The philosophy applied to bathroom design shifted dramatically with the addition of multiple baths in residential design. The traditional one-bathroom home of the sixties demanded a rather utilitarian approach. Good design opted for neat, clean interiors that hopefully didn't encourage long visits. In fact, with the entire family sharing the space, bathrooms were impersonal and hardly a place for anyone to capture quiet moments of solitude. Today a second bath is rarely considered a luxury, and in fact, it is becoming more common to include an "ensuite bath" for each bedroom.
Individual baths offer an opportunity to personalize the space uniquely for the user. Whether we are creating the most luxurious powder room for guests, the most charming, whimsical chamber for our children or indulging in a state of the art personal spa suite for ourselves, the bathroom is one area where creativity and extravagant attention to detail appear to have no limit.
As the number of bathrooms in the average home rose and attention to individual design increased, the ceramic tile industry answered with a plethora of new design aesthetics, textures and sizes. No category in ceramic tile manufacturing is as broad as the design of bathroom wall and floor tile. Although many of these tiles are appropriate for other areas of the home, some are specifically intended for the gentle use expected in the various types of new generation bathrooms.
Traditionally, consumers have considered all bathrooms as similar and lumped them under one umbrella regarding selection of finishes such as ceramic tile. In fact, from a functional, practical, aesthetic, and technical view point, bathrooms present three or four distinct types of rooms. Guest powder rooms, main or family baths, master suites and finally master retreats, which are quickly gaining ground and should be described as self-contained living environments rather than single purpose bathrooms.
Ceramic tile is perfectly in tune with bathroom design, and has been a quintessential element since earliest times. The diversity of tile on the market provides consumers with a virtual cornucopia of choice regardless of the room under consideration. However, it may only be in bathroom design that every tile made can find an appropriate use and function. This is an exciting proposition! It is in this one space that tile deemed inappropriate in other locations due to functional restrictions, price or saturation of color, will be the ultimate and perfect choice in one of the four bathroom types. To take advantage of the choices available requires a look at who is using the space, for what and how often.
Traffic is occasional or considered extremely light. It is also a room that is impeccably and easily maintained. The dimensions are diminutive, and therefore this room presents the best chance to include to-die-for finishes even when considering some of the most exquisite ceramic tile décor pieces and specialty trim tiles. It is possible in this small space to transport your guests to a place that anticipates their every need and where they not only feel valued, but also, truly spoiled. Practical considerations in most cases can be set aside as this is not a bathing or a dressing room. Task-oriented lights are out and dimmed flattering lighting such as candles, sconces or chandeliers are de rigueur.
This is the room to use saturated rich dark color tones that create intimacy and intrigue.
MAIN OR FAMILY BATHS:
Quite distinct from a powder room, the main bathroom is all about practicality. This bathroom could more aptly be named the children's bath. It may be designed around a growing young family, adolescent children, or serve as a full bath for a guest suite. Function and safety are high on the priority list, and once suitable tiles have been identified, budget and fashion can determine the choice.
Traffic is much higher depending on the number and age of the users. The potential for moisture and water penetration are also likely to be the highest in this bath. Consider wet towels on the floor, teenagers taking hot showers for what seems like an hour, splashing toddlers in the tub, Fido's monthly bath and overflowing toilets and sinks. The tile must also stand up to gritty dirt tracked in from outside on your son's tennis shoes, stains from chemicals when your teenage daughter streaks her hair with the latest dark burgundy highlights, spills her makeup, nail polish or can of cola or bleaches her jeans in the bathtub. The main bathroom is the children's science lab. Behavior is unpredictable and something short of careful and neat. Ceramic tile is the master of disasters and used by Europeans to cover every bathroom surface for more than just exceptional hygiene.
In this environment a quality glazed floor and wall tile are required, and are virtually indestructible if installed correctly. A glazed tile with water absorption (below 7 percent) with a variegated pattern and color to hide water spots and soiling is a perfect choice for main floor areas of the bath.
Sizes used have consistently gotten larger over the years with 12-by-12 being the most popular for floors and rectangular 8-by-10 tile for wall applications. Many programs co-ordinate wall and floor tiles, providing a seamless envelope of pattern, texture and color that visually expands the volume of the room. Selecting a monochromatic grout that matches the background of the tile and carrying this grout color onto all walls including the shower area essentially make the joints disappear, and the soft neutral colored grout is far easier to maintain than the traditional white grout often selected for wall installations. The newest fabric-inspired ceramic tile in textures such as linen, denim, jute, sisal and leather appeal to any age group but especially teenagers. Colorful accent tile, fairy tale murals, nautical ropes and border tile complement field tile of every size, shape and price range imaginable.
This bathroom must traditionally meet the practical needs of two busy unique individuals while simultaneously offering the promise of comfort, relaxation, private down time and even a decompression zone capable of relieving the stresses of our hectic lifestyles. In short, a master bath should work like a charm and shine like a jewel. Although function of the tile remains a priority, the traffic in this bath is lighter than in a main bathroom, and care and maintenance are more predictable and therefore less challenging to the finishes.
More luxurious materials such as natural stone and delicate finishes such as metallics, glass and reflective glossy textures can be incorporated into the master bath, and help to transform it from function into fantasy.
The rectifying process ensures the precise dimensions and flatness of each tile and allows the ceramic to be set with a tight marble joint. Once installed, this hard-working glazed tile provides protection from moisture, water and staining agents that an absorptive natural stone cannot achieve. Rectified tile is available in a variety of sizes and price ranges but the ultimate achievement of this labor-intensive technology is found in the tile depicting rare, exotic and depleted antique stones. Master ensuites radiate when clad in tiles inspired from lumachella, an iridescent stone containing opal like fossils, or pavonazzetto, with its rich royal purple markings buried deep in veins of pure white marble.
The final style of bathroom has made its debut across America in multi-million dollar homes. This is a totally private domain where bare and slippered-feet traffic only are likely to tread. There is no tile finish, texture or extravagance that is excluded from consideration. The homeowners' suite of rooms is virtually a self-contained home within a home. The ultimate master retreat may include; exercise room, steam shower, sauna, massage area, and reading alcove complete with a mini kitchen outfitted with wine cooler, cappuccino machine, and a small microwave. These specialty areas spill off from a master bath that features a fireplace, hydro-massage multi-head showers and luxury whirlpool tub equipped with stereo, television and programmable water temperature.
We are spending more disposable income on all of our bathrooms regardless of their size because of the value they add to our lives. In our baths, we cleanse our soul as well as our body. It is a restorative place to rinse away the struggles of the day or the sleep of the night. It is the room where we take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others.