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15 Bathroom Design Ideas

15 Bathroom Design Ideas
If your dream is to create an en suite bathroom that is both useful and attractive, then here are some design tips that will help you to achieve your goal.

1. Mirrored Bathrooms Walls

Mirrored walls in the bathroom can be used to reflect light, and so make the bathroom look bigger – and they can also reduce the cost of expensive tiling!

2. Consider Built-in Storage

Built-in shelves can be both functional and stylish. The photo shows a good example of how this can be achieved, showing a bathroom installed in a new-build house constructed for £170,000.

3. Solid Bathroom Surfaces

It is currently more common to find this type of surface being used in kitchens, but the clean and water-resistant properties of solid surfaces are being used increasingly in bathrooms.

4. Make a Statement with Bold Bathroom Tiles

The illustration shows how tiling can be used to transform the appearance of a bathroom. In this example, encaustic-style cement tiles, supplied by Rustico Tile & Stone (USA), have been used alongside wall mirrors (Rupert Bevan) and a mirror-finished bath (Drummonds).

5. Expose Raw Materials

Another way of saving money on tiling might be to simply apply paint to bare walls.

6. The Master Suite

One design option when building your home is to incorporate your bathroom as part of an all-inclusive suite which also includes a master bedroom and a dressing area. The photo illustrates the way in which colour can be used to unify such a semi-open-plan space.

7. Clever Bathroom Storage

It is essential for the appearance of your bathroom that surfaces do not become covered with clutter, and this can be avoided through the clever use of space for storage. Consideration should also be given to finding an unconspicuous home for the laundry basket, as shown in the photo below.

8. A Stylish Steam Room

An alcove can be transformed into a combined shower and steam enclosure through the installation of body jets. The photo below shows the ‘Exclusive Solutions ES300 Sliding Door Recess Option’ provided by Aqata, complete with a tiled seat.

9. Partial walls

Partial walls can be used in a bathroom design for a number of purposes, which include hiding plumbing, providing a backing for sanitary ware and dividing a large bathroom into zones. As with any alterations relating to a bathroom, care needs to be taken with the routing of hot and cold water supplies and the removal of waste.

10. Solutions for Sloping Bathroom Ceilings

Some renovated spaces incorporate a sloping ceiling – particularly loft conversions – and this shape can be used for the purpose of designing in storage or plumbing space. The adjoining photo shows an example of a bathroom incorporated within a loft conversion, with stylish tiles being used to emphasise the angle of the ceiling that forms part of the shower enclosure.

11. Shower screens

A shower screen can be used to enhance the look of a bathroom, as well as to serve a functional purpose.

12. Alcoves

An alcove can serve as an ideal location for a shower, as the illustration shows.

13. Basin Ideas for Kids

A true family bathroom should include design features that are appealing to children. An example is the use of vivid colour in the photo below; this particular bathroom unit, by HI-MACS, also uses an acrylic stone material which is both water resistant and hygienic.

14. Maximise natural light

Undertaking a new build or an extension from scratch enables you to plan exactly where you want to position windows, so that you can maximise the use of natural light – not forgetting considerations of privacy, of course!

15. Timber-Clad Bathrooms

Wood cladding, also known as timber cladding, has gained popularity in recent years, although care should be taken when using wood materials in a damp environment such as a bathroom, and such cladding should not be used where it might come into direct contact with water. The same restriction does not, however, apply to cloakrooms.

By |2019-04-02T14:26:49+00:00April 2nd, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on 15 Bathroom Design Ideas

24 Things You Should Know about Building an Extension

There is much information that you need before you embark on adding an extension to your home, and this might relate to any stage of the build, from design issues and potential problems with logistics, to the various nuances of the law.

So here we have 24 pieces of advice that should be – but not always are – needed. Make sure you take this advice on board before you do anything towards building your extension!

1. Living on site might hinder progress

The problem with living in a property during building work, apart from the inevitable noise and dirt of a building site, is that your presence might just slow the project’s progress.

So it might be a good idea to vacate the premises whole work is going on.

2. Choose the right designer

An important early decision concerns the choice of designer you are going to work with.

