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How To Nail The Bathroom Basics, According To Reece


There are many questions that arise when renovating a bathroom. How do I start designing a layout? Which surfaces are best for my needs? What are my lighting options? Whether you’re re-designing, or starting from scratch, the questions keep coming!

Today, we chat to Bathrooms and Kitchens Merchandising Leader at Reece, Daniela Santilli, who guides us through the delicate balance of form and function when it comes to the wet zones in your house.

Note-pads at the ready, people, this is your one-stop guide to achieving bathroom perfection!

13th April, 2021

The Thirroul Ensuite. Builder – Seaside Building and Design. Interior Designer – Hemma Interiors. Designer – MK Designed. Photo – The Palm Co.

Sasha Gattermayr
Tuesday 13th April 2021

Choosing the right surfaces

Natural-look finishes are having a moment right now, with natural stone, stone-like composite surfaces (such as Ceasarstone) and timber cabinetry emerging as key features of the trend.

There are five key surface options to consider when selecting countertops for the bathroom. There are pros and cons to each one, so the key is to narrow down your priorities, and assess what works best with the rest of the materials palette!

According to Daniela Santilli, Bathrooms and Kitchens Merchandising Leader at Reece, acrylic surfaces are durable and easy to maintain, making them a great option for bathrooms used by young children. However, acrylic is sensitive to heat, so many not be the best option where hot hair styling tools are in use.

Stone surfaces give a luxe feel, with veined marble at the top of this trend – however, all natural stone is porous (yes, even marble!), and can be subject to stain over time. If you do choose a stone surface, ask your builder or stone supplier about coating the stone to protect it from stains. Alternatively, Caesarstone is a great option, offering a weighty, stone-like finish with much more durability.

A Ceramic topped vanity unit (often integrating the sink) is a timeless choice, but isn’t as robust as other options – Daniela warns that ceramic surfaces can easily chip or crack if something is dropped on them. Meanwhile, timber brings a beautiful, organic look and feel to the bathroom, but is best suited to vertical surfaces (cupboard doors, or wall panelling) as it is super porous, so can stain easily if water pools on its surface.

Left: The Geberit Omega60 White Glass Button sits flush to the wall surface creating a seamless, even finish for a contemporary bathroom look. Right: A slick and compact contemporary bathroom! Builder – Mazzei. Webster Architect & Interiors. Landscaping – Nathan Burkett Landscape Architecture. Photo – Elisa Watson.

Devising a layout

Shower-takers and bath-plungers are two different kinds of people, but that doesn’t mean they’re not living in the same house! Daniela says step one of designing a layout is to consider the needs and preferences of every member of the household, to make sure you have a concrete list of all the requirements.

Step two is assessing the space. Can you actually fit all of this in? Daniela advises being selective and realistic with your needs, and looking for versatile pieces that serve multiple functions. ‘For example, if you have limited space in your bathroom, a mirror cabinet is a great way to add extra storage for everyday essentials,’ she says.

Step three is working out how it all fits together! ‘Think about what the ‘hero’ piece is in the bathroom, and try to place it in a key location to catch the eye upon entry,’ says Daniela. ‘A bath under a window or skylight always looks fantastic.’ Work with existing water outlets where possible (as relocating plumbing can be expensive), place robe hooks and towel rails close to the shower for an easy exit, and keep the toilet out of the doorway eyeline!

ISSY Zuster Halo vanity from Reece comes in a variety of sizes.

ISSY Zuster Halo vanity is the perfect complement to a wall of mirror cabinets. A floating wall fixture also creates the illusion of space!

Left: Kado Arc vanity. Right: ISSY Zuster Halo vanity in black.

Storage solutions

If you’re short on space, a wall-hung vanity unit is the way to go. With a basin on the top and storage below, a well designed vanity will give you maximum storage space, whilst taking up minimal floor space. Most vanity options are also customisable, and can be made to measure to fit your bathroom.

‘Anything wall-hung (whether that will be a vanity or toilet) will naturally increase the illusion of space and make the room appear larger,’ says Daniela.

Mind you, if you’re retrofitting a bathroom, and replacing an existing floor mounted vanity, make sure you speak to your plumber or builder about your options, Daniela advises. ‘If not wishing to re-tile or re-plumb, you may have to replace the vanity for a like-for-like, in which you’ll need a similar footprint and possibly even similar tapware configuration’.

Thinking vertically will also enhance your storage capabilities. ‘Tall boys are a great option if you have a small footprint and an empty wall,’ says Daniela. Varying heights makes a huge difference to the flow of the room, too!

This bathroom in Burleigh Heads uses pale natural tones and clever ceiling lighting to enhance the feeling of spaciousness. Featuring Milli Progressive Wall Mixer Tap, Roca Inspira Basin and Milli Pure Twin Rail Shower in Gunmetal. Builder – 4D Renovations. Photo – Tanika Blair Photography.

Terrific tapware

Don’t underestimate the details! Tapware can be cool and understated, or it can be a good opportunity to add some glitz and glam to your bathroom.

‘Classic chrome still reigns supreme as Australia’s number one preference in tapware, due to the trustworthy nature of the finish and its reliability to not date’ says Daniela. Matte black tapware also remains incredibly popular in modern Australian interiors, offering a contemporary, architectural feel.

Daniela also highlights the swing towards a range of new metallic materials, such as brushed nickel, or gun metal tapware – as well as ‘living finishes’ such as rustic irons, that are designed to age beautifully over time.


Left: Kado Aspect Round LED mirror. Right: Pendant lighting adds texture and dimension to the bench and mirror area, such as above this Posh Domaine Plus vanity.

Lighting to suit your needs

It might seem obvious, but lighting can make or break a space. If you’re going for consistency, then ceiling and downlights remain a popular choice in most bathrooms.

However, if you’re after an added sculptural element, then pendant lighting or wall sconces are a great statement addition to the bathroom. Feature wall lamps in particular are becoming more and more common, and look great mounted on tiles – the perfect finishing touch!

For focussed attention to a particular corner, consider placing lighting around or above your mirror – or even selecting a mirror with building in LED lighting. ‘Rather than relying on natural light, which can be inconsistent, LED lights make getting ready at any time of the day simpler,’ says Daniela.

Reece are Australia’s leading experts in bathroom design, products and innovation. From inspiration and trends to product selection, they’re passionate about helping you realise your dream bathroom. Get started with their free Moodboard Design Tool here.

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