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Diwali special: Unwinding, the French way

For a bathroom makeover, architect Rubel Dhuna takes a cue from French cottage homes, where elegant earthiness meets fine vintage

A bathroom concept from Rubel Dhuna
A bathroom concept from Rubel Dhuna

After a long day at work, you look forward to unwinding, probably by stepping into the shower to wash away the day’s worries.

“Why wait for that vacation when you can turn your urban bathroom into a relaxing oasis," says Mumbai-based architect and interior designer Rubel Dhuna.

A bathroom is a place for relaxation and rejuvenation and if you are looking to give it a makeover this festive season, Dhuna suggests you master the subtle art of French country-style charm.

The charm of French cottage homes is that they look straight out of a fairytale. However, that doesn’t mean that they are limited to being dainty units for the romantic at heart. “The aesthetic can be simple yet elegant, balancing earthy with fine luxury," says Dhuna. These spaces have a muted palate with organic textures, hints of wood, traditional handcrafted accents, natural stone floors, and pastel colours. This is offset with fine details of small floral patterns and soft fabrics.

To start off, Dhuna recommends richly-honed limestone for the flooring. In natural stone floors, the variations are beautiful and always stylish. The naturally cool, hard surface is ideal for warm climates and also non-slippery. The handcrafted softer limestone edges in the Vintage Moreton collection from artisanal boutique Orvi add character and random finish exudes country style and quality.

An inbuilt bathtub can be wrapped in this flooring material to create a sense of continuity. “Combine this with wooden rafters in the ceiling to transform the bathroom into an earthy retreat," she says.

Finish your walls with gorgeous stucco and polished Venetian plaster from Limocoat. For a retro-styling to complete the look, select vintage sanitary fittings, such as an original 19th-century butterfly handle with yesteryear spouts. These can be picked from the Margherita range of Sbordoni. Classic sanitary ware from Villeroy & Boch will complete the look.

“When it comes to lighting in your bathroom, try to maximize as much natural light as possible. Imagine those cosy cottage rooms flooded by sunlight with soft linen sheers covering the windows," recommends Dhuna. But, if that is too much to aspire for in our urban settings, then Dhuna suggests soft indirect and dimmable lights that can significantly enhance the atmosphere. Add interesting light features like wall scones or a dramatic French-style chandelier, she says. A Eugene chandelier from Preciosa’s historic design series would work well.

But what’s a bathroom without a mirror? This is where functionality and whimsy can meet harmoniously. Mirrors can be used to enhance both light and space. “Place it facing the window to bounce off reflected light. You can also opt for a large floor-standing vintage one to expand the space. “Adding brass or copper accents can bring in a touch of glamour, and this can be done by opting for a Chippendale gilt mirror," says Dhuna.

“Incorporating vintage-style vanities, a re-purposed armoire, with comfort items like chairs and rugs can make your bathroom plush and unique," she says. French cottages draw a lot from distressed, scraped-off furniture, so Dhuna recommends browsing through Mumbai-based furniture and antiques warehouse Mahendra Doshi for these final touches.

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