Today's bathroom walks a fine line between technology and pleasure and has increasingly become a luxuriant place to linger. Designers are knocking themselves out to create the latest fixtures and fittings for renovators who want the ultimate pampering zone. Planning makes perfect The bathroom is now right up there with the kitchen as the show pony of the house. Though with bathrooms you tend to forget you're dealing with a more tightly configured space so you really need to be conscious of the importance of proportion and balance. Don't over-furnish – less is more. Do a reality check – will that amazing bath you've had your eye on be used enough to warrant its expense? Or could a double shower be just what you and your family need? Choose shapes and forms which are timeless and complement each other. Right now rounded organic shapes are hot, hot, hot! Never compromise on good design or quality, but you can economise on the cost of products you need a lot of (such as wall tiles) to spend more on those big-ticket items which define your bathroom style (eg basin, bath, cabinetry). In my opinion a bathroom can run hot or cold! There are limitations on the newer instantaneous gas hot water systems because they have a factory-set temperature and the further the water heating appliance from the taps the less predicable the water temperature and pressure will be. Also, some water-saving showerheads can contribute to lower water temperatures. First steps Select your flooring first as it visually sets the theme. Decide whether you want to make a contrast with the walls – which lends a European feel – or integrate with the wall tiles – a trend popular in hotels and resorts. Buy your basin first and then pick your tapware as some basins have restrictions regarding tap style. Don't leave it to the electrician to decide on the placement or number of powerpoints and switches – generally four is good for bathrooms. There are a surprising number of cool, edgy switch-plates on the market including glass ones. Must-haves Heated towel rail. No matter how efficient your ventilation, towels don't dry by themselves. Keep them toasty on a ladder-style heated towel rail. Good lighting. A bathroom should have at least two types of lighting. I'm fond of table lamps to provide that instant glow while the energy-saving fluoro downlights kick into action. Make-up drawer. The trend for single ledge-style vanities gives you a great opportunity to install an ultra-wide drawer – it's a one-stop-shop for all your toiletries. Soft-closing drawers and toilet seats. They make a world of difference. Top trends for bathrooms White... combined with distinctive Hampton's style white-painted timber panelling, dark timber-look porcelain floor tiles or a mix of natural woodgrains. Stone and texture... natural and composite stones are all the rage. Add a chunky flagstone-tiled feature wall behind a freestanding bath for the 'hunting lodge' look (think Ralph Lauren style). Out from the wall... centralise your bathroom fittings. 3-point tapware... thermostatic mixers and water-wise rain showers are hot favourites. Bathing beauties... the bath sets the scene in striking geometric shapes. Freestanding basins... stand-alone basins, pedestal basins and basins on pedestals. Art Deco influences... timeless glamour is here to stay with shapes, patterns and textures reflecting a more gracious era. Black... is the new chrome. It's all about visual drama for baths, taps, tiles and accessories – perfect for an ensuite. Compact designs... petite is the new buzzword in bathroom fittings; whatever your space, there is a beautifully-designed basin, bath and vanity to fit.