Colin and Justin: Making a less-than-lovely loo divine
BY COLIN MCALLISTER AND JUSTIN RYAN, VANCOUVER SUN
Left: The dated loo before the redo by design duo Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan. Right: Luxurious loo courtesy of Colin and Justin. Photograph by: Handout photo / Brendan Barre, Vancouver Sun
Show us a vessel of sexy shower scrub, a crystal decanter loaded with scented bath oil or an attractively decorated shampoo bottle and you’ll propel us, immediately, to surfactant heaven. Fact is, we absolutely love a spot of detailing and enjoy nothing better than well-dressed countertops in rooms where waters tumble and spirits cleanse. One dash through the heavily laden aisles of Shoppers Drug Mart (let alone higher end sources like Holt Renfrew) is enough to demonstrate that pampering and bathroom luxury — regardless of a faltering economy — remain big business.
But, of course, there’s little point in having beautiful accessories if the surfaces upon which they’re displayed are less than lovely. Bathrooms, we reckon — no matter their budget — should deliver the same level of indulgence as witnessed in hedonistic spas and fine hotels. And a good vanity area (whether custom fit, off the shelf or a combination of both) is often where the most successful style statements can be made.
Clearly, as you can see from our before and after pics, this reno consisted of much more than simply décor insanity meets high fashion vanity. To amplify results, we laid a new Karndean floor, added a rolltop bath and, having panelled to dado height, painted the walls Chanel “Pour Monsieur” grey, carefully colour-matched from the packaging of our favourite male scent. So go on, we dare you: take an unbiased look at your own bathroom. Are you happy with it? If not — and if you’re short on ideas — then follow our 10-point guide to avoid that sinking feeling.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: great storage makes for great rooms. The trick is to confidently display all the cool kit (like beautifully packed perfumes and lush lotions) and to secrete mundane necessities like shavers, tweezers and medicines behind closed doors. A well-equipped vanity unit, you see, shouldn’t struggle to accommodate requirements. The one featured here, for example, has three large cupboards, which allow less exciting paraphernalia to remain well and truly hidden.
In the same way that appropriate detailing on a classic car (or glittering diamonds draped across the décolletage of a sultry screen goddess) can add richness and sparkle, so, too, can wash-world tailoring bring a little va va voom to your smallest room.
During this project, we used chrome as our accent detail and telegraphed its shiny finish via deco inspired faucets, reflective lights and a wall-mounted polished towel rail. Hey, in our hands, even the humble bathroom bin, correctly chosen, is transformed into a veritable champagne bucket for bathroom surplus. As designers, we’re less comfortable mixing metals in bathrooms than we are in other rooms — it just seems more appropriate to keep everything unified to proffer cohesion and uniformity. Check out American Standard for a super range of faucets. We reckon these guys have some of the best taps on the market and, being that they’re available across Canada, ordering and delivery is a breeze.
Under no circumstances consider undertaking an electrical project unless you’re suitably qualified to do so. Matters such as these should be left to the professionals who (we hope) will carefully observe code, thereby ensuring that plugs and switches are suitably distanced from the water supply. Failing to respect code can result in, at very best, power dysfunction and, at worse, electric shock or injury. By all means, tackle jobs like painting on a DIY basis, but take a tip: steer clear of the riskier stuff.
If your selected cabinetry has closed doors and drawers (like the design we’ve showcased here) then the esthetic nature of tubes and traps is less important than it would be if pipes were visible. These days, most DIY stores and plumbers’ merchants stock attractive chrome or stainless steel traps, and these look suitably slick if properly installed.
Again, just like electrical matters, plumbing (while it mightn’t sound so dangerous) should also be carried out by a pro. Sure, moisture ingress can lead to damp issues (which are bad enough), but if water comes into contact with surrounding electrical components, then injury or shock become potential issues.
We like to upscale shop-bought basics wherever possible to imbue proceedings with a touch of custom integrity. Here, we evolved an inexpensive standard cabinet by adding metal handles and luxurious custom marble (with undermount sinks) to proffer a spot of “grand hotel” style. Grey statuario stone is beautifully classic and looks arresting even when only a little is used. But we chose to double up by installing a splash back in the same finish. Your local marble supplier should be able to template and cut everything and, properly informed, will incorporate ideas such as undermount sinks or faucets.
Laminate and composite worktop options
Pop into Rona, Home Depot or Lowes to discover a range of laminate counters and backsplashes in a selection of colours and finishes spanning faux stone to imitation timber. These are a perfectly good solution when spend is key. Another route is to choose a composite product. Ikea now carries a range of affordable quartz composite products that are a smart — and more affordable — alternative to solid stone.
Protected properly, wood counters such as butcher’s block is a viable option, although we tend to avoid this in bathrooms. Sure, layering with lacquer or yacht varnish will provide a degree of protection against water ingress and staining, but lumber finishes remain further down our ladder of choice. Vertical surfaces like doors and drawer fronts are one thing, but on a horizontal plane, where water can collect and penetrate, problems can arise in even the most adeptly varnished surface.
Face Up To It
We spend time structuring clever lighting plans for our paymasters, yet this is a layer often overlooked by keen DIYers. Side-mounted lamps work best with mirrors as the resultant light is balanced to highlight your face when washing, shaving or applying makeup. Lighting from above, however, can cause shadows under the eyes — and nobody cares for the panda look. For similar lamps, try Gingers; their selection is among the best the Canadian bathroom market has to offer.
To ensure family harmony is part of your design logic, consider, if space allows, installing two sinks and two mirrors. This tactic allows both halves of a couple to get ready together and, properly ordered, will encourage you to keep personal items exclusive. In a family house, two kids can clean their faces and teeth concurrently, which means that getting ready for school could take less time. And, what’s more, as parents, you’ll be able to see who the messy one is.
To amplify sparkle, glamour and function, we used candlesticks, vases, glass jars and chandeliers, thereby upping our clients’ overall washing experience. Anything undertaken to promote a sense of luxury will, in turn, make you feel more special, so don’t hold back on adding treats and special touches. Our logic stipulates that a beautifully attired vanity area, and indeed the bathroom within which it sits, should evoke spa at home magic, thereby heightening indulgence before even so much as turning on a tap.
So, our roundup of vanity thrills complete, we’ll be turning our attentions next week to choosing the correct tub for your project. Aye, from shallow baths to claw feet, and from soaker tubs to exotic wooden tanks, check in for an outpouring of hot ideas to keep you awash with inspiration.
- Panelling lumber and building supplies: Home Depot, www.homedepot.ca
- Marble: Crystal Tile & Marble, www.crystaltilemarble.com
- Flooring: Karndean, www.karndean.com
- Paint: Dulux, www.dulux.ca
- Cabinet: Naked Furniture, www.nakedfurniture.ca
- Faucets and sinks: American Standard, www.americanstandard.ca