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December 15, 2019 – Published in Design & Decor Winter 2019 issue

The boutique effect

Words Stephanie Falzon

Lately, we have frequently been hearing the term ‘Boutique Hotel’. But what is a Boutique Hotel? Isn’t a Hotel, a Hotel? Does a Hotel have to have special features to be identified as a Boutique Hotel?

The concept of describing something as Boutique, was originally used in the 70s with reference to certain custom built amplifiers. Today it is used to describe a variety of things or services which must command the highest qualities and standards.

Wikipedia tells us that: A Boutique Hotel is a small hotel which typically has between 10 and 100 rooms in unique settings with upscale accommodations and individualized unique selling points.

And this is how a lot of wonderful old palaces and houses are being converted in wonderful Boutique Hotels. But in Malta we can find an abundance of unique settings which can be upgraded. And they do not all have to be converted in Hotels. Many people still want to live in these beautiful homes.

But now comes the difficult part: the interior decorations of these homes. How can we combine modern living with an old and antique setting? For this issue, I have tried to get photos of bathrooms that can show and explain how modern designs can blend beautifully with vintage styles.

So let us go through the steps:


  • Are we starting designing from scratch?

  • Was this room already a bathroom and we are just upgrading?

  • Are there any features that you would like to keep in this room?

  • If its an upgrade, are we changing any plumbing?

If this room was already a bathroom, we will find that most times, we can change the positioning of most things. But the toilet’s position is usually the one thing we cannot change. If we are starting from scratch, then our options are wide open and we will not be tied to any particular setting.

Looking at the photos, the first thing that catches our eyes, is the coloured and patterned floor tiles, that are so identifiable with Maltese homes. The different patterns and colours immediately take centre stage and everything else must work around them. The wall tiles must then completely blend with these floor tiles. The Maltese patterned tiles are always of a particular size – 20cm x 20cm. So for the walls, I got examples of metro tiles with examples of the different colours that are available on the market. We are also seeing the different way you can play around with the colours of these metro tiles as well as the different laying options you can use.

We then need to choose our sanitary ware and baths or showers. Looking at the photos we can study once again, how the modern and the antique can blend well together. We are seeing free standing baths looking just as good as large walk in showers. Basins can be vertical and stand alone or they can form part of a vanity unit. Even the taps can look either dated or you can choose the latest innovative designs. We can choose taps that are wall mounted or floor mounted. The important thing is that you must first buy the taps and then prepare the plumbing.

Of course, as with most interior designs, the size of the room is an important factor of what to choose and how and where to place them. Free standing baths as well as large walk-in showers both need a lot of space. Avantgarde upright basins, as well as modern vanity units too, need ample area to allow them to appear the best they can. And of course the toilet itself, not only needs enough space to place it in, but it needs ample room for you to use it with comfort.

So giving a bathroom in your old home an upgrade can be so simple. Some people seem to have a knack of combining the old with the new. But if you are not sure, please get the services of an interior designer. As we have seen, certain combined designs can look so good together. But these things can go so horribly wrong too. And like I always finish off, in this line of work, mistakes are extremely costly.

Falzon’s Bathrooms & Ceramics, Psaila Street, Sta Venera.
Tel: 2148 2860 / 2148 5536


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