Installing a shower might seem like a fairly straightforward thing to do but if you’re planning a bathroom refurb and thinking of changing from a shower over the bath to a walk-in, or considering removing the bath and putting in a large shower, then there are a few points to consider so I thought I’d give you a round-up here.
Some of them might seem obvious, others less so – not least because the technology is changing all the time. But I hope you will find this useful. It comes from one of the head designers at Ripples who says she goes through this checklist with all her clients.
It might seem obvious but I find this again and again (particularly with kitchens) but you need to really think about who is using this room and how they use it. Do you have teenage bathroom hogs? Do you have small children, in which case losing the bath is not an option. Do you have elderly parents visiting who would find a walk-shower easier than stepping over the side of a bath? Think about it and be honest. I am constantly amazed by the number of people who design a kitchen for the life they want and not the life they have. In other words – if your fantasy involves a deep bath with soft music and candles but the reality is a quick shower before work then think about installing a huge shower and getting rid of the bath. That way the shower becomes the luxury treat (you can still light the candles round the room).
You might fancy the idea of a huge overhead shower – hotel bathrooms are a constant fantasy – but remember that they are harder to clean as they don’t come off the wall. This also means it’s harder to clean the shower. If that is what you want then think about having a hand held attachment as well.
YOUR WATER PRESSURE
This is one for the plumber, but again, there’s no point spending hundreds of pounds on a massive dinner plate rainfall shower head if the water pressure is rubbish. Do you need to install a pump? If this is a second bathroom or en suite, will your boiler stand up to providing two hot showers at once?
THINK ABOUT THE FUTURE
This is the sensible bit. Is this your forever house? In which case, do you need to think about non-slip tiles – they’re much more stylish than they used to be. Is it worth putting a seat into the shower? Again, walk-in showers are better for older people as it can be tricky to climb over the edge of a bath.
This one’s easy; install the biggest shower you can fit in the space. Glass doors can be custom-made so you don’t need to worry about that. Bigger is better – it’s more luxurious, it’s more hotel. It’s just more.
If you’re having a walk-in shower then make sure you can keep the towels within reach but not so close they get wet. Same with the loo seat and anything you keep by the basin.
It’s better not to have a step into the shower if at all possible. This is true of all ages. The more flush the better – this makes it easier to clean – you’d be amazing how scudgey soap gets and it’s a nightmare to clean all the tiny nooks and crannies in a shower. Also if it’s low it’s less of a trip hazard. So, if possible, go for a flushing fitting that can be set into a tiled floor that is on a slight gradient to allow the water to drain, or a very shallow tray.
Bit of a cautionary tale this one. When we redid our shower room, the builder suggested we have underfloor heating. We weren’t having a shower tray but were installing a drain in the tiled floor (see above). It’s a tiny room and underfloor heating wouldn’t have cost that much. We didn’t do it because we didn’t dare spend any more money and, we figured, it’s not a very cold room so the heated towel rail would be sufficient. WELL, here’s the thing. Underfloor heating dries the water up more quickly and stops it sitting on the floor making limescale and being slippery until it has evaporated. We should have. We didn’t. Coulda, shoulda, woulda if we’d realised.
You always need more than you think. It’s like sockets in the kitchen. You might think you’re going to exist in a minimalist haven of beautifully packaged bottles and jars but you ain’t. At some point that giant bargain size bottle of shampoo just isn’t going to be decanted. And you have to put that huge bag of cotton wool somewhere. Think about installing a niche in the shower for the things you need every day. You can have it light with LED lighting strips which will make a really good feature of it. Then make sure you have cupboards or shelves built elsewhere. You will need them.
Finally, talking of lighting. Don’t assume it has to be just plain downlighters. Do you want a dimmer? Do you want the light to come on automatically in the shower? Do you want a chandelier? There are lots of options. Some years ago we were staying in a hotel with a shower that had different coloured lights that changed in rotation as well as a radio. My husband and I found it quite stressful but the 12-year-old, who was then about seven, called it the Disco Shower and it was very hard to get him out of it. If you want to understand more about getting the lighting right in the bathroom then you might want to read that post.
All of these bathrooms are by Ripples, feeling inspired?