Bringing Your Bathroom Outside: Part One

WORDS Vanessa McCulloch IMAGES Supplied

Whether it’s showering with the sun on your face or enjoying the vista from a bubble-filled tub, there’s no reason why you can’t get that holiday feeling in your bathroom at home. Two design experts share their know-how.


Imagine this. You are lying in a state-of-the art bath relaxing in a stream of bubbles, looking out over your private infinity pool to the jewel-like ocean beyond. This is what five-star bathroom dreams are made of. But how to make dreams a reality?

When talking to Jon Case – partner at Antoni Associates, the design practice behind some of the most exclusive interiors in SA and overseas – it’s clear that a bathroom can be so much more than just a place in which to clean up. With careful design, you can achieve part of that luxury experience in your own bathroom too. ‘There’s a strong leaning towards bathrooms that are designed to be spa-like, creating that holiday feel on a daily basis,’ explains Jon.

Often a key element of that design is as straightforward as bringing in the view. Lisa Millbacher of Bespoke Bathrooms, a specialist in bathroom design, agrees that you don’t have to live on a tropical island to create a sense of expansiveness: ‘Even if it’s something as simple as a strip of glass at the top of the room that brings in a piece of blue sky or allows you to see the leaves of a tree, the effect is so powerful. Suddenly your bathroom doesn’t feel like an enclosed space.’

As with any great bathroom design, there are practicalities to consider. Lisa points out that glare, too much sun and privacy issues can all be easily solved with shade solutions from blinds to shutters, but strongly advises against frosted glass as it acts like a wall and you’ll lose all natural light.

When it comes to blinds, Jon’s team often uses designs that retract into the ceiling when not in use, resulting in minimal clutter. Or, he suggests, go for a more hi-tech option that he believes ‘will eventually become a standard offering in bathrooms’: polarised glass. At the flick of a switch your windows become frosted, keeping out the sun and prying eyes. James Bond, eat your heart out.


In this design, two of the most relaxing areas of a home, the garden and the bathroom, combine; the outside greenery is the perfect complement to the bathroom’s Zen-like interior. Part of the original team on this Constantia project (see image above), Lisa loves the way the sliding doors disappear, opening up the room. ‘It’s not as large a space as it seems,’ she says. ‘It’s a good trick for all bathroom designs: creating a wide entrance into a smaller space immediately creates depth.’

A sculptor created the raw piece of marble that anchors the glass shower door, and the drainage is hidden underneath. ‘It’s more than just a functional space,’ says Lisa. ‘The marble is like an art piece and the natural material choice of pebbles for the flooring gives it a serene feeling.’ Because of their uneven surface, the pebbles work well in bright light, minimising reflection, and Lisa suggests avoiding floor finishes that are high gloss.

Of course, the balance between aesthetic pleasure and practical success is why involving a professional to manage the process is highly recommended. While the trend for sculptural shapes takes bath design to another level, Jon points out that people often don’t factor in the need for somewhere close at hand for your bathroom accessories – your peace will be rudely interrupted when you realise that the nearest soap is on the far side of the bathroom.

For Jon, it’s the ‘resort’ feel of this design that he appreciates. ‘Having the doors open on a beautiful day, letting in the light and the fresh air within the privacy of your own garden… why does your bathroom have to be ordinary?’ Of course, the answer is: it doesn’t.

This article was originally featured in IMAGINE.