Often regarded as a dull little room, a cloakroom should instead be a room to treasure. Sadly neglected by many home owners, cloakrooms all too frequently become a dumping ground for broken bicycles, discarded footwear and malfunctioning deck chairs. If treated with a little (but not too much) respect, your cloakroom will serve as a useful convenience for your guests while allowing you privacy in your own bathroom (where your wrinkle cream, old school face cloth and worn-out toothbrushes remain for ever a secret!).
Requiring minimal space (an area as small as lxl.5m will accommodate the essentials), a cloakroom can be sited practically anywhere so long as suitable provisions can be made for the plumbing and, if it adjoins a living room or kitchen, there is a lobby between the two. A space on the floor below an existing bathroom will in many cases minimize disruption.
What does the good cloakroom contain? Essential, of course, are the WC pan and cistern. From a decorative point of view, a built-in cistern is neater and also provides a shelf on which accessories can be displayed. Should your cistern not be built in, you can still install a removable shelf supported on brackets over it. If space is limited, you will need to fit either an extra-small hand basin or one that will fit across a corner position.
In a larger cloakroom it is a good idea to select a more generous basin with a swing mixer-tap arrangement – so useful for filling a bucket, watering can or kettle. The basin can also be set into a vanity unit to give it a less utilitarian appearance and to secure extra storage below. If space allows, the inclusion of a shower unit may help to relieve pressure on a main bathroom.
In addition to these basics you will need a well-lit mirror (preferably full-length), toilet paper holder, towel rail and wall hooks for coats. Heating a room that is used for such short periods may seem wasteful, but is essential for the comfort of those visiting the room and can easily be combined with a heated towel rail. Grooming aids such as a nail brush, perfumes, hair brush and comb set, paper tissues and a clothes brush are thoughtful additions, as are magazines for the amusement of visitors.
Because your cloakroom is likely to occupy only a small area, you have a wonderful opportunity to consider more exotic finishes that might be thought of as extravagant or overpowering in a larger space. And, as the time spent in this room is likely to be brief, you can afford to make a much stronger decorating statement than might be considered prudent in, say, a family bathroom.
It’s the optimum room for cracking a visual joke to a captive audience – where else can you display your achievements (your ‘Oscar’, degree, war medals, parachute jump certificate or peace prize) without seeming immodest? Give some thought to the following ideas:
- If there are many pipes exposed, how about making a feature out of them by painting them rainbow colors?
- What about covering your walls with sheets of newspaper containing amusing headlines?
- If your cloakroom has a dull view from the window (or indeed no window at all), why not use the opportunity to create you own scenes with a touch of trompe I’oeil7
- Consider leaving the walls fairly plain and using your cloakroom as a trophy room, museum or art gallery.
Whatever your style selection, be careful not to combine too many ideas in this small space or the room will lose impact.