You may work with a design specialist, with an architect or architectural technician, or you might decide to procure the services of a Design & Build company and use their in-house design team.

But, whatever you decide, take the time research the industry and find people who have the type of experience that you require, and be guided by the views and recommendations of others.

3. Consider any site access issues

An important consideration is access to your site, as there may be physical restrictions on the materials and equipment that can be delivered to your property.

This is a particular issue for terraced properties, for example.

It might also be necessary for your neighbours to move any trees or fences that might cause an access obstacle during your build, and such issues need to be addressed before any plans are made.

4. You must be insured!

It is essential that you take out insurance for the duration of the build, and you should also seek the advice of your existing insurer.

Insurance is needed for both your exiting property and any new structures that are erected, and your policy needs to be taken out with an A-rated insurance company.

It may not be sufficient to rely on contractor’s insurance, as such policies might not cover eventualities such as fire and flooding, and might only protect the contractor in the event of that company being proven liable for any costs or damages.

A legal dispute with your builder might prove costly. If you take the option of not living on site during the build, then Unoccupied Buildings Insurance, probably for at least six months, might be needed.

5. Harmonising the extension with the existing building

An important design consideration concerns how the new structure sits with what you have already.

Your preference might be for an extension that exactly matches, and blends in with, the original building, but this carries with it the considerable challenge of using matching materials throughout.

An alternative is to deliberately design the additional structure so that it contrasts with the existing building.

6. Consider a complete rebuild

Before beginning a project to extend, it is important to ask yourself whether this is really what you want to do.

This is because you might be able to achieve all of your objectives by completely rebuilding a house on your plot, or by selling the property and buying a new one.

If your motive is profit, then you should consider the maximum that your house can be worth, regardless of any improvements you make, given the price of properties in the area.

It is important to realise that there is a ‘ceiling’ value for every property.

7. Consider issues relating to kitchen appliances

If the project includes extending your kitchen, then there are additional considerations relating to kitchen appliances and equipment.

It is important to think through how appliances are to be plumbed in, wired in and ventilated.

Careful plans need to be made for how cookers and fridges etc, need to be positioned in relation to all your cabinets and units.

8. You might need to upgrade your hot water system

Similarly, thought must be given to whether your existing boiler will be able to manage the additional workload involved with providing hot water and heating for an enlarged property.

This entails getting to grips with the size of your boiler, the amount of heat output it is capable of, the size and number of radiators you will have, the time that it will take for the water in the boiler to be heated and distributed, etc.

9. Building Regulations still apply

When carrying out a project under Permitted Development Rights, although planning permission will not be needed, this is not the case with Building Regulations, which still apply.

The regulations will generally cover any extension to a building, whether it be a kitchen extension or an addition to the general living space of a home.

This includes loft conversions, the addition of a new chimney or changes to window openings. In terms of internal alterations, Building Regs will be required for any changes to load-bearing walls, the refitting of bathrooms and toilets (due to any plumbing and drainage changes), the addition of new heating equipment, or even the installation of a new flue. This is because the Building Regs are important for ensuring a number of safety issues, including fire precautions and structural integrity throughout the build.

These regulations also cover issues such as energy efficiency, ventilation and damp proofing. They apply to all work which entails alteration to a building, as well as to new-build projects.

The only exceptions to Building Regulations are projects involving outbuildings such as sheds, and some conservatories and orangeries.

Repairs are generally exempt from Building Regs, unless they involve structural work such as underpinning, or rewiring or the replacement of windows.

10. Off-site construction is an option

One possibility for saving time and money is to have components of your build manufactured off-site, in a specialist factory.

Such components might include oak frames, or maybe SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) or CLT (Cross-Laminated Timber).

11. Sewerage issues 

One issue that should not be overlooked is consideration of whether your build affects the sewerage system.

If an extension is to encroach within 3 metres of a sewer that serves one or more other properties, apart from your own, then you should get in touch with the relevant Water Authority.

It is possible that the Authority will require you to enter into a Build-over Agreement, and it may even be necessary to change the location of a manhole, or to create a new one.

12. Project Management

The role of the Project Manager is very important, and one option is to employ a specialist professional to fulfil this task.

