29. Bathroom Minimalism, Recessed Shelves, and Dealmaking

Bathroom minimalism! Hide stuff with built-in shelves! Stuff to keep in mind when planning your new bathroom!


Bathroom minimalism

There are many of us who doesn’t have that large bathrooms, but still want as much as possible. How do you go about making room for everything and what do you really need to make room for?

The minimalist principles:

Simplicity: Simplify and eliminate redundancy.

Functionality: Each part must have a clear purpose, form follows function.

Clean out: Throw away and get rid of all excess that contributes to clutter.

Neutral colors & natural materials: The principle is based on reducing stress and giving peace. This is achieved by natural colors and more “authenticity” in the materials.

Bathroom minimalism by Falper
Minimalist wash basin with commode, mixer, mirror and storage surfaces in natural materials. Image from the Italian design agency Falper.

A consistent theme is that many minimalist furniture and furnishings have straight and clean lines. It is absolutely not a must. Rather it can be very nice to bring in more round and shaped objects! However, the basic principle must be that everything should be easy to maintain and not lose function due to design.

Bathroom minimalism shows itself in small stylish sinks.
Wall-mounted washbasin in partly natural material in a minimalist design from the same designer, Image by Falper.

Lighting

Lighting is often something that is not always fully thought out. Even though the lighting is the single part that can affect the overall impression of a bathroom at the touch of a button!

Up here in the Nordics, we are used to warmer light and dimmer lighting. It generally goes perfectly with bathroom decor with natural materials because it can almost give the impression of being out in nature by a spring. In other parts of the world, you have very little of the warm light – it’s either daylight or pitch black. There, I have noticed that many people prefer the white light to the warm, yellowish glow.

Minimalism in the bathroom is thus not only about aesthetics and shapes; it’s a lifestyle choice that can bring a sense of calm and order to your daily routines. By prioritizing simplicity and function in natural tones and natural materials, you can create a peaceful oasis in your home, where you can relax and recharge!


Recessed shelves in the bathroom?

Opinions about built-in shelves in the bathroom differ. Some think it’s a perfect way to get some extra semi-hidden storage in the bathroom, while others just see the risks of water leakage and extra nooks and crannies to clean. Regardless of what you think, you have to state that you can do a lot with built-in shelves!

Some advantages of recessed shelves in the bathroom

Hide or emphasize: Depending on which plate you choose around and inside the shelf itself, you can make it almost invisible and make it look like the shampoo bottles are floating in the air. Or do you highlight the shelf by choosing a tile that stands out from the rest, perhaps a stylish mosaic in a complementary color?

Optimum use of space: In small bathrooms it is very important to use every centimeter to the maximum. Therefore, a recessed shower shelf can be a perfect solution for the shower! You may have to fold the shower doors in completely when you are not showering and therefore cannot have a shelf on the outside of the wall.

Hidden lighting: A very underrated way to create a really cozy feeling in the bathroom is with hidden lighting, and why not put a spotlight or LED strip in the recessed shower shelf? Just remember to choose the right IP rating!

Double recessed shelves in the shower for more storage! Photo by Zac Gudakov on Unsplash

Keep in mind before you insert shelves

The sealing layer: Keep in mind that every new joint in the sealing layer can mean weaknesses. It is very important that you are careful to get it completely tight in all the nooks and crannies, especially as shower shelves are often a place where water can collect.

Plan in advance: If you are going to fold shelves into the wall, you have to keep this in mind even before you start with waterproofing and floating putty. It must be decided before the carpenter starts to adjust the walls. Also keep in mind that putty, waterproofing, fixings and tiles build a lot, maybe more than you think!

Other possibilities with recessed shelves

Other materials: It is entirely possible to use more fun materials than just tiles and clinker! You can e.g. wall a glass shelf in the joints, or attach a nice wooden shelf inside the recessed shelf for several levels to put things on. Maybe you want to adopt the industrial style and use a copper plate as a back piece in the recessed shelf, instead of more tiles?

Hide your shower shelf: For some, cleanliness and a minimalist look are very important. A convenient solution is then to hide the recessed shelf behind a mirror that you simply turn to the side to access the things in the shelf! Or you take it one step further and use a form of stealth opening with “Push-Open” fittings. The opening should then be tiled the same size as the tiles around it about to blend in as well as possible!


Agree with the craftsman in advance for successful renovation

I talk to many people who are about to start, are in the process of, and have completed the renovation of their bathrooms. There are plenty of examples of successful renovations, but there are also some examples of renovations that didn’t quite go as planned. There are a lot of things you can do before you start to make the renovation as successful as possible!

Before you reach this stage, you should have settled a few things with the craftsman! Photo by Milivoj Kuhar on Unsplash

Preparations

Budget: Set a realistic budget for the project and stick to it as far as possible. It is also good to have a small buffer for unforeseen costs along the way.

Design and planning: Think about how you want the bathroom to look. Should things be built into the walls? Are any elevations of the floor required? Shower? Bath? Niches? Feel free to draw up a detailed sketch of how the finished bathroom should look. Some companies do this for their customers in computer programs where you can get a complete 3D view of how it will look with all the furniture, etc.

Material selection: Choose what you want for tiles & clinker, furniture, shower walls and fixtures. Your craftsman will definitely have input and suggestions on what you choose! For example, it is easier to work with smaller tiles such as mosaics on the floor in the shower, a chest of drawers with a thick marble slab definitely requires a proper rule behind the wall, a built-in WC may not fit under your slanted ceiling, etc.

Time frame: Agree on a rough time frame for the project. Things can always happen along the way, but it’s important to have a sense of where you are in the process and roughly how much time is left.

Contract: Your contract with the handyman should include things like scope of work, timeline, payment schedule and warranties. Consult a lawyer!

Scope of work: It is often here that opinions can differ between craftsman and customer.

Building permits and permits: If your bathroom renovation requires a building permit or a new permit, you should apply for and get these granted before signing a contract with your craftsman.

Follow-up

Work diary: A craftsman who keeps some kind of work diary of the process generally has better control of hours billed, the process and how any problems are solved. It is also very good to have in case disputes arise afterwards.

Communication: Even if you may not have a very good grasp of the various steps, it is very valuable to coordinate with your craftsmen regularly. This helps both you as the customer and the craftsman to follow the marked line and not make too many assumptions!

Monitoring: Check yourself and make sure everything looks good. When it comes to e.g. the sealing layer, you can print a manual yourself and compare the steps taken by the craftsman. It is also good to take pictures and document the process yourself!

Closing phase: Agree in advance what the final phase of the project will look like, such as cleaning, inspection and approval. Also check with your handyman if the new bathroom has any specific care instructions, such as natural stone or composite sinks.


Reader question

Q: How do I know that I can cast in my drain pipes?

A: At the Swedish Institute for Standards, you can read the following:

This means that the gray drain pipes marked with “EN 1451 B” are approved to be installed indoors.

The pipes with the designation “EN 1451 BD”, on the other hand, are fully approved to be cast in as long as they have a diameter of 75 mm or more!


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