Most of us enjoy welcoming family and friends into our homes to stay, but unless you have the luxury of a separate guest wing (and, let's face it, not many of us have), the influx of extra people can put a strain on space - especially if you have only a single bathroom.
So, if you're building or renovating and you regularly play host to family or friends, it's worthwhile considering whether your budget will extend to the addition of a guest bathroom. It's an asset that will serve you well, providing you (and your guests) with additional space, privacy and comfort. If this is not within your budget or not on your agenda, you can still give your existing room a mini makeover. It's easy to transform your family bathroom into a welcoming place when visitors arrive on your doorstep.
Position, positionIf you are renovating and have adequate space, the ideal treatment for a guest bathroom is to make it an ensuite off the guest bedroom, says Christine Hamilton of Christine Hamilton Interior Design in Sydney.
"Failing that, it should be separate from the main living area and as close as possible to the guest bedroom," she says. "I like guest bedrooms and bathrooms to be separate to the family quarters. It's more comfortable for all parties."
A light touch "Make sure there's some form of easily accessible lighting available to your guests during the night," says Stuart Rattle of Stuart Rattle Interior Design in Melbourne. "It's important to remember that they may not be familiar with the floor plan of your bathroom."
You could use low-wattage lights connected to a sensor, he says. "There are many stylish ways to do it." He recommends installing both task lighting (bright lighting over the vanity, to make shaving or putting on make-up easier) and softer mood lighting (using dimmer switches and lower wattage fittings) to transform the bathroom into relaxation mode.
Unpack and unwind"Whether your guests are staying overnight or for a few days, be sure to give them enough room to store their things," says Rattle. He recommends providing ample bench space to accommodate visitors' toiletries and other travelling accoutrements. Ideally, this means including a vanity and a bench, cupboard space or shelving. If you have a pedestal basin, you'll need additional storage to afford visitors space to store personal items. But you don't have to invest in expensive cabinetry for this purpose - a freestanding cupboard and some simple storage baskets, creates a beautiful and practical solution.
"It's important to have generous supplies of all the bathroom necessities on hand," says Rattle. "Have plenty of towels and toilet paper, and even some new toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner - all the things a visitor may need and might have forgotten to bring with them. Have these displayed so that they can find them easily."
The definition of calmWhen it comes to a colour scheme for your guest bathroom, it's best to stick to a calming palette, says interior designer Christine Hamilton.
"A guest bathroom has to work with the rest of the house, so keep the palette and the design as simple as possible," she says.
"As well as linking up with the main bathroom, it should work in with the guest bedroom. If it's an ensuite, it needs to flow seamlessly and match the theme of the bedroom."
Black and white issuesHamilton recommends decorating a guest bathroom "in sync with the main bathroom" by echoing the colour theme, with subtle variations.
"I don't think the bathrooms should be exactly the same, but I believe they should have a link, a thread," says Hamilton. "For example, black is popular for bathrooms, so while the main bathroom might have black floors and walls, the guest bathroom might have a black floor and white walls."
Choose the same accessories for both bathrooms to create a unified look, says Tim Dawson from Tradelink. "Keep the tiles and paint colours consistent to ensure your guestroom is an extension [aesthetically] of your home."
Guess who's comingThink about who your regular guests will be, so you can factor their needs and preferences into your bathroom layout and inclusions, says Dawson. If you have children staying often, it's worth installing a bath. If elderly parents with limited mobility are going to spend time with you, consider installing an easily accessible shower.
"If the room will only be used a few times throughout the year, or your space is restricted, you'll need space-saving products such as a wall-hung basin with pedestal and a hobless corner shower," says Dawson.
Always consider your guests' comfort and convenience, says Geels. "Choose a good showerhead so you can offer your guests a generous soak," she says.
"Mixers, as opposed to three-piece tapware sets, would be the taps of choice because they are easy to use and suit all types of guests. They're particularly great for the elderly or people with arthritis because of their easy-to-manoeuvre lever handles."