Alternatively, some people like to manage a project themselves, and this does have the advantage that they are the experts in their own needs and aspirations, they will have unique insights into the site and will also be extremely motivated to get things right.

However, managing a build is not a good idea if you are not highly organised, a good decision-maker and capable of solving the type of problems that will inevitably arise on site.

You should also be sure that you will have the time to devote to such a demanding task.

13. Extending upwards

A common type of build is the upwards extension, entailing building on an existing structure.

It is important, however, to give careful consideration to whether it might be necessary to strengthen current foundations, or to provide a new steel framework, in order to ensure that the weight of the new structure can be supported.

In such cases, it may be less costly to simply remove what is currently on the ground floor and build a fresh, 2-storey extension.

14. Community Infrastructure Levy

There is a possibility that an extension that exceeds an internal area of 100 square metres may be subject to an additional charge from the Local Authority, known as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

This is an additional charge that you might be able to avoid through securing Self-builder’s Relief, for which you will need to have the intention to live in the extended property for at least the subsequent three years.

The situation with both the CIL and the related Relief needs to be checked with your Local Authority before you embark on a project.

15. Thermal efficiency

The Building Regulations specify certain standards relating to construction materials and airtightness levels that relate to the thermal efficiency of your property.

This is expressed in terms of a ‘U value’ describing the amount of heat that is lost from the building.

However, it is possible to go beyond the minimum requirements of the Building Regs, and a good time to do this is when you are in the process of designing and building your extension.

16. Party wall issues

All matters relating to the party wall between adjacent properties are covered by The Party Wall etc. Act 1996, which covers properties in England & Wales, and deals with the rights and responsibilities of both parties when building work is undertaken.

The Act empowers a property owner to carry out work as far as, and on, the party wall between properties, provided that any necessary planning permission for the work has been obtained.

This might include one party gaining access to the neighbour’s land.

There are specific provisions under the Act relating to the laying of foundations, if these foundations are to be within 6 metres of a boundary or 3 metres of a party wall, and these provisions may make it necessary to procure the services of a surveyor.

17. Privacy issues

One important consideration at the design stage is that of privacy for you and your family, and this can be dealt with through the careful selection of glazing, or by designing in various screening measures.

But take care that any such measures do not compromise the views from your property.

18. Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs)

Even though a building project might come within Permitted Development Rights, this might not be true of the trees on a property.

Any tree with a diameter that is greater than 7.5cm, and which stands within a Conservation Area, will be the subject of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) – and a TPO might also apply to trees elsewhere.

It is a criminal offence to even make alterations to a tree that is covered by such an Order, without first securing planning permission to do so.

19. Value Added Tax (VAT)

Regulations The cost of building your extension will normally be subject to VAT.

Even if you employ the services of a contractor who is not registered for VAT, it is only that contractor’s labour that is exempt, meaning that you will still need to pay the 20% VAT on any materials that are used.

Exceptions to this include projects carried out on a listed building, which are not subject to VAT, and work on a building that has been vacant for two years or more, for which 5% VAT is payable.

The reduced rate of 5% is also available for a project that converts an existing property to a different number of units.

However, the VAT on eligible projects can only be claimed back on a project if a VAT-registered contractor is carrying out the work on behalf of a client.

20. Don’t forget a contingency budget!

It is extremely important to build in a contingency budget with your cost calculations, for any unforeseen additional spending.

This should be 10% to 20% of the main project budget.

21. Building Control

It is important for you to notify your local Building Control department at the start of the process.

You can do this by sending in your full plans, which, if Building Control signs them off, will enable you to ‘go full steam ahead’ with your project.

Alternatively, if you want a quick start, then you can just submit a Building Notice, but you will need to do remedial work on any aspect of your build that is subsequently found to not meet Building Regulations.

22. Beware of letting in too much light

Whilst it is nice to have plenty of light coming into your property, it is important to avoid too much light coming in, as this will create problems of ‘solar gain’.

This is sometimes an issue with conservatories, which are only comfortable to be in at certain times of the year.

Issues with solar gain can be mitigated by the use of screen fabrics which are designed to soften incoming light and so reduce glare.

