Bathroom design can be challenging; we take advice from Waterworks founder, Barbara Sallick, to create the perfect space for pampering and preparation

Words Barbara Sallick

The bathroom seems a simple space. It’s the private sanctuary where you sink into a soothing bubble bath. Or the pretty little powder room in which your guests tidy up before dinner. But looks, as the saying goes, can be deceiving. The bath is, without question, the most challenging room in a home to design.

As important—as critically important—as form are the many particulars of functionality. The bath is entirely dependent upon the effective delivery and removal of water. There are a limited number of components—a sink, a tub, and/or a shower—but each one is attached to the wall, the floor, or both. And if anything does not look right, work properly, or feel exactly as it should, the option of tearing it all out and starting over is, so to speak, a pipe dream.

Quality bath fittings are expensive to purchase and even more costly to install. The permanence of the bath’s elements demand that you take your time. Analyse all options and make selections for the long term.


Today, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to design. Bath creation was far less complicated 40 years ago, when there was a template, and everyone’s bath looked the same. Now that we have permitted ourselves the pleasure of creating individually expressive environments in which to soothe, pamper, and prepare ourselves, that template has been shattered. The danger lies in letting this plethora of choices become a Pandora’s box.

The Perfect Bath

What exactly is the perfect bath? I define it as a space with a meticulous balance of practical considerations (shower velocity, enough flattering light, a tub that fits your body, a faucet that is comfortable in your hand) and design dynamics (a blend of materials, a palette in your preferred tonalities, luxurious textiles, and accessories that add scale and visual appeal). That is why the foundation of all successful baths is planning. Space plan-ning, structural planning, material planning, as well as detail planning. And, of course, decorative planning.

The process involves consulting experts, vetting contractors, and concerning oneself with such minutiae as the manufacturing techniques of fittings and their warranties and service components. A failure to do any of these things can lead to havoc, not only in the bath itself, but in the rooms below it.


Having dedicated myself to helping others design the perfect bath, I delight in such details. What a luxury it is to be able to create one’s dream space, from tile to tissue box. Setting aside time to plan thoughtfully at the outset, before you fall in love with a certain footed tub or commit to a copper sink, will make the design and implementation of your new bath an efficient, worthwhile, and, I dare say, enjoyable process. A space will yield the most complete and desirable bath experience when each decision you have made feels just right.

Barbara Sallick co-founded premier luxury brand Waterworks. She is the author of popular blog, The Perfect Bath.
Reworked from The Perfect Bath by Barbara Sallick, published by Rizzoli


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