Buildbase’s Lead Divisional Showroom Manager, Peter Loftus, looks at the job of customising a bathroom:
What is the starting point for customising your bathroom?
Whether it’s the homeowner choosing a new bathroom alone or together with their builder and plumber, it starts with what they want to achieve.
In other words, what facilities do you want? What colours? What atmosphere? It’s important that you have these general concepts in mind before you go shopping!
Obviously, budget is also very important to consider. That’s not only about knowing the limits on your budget, but identifying which elements of the bathroom you want to invest in most heavily. For example, is it about having a spectacular bath or maximising the shower – or, is it both?
Bathroom customising trends
Two often overlooked areas when customising a bathroom, are:
- Bathroom furniture
- Colour and texture
Within these areas, there are also today’s bathroom trends and a few other things to think about:
Our job at Buildbase as kitchen and bathroom designers and suppliers to both consumers and trade is to understand what the customer is trying to achieve, by ‘starting with the end in mind’. The challenge today for all parties is the sheer volume of choice in the bathroom market. When starting to research a new bathroom it can be a minefield. 30 years ago, the only choice to be made was what colour!
Today, certain trends have evolved: consumers are now more likely to remove baths altogether and install stand-alone showers. And almost everyone wants to mix and match their bathroom suite. That could mean selecting a particular type of basin or vanity unit; it might involve choosing specific taps, which can change the price as much as the furniture itself.
Within the bathroom suite a homeowner may want to introduce something different into a standard bathroom suite – such as a steel or composite stone bath – and will need to find a bath that works in sympathy with the other sanitary ware. Doing this is not only a cosmetic challenge but a technical one too. All manufacturers have their own recommended fitting practices which mean there’s more complexity involved in fitting and less standardisation today. So, the risk that the customer doesn’t get the right solution have increased as much as giving them exactly what they want.
Another factor to recognise is that many manufacturers these days specialise in just one part of the bathroom. That means more thinking to make sure everything works together seamlessly. That’s where having the right advice is critical to ensure what the consumer wants will actually work technically.
A white and natural feel to bathrooms
Years ago, bathroom suites came in a limited choice of colours and tiles, usually made from ceramic materials in a standard size with a printed design.
Now, bathroom sanitary ware is almost universally white and there’s been an explosion in choice of wall coverings. That might mean not putting tiles on the wall but, if it does, there are very large format tiles – 20cm x 30cm – with several different types from glazed ceramic to porcelain to choose from. The development in technology is reflected in the surfaces, with a major move to natural finishes so that tiling looks more like stone with a natural colour.
There’s also a shift to shower panels that cover the whole of the shower wall; seamless and with no grout joints between them, creating a finish that is much easier to install and maintain. Today, if you have an eye for colour and pictorial design, you can really go to town in your shower.
Getting bathroom design and products right
Having the bathroom you want means getting the best match with the furniture, both aesthetically and technically.
Our philosophy at Buildbase is to show consumers products they love and designs they love while selling the brands the trade is confident installing. This leads to easier installation, more chance of trouble-free usage and excellent aftersales service.
That’s why we’ve taken the time to select manufacturers who will provide a good product and service in the long run. That’s something you can’t guarantee when buying online, which is another problem for the customer who chooses to buy via a website. For example, a free-standing bath on a website might look similar to something seen in a showroom, but they can be radically different in terms of quality and service. How can you know what the lifespan of a bath bought online will be or the availability of replacement parts? The price can also vary by hundreds of pounds for similar-looking products.
Again, in the design phase it’s all about understanding what the customer really wants. Because we have the widest range of suppliers we can tailor a design within a budget to get the best result possible. Also because at Buildbase we sell everything under one roof including building materials, all the electrical items and paint, we can provide the best advice for the total project whilst saving time and money for our customers.
Having a fluidity of design and choice is what makes it possible to achieve the customer’s dream scenario within the limits of their budget. Beyond the main features of the bathroom, there are the accessories – mirrors and lighting – that will help create the atmosphere you want.
As well as providing modern bathroom showrooms that help customers really visualise how a bathroom could look in their home, we’re using computer-aided design (CAD) to develop a unique look for the homeowner that shows the imagined bathroom in three dimensions.
The technology at our disposal is there to help everyone involved in the new bathroom journey: showing the consumer what their new bathroom is going to look like, while solving any technical problems facing the tradesperson tasked with installing it.