Property: No more maroon; give me Victorian floral

The bathroom is the most popular room in the house, it seems. Rosalind Russell reports on bathtime chic old and new
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Indy Lifestyle Online
In the curious way statistics have of throwing up oddities, it was once reported by the Halifax that the highest proportion of customers desperate to change their bathrooms lived in the east of England.

It could be, of course, that the east also had the densest population of maroon, navy, green and turquoise bathroom suites. Hence the desire to sling them out, soonest.

A new bathroom has held its position in the top five of most popular home improvements for several years. And recently those who have splashed out have restrained themselves, colourwise, to white, or Old English white, except for the adventurous, who have gone for stainless steel.

Colour now is restricted to accessories, where you can be as riotous as you please. The bath towel company Christy has just launched its new range, including shades called Elephant, Mango, Turtle and Periwinkle (from pounds 16 for a bath towel) which, although they may be a little exotic for some tastes, won't give your estate agent any sleepless nights when you decide to sell.

Among the most striking design in basins are those from CD (UK) Ltd - boring name, great product - which is using Corian surface material for its Avante range. The basins come in standard round or oval shapes but can be made in any of 63 colours, none of which resemble Whisper Peach. The Avante Concerto has a band of sun yellow and is set into a toughened glass top on a chrome stand. It costs from pounds 608.65. Even more dramatic is the Avante Allegro, in scarlet, from pounds 534, but Corian can be mixed with a variety of other materials including metal and glass, to create unusual finishes.

Ocean Home Shopping's spring range includes Italian-made stainless steel basins, in two sizes, which are perfect for anyone fitting out a loft- style property. The sink comes with a top in cherry-wood or glass, waste pipes and cover plate, towel bar and wall mounting brackets; the mixer tap (pounds 54) is not included in the price, which starts at pounds 245. Accessories to match include an industrial-style steel laundry bin with cherry-wood lid (pounds 165 for the corner model) and cast aluminium hook rack (pounds 13.95) and matching robe hanger (pounds 13.95). Neatest of all perhaps are the towel rail (pounds 39.95) and toothbrush holder (pounds 27.97) with aluminium wall fittings sleekly designed to look like a shark's head: clever, but not too jokey.

A perfect match for an aluminium or steel bathroom would be Bisque's new Cobratherm radiator. It is made in Switzerland, and can be supplied in nine different sizes and in chrome, white or any of 1,600 other colours. It even has a ball finial at the top, to hang your dressing-gown on to warm. Prices are from pounds 386.70.

Bisque's other new design is the Jeeves radiator, which has a wooden rail attached - in oak, ash or maple - for warming clothes or towels. Prices start from pounds 258.05 plus VAT. A pair of Art Deco-style chrome basin taps costs pounds 44.99.

If you are still hankering after a traditional-style bathroom, then Hyde and Marc Brown recondition rare pieces of period sanitaryware at their converted Methodist chapel on the north Norfolk coast. Their company, Stiffkey Bathrooms, stocks a huge range of Victorian shower baths, floral loos and Georgian bath-racks.

A French wrought-iron wash-stand with mirror and shelf, made in 1900 and converted for use with taps, costs around pounds 850. This is where to find the splendidly named Gladiator Mulberry Chrysanthemum washdown closet (made by Porcher of Paris in 1888) and the Deluge, made by Twyfords in 1880. A Simplicitas blue-patterned water closet by Doulton of Lambeth, made in 1900, costs from pounds 500.

Those on a tighter budget should check out Homebase's bathroom accessory department in the bigger stores. A pair of Art Deco-style chrome basin taps costs pounds 44.99.

Ocean Home Shopping orderline: 0171-501 2500, or website www.oceancatalogue.co.uk. CD (UK) Ltd: 0113 244 5337or www.about-corian.co.uk. Bisque: 0171-328 2224, or for nationwide stockists: 01225 469244. Stiffkey Bathrooms: 01328 830084.

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