Put in a little money to get the aesthetics right, and morph the most private space in your house to a place where you can rejuvenate and spend quality ‘me time’
There is this fascinating anecdote about classical mathematician and physicist Archimedes, who was so elated at the discovery of a crucial principle in physics while bathing, that he forgot to dress up and ran out into the streets, crying “Eureka, Eureka”. Does that sound like Greek to you? Well, it is, and means “I have found it”.
If anything, the little story above stands testimony to the general belief that the best ideas come in the bath. On a more serious note, though, the bathroom isn’t just a place for body scrubs and hot showers any more. Today it has morphed into a wellness zone for the mind and body and it is common to find people carrying their notepads, iphones, even books there.
From being a predominantly unorganised market a decade ago, India has developed into one of Asia’s largest markets for tiles, sanitaryware and other bathroom fittings and accessories, reaching a value of nearly $8 billion in 2020. The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.30 per cent between 2021 and 2026, owing to factors such as early adoption of technology, rising demand for premiumisation and amorphous design choices.
Today, you can be as creative with your bathroom as your imagination permits, with a wide range of options available in colours, flooring, vanity, accessories. From statement mirrors and sculptural tubs to bright hues and indoor-outdoor showers, bathroom design has come a long way.
An intimate space like a bathroom is structured around our distinctly different toilet habits. For instance, unlike in the west, the typical Indian bathroom does not have a ‘wet area’ for bathing or showering and a ‘dry area’ for the wash basin and toilet. Says Bobby Joseph, Leader, LIXIL Water Technology India & Subcontinent: “Our bathrooms tend to be completely ‘wet’. This means that the western concept of having a bathtub with shower curtain does not work in India.”
Indians don’t use the bathtub as much as westerners. Joseph says that the bathtub category is shrinking in India, mainly because consumers neither have the time nor the inclination to take long baths. Water conservation is another major factor affecting this trend.
Also, not all colours and finishes are meant for a country like ours. Matte black, for instance, doesn’t work in India because it makes the unsightly hard water deposits/stains more conspicuous. For sanitaryware, white is still king, and ceramics in other shades don’t normally work for Indian consumers, architects and designers, says Joseph of LIXIL.
Tiles, toilet, sink, shower, bathtub, faucet, mirrors–there are many constituents of a bathroom. Let’s start with tiles. There are many kinds available these days–porcelain ceramic, cement, mirror, glass, metal, etc. And they come in various colours, textures and prints. A premium bathroom tile would normally come for Rs 250-400 per sq ft. Beyond this price range, one gets good marble for above Rs 800 a sq ft.
Says Varun Baweja, Founder & Interior Designer, Varun Baweja Designs: “Tiles on the floor and walls set the basic mood of the bathroom. The options in this space range from natural stone and marble, to terracotta, to bisazza tiles to terrazzo and subway tiles which have made a huge comeback. You can use striking fixtures in metallic gold, copper, brass, or even coloured ones. Stone, quartz or granite basin countertops, and basin storage in laminate or marine ply work well.
As for showers, there are high-tech offerings with different kinds of jet action and massages, music and the option to change the colour of the shower. Take the case of GROHE SmartConnect Shower (Rs 47,000-Rs 50,000), which allows the user to switch between or combine two spray patterns without having to reach up to the shower head, thanks to the wireless bluetooth remote control, which can be placed anywhere in the shower area or on the wall. The GROHE SmartControl Concealed (Rs 80,000) and Rain shower F-15 Shower (Rs 1.95 lakh) come with three sprays.
When it comes to faucets and fittings, chrome is a classic finish that never goes out of style. More classic finishes, such as antique gold, brushed brass, or polished nickel, are becoming more popular as a gentler alternative to shiny chrome. Gold, rose gold, and black are three of the most desirable finishes in the market.
Faucets come in many styles and finishes and help you add a touch of class to your bathroom. You also have touch-sensitive and MP3 faucets that simply enhance the experience. Latest technologies and innovative products are coming to the market. Says Meenu Agarwal, Founder & Interior Designer, MADS Creations: “Toilets come with many useful features like seat warmers, self-cleaning facility, night light, etc. The best part is all these features come in a wide range of styles and budget, so that the client and designer can make appropriate selections.”
Take the case of spalet, which is fast replacing conventional sprays in premium to luxury bathrooms. In the market, you have American Standard Acacia E Shower Toilet (Rs 3.9 lakh) and American Standard Aerozen Shower Toilet (Rs 2.2 lakh) available for purchase at local retailers. Why should a customer go for a spalet, and what are its benefits over conventional sprays? These come with dual nozzles–essentially dedicated front and rear cleansing nozzles. They also have a deodorizer that is activated as soon as the user is seated, plus an antibacterial protection, which includes the use of antibacterial resin on the seat, cover, nozzle, and remote control.
