The current interior design and living patterns point to a complete transformation of utilitarian bathroom of yore into the present day opulent sanctuary of comfort and rejuvenation. Taking inspiration from luxury hotel bathrooms, owners are extending the same concept to their own bath areas. And with abundance of high end fitments now available, this makeover has become even more convenient. Architect Sumana Rao, from Sumana Dinesh Associates, says, “The concept of the bathroom has changed. They are called luxury rooms rather than luxury bathrooms. It’s a place where clients like to spend their personal time after a day in the rush-rush world.”
For the globetrotting customer designing a bathroom today, doesn’t just involve placing of wash basin, water closet and a shower unit. They are spoilt for choice. The shower units now come with massage settings and rainshower experience, bath tubs with chromatherapy and hydra therapy and water closets with temperature controlled seat covers and silent flushing systems. Besides, the bath decor like any other room now includes furniture and furnishings such as vanity console, artifacts & art works, assorted greenery, floor rug, seating and entertainment such as iPod dock stations, surround sound speakers and LCD screens. As per, Abhinav Khandelwal, Managing partner of FCML Home, a high end home products stores chain in India, “It’s about having the same emotion that goes into making the living room, for the bathroom.”
The interest in bathroom decor in India is reflective of the global trends. For instance, THG, a US based bathroom products manufacturer offers custom-designed crystals embedded Lalique taps and gold and platinum basins. Bisazza Bagno Hayon collection by designer Jaime Hayon recreates the glamour of the 1930s. While Pear collection designed by Patricia Urquiola for Agape includes free-standing bathtub and complementary bathroom range, Italian designer Massimiliano Della Monaca associated with Sicis offers high heel shoe-shaped bathtub Audrey for the connoisseurs of fine taste. Then there are the designer collections from global bathroom product companies like Dornbracht, Kohler, Villeroy & Boch, Rocca, Gessi, Duravit and Flaminia among others. Their luxury range products apart from being high on looks and exclusive designs also provide eco-friendly aspect to the fixtures. “People who invest in luxury apartments and villas are open to designing every aspect of their homes, including the bathrooms according to their personal tastes and brand preferences and price is not an impediment for this,” said Anjum Jung, Managing Partner, Morph Design Co.
Moreover, with reports indicating luxury housing market potential growth rate of CAGR 28 per cent during 2013, many developers are now tying up with international designers to offer super luxury homes. Lodha Developers have tied up with Armani/Casa Interior Design Studio to create the interiors of the World Towers project in Mumbai, with residential units featuring Armani/Roca bathrooms. Similarly, Disney-inspired homes by Sunteck in association with Disney Inc. will have Disney-branded bath fittings to bring alive the Disney experience while, yoo-Pune project developed by Panchshil Realty will feature Duravit’s Philippe Starck range of bathroom products. “A luxury home is exclusive, stylish and unique and designer bathrooms are affirmation of luxury. Designs include private gardens, spa like fittings and steam/hydro therapy areas along with exclusive designer range of fixtures, states Sagar Chordia, Director, Panchshil Realty.
Sanctuary of comfort
The rise of the great Indian middle class and the exposure to global brands, have reinvented the traditional Indian bathrooms with world-class fixtures & modern finishes. Eclectic mix of neutral tones ranging from creams, whites, beiges and browns with brighter colours to accentuate the décor is trendy. While, natural stone and handcrafted tiles are being combined to create nature inspired interiors, Simple clean lines with metallic colours and gold and gold finishes too are in.
Pedestal sinks and vessel sinks that float on solid wood cabinetry, basins made of hand-painted porcelain, carved marble, glass, copper and stone in natural forms like bulbous round and oval are popular. Large soaking tubs, claw feet, and vintage-look faucets besides, LED-lit shower heads and oversized spa-like shower enclosure are being seen in today’s luxury bathrooms.
Representing the technology in water closets are the toilets with heated seat that delivers a warm water wash with temperature, pressure and pulsation adjustability. Other notable additions include, lighted bowl that eliminates the need to turn on a light at night, remote control to adjust the seat settings, automatic flush, catalytic deodorizer function and sensor operated automatically opening and closing lid, to name a few.
