Maximizing the potential use of any bathroom using bathroom furniture depends on an appropriate division of space within the room itself as well as the way in which it is connected to the rest of the houses Again, this involves considering the list of questions at the beginning of this chapter: you can only decide how best to allocate space once you are sure of who and what the bathroom will be for.
Division of space involves defining the boundaries of the bathroom. You may wish to carve up an existing bedroom, or create an extra room in the attic. You might choose to extend a room by taking in all or part of an adjoining room or passage. Or you might find extra space under the stairs or in a hallway, for example, for a toilet or shower room. Within the bathroom, it involves allocating space for the different items that may be required: for example, a shower fitted over a bath, or a bath and separate, self-contained shower unit; double or single basins; storage; a dressing-room area; or utilities such as washing machines and tumble dryers.
The dividing lines may be either decorative or structural. Breaking up the space may simply be a case of installing a screen or different flooring or tiling to indicate a change of use within the bathroom, or it may involve physically separating a bathroom from its en suite bedroom. Whatever the situation – and it will be different in every case – the division of space must be decided at the planning stage. Walls, doorways, floor levels, positioning of fittings and fixtures are all still fluid at this point and with the help of a tape measure, a pencil and a sheet of graph paper, it is possible to experiment before making any unalterable decisions. Within the bathroom itself, dlvisions of space can be decorative and/or practical.
A raised floor around the bath might separate that area from the rest of the room and, if tiled to match the surrounding walls, might also create a waterproof ‘p|atform’ withln an otherwise non-waterproof floor. Screens are economical options; they can be fixed, as in sliding doors or panels, or freestanding, either painted or decorated, or fabric-covered for a softer effect. In its freestanding form, a panelled screen can be placed around the toilet, for example, to increase privacy, or near the entrance to the room to cut down on draughts, as well as providing a useful place to hang towels or robes. Separating the toilet from the rest of the room or, if space permits, installing one toilet within the bathroom and another elsewhere in the house, can greatly increase the potential of a bathroom used by more than one person. A standard toilet and a wall-mounted basin can be fitted into a surprisingly small space, requiring only about 140cm x 90cm (55in to 36in) in total. Alternatively, a toilet can be screened or partially screened from the main area of the bathroom by a partition wall – with or without a door. Even a low-level partition wall, rising to about 90cm (36in) in height, would serve to increase privacy, as well as doubling up as a useful shelf to house toilet paper and accessories. If your shower is to be open-plan with the rest of the room, some sort of screen orpartition may be appropriate to keep the basin and toilet area dry. Even if the whole room is tiled and therefore entirely splashproof, it may still serve to increase the potential use of the bathroom if both shower and basin can be used at any one time without both users getting soaked.
Dual-purpose bathrooms may work better if the two areas are divided or semi-divided. In a bathroom-cum-dressing- room, for example, the storage area for clothes would benefit from being separated in some way from the moisture and condensation of the main bathing area. This might involve fitting a standard cupboard with hinged or sliding doors or creating a large, walk-in closet. It might simply be a case of hanging a curtain that would cut down on dust and add a decorative touch. ln certain countries, such as the United Kingdom, regulations dictate that appliances such as washing machines have to be positioned out of reach of both bath and shower, and the installation of some sort of screen or divider would enhance the safety factor as well as conceal these less-than-decorative items from the rest of the bathroom. Sliding doors are a space-saving option, while double doors look attractive and can be designed to fold back flat for ease of access. A word of caution about boxing – in any appliances, especially washing machines or tumble dryers: take care to ensure that there is sufficient ventilation and that installation instructions are correctly followed. A tumble dryer, in particular, generates a great deal of condensation and most models require a vent leading to an outside wall. One possible drawback of dividing space within the bathroom is that each individual area may have to be independently lit, but powerful angled spotlights and clever use of mirrors can help overcome the problem.