Whether you’re thinking of a remodel project or starting from scratch with a new build, what is that one thing you look forward to in your bathroom? Do you have a dream shower in mind or maybe a bathroom with a soaking tub and a shower? If you’re remodeling, perhaps you have a choice to replace your standard tub/shower combo or maybe you would like to ditch the tub and install a spacious shower.
Tub vs the shower
Tubs are being ditched in most bathrooms according to some bathroom trends especially for remodeling projects due to the challenge of available space to expand. With a surge in the baby boomer population and among those who like to plan ahead, fewer people are considering a tub to tackle their daily cleansing needs because, logistically, it’s much easier to walk into a shower than to climb into a tub. Not only do the trends focus on colors, styles, and tile patterns but they also focus on functionality, and how we can make our bathrooms safer now and in the future. Believe it or not, according to the 2018 Houzz Bathroom Trends Study Report, it’s not just the 55+ population addressing current and future needs but about 30% of those between the ages of 25-54 are planning ahead for future needs during renovations. If you were on the market looking for a home with a bathroom that allowed you to grow old in your home, it may be a frustrating house hunt. In fact, it’s very difficult to even find a home on the market with a bedroom and bathroom on the main level (depending on the location).
Whether you’re planning a bathroom remodel or building one from the ground up, here are a few tips to consider when planning your shower designs. These tips can range from economical to luxurious. Regardless of your budget, these are tips that factor in aesthetics, safety, and the functionality of the shower for now and in the future. No, we cannot predict our health in the future, however, these tips will for sure make taking a shower less strenuous across the lifespan. In addition, it allows anyone to use the shower as independently and safely as possible all while providing room and time to conserve some energy for those who fatigue quickly.
Features to consider in your dream shower:
- Curbless entry (meaning no threshold): Some shower doors will come with a threshold, so be sure to make it clear to the shower door companies or glass companies that you do not want a lip if you’re seeking a clear free entrance. Find a reputable tile guy who has installed curbless shower floors before to make sure the floor slopes just enough for the water to flow to the drain whether it’s towards the center of the shower, the entrance, or rear of the shower. If you’re in the process of working with an architect, you have room to drop the shower floor with space to slope to the drain without adding an additional slope to enter the shower [see photos to compare a shower during remodel and a shower for new build].
- Drains: Can be centered (circle or square) or linear (at the entrance or rear, center drain in remodel photo above and linear drain on back wall in new build photo above).
- Built-in shelving or shower niches: Can be placed wherever is most convenient for you. There are no standards for shower niches. They can be placed within reach while sitting and/or while standing. They can be at any height and width (or depth depending on if you have space beyond the studs or existing frames). If you’re in a new build, your architect and bathroom designer can add your requests in the designs to make sure there is space in the walls. Sometimes you can even plan for them when the framing and dry wall is up, and the tile guy will usually ask where you’d like the niches located.
- Grab bars: You may not need them or want them now, however, it doesn’t hurt to install blocking or some type of backboard support in the framing to allow you to install grab bars later anywhere along the wall. Grab bars are now available in several finishes and styles to match the style of the bathroom from contemporary to traditional. They do not have to be installed per ADA code. This code is for public spaces. When it comes to your shower, you can place them based on your height. ADA code requires bars to be placed horizontally at about 33”-36” from the floor. But if you’re shorter or taller, you can raise or lower the placement. If for some reason you do need a lip in your shower, a vertical grab bar can be placed right outside the shower entrance to use for steadying your balance while stepping over the threshold. [see standard stainless steel grab bar in remodel photo above and matte black contemporary bar in new build photo above]
- Tile:Choosing contrasting colors helps anyone visually and makes it easier to see the shower floor and wall. Some choose darker flooring and lighter walls however, dark doesn’t mean it has to be black. Secondly, it’s crucial to factor in slip-resistant tile for bathroom flooring, especially showers. According to the National Safety Council, slips and falls are the 2ndleading cause of preventable injuries and even death in the homes. When looking for floor tile, check the COF (coefficient of friction) ratings. The higher the COF number, the more slip resistant. Natural stone, ceramic, and porcelain will be the most slippery when wet. Consider asking your tile rep expert about the COF or slip resistant ratings for safety when selecting your bathroom/shower flooring. Another option is selecting smaller tile (2×2 or smaller) for the shower which significantly improves slip resistance.
- Removable shower head on slide bar: More and more showers are seen with 2 shower heads. But if you only have one, a removable shower head on a slide bar brings many great benefits: removable and easy to use while sitting. Even better, if it has a pause feature which allows you to pause the water while you lather with soap; we have this feature in our dog shower! A removable feature also makes cleaning showers less strenuous and even reaches the walls to make it easier and less messy to rinse the soap on the walls. A slide bar allows people of all heights to shower in one place whether sitting or standing and is especially great for growing kids in the family.
- Kohler Konnect: Technology has entered the water world! Kohler has developed a new smart system for showers to access controls in the bathroom from an app or by voice activation. While I can’t write a review of this product at this time (mainly because it’s not available yet), but it’s a clever way to improve independency and safety in the bathroom.
- Seating: Regardless if you need a seat now or later, keep a seat in mind when designing your shower. If you have ample space, a built-in seat is the most stable type however, it may reduce shower space making it more difficult if you ever needed to transfer from a wheelchair to a built-in seat. Or, you can consider the wall mounted seat that flips up when not in use (it will require support in the walls, so plan ahead). Another option for large or small showers is a shower chair. Yes, aesthetically they look like they belong in a rehab hospital, however, they are easy to remove from the shower when you do not need it, and when you do, it also makes it easier for a transfer. We actually have one for our guest bathroom in case guests need additional stability or need to sit for showers. For someone who is unable to transfer in the bathroom, rolling shower chairs are amazing and allow you to transfer outside your bathroom and roll into the bathroom and shower. As you can see, there are several seating options to choose from depending on your area of need now and in the future. [see various seating options in photos above].
It may be clearer now why bathroom designs require a little planning especially for those who are building new homes. And, if you’re gutting an existing bathroom, planning ahead is still crucial to make sure you have all the support needed to finish your dream shower.
Need help designing your bathroom, contact Blue Day 2 Designs for a consultation and see how we can help.