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Part of a wider sustainable renovation, this bathroom includes some interesting solutions to maximising space

On this bathroom renovation by Jason Higham, the doors of the shower fold back to the wall, maximising the available space in the room.


For this project, major renovations were needed to a typical late 1950s weatherboard bungalow to cater for modern living and the needs of a young family. At just 119m2 in size and with a client brief to keep within the existing footprint, clever use of space was key for designer Jason Higham of Higham Architecture.

“The existing bathroom was very dated, small, and so cramped that it could only have one person in it at a time,” says Higham. “Lack of storage was also an issue.”

From a planning perspective, the ‘elephant in the room’ was the bath. A shower was essential, but with the clients’ aversion to having a shower over a bath, for safety reasons, the bath was removed altogether and repurposed in the garden. Given the home only has one bathroom, this was a brave move, but ultimately a logical and successful one in gaining more space within the existing room.

“Rather than a typical corner shower, we wanted the design to have a greater level of inclusiveness
and a blurring of boundaries, so we designed a custom shower with glass doors that fold back into the corner,” Higham says. “This was a clever use of space as the shower is only used for very short periods, so doesn’t need to take up all that space all of the time. This was especially important here as space was so critical given the small size of the room.

“The whole room now feels significantly larger than it actually is, with generous working space now
provided for at least 2 people simultaneously. The continuous floor and wall tiling here, along with powder coated trims and tile-insert channel drain, also contributes to the spacious feel and blurring of boundaries.”

The extra-large format tiles were chosen not just for aesthetics, but also in response to the clients desire for minimal grout lines for long term cleaning/durability.

“With one of the clients being a natural health practitioner, careful selection of products and materials was crucial to ensure the owners’ desired healthy living environment was achieved. Natural paints and varnishes, untreated plywood, recycled timber, natural stone – these are just some of the elements in what became a heavily researched material palette for this project.

“Reduce, reuse, recycle, upcycle – these principles were important to the clients. More than just ‘eco-friendly’, the design had to be about being environmentally and ethically responsible. Waste was minimised and various materials were salvaged from removed parts of the existing house. The result of this approach is seen, for example, in the custom vanity cabinet, which features recycled rimu face panels to the drawers and a recycled rimu trim below the slender stone benchtop.”

Minimal handles and hidden secondary drawers enabled full depth face panels on the vanity to ensure the natural materials and finishes were left to shine.

With the large existing window providing good ambient natural light, LED lighting was selected specific to each task within the room. The custom mirror cabinets recessed into each side wall include flush-mounted strip lights that go virtually unnoticed until switched on to illuminate the face in the mirror.


First published date: 08 May 2018

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