Owners are also opting for custom designed showers that combine a series of showerheads and body sprays mounted on the walls and ceiling of the shower space that result in a unique rainforest-like experience. Recreating a spa at home are the bubble baths with controlled panels, whirlpool tubs and massage bathtubs. Some new bathtubs come with panels that emit sound waves through the water for a completely relaxing experience. These baths play original musical compositions or users own music. They even come with light panels that change colour in concert with the sound waves. Digital showering with customizable shower stalls is a new fun. Not only one can choose showerheads and sound/light features but a built-in computer can also remember settings for each family member.
The days of listening to music in the shower are long gone. Now, complete home theatre systems with plasma TVs and surround sound are the norm. An ingenious way of installing a flat-screen TV is in the mirror above the vanity sink. When off, the screen looks like a regular mirror but when turned on, it shows the images. Rao adds, “Luxury bathroom is turning into something of an entertainment zone, with remote-enabled mood lighting, musical showers, bathtubs and LCDs fitted onto the wall.” To add comfort, mini refrigerators are being built in the walls or cabinets and warming drawers or heated towel racks are added to store towels. The pendant ceiling light, carpet, upholstered chaise lounge, perfume rack and console dresser complete the look of an elegant comfort zone.
An eco-sensitive space
Though, the focus of new age bathroom is on exclusivity and extravagance, luxury at the cost of resources is also not acceptable. Thanks to advanced technologies, going back to basics no more has to be cheap or rustic. The contemporary eco-friendly products offer the same rich look and comfort as their conventional counterparts sans the negative environmental impact. The plethora of eco-friendly products in the market include pressed paper countertops, bamboo and cork flooring, organic bath rug, recycled glass tiles and wash basins made from recycled materials as well as energy efficient lighting, heating equipment and natural insulation materials.
However, as about 65% of our total indoor home water use occurs in our bathrooms water conservation remains the key function of an eco-sensitive bath design. But, to go eco-friendly, users no longer need to give up bathing indulgence, they just have to pick up the smart fixtures. From low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators to pressure assisted toilets and innovatively designed low line bathtubs, there are several high-end bathroom products, homeowners have embraced. “A large portion of water is consumed as a result of inefficient fixtures. The new, more efficient products from recognized brands can help consumers make a better choice when it comes to water conservation.” says Architect Meena Gujral.
All major bathroom products manufacturers from Rocca, Duravit, Dornbracht, Kohler to Cera, Hindware and HR Johnson have introduced green sustainable range of fixtures to address the growing concern for fast depleting water resource. Such as, a stylish faucet with built in water saving cartridge and faucet with advanced eco click technology allowing the tap to be opened at a preset low flow rate can reduce water consumption in the long run. Likewise, a modern shower heads with an eco button can reduce water consumption at a single press with an option of higher volume when required. Water aeration is another technology which infuses the water with air, creating a pleasant water jet even at a flow rate as low as 5 l/min. Similarly, a low line bathtub, not as deep as standard tub but with an attractive inward curving facet gives similar soaking experience without wasting water. Also materials like acrylic and reinforced acrylic for bath tubs retain heat meaning bath won’t cool as quickly, eliminating the need to top up with hot water.
Water closets consume up to 40% of the indoor water in flushing and are the single greatest water users in any given bathroom. Therefore, replacing the dual flush toilets are more efficient hydraulic technology water closets that requires only 1.6 gallons per flush against four and six gallons per flush of low flush & standard WCs. The latest pressure assisted toilets go a step further and use per flush only one gallon for light waste and 1.4 gallons for solid waste. These WCs come fitted with small electric pump to blow the water out under pressure, optimizing flushing performance.
Internationally, environment conscious designers are consistently developing newer, even more advanced systems to conserve water. For example, the Aquanox bathroom unit designed by Italian designer Massimo Brugnera apart from having features like colour therapy, rain shower, sauna, and internal lighting is also a gray water capturing and purifying unit. The purified water can be used for various tasks like flushing and plant watering. Likewise, to save water while showering, designer Frank Guo designed the BRS (Bathroom Recycle System) shower system. The water that may be wasted while waiting for the shower to warm up gets collected in the glass wall and is used for the wash basin and toilet. This transparent wall with shower panel on one side and basin & toilet on either side comes with LED lights and temperature sensors.