Says LIXIL’s Bobby Joseph, “The spalet has an instant heating system for comfort, which provides instant and consistent warm water as well as a heated seat, with easily adjustable temperature. It also has a massage spray that alternates between strong and mild to create a relaxing massaging effect. The temperature of the dryer can be easily adjusted for comfort. The computer remembers the settings, allowing the previous user’s settings to be retained. It also has energy and water-saving features, such as the one-touch power saver, which disables water heating and seat heating while allowing cleansing and flushing to continue. After eight hours, the machine will return to its original settings. It is water-saving in both an ecological and economic sense. Under unusual circumstances, the power supply will be cut off automatically with the help of the circuit breaker, assisting in energy conservation.”
Many touchless technologies are now available. For instance, the push-button WC cistern is the most contaminated equipment in the washroom and brands like Euronics are making WC flushing a touchless experience with their concealed sensors (Rs 1,590 to 26,990). Euronics also has touchless health faucets (Rs 1,455 to Rs 1,590) with hands-free activation and automatic toilet seat cover dispensers (Rs 9,990).
Brands and budget
There are premium offerings available in the market for a bathroom. Brands like KOHLER, Cera, Jaquar, Aquant, GROHE remain top brands having a good range of bathroom accessories and fixtures.
Range-wise, the spectrum is very wide. Says Nikhil Agrawal, Founder & Interior Designer, Design Atelier: “If one goes for Italian fittings and marble floors, the cost is significantly higher. For a lower budget there are good options in tiles as well nowadays. Some good companies for tiles would be Mutina, Petra, Bisazza. Gessi, Toto and Jaquar are great for other bathroom fittings and products.”
The budget totally depends on the clients and the design and style can be tailored based on how much the client wants to spend on a bathroom. Says Priyanka Singh, Founder and Principal Designer of Chalk Studio: “For the toilet, Toto Washlet (1.2 lakh) is my personal favourite. You can get a lovely sink from Villeroy & Boch or Maison Valentina, starting at Rs 25,000 or GROHE and Artize (Rs 12,000-45,000). You could by your faucets from Artize or GROHE, but the best ones are from Maison Valentina and cost Rs 20,000. As for mirrors, it’s best to get them custom made.”
One must invest in a good water softener with a decent head shower, and a geyser with a large capacity, so that you get a steady flow of hot water while bathing. Opt for an over-the-top sink, as there is less water spillage. Hire a good plumber to ensure all the slopes are working adequately.
Finally, which is better–giving the bathroom makeover project to a designer or architect and allowing them to source products, or getting a contractor and DIY? It’s always better to give your interior makeover projects to a designer and bathroom, because it requires more technical services than any other part of the house. You can get much better quality for a relatively smaller price. Says Baweja: “A lot depends on the tiling and fixtures. I’d say you would need to spend a minimum of Rs 600 per sq ft, but if you’re using Italian tiles, the cost can go up to Rs 1,000-1,200 a sq ft.”
The bathroom is a tricky space to apply DIY. Apart from the aesthetics, there are many elements like plumbing, water-proofing and lighting that need expert attention. One small mistake can lead to expensive redoing of the whole thing. Says MADS Creations’ Agarwal: “The designer will have his own team and there can always be a budget that can be put into the equation. There are more chances of going overboard when it comes to DIY.”
Table: Indicative price list of bathroom fixtures and accessories
|Fixture||Brands||Price Range (Rs)|
|Tiles||Kajaria, Somany, Nitco, Mutina, Petra, Bisazza. Gessi||250-400 Rs/sq ft and 800 onwards for marble|
|Toto, KOHLER, Hindware,Jaquar, Roca, Parryware||15,000-6,05,000|
|Wash basin and Sinks||Villeroy & Boch, Maison Valentina, GROHE, Artize||7,585-75,000|
|GROHE, KOHLER, Jaquar||11,000-1,79,900|
|Jaquar, Hindware, Roca Parryware. Johnson Bathrooms||45,000-5,00,000|
|Sink Faucet||Artize, GROHE, Maison Valentina, KOHLER, Jaquar, CERA, Hindware, Alton||30,000-80,000|
|Mirrors||VarEesha, KOHLER, Saint-Gobain||7,000-1,50,000|
Credit: Market Research