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Guest Blogger: The Bathroom Conundrum: Fashion or Function?

Guest Blogger #994, Entry #2557, June 24, 2013

The bathroom isn’t the most glamorous of rooms, is it? Compared to the clean, precise edges and faint pretensions of the kitchen and the cosy warmth of a lounge, the bathroom is…well, let’s just all agree that we know what goes on in there and leave it at that.

However, not paying attention to your bathroom while undertaking a redesign of your home could be the worst mistake you ever make. Believe it or not, the bathroom is one of the rooms on which most homeowners are judged by their guests. Part of this is an issue of cleanliness, but judgement is also passed based on the layout of the room and the look and feel.

bathroom ideas blue interiors

What’s more important in your bathroom – function or beauty?

Image via: Moen

Why you should improve your bathroom

There’s also a selfish reason to improve your bathroom; a UK study found that the average person will spend one and a half years of their life in the bathroom. That’s a lot of time to spend in a room that doesn’t look nice or isn’t very practical to use!

In short, we all need to spend a bit more time thinking about how our bathroom looks, and how practical it is (i.e. the positioning of the sink in relation to the toilet, where the shower goes, extraction fans).

There is a dilemma at the heart of bathroom design, however – fashion or function? People tend to find it difficult to strike a balance between the two when it comes to designing their bathroom.

On the one hand, they might deck out their bathroom with elaborate features inspired by Roman baths and pay little to no attention to the actual layout of the bathroom, just how many solid gold taps they can fit into the space.

On the other hand, some bathrooms forego fashion to such an extent that being in the room is just plain unpleasant. One of the worst bathrooms this writer has ever had the ‘pleasure’ of using was a perfectly functional bathroom, but was located in what can only be described as a broom closet, with no natural light. It was a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare.

bathroom shower idea tile ceiling

Determine what your needs are in your bathroom

Image via: Emily Followil

What’s more important: fashion or function?

In fairness, there’s a case to be made for both fashion and function as the chief concern of any bathroom design.

The obvious merit of a bathroom that focuses on fashion over function is that it’s going to be eye-catching. Focusing on fashionable fixtures and grand statements in your bathroom means that you can dazzle any guests with the sheer opulence of your bathroom, which in turn could well mask any potential practical sacrifices you might have to make to fit in certain fixtures.

A fashionable bathroom with expensive fixtures also has the added benefit of actually being nice to be in, to the extent that the comfort offered might mean you spend a lot more in your bathroom with a good book!

There are four major downsides to focusing solely on fashion; cost, maintenance, lack of practicality and the ever-changing trends of interior design. It’s well known that ‘on trend’ items tend to have a higher price tag, which means going for a chic bathroom often means having to dig a little deeper into your bank account.

The kind of fixtures associated with a fashionable bathroom, and the materials used, tend to be harder to maintain too, with regular and intense cleaning required to keep your bathroom looking its best.

Only opting for high fashion items for your bathroom can also mean losing sight of the practicality of a layout, as you try desperately to fit everything into a small space and focus on aesthetics over how easy the bathroom is to use.

The ever-changing world of bathroom design trends also means that your expensive fashionable bathroom could well fall out of favour within a year of you installing it. Think about what was trendy in the 80s, and how dated interior design from that era looks now!

bathroom modern tile idea

Functional bathrooms are practical and timeless

Image via: Dale Tu

Functional bathroom considerations:

Going for a functional bathroom where the look is dictated by the layout means that you might have to make some sacrifices in terms of the items you buy, but ultimately it’ll make using the bathroom much more pleasurable. Even something as simple as having the sink next to a towel rail so you don’t have to drip your wet hands along the floor after washing can improve the functionality of your bathroom dramatically.

A well-laid out bathroom with simple fixtures will also be easier to maintain, taking far less effort to keep looking its best and ward off the effects of wear and tear.

So what is more important; fashion or function? In all honesty, the answer is a combination of the two. Although opinions will vary from designer to designer, a bathroom that combines a solid, well-planned layout with fashionable fixtures should be the ultimate goal of anyone planning to redesign their bathroom. However, you should always try and opt for a timeless style rather than a ‘trend’; you’ll be amazed just how good a plain white bathroom with clean edges can look!

Christopher Smith is a writer specialising in interior design. He currently writes for Illuminated Mirrors, a company specialising in LED bathroom mirrors.

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