Small cloakroom basins

It says a lot about cloakrooms and ensuite design when industry experts talk about ‘creating spaces’, rather than simply alluding to the addition of just another WC or basin. Cloakrooms and ensuites are now necessary living spaces and, as such, the designs of these two areas are paid the same reverence as the main bathroom. Now there is more choice than ever, as manufacturers have created a raft of bathroom products for spatially-challenged areas, reflecting this blossoming sectoic Managing director of Duravit UK, Gary Dart explains:

“Consumers are demanding more breadth of choice of quality sanitaryware and furniture for the cloakroom and ensuite due  to the fact that these rooms have taken on more importance in the home.”

Revamps reap rewards

Cloakroom and ensuite sales have both benefitted from consumers opting to improve their homes, rather than move in this challenging climate. The inclusion of additional toilet and bathing facilities not only adds value to the dwelling, but for those who are hoping to sell in the near future provides a luxurious point of difference between homes. Commercial and marketing director of jacuzzi UK David Tutton says: “With more and more people choosing to stay put and make home improvements, it’s practical areas  such as bathrooms which are first on the list. A new ensuite can add value to the property, leaving the homeowners rest assured that when they finally do sell, they have made a worthy investment.” And julie Holiday, brand manager of Shades, agrees adding: “Cloakrooms and ensuites offer a relatively low- budget solution to inject style and glamour into the home, while providing welcome additional bathroom facilities.

They are seen both by new-build developers and homeowners as a cost-effective way of offering luxury and practicality in a small, affordable package.” “Of course, it’s not only remodelling the floorplan of a home to create additional facilities which has spurred the growth of additional bathroom facilities. Replacing existing cloakroom and ensuites has also aided sales. Legislation which was introduced to provide disabled access to a downstairs WC boosted sales of cloakroom products for new homes, and now these areas have the potential to be revamped. Marketing communication manager of Roper Rhodes, Suellen Morris explains: “Around five years ago, all new build homes were required to have a downstairs toilet. People are now deciding that it is time to refurbish this part of their house.”

Different in design

But while cloakrooms and ensuites tend to be lumped together, these two spaces actually boast very different functions. The former is a small bathroom showpiece designed for use by visitors. Whereas, even the most modest ensuite is considered a secluded luxury retreat, nestling among the most private areas of the home – the bedrooms. Sara Pearce, marketing manager for Laufen,  comments: “The design of the ensuite is all about creating a relaxing sanctuary away from the hubbub of the rest of the home. Cloakrooms, meanwhile, are very much designed with convenience in mind. They save guests from having to traipse upstairs in order to use the toilet and are likely to be made up of little more than a WC and washbasin.” Helen Clark, marketing director of Utopia Bathroom Group agrees, adding: “There is indeed increased consumer focus on these rooms as they become standard in houses. Also, the cloakroom is one of the rooms likely to be visited by guests to the house and is therefore ‘on show’, consequently receiving special attention from the homeowners.”

Making bathroom plans

The items chosen for a fashionable but functional ensuite is entirely dependent on the available space and the facilities already available in the main bathroom. Ensuites could include a bath, shower or combination of both. Cloakrooms may just suffice  with sanitaryware – a WC and basin. Peter Elson, sales and marketing director of Ellis Furniture, explains as much thought needs to go into the planning of these rooms as the main bathroom: “There are two equally important factors:

a) how will the room be used and

b) how should it look.

Think about the user; is it a family cloakroom, if so accommodate children constantly in and out, washing hands, using the WC. How can we keep items out of reach from exploring toddlers? “|f it’s an ensuite for a double bedroom, do the ergonomics work for two people? Simple things like two tooth brush chargers, practical storage for increasingly large amount of personal care collection, two mirrors and possibly ‘his n’ hers’ basins. “ln terms of the look then designers and retailers need to spend some time understanding the consumer’s tastes/preferred styles, how will the bathroom work with the rest of the house, is the consumer looking for a cat-walk’ room or a more classic style that will stand the test of time?”

But before being specific about individual bathroom product choices, general manager of Heritage Bathrooms David Savage raises an interesting point: “Most people overlook the lighting. The correct lighting can completely transform the environment. A well-lit ensuite or cloakroom can feel like an extension of the living space, whereas a 60W centre light immediately labels it as a functional space.”

Storage is essential

Certainly one area where all industry experts tend to agree is that storage is essential for both cloakroom and ensuite facilities. ln fact, sales and marketing  director of Alape, Mark Booth says this is an area often overlooked: “When working with a small area, what often gets overlooked is the inclusion of storage. The last thing that an ensuite or cloakroom needs is a big, bulky storage unit which takes up a lot of room. Designers and retailers should be looking for products that are multi- functional. Alape offers a range of mirror cabinets, which can be wall-mounted to save valuable floor space. However, UK sales director for Dansani Christian Asmussen argues: “lf the room is especially small, I would personally steer clear of wall cabinets since this will visually close the room in making it look  especially cramped. lf the space is particularly tight, I personally would go for a small vanity unit.”

Whatever the choice of bathroom products to adorn these rooms, one thing is for certain that the cloakroom and ensuite are going to be significant for designers and retailers for years to come. And, following indications at the trend marker of the industry, the ISH exhibition, there is going to be a growing choice of products designed specifically for the requirements of these smaller bathrooms. Cloakrooms and ensuites are incredibly valuable spaces in the home. They’re no longer a luxury but a practical necessity.