A lot of people ask me about bathrooms, which isn’t as strange as it sounds as I’ve been designing them for nearly 20 years now. With so many different styles available nowadays it’s always an adventure designing a bathroom for someone. It’s honestly a lot more fun and creative than it sounds.
Obviously there are staples that most bathrooms can’t do without, but when you’ve been at this job as long as I have you start to favor certain designs and types over others. There are things that remain close to the surface of your mind when you have that clean canvas in front of you, ready to start painting. Then there are the things that you just shouldn’t be without.
Hopefully this article will be helpful and informative to those of you toying with the idea of redesigning your bathroom. If not, then perhaps it will give some of you an idea of things to think about so you can plan ahead before embarking on such a mammoth task.
1. Toilet Choices
Every bathroom needs one. Well, okay, technically they don’t if they’re primarily a washroom, but certainly the majority have a toilet. Concerning which toilet style to go for really depends on the size of the bathroom you’re working in. If you’re looking to save on space wherever you can then a back to wall toilet unit could very well aid you in that quest. If, however, space isn’t too much of an issue then look no further than close coupled toilets. They come in a range of designs, from the traditional style with the cistern sitting further back from the bowl to more modern imaginings which often look like an all-in-one piece.
2. Bath or Shower?
This is probably the most common decision made in the early stages of bathroom design, and it really is down to your own preferences. Showers are obviously a lot more convenient, so if a mad morning rush is the norm for you then you would benefit more from one of these units. If a slow soak in the tub is more important to you, then there are a range of freestanding, single or double ended designs around or even corner units to save on space.
Most people meet somewhere in the middle and opt for a tub with a shower unit that is easily attached for the best of both worlds. I’m personally a shower guy myself, and would highly recommend a walk in shower not only for the aesthetic value but for the space. I don’t much enjoy cramped shower cubicles, though there are plenty of larger enclosures available today.
Bathrooms are home to an array of weird and wonderful items, from toothbrushes to combs and all manner of lotions, shampoos and other bottles. For this reason, it’s essential to have fitted bathroom furniture to store these things and there are a variety of different styles and sizes to choose from. Mirror cabinets are useful as a means to save on space, if that’s an issue for you, and having a counter top basin on top of a cupboard as opposed to a pedestal basin provides some extra storage space. If you only have a small area to play around with, or you know you have a lot of stuff that will live in your new bathroom, then make sure you have enough space for the amount of cabinets you’re likely to need. Vertical radiators are a great way of utilizing upper wall space, so if you don’t think you’d have enough room for that big floor cabinet then this might be a solution.
If you want speed and convenience, without completely sacrificing luxury, then you absolutely must have a shower as an integral part of your bathroom suite. The thing is, there is an awful lot of difference between the various arrays of shower setups out there – how do you know which way to turn?
So, let’s say you’re fairly fresh to this whole bathroom thing, and are looking for a straightforward guide to walk you clearly through the rudiments of what you need know about mixer shower units and their capabilities. Well, here I am…
Mixer Shower Valve
A mixer shower valve is the standard piece of equipment you will require when you come to put together a shower kit. At its most simplistic, and at the risk of patronising you, the mixer mixes the two separate flows of water – hot and cold – to create the perfectly heated flow of water for your shower.
For extra usability, you can get mixers with additional outputs on them. This means you can add other hand held shower heads or other accessories, such as body jets, to further increase the luxury of your shower.
Thermostatic – or not?
Now, I have to confess some level of bias here. You see, I think thermostatic showers are the best you can get, despite the slightly more weighty initial outlay. A thermostatic mixer valve does away with the irritation of having to turn and balance the taps yourself, which can turn into a right palaver when you are desperate to get ready in the morning! Plus, thermostatic valve mixer showers guard your flow against others who call for hot water from elsewhere in the house!
Any Other Advice?
Well, I suppose the other pointers are really generalist stuff that can apply elsewhere, put into a mixer showers context. First of all, and it is something people I write for know is always there, is that I advise to research materials closely, as they can make all the difference in performance and longevity. Always look for steel or brass valves, of whatever function, in order to guarantee toughness and a resistance to rust and other deleterious corrosive elements. The other is to ensure you get yourself a solid warranty of a good length, for free, if possible. Free guarantees are available of up to a decade now, so do make sure to search wide and long.
In the annals of bathroom history (if such a thing exists, as it happens), the bath and the shower have often been set against each other. In times gone by, and especially in the UK, the bath was utterly pre-eminent, becoming the mainstay of the weekly routine. In my mum’s house, up t’north, she remembers having the tin bath pulled out from beneath the kitchen table on a Sunday night. Not that she’s at all old you understand. Sorry, mam…
I suppose this stance may have been taken because baths, in comparison to showers, are fairly unfussy and uncomplicated. Also, it may have also been a question of cost. Taps and a tub are all you need for a bath, whereas a shower takes in questions of your water system, the style you want, the installation…essentially, there is a lot more to think about.
I should probably declare here that I am a shower man – I find couching the sentence in this positive way makes the point come across better than me saying that I rarely have a bath, which leads to people backing slowly away from me.
Yes, I prefer showers, and I proselytise mildly to people about the main subject of this piece, the thermostatic shower. Now, showers tend to divide into standard showers and thermostatic showers. The difference seems, prima facie, to be slight, but in actuality, it can make all the difference.
Standard mixer showers really work in much the same manner as mixer taps. They take the two flows of water – hot and cold, for the uninitiated – and blend them. Thing is, you have to stand there and twiddle like a fretful safecracker with these taps to get the right temperature coming out of the head. This can be a fiddly business, and is the last thing you want to be doing in the morning, standing around frustratingly adjusting.
Now, a thermostatic shower excises this horrible frustration. You simply set your temperature and the valve itself takes the burden, automatically maintaining your chosen heat. It also guards this source, as a thermostatic valve stops any other calls on hot water from around the home from stealing your warm water away. This prevents those horrid moments where, luxuriating under a piping spray, you are suddenly assailed by arctic needles of water as someone goes to wash up downstairs. This is not to mention the additional safety features these valves feature, such as anti-scalding mechanisms.
In short, thermostatic showers, despite the marginally higher initial outlay, repay this with years of hassle-free operation. I cannot recommend them more highly.