A Splash Of Colour
When it comes to customising your very own bathroom, some people may play it safe. While minimalist designs are all the rage, incorporating bolder, more striking elements to your bathroom such as murals and feature walls are a golden opportunity. Melbourne Kitchen + Bathroom Design’s Lucy Wadelton spoke to Ben Strachan, founder, and director of Bespoke Bathrooms, to discuss the merits and just how creative you can get.
A TILE AS OLD AS TIME
When the lost Italian city of Pompeii was uncovered in the 16th century, archaeologists discovered a beautiful array of frescos and feature tiles. Despite having been buried for more than 1500 years, the Pompeiian bathhouses were excavated to show brilliant, vibrant frescos adorning their walls. Ancient Romans famously indulged in luxurious bathrooms – often public bathhouses, though the wealthy had private ones – which were known for their stunning feature painted walls or intricate, bold ceramic tiled flooring.
By the turn of the century, a decidedly more minimalist approach took over the modern bathroom. Much like the 1800s and early 1900s, homeowners began to opt for a timeless, elegant approach with porcelains and black and white distinctions. In 2022, however, homeowners are starting to see the merit in featuring a bold colour, pattern, or design in their bathrooms. It is a time for customising one’s space to reflect your unique taste, and to stand out from the sea of white that dominates the contemporary bathroom market. And thus, the Ancient Pompeiian aesthetic has returned to favour.
TILES OF TRANQUILITY
Bespoke Bathroom’s Ben Strachan summarised it best when he said, “everyone wants their own space to be bespoke and special to them.” What better way to ensure your bathroom is unique and customised, than with a little splash of colour? Strachan first recommends that the surrounding walls are plain, perhaps a simple white, so that feature wall or floor can truly shine, and prevent the space from becoming too busy. Although we want our bathrooms to be fun and playful, we don’t want material colours and patterns to clash. “Less is definitely more,” Strachan says, “bathrooms should be a place of calmness and retreat”. Thus, choosing one showstopping design is enough to inject life and personality into your bathroom.
The next step, of course, is choosing a material that is a “bathroom-ready, waterproof material”. That could mean any number of choices such as waterproof wallpaper, mosaic, tiles, vinyl, paint, or panelling. Within these categories there are endless options from minimalist colours to the most outlandish fully illustrated landscapes.
No matter your bathroom’s desired aesthetic, there is a material that will suit your needs. Remember to “take risks with colour and patterns and do something interesting” just for you.
The final stage of design is all about positioning. If choosing a feature wall as opposed to floor, it’s important to consider which side. Your feature wall will be a focal point in the space, so it’s crucial you know what you want to draw attention to. An ideal choice for a bathroom is a striking design against the bathtub, or the vanity wall. You may even opt for a design that features only in the shower wall. Another popular option, Strachan explains, is dividing the space horizontally with your feature halfway up the walls or on the upper half. This can create a pleasing symmetry and avoids being too overwhelming.
HOME IS WHERE THE ART IS
By far the most cost-effective mural choice is painting. That may mean a simple pop of colour for some, but for others it can be a bold, artistic endeavour. Strachan encourages people to think outside the box, “it only takes a few brave people to do it first then everyone will want to get in on it.” A fully hand-painted mural by a seasoned professional can leave a lasting impression and evoke a sense of calm and beauty in the space. For inspiration you may look to neo-classical or renaissance for an elegant, European en suite.
Among the many options to make a statement in your bathroom, one of the most functional is the wallpaper. Strachan highlights the benefits of wallpapers as practical because it can be removed or replaced, “so over time if you wanted to change it you absolutely can.” This allows your design to adapt with your changing taste. Although at the higher end of a budget, waterproof wallpaper has that all important ‘wow factor’, and Strachan attests to it bringing “drama and interest” to the bathroom space. It also means the world is your oyster from florals to geometric shapes, there are no limits.
A mural that is tiled is one of the most versatile choices, ideal for a feature wall or mosaic, as well as the newer and more prominent trend of a feature floor.
Strachan notes the benefit of choosing tile is that it comes in a variety of shapes, colours, patterns, and finishes. When getting creative you may experiment with a selection of different tiles that form one cohesive design (for instance, patterned tiles framed or trimmed by solid colour tiles). A solid colour tiled wall or floor can be elevated simply with a unique shape such as scallop, hexagon, circular or arabesque. For the more adventurous homeowner, vintage inspired tiles that feature illustrated designs or images can truly transform a bathroom.
PAINT YOUR OWN PICTURE
When considering the design of your bathroom renovation, our expert’s advice is not to focus on the value of your home for reselling purposes. He explains that too many people design their bathroom spaces as minimalist; plain and undefined white so as not to scare off prospective buyers should you ever decide to resell. “Don’t worry too much about what the next buyer might think,” Strachan states, “build the bathroom you want.” Strachan attests the most important thing is that your bathroom brings you joy and reflects your personality, not that of future owners.
Throughout history, the aesthetic desire to adorn one’s bathroom with striking and artistic murals has remained. With a plethora of materials, colours, patterns, and positioning on hand, customising your bathroom mural to reflect your colourful personality is easier than ever. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to cause polarising opinions; this is your bathroom, and your unique space. It’s imperative your design choices reflect you. As Strachan aptly puts it, “be bold and brave, design and build the space you want.”
Images courtesy of Bespoke Bathrooms