The family bathroom is a key part of any home: in the morning it's a hub of action but in the evening, it's a sanctuary. That means striking the perfect mix between practical and soothing — something this week The Block NZ teams knocked out of the park.
This year's family bathrooms might just be the best yet — and the competition is tighter than ever ahead of next week's winner announcement.
The judges were blown away this week with the teams' use of design, tiles, light and bright colour, daring designs.
If you've been inspired to bring some of the magic from this week into your own home, we spoke to the experts from the Tile Depot and Resene on how best to do it — and how to create a stunning space that's still functional for a family.
Bigger doesn't always mean better
Small bathroom tiles have been growing in popularity over the last couple of years — they create a statement and make a space look larger.
In house one, Christchurch couple Quinn and Ben impressed the judges with their use of white mosaic stick tiles from the Tile Depot, which gave a "very zen and fresh" look with a Japanese influence used throughout the entire space.
"I love that they've just gone for it," judge Shelley Ferguson noted.
The Tile Depot Head of Design, Karen Syddall, says they've seen a "real resurgence" in smaller tiles, "with lots of variation, colour, and endless laying patterns".
"These are often paired with larger format terrazzo and natural stone inspired porcelain tiles. We love the use of colour and smaller format as it creates a lot of interest, texture and detail with every project being completely unique," she said.
Think outside the box
The beauty of bathroom tiles is that you can play with different textures and designs — there aren't too many hard and fast rules about what can be used in the bathroom. This year, several of the teams chose tiles that can be used in versatile locations, including kitchen, entryway, bathroom or anywhere they're needed.
Blue team, Chloe and Ben, blew the judges away with their Tribeca Oatmeal tiles, which can actually also be used for kitchen splashbacks, feature walls, in bathrooms or for commercial use like in cafes and restaurants. Meanwhile, yellow team's Maree and James opted for Frammenta Bianco tiles, which are suitable to be used in all interior areas including the bathroom, kitchen and living room.
Syddall says the beauty of tiles is that "they can go virtually anywhere".
"So there’s no such thing as a bathroom tile or a kitchen tile. Generally speaking any interior tile can go from one end of the house to the other! The only rules really are that wall tiles are for walls only, but floor tiles can be either or."
There is one thing that needs to be considered with bathroom tiles, and that's safety. Even if your bathroom looks beautiful, you don't want to risk a fall — especially if you've been inspired by the teams who opted for a 'wet room' layout in their bathrooms this week.
While high gloss porcelain tiles look stunning on the walls and ceiling, it's best to avoid a polished tile on the bathroom floor.
"Consideration of the tile surface is important on a bathroom floor — highly polished tiles can be very slippery and super rough anti-slip outdoor tiles are very difficult to clean," says Sydall.
"That’s where our new micro-grip tile collections are proving to be very popular, with an exterior level of slip resistance on a smooth, cleanable, interior finish."
The orange team opted for a 100x100 Argile Khaki option which is a porcelain range with R9 anti-slip standard, while the purple team went for Cross Cut Greige, which has an R10 anti-slip version available.
"For a busy family bathroom floor you want just the right surface, matte and still easy to clean."
Play with colour
This week the teams impressed with their colour palettes — instead of standard white walls, we saw them play with contrasting neutrals, ceiling-high forest green feature tiles and brightly coloured accessories.
Resene Marketing Manager Karen Warman says it echoes the colour trends they're seeing nationwide.
"Where once bathrooms were often just white, white and white, we are now seeing decorators treat their bathroom as part of their home’s colour palette and purposefully choose an interesting colour palette for it," she said.
Like the teams showed this week, it's becoming more commonplace for colour schemes to be "more adventurous and personalised" .
"Many colour choices are influenced by nature — light blues and greens and timber finishes are popular options."
And if you want to take a risk, this is the room to do it.
"As it tends to be a private part of the house, it can be a chance to indulge in a favourite Resene paint colour you wouldn’t be brave enough to use elsewhere. For those who are feeling a little less brave, neutral walls can be easily dressed up with accent towels and accessories in striking colours."
Warman recommends opting for "fresh light hues'" like Resene Breathless and Resene Secrets which she says add a touch of colour without overwhelming the space.
overwhelming the space. For something warmer, dusty pinks like Resene Soothe are on trend.
"Accessorise with towels to complement or contrast with your main colours. Add timber
touches finished in Resene Colorwood wood stain and Resene Aquaclear to add a sense of a wellness spa that you can relax into," says Warman.
The judges were impressed by Chloe and Ben's impressive use of neutrals in their bathroom to create the appearance of "a high end hotel". Warman says it's a popular and practical way of adding colour to bathrooms.
"We are also seeing tone on tone neutral colour palettes, using a range of strengths of the same colour to add interest," she said.
Wear, tear and water
Unlike guest bedrooms or studies, family bathrooms tend to suffer a lot of wear, tear and water — just like tile choice, this means practical decisions need to be made about the paint use as well.
Warman says Resene has a wide range of durable paint finishes available, so things don't deteriorate too quickly. "Make sure you use the Resene Kitchen & Bathroom range, with anti-bacterial silver and MoulDefender or Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen," she says.
And think about the day-to-day practicalities of the colour choices as well — especially if you're the designated household bathroom cleaner.
"Light to mid tone colours are a good option for a bathroom as they tend to help hide marks. Avoid all white where you can as this can be difficult to keep looking clean," says Warman.
"Dark paint finishes, such as Resene Porter or Resene Fuscous Grey, are being seen more in bathrooms than they were traditionally, but tend to be used in bathrooms used by adults, rather than shared bathrooms.
"If you're going dark, make sure you check and adjust your lighting to ensure it is adequate."