This time, however, we were determined to get it perfect. After 13 years of running a B&B I also had one very clear goal in mind and that was to create a bathroom that was as quick and easy as possible to clean.
I’ve included a few hints and tips from previous course attendees on their own bathroom design at the end of this post.
Tip 1 – Deciding on a Design
Rob and I are not experts in interior design and it’s not something either of us enjoy doing. I know, for some people setting up a B&B, that is the aspect they enjoy the most, but not us!
In previous years when we’ve needed to do decorate our home or the B&B we’ve bought home magazines (at great cost), perused them for hours, cut photos out and stuck them on a mood board. But this time we had Pinterest.
For those of you who don’t already have a Pinterest addiction, Pinterest is a social network that allows you to share and find new visual ideas by “pinning” web links with images to “boards”, which are usually a collection of ideas with a common theme; basically an online mood board.
So I created a board for Bathrooms on Pinterest, invited Rob to join as a collaborator (which means he could pin ideas to the same board ) and searched Pinterest for “Bathroom”, “wet Rooms” etc. Once you’ve started pinning ideas, Pinterest will start recommending pins to you as well. You can also search the general internet and, provided the websites you’re looking at are Pinterest friendly, you can pin links to Pinterest.
Whilst we doing this we kept the board secret. This is great if you don’t want anyone else to know what you’re up to. But I’ve made our Bathrooms Pinterest board here so you can get an idea of what we were doing.
Tip 2 – Invest in a Wet Room
My number one requirement for making the bathroom easy to clean was to have absolutely the minimum amount of glass possible. We’re in a very hard water area and shower screens, chrome etc. need daily cleaning in the B&B rooms. This meant we needed a wet room.
The first problem we had was that our bathroom is upstairs and people will quite often tell you it’s unwise to have a wet room that isn’t on the ground floor. However technology has moved on ( try doing a google search on wet rooms ) and my husband assured me we could put our wet room on the first floor.
It was a bit nerve wracking, when we first started using the shower, waiting for water to come pouring through the ceiling of our lounge but it appears to have all worked well.
Tip 3 – Choose a floor and wall covering which doesn’t show lime scale
We decided we wanted to completely tile the bathroom. We have had wood panelling in bathrooms before, which has got mouldy or needed attention, so we were going for the completely tiled look.
We ended up with a matte limestone tile with veins of white in it, which means any lime scale that did settle could do so without being noticed until the next clean! A small mosaic tile was laid over where the shower tray would sit. This creates a nice design effect and also is less slippy that normal tiles.
Tip 4 – Install heating solutions that will quickly dry the room and keep you a warm
Having spent a whole winter with an unheated bathroom, having a warm bathroom was quite high on my list, so we put in underfloor heating on a timer. This heats the bathroom, but, more importantly, quickly dries the floor ready for cleaning. This allows me to run a vacuum over the floor to get rid of any hairs ( sorry to be indelicate but you’ll soon learn that running a B&B involves a lot of dealing with strangers’ hairs and not being squeamish about it). I can then quickly mop the floor.
We’ve also put a heated towel rail in, that means we aren’t left with wet towels in the Summer when the central heating is turned off. The clever trick here was to put the electric towel rail on a timer so it comes on everyday for a few hours.
One of my problems in the B&B guest rooms in the summer is that the heated towel rails are manual so need to be turned on and off. If I put the towel rail to dry off towels that guests have hung back on the rail, I usually forget to turn it off again or guests return before I have a chance. The outcome is a heated room in the heat of summer and a high electricity bill.
Tip 5 – Choose simple easy to clean sanitary ware
The loo and basin were chosen for their minimal surface area with no nooks and crannies and hence easy cleaning.
For a loo brush I use a Toilet Duck Cleaning System. These consist of a plastic handle to which you attach a disposable pad. I much prefer them to toilet brushes. They’re septic tank friendly but shouldn’t be used with macerator type loos.
Tip 6 – Decide what’s essential and what will just need extra cleaning
Those people who know me well will be very surprised to see our main bathroom now has no bath. I love my baths and, in the colder months, can quite happily wallow for a couple of hours with a good book. Indeed if I’m going away for a holiday, I wouldn’t stay somewhere without a bath.
However, in this case, the bathroom was a bit too small for bath ( we’ve tried to fit them in previous refurbishments and it’s just not worked plus they need cleaning! ) We also have plenty of other baths in the house.
If you’re thinking about whether you need to put a bath in, I’d say about 25% of my guests make use of the lovely baths in our B&B guest rooms whilst it’s very rare for the shower to go unused. However we don’t take children and our clientele tend not to be here for strenuous sports such as biking or long distance walks. These groups may have different bathing requirements!
If you are putting baths in your B&B, make sure there are grab rails available for people to get in and out. Even as relatively fit and flexible fiftyish something I like to have the security of grab rail when I’m getting into a slippery bath.
Tip 7 – Make sure there’s enough storage space
One bugbear of guests visiting B&Bs is not having enough storage space to put their toiletries. To this end, in our own bathroom, we have a couple of glass shelves, one next to the shower for shower gel etc. and the other next to sink for tooth brushes and toothpaste, chargers etc.
Next to the shower is a hook for hanging shower scrubbies or sponges.
