Divine Renovations bathroom

Bathing in nature

The modern bathroom is a space of relaxation and rejuvenation so it makes perfect sense to bring nature into the equation.

Photo courtesy Divine Renovations


Cass Proudfoot

Opening up the bathroom to the big outdoors is a surefire way to give a home a relaxing resort atmosphere. Huge glass windows, walls and even ceilings create bathrooms that feel large, light, and airy. Walls that open up can integrate the backyard with the house. Imagine a bathroom expanded with gorgeous green vistas, birdsong and gentle breezes.

It isn’t for everyone, and the right outdoor area with an attractive backdrop of privacy screening plants is essential. But in the right space, bringing the outdoors into the bathroom area is an unexpected delight. Water, stone and plants go naturally together so why not enjoy them from inside and out? Homeowners will love the luxury feel as they slide open the doors and relax after work, bringing the nurturing nuances of nature right inside.

There are various approaches to the indoor-outdoor bathroom, from opening the wall right up, to having glass doors or floor-to-ceiling windows. Each bathroom and outdoor combination will have its best approach dictated by the site. Many bathrooms open up to a courtyard, where fountains, palms or rockeries can be established for a changing view.

Another option is opening up the view to an unused side path. This clever solution doesn’t take space from the backyard, and already has privacy screening from the side fence. What is required is some luxury landscaping along the fenceline, perhaps with decorative stone, and lush plantings in several tones.

If the existing bathroom can’t be opened up to the great outdoors, a more radical solution is to create a new bathroom altogether, from an existing room, or as a luxury addition.

Divine Renovations bathroom
Bringing the outdoors into the bathroom area is an unexpected delight
Photo courtesy Divine Renovations
Minosa Design
The extruded glass window opens up the space
Photo courtesy Minosa

Choose another room

This option was taken up by HIA member Divine Renovations for a project in Brisbane suburb The Gap. Getting plumbing to the area was the biggest challenge they faced in the build.

‘This was originally a bedroom and the closest plumbing was on the other side of the house so we had to cut the concrete slab up and lay drainage,’ says Jim Attwood, the designer and builder on this bathroom project.

The client for this airy bathroom wanted open space with lots of light, and that is exactly what they got, with a wall of glass windows that can be opened up to let the Queensland air breeze through.

Privacy was taken care of with an existing boundary hedge.

‘We added a screen in case people walked up the side of the house,’ Jim explains.

‘Nature is a complementing aspect when it comes to bathing bliss’

Alter an existing structure

If no spare rooms are available to create glorious new bathing spaces, the existing bathroom can be extended out under the eaves, or even further.

A recent bathroom design by Simona Castagna of Minosa Design actually extruded a reinforced glass box out from the existing bathroom, to gain light and space for a small, dark room.

The plan worked stunningly well, leading to happy clients, and the 2018 HIA Bathroom Design award. But it wasn’t a standard interior design project.

‘We had to seek structural engineering reports and drawings on this bathroom,’ Simona says. ‘Structural reinforcement to the sub-floor had to be made to support the load of the steel window frame’. But the result is strong, with the bath positioned centrally in the window on the cantilevered section itself.

The engineering effort paid off. Opening up the space with the cantilevered window over the disused side garden transformed a poky room into a luxurious zone with an immense amount of natural light and brought the garden inside.

‘Nature is a complementing aspect when it comes to bathing bliss,’ Simona says. ‘We hope that more bathrooms will encompass more greenery and natural light. It is an inexpensive way to enhance and invigorate one’s life.’

That said, this particular Sydney project was not a low budget build. Luckily the long-term owners of the Willoughby home on the Lower North Shore were ready for change and able to fund the improvements.

The client wanted more light and space in their original tired ensuite. They didn’t originally suggest the extruded window but left it to Minosa to transform the space. So Simona and the Minosa team took the small cramped space with a large corner spa and transformed it into a sophisticated, modern space that pushes the boundaries of a conventional bathroom.

‘The clients’ expectations were definitely met,’ Simona says. ‘They are extremely happy with the end result and are enjoying the benefits of the space.’

More people are opting for light and airy over traditional layouts
Photo courtesy Platinum Fine Homes
Having a bathroom that opens onto a pool area offers a luxury feel
Photo courtesy Platinum Fine Homes

Cool climate considerations

Open bathrooms are a breeze in Queensland and glassed-in bathrooms can work in Sydney with some planning.

In Sydney’s Willoughby project, the thermal properties of the glass window mean that there is little impact internally with the weather. ‘If anything, the maximisation of natural light would be an uplifting benefit in any season in Australia,’ Simona says.

But what of colder climates? Anthony Green from Platinum Fine Homes in Adelaide has confidence that generous glassed areas and open bathrooms are suitable for cooler Australian climates.

‘Absolutely,’ he says. ‘However some care needs to be taken into account in the design to ensure the bathroom not only looks stunning but remains practical for everyday use.’

Platinum’s glass-walled bathroom has in-screed floor heating for winter comfort, as well as a pool right outside for Adelaide’s scorching summers. The sleek grey of the tiling is repeated on the outdoor wall to make the whole design gel.

Having a bathroom that opens onto a pool area offers a luxury feel but is also a very practical decision.

Practicality is a hallmark of this project. ‘Streak-free glass also adds to the luxurious feel of the room with minimal cleaning,’ Anthony explains.

‘More people are opting for light and airy over traditional layouts’

Landscaping and screening

Speaking of practicality, choosing the right screening materials is essential for an open bathroom, or even a space with huge glass walls.

An existing hedge or a wall of healthy plants is a gift in this situation. A fence or wall can always be updated with stone, wood or rendered in a brave or toning colour choice. Plants will grow over time, but if the homeowners don’t have a green thumb a structural solution is the answer.

Minosa created a custom screen for their client’s open bathroom in the warm rusted tones of corten steel. An organic design contributes to the feel of being out in nature. What a change from the original tiny space with a very small window. Their new bathroom will provide tranquility and calm for many years to come.

Trending to the outdoors

The indoor-outdoor bathroom may not be for everybody, but it is growing in popularity.

‘Modern bathrooms of today have to tick a lot of boxes,’ Simona Castagna of Minosa says.

To create the larger, lighter rooms people now expect, existing smaller spaces need to transform, and one way to gain more space is to open up the walls.

Jim Attwood of Divine Renovations is confident that there will be more bathrooms connecting with the outdoors in future.

‘No one design suits everyone, but I would think the majority wouldn’t say no to this design,’ he says. ‘Especially in Queensland where the weather permits this design.’

Anthony Green from Platinum Fine Homes in Adelaide also expects to build more open-sided bathrooms into the future.

‘We have seen a big swing to open/glass bathrooms over the last few years with more and more people opting for light and airy over traditional layouts,’ he says.

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