The most common request, whilst designing bathrooms in the London area, is to remove the bath and install a good shower design instead. “What?!” I hear thousands of estate agents scream! Apparently, the clamour for baths on property hunts is more important than a South facing garden (or is West the new South, I get confused?!). Estate agent babble to one side, removing baths from the property may be a bad idea, as every now and then you can’t beat a good soak. If you’ve got the room, do both (as in this image courtesy of S&E Glass Design).
With the average house in London costing more than £370,000, the size of bathrooms is likely to be compromised for the average person and makes affording the £30,000 bathroom above unlikely. Installing a new bathroom can deliver up to 5% increase in asking prices, allegedly. But will the absence of a bath in the main bathroom be an issue, if space or budget are a problem? On balance, is less in fact more when it comes to showers?
Less space: They can take up less footprint than a bath and help the room to feel more open and spacious, even when the dimensions are a bit tight as below.
Less water: According to the European Environmental Agency taking a shower can cut your water consumption by up to a third.: pause as you lather & get a flow reducing shower head, though. Mind you, with the pitiful water pressure we have in the UK, I shouldn’t worry too much about a flow reducer…
Less time: Obviously it is much quicker to grab a shower than to run a bath.
Less inhibitions: Removing walls and having the shower enclosure act as a wall itself will save about 10cm in space, but won’t save any blushes. Ahem.
Image from Morph project in Islington
At the end of the day, the perception of a walk-in shower room gives so much more of an impact than a standard bath layout. I think our friend Rupert the Estate Agent would use the phrase the ‘Wow Factor’ (see this blog on ‘How to choose you Estate Agent’ for explanation of the ‘Rupert’ appellation, by dear friend to Morph and award winning blogger Tracy Kellet). Certainly walk-in showers are very de rigeur, but what happens if you are confronted with a space like this?
Image from Morph project in Kensington
Well, after you’ve called in the damp surveyor and sorted out the obvious, the other immediate problem looking at this image is that there is not enough room to swing a cat. Even a 70 x 70cm shower cubicle (otherwise known as the ‘elbow basher’) won’t sit easily next to a WC on this wall. Any shower design starts with a ‘design anchor’; the beastie sitting in the corner that can’t be moved (without additional costs). In this case, it’s the soil stack on the left. Not only is it defining where the WC will go, but it’s also going to define the waste level for the shower and the size of enclosure. Our answer was to give the client a huge shower, with integrated shelving:
Image from Morph project in Kensington
We raised the floor of the shower and created a wet room, with the added benefit that if the damp issue hadn’t been resolved, the membrane would keep damp out as well as the water in. The cistern for the WC was actually installed in the roof space above and we straightened the waste run to the soil pipe so it could be rodded from the WC in case of blockage. Sometimes the very thing that is causing the issue, is the actually the answer you are looking for. “There are no problems, only solutions”… for ablutions (sorry John). The shower design for me is primarily about the intelligent use of space. In this bathroom below, the client had a pitifully small shower enclosure & separate bath. But why have a cramped shower when you have enough space for 60cm diameter shower head and room for two?
Image from Morph project in Bayswater
Any good interior designer will be acutely aware that our efforts are geared towards enhancing our clients’ feeling of ‘well-being’. Often, in our research to draw together plans we act as dieticians for kitchens and alternative therapists in bathrooms; and it is true that baths offer more benefits to the stressed human body than showers. Basically, you can’t get a whirlpool spa into a shower although some companies come close with the extreme functions on their shower heads: they can take the skin off, massage the neck and shoulders, flood the room with colour changing light therapy, make you fell like you’re under a cloud burst and pick the kids up from school. OK, not the last one, but you get the picture. In the bathroom above, the Raindance Rainmaker from Hansgrohe is the last choice before jumping into serious money for shower heads. Well, I’ve started now so I might as well show you this:
No, there is not a hole in the ceiling and the picture wasn’t taken during a rain storm. That beauty in the background is RainSky M from Dornbracht and is quite possibly the one of the most expensive shower heads on the market. Possibly.
I could go on ad infinitum about different shower heads, but the focus here is on the use of space and how shower design impacts on the overall aesthetic of the bathroom scheme. Hopefully you have had a taster of how much impact a shower can have if designed into the space correctly. We not only write about good design, we tend to practice it as well. Should you need any further advice or are looking for a great bathroom, we are here to help. Meanwhile, in the event that you feel you can’t achieve a walk-in shower if it means sacrificing a bath; don’t! We have the answer to that as well…