We’ve also put in a table with a drawer for storing extra bits and pieces, along with a towel rack for additional towels. In my own B&B I supply 2 bath sheets, 2 bath towels, 2 face cloths, 2 bath mats and a hand towel, as well as bathrobes and slippers.
Tip 8 – Install window coverings that need minimum cleaning
I’ve been showering in our bathroom with no window covering for a few months now. I’m fairly sure no one can see in past the houseplant I’ve put on the window sill, but having naked windows is probably not something guests will appreciate. In one of our guest bathrooms I used to have a muslin curtain, which one guest got very unhappy about because he thought people could see him peeing in the night.
Any window covering needs to be opaque and waterproof. I happen to like the sunshine pouring in in the morning, so we’ve ordered a café style shutter, that we can leave open at the top. In terms of cleaning, this isn’t great because shutters need daily dusting in the countryside, but I love the look of shutters so much it was my one compromise.
My friend, Birgit Jones, who runs a couple of self catering properties ( see below ) has suggested having no blinds etc. but instead having an opaque surface on the window itself.
Tip 9 – Invest in a few luxurious extras that make
One thing that can be quite frustrating in a bathroom is the mirror getting misted up and also poor lighting. To solve this we have installed a heated mirror with integral lighting in our bathroom. The one issue with this in a B&B bathroom is that it’s not immediately obvious how to turn it on ( you wave your hand under the bottom of the mirror to turn on the light )
If you have any bathroom equipment that isn’t very simple to use – think taps, showers etc. make sure full instructions are provided to your guests. We had a shower pulled off the wall once by a guest who thought you turned the tap towards you rather than rotating it clockwise.
Many guests also comment favourably on the lighted magnifying make up mirrors we provide.
In a B&B, guests appreciate a forget me not box, containing items they might have forgotten to pack; lady’s sanitary products, toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, deodorant, comb, razor, shaving gel, mending kit, scissors, shower caps etc. I provide these free at my B&B but some B&B owners charge for these or ask for a charity donation.
And finally my husband put a Sonos speaker into the bathroom so we can listen to music or the radio when we’re getting ready in the morning; totally unnecessary but a bit of fun. This may not be something you want to do for guests. In the 13 years of running a B&B the changes in technology have been quite amazing. So if you do put any technology in, make sure you plan to replace it and to supply instructions for guests.
Tip 10 – Use cleaning products and gadgets that make your life easier
Investing in the right cleaning products and appliances will definitely make your life easier and cleaning the bathroom quicker.
I prefer to use distilled white malt vinegar to clean with. It quickly gets rid of lime scale and is cheap and environmentally friendly. I just buy the vinegar in bulk and put it into a spray bottle.
For a more intensive clean Clare Wright of The Schoolhouse B&B in Shropshire says
“My top tip – having showers with lots of glass and chrome there’s one product I couldn’t live without (though I’m sure other products are available….). It’s called White Rock and I use it about once a month on each shower, chrome and glass, and it comes up like new again. I think it’s only available mail order but I got a small tub and it hasn’t run out in year 1 yet”
For cleaning cloths I buy microfiber cloths that are designed for cleaning cars. They’re much larger than normal cloths and make it quicker to clean that using a smaller cloth. I then polish with a smooth cloth.
Kate Moyce of Morwendon house ( see below ) has a great tip for using old towels.
As a B&B you’re required by law to make reasonable adjustments to allow guests with disabilities access to your B&B. When considering what is reasonable you need to take into account both your budget and the layout of your B&B.
Bear in mind that not all disabled guests are in wheel chairs. As an example, you may have a guest staying who has severe arthritis in their hands so turning an old fashioned tap might be problematic but using a lever tap would be ok.
So before you start your bathroom design ( or indeed the design for all of your B&B ), make sure you’ve understood what design features you can incorporate into your bathroom to make is as accessible as possible within the constraints of your budget and layout of your building
VisitBritain has free accessibility guides available here
Some more bathroom design advice from my friends!
My friend Birgit who runs self catering cottages Hop Barn and Applegarth in Shropshire recommends
“We’ve used high end Mermaid wall panels in the bath/shower areas and so have eliminated grotty grout completely. Very easy to keep clean. I always leave cleaning materials in the bathroom – some guests do like to use it. Try to put a decent sized shelf or table if space allows for people’s wash kit bags etc. I always find it so irritating when there’s no where to put anything. And more than one option for hanging damp towels, a) do they can air better and b) less chance of mixing up whose towel is whose.”
Some more tips on bathrooms from previous course attendees
Bea Hyde of Hammonds Farm B&B, in the Cotswolds says
“We went for sand coloured marble tiles, which are matt, so don’t show any water marks. Avoided as much glass as possible. Showers with additional hand-held heads which allow easy rinsing of bathroom. Mirrors, with built in lights/shaver sockets and demisters.”
Kate Moyce of Morwendon Guest House in Barmouth Wales recommends
“A tip….I cut up my old towels when they are no longer good enough for guests to use for bathroom cleaning…they are brilliant for cleaning bathroom ceramics and tiles….leave everything really shiny”
Fiona Potts of Gwaenynog Farmhouse B&B, Campsite and Wedding Venue
“Avoid corner showers at all costs… space dictated to us that we had to have corner showers, but I wish we hadn’t. The grooves and runners are the biggest pain in the butt to clean… Wish we’d had single opening doors. As and when we need to change, we’ll do that rather than the sliding doors “