23. Carefully consider the scale of your extension

Extending your property is not simply a case of adding cubic metres of floor space. With clever and thoughtful design, it is quite possible to create a feeling of space and airiness, without necessarily increasing the dimensions of what you have.

24. Restrictions on the use of glass

There is a limit to the amount of glass that can be used in an extension, with the maximum being set at 25% of the total floor area created. This is laid down in Part L of the Building Regulations. This means that much care must be taken with the inclusion of, say, French doors in a design, as these will take up much of the permitted quota of glazing.

If large, bi-fold doors are a priority, then the design should include the discarding of unwanted existing windows, so as to minimise the extra glass that the extension will create. If it proves impossible to avoid exceeding the 25% limit, then one course of action might be to demonstrate that the extension’s glazing has high energy performance levels that are at least equivalent to those of other materials.

Alternatively, your plans might be passed by Building Control if you can show, with a SAP assessment, that your extension’s CO2 emissions will not exceed those of an extension that would conform to Part L of the Building Regs.

By |2019-01-15T17:08:59+00:00January 15th, 2019|Extensions|Comments Off on 24 Things You Should Know about Building an Extension

10 Tips for the Design of a Kitchen Diner

01. Size and Layout

The advantage of restructuring your property, or of building a house from scratch, is that you have full control over the size and lay-out of your home. But the things to remember are that a large rectangular kitchen diner will benefit from being divided into zones, and that, if the space is ‘L’-shaped, you have the opportunity to keep the food preparation area out of sight from the dining area.

Here is an illustration of how an ‘L’-shaped kitchen diner can be designed so that dirty crockery is not in view of the dining area, (or seating area, in this particular example).

Long, rectangular kitchen diners need zoning, as this example goes to show.

02. Lighting your kitchen diner

Designing lighting for a kitchen diner is complex. This is because lighting has several functions. As well as needing to light the space with a general, or ambient, light source, dedicated lights are to be provided for the purpose of aiding specific tasks, such as food preparation.

In addition, lighting is required to accentuate various features of the kitchen’s design, either within, or beneath, units. The design also needs to cater for all the different functions of the space, as a kitchen diner often serves as a homework area for children, as well as providing a focus for the preparation and consumption of food.

For this reason, thought needs to be given to whether to provide additional light sources. Pendant lighting helps zone this kitchen dining space, while also providing ambient lighting for informal dining at the kitchen island.

03. Plan For Extraction Early On

An important function that should be dealt with early on in a kitchen diner design is that of extraction, as ridding the space of food smells is an important issue. This means including a mechanism such as a cooker extractor hood in the design.

There are two types of extractor:

1. A recirculating hood, which processes the various gases that are caused by cooking, before returning them back into the space.

2. A ducted hood, which removes them from the space altogether. A ducted hood is preferable, and one with an intensive power setting will be most effective.

It is important to ensure that the size of the hood is appropriate to the scale of the space into which it is to be installed.

Generally, the width of the hood should at least match that of the cooker, but it should be wider if it is fitted above an induction hob, otherwise it will not capture all of the gases produced.

One other issue that is important is that of ensuring that the hob is fitted correctly, and with sound ducting, otherwise the hob will be noisy and not perform to its optimum level.

Tip: For maximum performance, the ducting leading from the hob should be as short as possible, and have no kinks.

04. The Natural Light is Vital

Because it is likely that you and your family will spend a great deal of time in this space, it is very important that maximum use is made of natural light. This will reduce the use of electrically powered lighting.

Natural light can also be maximised by the fitting of French, sliding or bifold doors, but, in places beyond the reach of natural light, illumination might be provided using rooflights, or maybe by hanging a roof lantern over the dining area.

The brightness of the space might also be enhanced by the use of brightly coloured kitchen units, perhaps with a gloss finish, and by the laying of light coloured flooring.

05. Zoning

Zoning is very important, in as much as the open-plan space needs to be separated into different zones of activity. One simple way of achieving this is to install a breakfast bar or similar item of kitchen furniture, and this will also naturally create additional storage space.

‘Virtual zones’ might be created by the subtle use of lighting, with lights in certain parts of the kitchen diner being softened or turned off altogether at certain times.

