Q.Dear Andrew, I have just come back from holiday and was taken by the wet room that was part of our suite. I was thinking about updating my en suite – how can I recreate it?
A.A wet room is a great way to achieve a clean and contemporary look for your en suite. You lose the shower tray and the curtain is typically replaced by a sheet of glass from floor to ceiling with minimal fittings. The first thing to do is to ensure that the room is watertight and the floor must be treated with a waterproof membrane, usually fibreglass, which can be tiled directly over.
The room is designed to be uncluttered and it is essential to plan your storage so everything can be put away. You can include a tiled recess in the shower area to keep your shampoo. This should be on a slight slope so that water drains properly. This should also be the case for the floor – the tiling needs to slope into the drain and, it sounds obvious, but don’t put the plughole where you stand. The current look is to tile the whole room and have the same tiles on the floor and on the ceiling. Consider getting non-slip tiles for the area directly under the shower.
In a room where every surface will get wet, heating is important for evaporation. One way to achieve this is to put in underfloor heating when you get the floor sealed. Touches include a heating pad behind the mirror so the glass doesn’t steam up and a heated rail to keep your towels warm and dry. Adding a summer heating element will give you warm towels all year round.
Ventilation is essential and all bathrooms are required to have adequate air extraction and it’s worth paying more to get a quiet and efficient extractor fan. It’s also worth splashing out on a large shower head since you are less constrained by space in a wet room.
Q.Dear Andrew, my kitchen needs updating and I’d love a top range kitchen but can’t afford it. Do you have any tips to achieve a luxury kitchen at a lower cost?
A.As a rule of thumb, you want to save money on your kitchen units but spend on everything else. The easiest way to do this is to buy the carcasses (structure) of the cupboards without doors from somewhere like Ikea and then find a local carpenter to make up bespoke doors for you. This will give you a high-end look at a lower cost.
Or you can buy your cupboards from, say, B&Q or Magnet and go elsewhere for the rest. Sometimes high-end suppliers will sell ex-showroom cabinets at a big discount. But if you have cheap cupboards, don’t go for cheap flooring as well – this will lower the look of the room. Popular floor colours at the moment include darker tiles in slate or limestone, which you can seal to prevent stains.
But it is worth spending as much as you can afford on the worktop. If you have an island in your kitchen, then you could use high-quality granite for that and put a cheaper wooden worktop elsewhere. But don’t mix granite and laminate – it just doesn’t work.
A very modern look, which will save money, is to have an upstand rather than a splashback around the back of your worktop. It is about five to six centimetres high and the wall above can be painted using specialist paint that is easy to wipe down.
Only spend on appliances that are visible – if your fridge is built-in then you can get a cheaper one that will be hidden by a door. Then spend the money saved on the visible hob and the extractor fan. It’s also a luxury touch to have an unusual tap or sink – these can add interest without costing more money.
Andrew Dunning is head designer at APD Interiors, an interior design consultancy, www.apdinteriors.com. Follow his design tips on Twitter @andrewdunning