In a new series focusing on the nuts and bolts of great interiors, Design Consultant Abigail Hall shares her essential and practical advice. First up: how to choose a bath that not only looks stylish but, more importantly, feels wonderful and works in your home
IMAGE: COPPER BATEAU LUXURY FREESTANDING BATH, BY CATCHPOLE AND RYE AT ARTIST RESIDENCE IN OXFORD
There are few things as luxurious as a bath in winter. Scent it with your favourite fragrance (I use Ren’s Moroccan Rose Oil) and set your little side table with a candle for ambience and a good book. Wine is optional. Just remember the water temperature amplifies the affect; it can make getting out of a bath dicey!
A good bath is bliss, but you have to get the practical elements right to make it pleasurable. Too short and you can’t ever quite relax. Too deep and you can struggle to get in and out. Taps in the wrong place and you can be unexpectedly prodded in the back. Nowhere to put your glass/book/candle? Unacceptable.
To work out if you have room for a bath, I would suggest that a space of 1800mm x 700mm is really a minimum. There are smaller baths, but my rule is, if you can’t sprawl, you can’t truly relax.
If you’re tight on space, a freestanding bath isn’t for you. They should stand at least 150mm away from any partition; less than that and it will look odd and cramped. Please don’t try to have a shower over a freestanding bath, it doesn’t work – just take my word on this one.
Turning to materials, I am often asked about copper and I think it’s a brilliant material for a bath. It conducts heat beautifully which has the psychological effect of making the bath feel bigger, as you don’t feel that cold edge around you. They tend to be deep though, so if you monitor your water consumption (deep baths can use up to 90 litres, compared to an average bath which uses around 75 litres), or have young children, perhaps this isn’t the style for you.
When it comes to freestanding stone, please only look at composite stone; the wastage of natural stone involved in carving out a bath is too much. Besides, composite baths have the same weight, skin feel and aesthetic. These baths are cooler to the touch than metal and take longer to warm up, but they come in a far greater range of shapes than metal baths do. They blend brilliantly into both traditional and contemporary styles and are harmonious with real or imitation stone if used elsewhere in the bathroom.
Freestanding baths will also benefit from some styling. A cute cocktail table placed beside it is a must as, once you are in, it’s a long way to reach to the floor for your essentials.
IMAGE: JERSEY ICE CREAM COMPANY
Straight integrated baths
These are generally made from acrylic which is the cheapest of the options I’ve outlined, but money has to be spent integrating it. Standard panels are generally very cheap and age terribly, so I always prefer to continue the floor or wall tile on the surround.
Remember you’ll require access to the plumbing, so ask your bathroom fitter how they will provide this to avoid your beautiful design being ruined by a cheap clunky panel or having to be cut into later for essential maintenance.
After all your research, measuring and planning, please do one thing before you buy your bath; sit in it! A bath is an experience and no photo or technical drawing can tell you if you are going to love it once you are in it. You’ll thank me later!
Designer, speaker and author Abigail Hall is a disrupter, challenging the way building fit out and interior design has been done over recent decades. Abi works in two worlds; in construction, where the technical specification and price are the driving factors and in design, where the aesthetic finish is everything. The reality of a great product is ‘function first and aesthetic after’ and Abi’s years of experience commissioning, designing and fitting out properties across the globe has given her a sharp eye for quality, function and form. Visit www.abigailhall.design where you can find access to her podcast, Every Day Design, a link to her book and more on her design philosophy.