A Wasou Design bath

Thoughts for the Weekend & this Week’s Links

Drowning In Trends.

Britain’s home improvement fad kills thousands. Don’t worry you’ve not arrived at The Mail Online. But it’s a fact that three times more Japanese die in the bath than in car accidents. And what’s big over there is now big over here.

I’ve seen ninety-one homeowners interested in remodelling, refurbishing or extending their homes this year. And I can report that short, deep baths are all the rage. These Japanese-style baths, which account for 15,000 deaths annually, have now officially overtaken Crittal-style doors as the most requested must-have. This is good news for me and the undertakers. It’s refreshing to have a new trend in an area of expertise. Previously, we had bi-fold doors, underfloor heating, kitchen islands, western red cedar cladding, and very thin framed sliding doors. In fact, the doors to the garden are a big deal. I hope my favourite, French doors, will be all the rage in the summer of 2026.

If you’re interested in creating your own Japanese bathroom, there are a few things to get right. In 2012, I became a little obsessed with Japanese toilets and bathrooms. I have a stack of well-thumbed magazines that I cannot read, but that I spent hours looking at the pictures and floor plans of all these amazing little homes with sliding screens, small courtyards, verandas and funny little bathrooms. After all this research, I built my own, complete with a heated toilet.

The first thing to note is the bathroom has to have distinct areas for the various things one does. A previous trend to remove the separate toilet in favour of an open-plan arrangement may need to be rethought.

The dressing area is usually the first space one enters. It has a nice vanity unit with a good-sized wash basin, mirror, and hanging space. Off the dressing area are three distinct, compact and well-planned spaces:

3. The toilet. This tends to be set into a little alcove, sometimes with a sliding door for privacy. It’s nice not to have the loo front and centre in the bathroom. In Europe, we like to line up our bathroom appliances. It makes for efficient plumbing, but having the toilet on show when the bathroom door opens is never a good look. And I don’t know about you, but when I drown, I don’t like a toilet six inches from my left ear.

2. The laundry. The washing machine and little laundry area are part of the bathroom. This makes a lot of sense. You get undressed and put your dirty clothes in the area where they get washed.

3. Washing and bathing. This happens behind a clear glass screen, with a walk-in shower and a tub. The idea is you wash in the shower, often sitting on a small stool rather than standing. When you are clean, you open the lid and climb into the tub or Furo to relax. You’ve not had to run the bath; the last bather was clean, too, so the water is reused. Warning: The water is very hot. It’s this that kills, not the coffin lid closing on you. People faint in the water that is deep enough to cover their shoulders whilst sitting. I understand that the depth of the water doesn’t matter when drowning. My Mum told me I could drown in a puddle, too. But honestly, Mum, I’ll just turn my head one inch. I’m safe around puddles. Scolding hot, deep baths is a different matter altogether.

Traditionally, the furo are made of Hinoki wood and are very beautiful. They are best located next to a low window with a view of nature. Ideally, you will be looking at Mont Fuji, but it can be a view of the rooftops, across a small courtyard or over a graveyard.

Alongside the bath, a key feature of your new bathroom is the toilet. These must have a heated seat and warm water botty washer. Useful upgrades are a fan to dry, auto perfume spray to mask your efforts and a built-in speaker to play calming music. You need to get in a zen state if you’re about to die. If you’ve not tried one of these toilets, I recommend a trip to the Monocle Cafe on Chiltern Street, W1. Great coffee, fantastic cardamom buns and before you leave, head down to the basement for that heated Toto seat and, if you’re brave enough, the washer. There are his and her buttons for the washer. Don’t worry, I’ve experimented. Both are fun.

This week’s links give you more detail on the dangers of baths, a trip to Dartmoor and a late summer recipe. Any comments or suggestions you can get me at carl@carlarchitect.co.uk 

Carl's signature

The merits and demerits of Japanese bathing.

Some ideas for your Japanese bathroom.

The front looks okay, but the back of the new Mini looks like a Peugeot 205.

A church on Dartmoor is worth a visit.

It’s been so hot this week that a summer recipe is still a go-er.

Very simple and very tasty. 

Image credit: Wasou Design

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