Once upon a time the country bathroom was merely a neglected and functional place where the plumbing was ugly and complex, wet feet skidded on linoleum and winter draughts whistled under the door. Happily now all that has changed. These days we appreciate comfort and love to relax in a bit of luxury.
Modern living has enabled those who love country style bathrooms to choose from a wonderful selection of bathroom suites and accessories and above all to have a bathroom that is warm where towels soon dry and the flooring is comfortable but practical to live with.
Anyone with a little imagination can easily transform a plain drab bathroom into the perfect retreat that becomes a comforting and relaxing place to soak in the bath and forget the outside world.
Simply by adding pretty country bathroom accessories and using some inventive decorating ideas you can easily accomplish this transformation, without incurring lots of major expense.
While the country look is all about relaxed rusticity, a country style bathroom needn’t be old fashioned – you can easily create a contemporary country look with sturdy wooden pieces and glass tiles and then accessorise with pretty bottles, toiletries that contribute to the colour scheme and a plentiful supply of fresh flowers.
If you install a freestanding roll top bath it will give your bathroom a sense of style. Roll top baths come in a range of sizes and can create an understated and sophisticated country look especially if they are tied in with whitewashed floorboards, pastel colours on the walls and open storage.
White is probably the most elegant and restful finish for baths with brass or chrome fittings, but it is sometimes worth considering other colours if you want a more dramatic effect.
For the bathroom from heaven, that becomes the ultimate sanctuary, put in a cast iron roll top bath (with claw and ball feet) teamed up with a period style towel rail and Victorian shutters. This works particularly well if you are resiting your bathroom in what was once a bedroom or other living space.
You can really go to town and play to the room’s large proportions by placing the bath centrally to create a focal point. Free-standing furniture is often the key to creating an authentic country style, so you could add vanity units that also have a period look.
Choosing the right paint colours to suit and soften your bathroom theme is important, therefore gentle pastel shades should be high on your list. Although darker colours will also work well if your lighting is good; for an even more relaxed look tie your colour scheme in with rustic materials.
You can use natural stone for the floors, ceramic glazed, uneven tiles for the walls, cotton for the windows and possibly accessorise with wicker, bamboo and scrubbed wood.
Water type colours such as gentle blues, greens and aquas always work well in bathrooms as they are pale and restful; alternatively you could introduce bright and fresh colours for a more invigorating effect.
Don’t forget to make use of towels and other linens to accentuate your bathroom colour scheme. If you don’t like solid-colour towels, look for plain white towels with embroidered motifs or braid edging.
Strictly speaking, country style is more about mismatches than co-ordination, but in a small space, streamlining is important. This means light coloured matching pieces can work at stretching your space. Warmer and less clinical than ceramic tiles, try tongue-and-groove boards; these can create a more simple beach-house or Shaker style.
Where space is a problem opt for fitted furniture to create a simple uncluttered look that makes the room look bigger and provides built-in storage. Source fittings of different shapes and sizes to make the most of whatever space you have and bear in mind that a shorter bath may fit across the width of the room to even up the proportions, while choosing a slim-line cistern might just mean you can plumb your WC into an otherwise wasted area.
Always choose a wash basin that suits the size of the room – a small sink or bowl on a neat countertop is usually best where space is limited, while a vintage design of more generous proportions can add a sense of sumptuous luxury to the larger bathroom.
Remember dual-purpose furniture will provide some much needed extra storage without looking too functional. The rather expensive, but gorgeous, Lloyd Loom linen baskets are a case in point, while traditional blanket boxes, or even benches that have lift-up seat, can accommodate spare linens or cleaning materials.
A really nice country bathroom accessory, if space allows, would be a country style wall or free-standing cabinet for storing towels and other bathroom essentials.
Carpeting feels the most luxurious to bare feet in a bathroom but will eventually rot and need replacing from time to time. Marble and ceramic floor tiles certainly look smart but can feel chilly unless you install under-floor heating; they also tend to be slippery when wet.
For a simple rural effect you can paint floorboards white using water-resistant specialist floor paint in a gloss or eggshell finish. To make it more homely you can throw a colourful rug or two down, but not too near any water splashing areas.
If your bathroom has a lovely country view you should make the most of it and not obscure the window. If you are worried about being overlooked screen the window with a simple lace or voile panel that you can partially tie back, so that you are able to look out. In a small room, blinds or shutters are often neater than curtains.
Use antique jugs, washbowls, pretty vases, decorative wreaths, drawstring bags on pegs, pictures and prints to make your bathroom feel homely and welcoming; a bathroom is often the perfect place for family photos or humorous country etchings.
Other ideas to enhance your bathroom are to replace your standard bathroom lighting with country style light fixtures, replace any plastic toilet seats with oak, beech or pine, put up a wrought iron or antiqued wood toilet paper holder, use wicker baskets for storage or magazines – if you have the space, you can neatly roll towels and place them in a fabric-lined wicker basket. Don’t forget to add a scented candle or two to the bathroom; they are very relaxing, especially when you are soaking in the bath.
Put a small, very pretty, upholstered or wicker chair in your bathroom to add character and an antique clock to help you keep track of time; and finally, for that true country bathroom feel, never underestimate the timeless appeal of lots of fresh flowers and potted plants, placed strategically for maximum effect.