The Sunday Times: Russell Simpson weigh in on the latest craze for open-plan living

  • By Adam Foster
  • 16 November 2015

Bedroom:BathroomOther people’s relationships are largely a mystery, but there are a few behavioural pointers that tell you pretty swiftly which camp you’re in. There are those who are happy to use the loo while chatting to their spouse as he cleans his teeth, and those who most definitely are not. If you fall into the latter category, and are now covering your mouth with your hands, an open-plan bathroom is probably not for you.

God knows it’s difficult enough to find any peace at home as it is. Since we embraced open-plan living, we’ve barely left an internal wall standing. While the Victorians created warrens of small rooms, each with a purpose, British homeowners have spent the past couple of decades opening everything up — so kitchens, living rooms and even hallways segue into one huge, light-filled space. Now it seems the ensuite bathroom, possibly the last bastion of domestic privacy, is also under threat.

No 1 Mulberry Walk is a beautiful Edwardian property in Chelsea, on sale for £18.75m. It has five bedrooms with traditional ensuites and an open-plan master suite, which occupies the top floor. Here, a freestanding shelving unit with a built-in headboard separates the sleeping area from the bathroom. Supersexy or downright studenty? Even the agents can’t agree.

“This has been the year of the open-plan bathroom,” says Jake Russell, director of the independent Chelsea estate agency Russell Simpson. “People want large spaces in their homes, and they want to move seamlessly from room to room. Developers and designers are responding to this by creating homes with open-ended partition walls or sliding doors, providing the option to customise their living environment.”

At the top end of the market, the level of bathroom design now outstrips that seen in many five-star hotels. “People want to celebrate that by opening the space to reveal their beautiful basins, custom vanities and freestanding baths,” Russell says.


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