The days when smart bathrooms were supposedly reserved for detached houses in the suburbs are well and truly over. The desire for a bathroom that reflects its users’ lifestyle has lost its elitist touch, and a growing number of people want an upmarket bathroom that combines contemporary design with modern convenience – even if they haven’t got a lot of room to play with.
Spacious doesn’t always have to mean big. Those attempting to square this particular circle tend to prefer a puristic, even elegant style and small but top-quality products. Simplicity is also vital, because an uncluttered look creates the impression of space and makes life easier. Integrative design and intelligent solutions that pay just as much attention to functionality as they do to appearances aim to strike the right balance between a traditional aesthetic and modern expectations.
There is a trend towards products that condense the design of the “big” collections to fit the smallest possible space: design DNA on a smaller, perfectly calibrated scale. This concept should be viewed independently of classic space-saving or guest bathrooms that have to make certain compromises – not just on comfort and convenience, but often on aesthetics as well. The Condensed Bathroom is different: it might be small, but it is a fully fledged bathroom that concentrates on a few top-quality components.
The profiles of the relevant collections seem to be gravitating in two directions. There’s the Condensed Bathroom for design fans who are embracing the current trend towards open bathroom furniture and original interior design or want to create an architectonic style. And then there are the families who feel at home in certain city neighbourhoods and find their niche there; they try to implement a Condensed Bathroom with products that provide as much storage space as possible for as little money as possible, while nevertheless conveying a modern atmosphere that fits in with their lifestyle.
However, there’s one thing both variants of the Condensed Bathroom have in common: they make room for individual elements. An open shelf here, a colourful wall there, fifties-look tiles, a flea market find dangling from the ceiling or a particularly sophisticated LED lighting concept that centres on a designer lamp or the vanity unit – no matter how small the bathroom, it’s always big enough for a special little something.
In return, the owners of a Condensed Bathroom are willing to be disciplined and focus on the essentials, because that’s the only way the aesthetic standards they aspire to can be achieved in a small space. Faced with two little bathrooms in an older building, it’s better to clear them out and restrict each to a single function – for example by going without a second bathtub, a big washbasin or a cabinet and installing a big walk-in shower instead. And in family bathrooms, opting for a big shower might mean cosy gatherings around the vanity unit, narrow cabinets stacked on top of one another and regular tidy-ups to keep the few shelves and ledges free of clutter.
Underlying parameters such as the need to renovate and the compact floor plans common to both older and brand new buildings in densely populated urban areas are giving rise to a growing number of collections specially developed for small bathrooms. Manufacturers of ceramic sanitaryware, bathroom furniture, bathtubs and showers are increasingly extending their portfolios with space-saving models in all price segments. Because first and foremost, smart small bathrooms are not a question of the budget available, they’re a matter of the lifestyle we want to cultivate in our homes. And particularly among discerning city dwellers, that’s a trending topic right now.
In the past only big, luxurious bathrooms were well equipped and adapted to a certain lifestyle. Today, however, particularly in urban areas, there is a growing demand for lifestyle-compatible small bathrooms – and that demand is coming not just from design-savvy singles and couples but from families as well. Yet especially in family bathrooms, a chaotic accumulation of all the different things the various members of the family need for their personal hygiene and grooming routines is almost inevitable. That’s why the example in the Condensed Bathroom shown here provides an unusually generous amount of storage space: the interior of the L-Cube series from Duravit (photo) is perfectly equipped for keeping all sorts of bathroom utensils organised and within easy reach. Thanks to their variable compartments, the black interiors of the drawers are ideal for creating order, and the mirror cabinet from the same series provides extra storage space in addition to its many other useful functions. The LED strip light is switched on and off or dimmed by means of a touchless sensor. And according to the manufacturer, the extremely robust ceramic vanity top made of the new DuraCeram material makes the basin and cabinet ensemble very hardwearing and easy to clean. The matt surface of the Stonetto shower tray is made of the company’s premium DuraSolid material and is through-coloured, scratchproof and sturdy.