer and television presenter. She recently partnered with waterproof decorative wall panel manufacturer Multipanel for a signature collection
Is bigger always better for bathrooms?
Posted 3rd October
Designer and TV presenter Linda Barker – who launched her signature collection of waterproof bathroom wall panels for Multipanel earlier this year – gives her expertise on how to encourage customers to embrace their smaller bathroom spaces with clever design and innovative products:
Consumers are all seemingly craving more space in their homes. As housebuilders construct smaller homes – on average 10% smaller than they were 15 years ago – consumers are pushing their house boundaries out – into the garden with extensions, up into the air with new attic spaces and down when in pursuit of basement living. But is there too much of a good thing? Is bigger always better?
The devotees behind the recently coined 'broken plan' living experience advocate the use of screens and bookcases built within the frame of a large open plan room, creating smaller intimate spaces for living.
I must admit that it’s a look that I’m really fond of, as I think it allows for more creative expression when decorating. A vast empty space can start to look very cluttered pretty quickly with the most minimal of effort, whereas a broken plan room almost demands more intervention from the house owners. A reading space requires books, a coffee space needs its own paraphernalia, and lots more besides. In response, these homes are heaped with personality and look beautifully lived in.
Like an empty open plan space, a large bathroom can appear cold no matter how much underfloor heating, and in this most personal of spaces, the last thing a consumer wants to be is exposed and shivery. Smaller bathrooms, as a consequence are my most favourite kind of bathroom spaces.
On a trip to the central Paris where space is always at a premium, I remember the teeniest of bathroom spaces quite literally shoehorned into an alcove within the main bedroom. Yet, this space was decorated with such a generous and flamboyant flair, its style and chutzpah by far eclipsed its minute proportions and the space felt luxurious, indulgent and not a teeny bit squished.
Small spaces require creative thinking. When designing, start right at the beginning. Customers should draw up a list of the essentials; this should include storage, open shelving, mirrors, cupboards for cleaning products, window shutters, a wall-mounted toilet, basin, a generous towel radiator, a shower and a freestanding tub. I also love a seat of some sorts and a low side table for a cuppa or a glass of something next to the bath. Yikes! So much to fit into a few square meters.
Finding symmetry even in the smallest space is possible, so lining the basin up with a window or the edge of the shower is essential. It’s the symmetry of a space that creates an ordered look, which makes us all feel more relaxed and at ease and will prevent a room looking disordered.
Materials are key, of course. Minimal grout lines in a small bathroom will help the room appear more generous, including my new range of bathroom wall panels with Multipanel, which could be used for all the bathrooms’ walls or simply as a feature wall behind the bath tub or the wash basin.
Colourful tubs are making a bit of a comeback – never say never to the avocado suite! But for me, I still love white sanitaryware for a classic look, which allows me to experiment with exciting wall textures like corten steel or concrete. These glamorous finishes immediately add a striking look to an ordinary bathroom and in a small space these surfaces have a massive impact of colour which is divine.
The Linda Barker Collection of no grout waterproof bathroom wall panels is available from Multipanel