Zoning can achieve a more striking effect when the structure of the space has a non-uniform design, with different areas of activity being defined by different floor or ceiling heights.

For example, the kitchen area might have a standard 2.4 metre-high ceiling, with the adjacent dining area being placed beneath a much higher, vaulted ceiling.

06. Give Good Thought to Flooring

Choosing a floor surface for your kitchen diner is very important. A uniform surface can provide continuity and cohesion throughout the space, or it can be regarded as another way in which the area can be subtly divided into different zones of activity.

If flooring has the latter function, then there is the opportunity to vary the nature of the materials used according to need. For example, a soft, comfortable surface might be selected for the dining portion of the space, whereas a more practical and hard-wearing material might be chosen for the floor of the food preparation area.

A design challenge with using different types of flooring, however, concerns finding an elegant solution to the point at which two surface types meet. If an effective transition strip cannot be found, then an alternative might be to install a partial dividing wall; alternatively, the two surfaces might be divided by a difference in floor height.

If the same type of flooring is to be used throughout the kitchen diner, then a surface that is appropriate for both parts of the space needs to be selected. One suggestion for this might be a limestone or slate floor. Alternatively, if a surface that is less harsh underfoot is preferred, then vinyl tiles, which can be designed with a wood or stone effect, might be used.

07. De-clutter

Another ‘quick win’ tip is to reduce the appearance of unsightly clutter, such as dirty crockery – this can be particularly problematic and embarrassing when you are entertaining in an open-plan kitchen.

If space permits, then the creation of a separate room for food preparation is a simple solution; otherwise, the answer might be to install sliding doors within your kitchen diner, which can be used to hide any clutter from guests.

More subtle means of hiding clutter include designing in a raised breakfast bar or similar worktop, or by simply having the dining area of your open-plan kitchen set at a different height to the food preparation spaces.

08. Connect Your Kitchen Diner with the Garden

Positioning your kitchen diner so that it backs onto your garden can encourage you to dine in the open air when the weather permits, and provide you with a nice view of the garden at other times of the year.

This connection with the outside can be enhanced through the use of sliding or bifold doors, or with the installation of French doors if they would be appropriate for the style of your property.

Of course, the choice of a more ‘outdoor’ lifestyle can be further encouraged by the creation of a pleasant outdoor eating area within easy reach of the kitchen.

09. Consistency of Design is Key

Any open-plan space needs to be unified with a consistent theme, as expressed by the palette of colours and the choice of materials and finishes. This might be achieved by something as simple as, for example, mirroring some of the more prominent colours of the kitchen in the dining area, or there might be a consistency in the appearance of cabinetry throughout the open space.

Another good design practice is to ensure that there is a certain harmony of shapes and sizes between the major furniture elements in the kitchen and dining spaces. This might be achieved by, say, matching the proportions of the breakfast bar and the dining area table.

10. Control noise levels

Keeping control of noise levels is an obvious first consideration when designing an important living space such as a kitchen diner.

Segregating noisy machines that are used for washing and drying processes is fairly straightforward, in as much as these can be assigned to a separate utility area, but there are some cooking-related appliances essential to a kitchen diner that might generate significant noise.

Examples are the extractor fan within a cooker hood and the dishwasher.

  • Invest in appliances which promise a low decibel (dB) rating. 
  • The Servis dishwasher, works at just 39dB, which is quieter than a fridge humming;
  • while Bosch offer models with Silence Program and SuperSilence programmes — the quietest work at 38dB
  • Look out products which come with Quiet Mark approval

Other sources of noise might relate to flooring choices. This might be due to the installation of fashionable hard flooring, and exacerbated by the magnifying effects of other hard surfaces and extensive glazing.

The introduction of soft furnishings such as textile curtains or soft panelling to the walls, and the use of rugs to cover some of the floor space are easy ways to absorb some of the noise created.

A more permanent measure would be to use Gyproc SoundBloc, a specially designed acoustic plasterboard, for the walls.

By |2019-01-15T17:10:20+00:00January 9th, 2019|Kitchens|Comments Off on 10 Tips for the Design of a Kitchen Diner