Mad About . . .

10 Things to Think About Before You Install a Shower

4th August 2016
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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.

YOUR LIFESTYLE

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Hansgrohe available from Ripples

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).

YOUR OPTIONS

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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

Axor LampShower (4)

Hansgrohe available from Ripples

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

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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.

THE SPACE

ripples shower

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.

THE LAYOUT 

Ambience 2

Hansgrohe available from Ripples

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.

THE APPROACH

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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.

THE HEATING 

BetteFloor anthrazit pi

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.

THE STORAGE

Rusthall House Master Ensuite-4

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.

THE LIGHTING

Rusthall-House-Master-Ensuite-3

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?

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  • Kim Clark 1st November 2016 at 4:02 am

    Wow very beautifule. I really love it!
    One more thing to think about is choosing accessories for the bathroom, especially the shower. A shower is a very personal experience, and it is a very personal choice. Some people consider the shower in their home as a practical aspect, a simple way to wash quickly when there is no time to soak in the bath. For others, the shower is an indulgent experience. It is where you can refresh, relax and be prepared for the new day or night. Even though a shower is faster than a bath, it does not mean that it should not be satisfactory.

  • Larry Adkins 6th September 2016 at 8:05 am

    Wow, Such an Awesome post, got to know a lot about shower heads customization, its time to customize my bathroom 🙂

  • Niels 4th August 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Wow.. all the showers are so inspirational. I love the shower under “THE APPROACH”, where have you found that image? It is the most spectacular shower I have ever seen!

  • Bilyana 28th June 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Really cool designs, I love black marble in a bathroom. It looks very luxuries and stylish. Thanks for the lovely post!

  • Stella 21st April 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Aren’t those Bette Floors marvellous? They also come with an anti slip coating and the drains can either go bang in the centre or to the side centre (which I prefer).

  • Jo 20th April 2016 at 3:00 pm

    These are great tips and such beautiful showers! Thanks for sharing.

  • Rosie 20th April 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Really useful info here Kate thank you. We’re planning on re-doing our titchy Victorian bathroom. The bath is definitely going to be replaced with a walk-in shower this time. Although the room is so small your knees touch the bath when you’re using the loo. Compact and bijou.

  • Sandra Nilsson 20th April 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Great post – we have two new bathrooms. One is in marble and black granite and I just love it. Here in Sweden most newish bathrooms have both an overhead shower (jungle shower as my husband calls it) and a hand held shower that fits on the shower fitting as well. This gives you the best of both Worlds. It is so much easier to Clean the shower when you can use the hand held bit. We have two glass doors and I usually Clean these after my shower – not every time but every 3rd time or so. Both bathrooms have painted walls. We don’t even have tiles behind the wash basins. I Think a completely tiled bathroom can look too Clinical. Underfloor heating is pretty much the norm in any new build here in Sweden and it is Lovely to have a warm floor in the shower and when you step out of it.
    By the way I am an Australian living in Sweden and I grew up in houses with freezing bathrooms in Australia- no heating at all in those Days.

  • Tegan 20th April 2016 at 1:46 pm

    I would kill for that bathroom, period. I have dreamt of a shower like that for forever, it’s so beautiful. But I will never afford it! 🙁

  • Steph 20th April 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Bravo! As a long time sales manager for the Kohler Company and sister companies, I applaud all of this. Not sure I need disco lighting to keep my 15-year-old in the shower any longer, though! ha! I think in-floor heating is magical and STRONGLY recommend it. Spent 10 days in Norway last summer and every location had it. Brilliant. Keep up the great work!

  • Nicole 20th April 2016 at 11:56 am

    and the hand held shower, don’t forget the hand held shower. Not to clean the human but to clean the glass shower screen!

  • Lianne 20th April 2016 at 10:43 am

    fantastic, thank you, that is all really helpful and some nice inspiration too. Love the smooth, non-tiled black shower floor, will go on a hunt to find that.

  • Taste of France 20th April 2016 at 9:40 am

    Brilliant post. My city requires a tray on showers above ground floor (though I saw pictures of a local B&B that didn’t do it–but my impression is they did all the renovation themselves and didn’t get permits for any of it). If you want a flat, walk-in shower, the tray has to go into the thickness of the floor.
    My first thought is always about cleaning. Things that look perfect in styled photos will look terrible in real life if not kept up with constant work. If a person has other priorities than several-times-a-day touchups, then find a realistic design that looks good despite real life. A single person or a couple can manage to keep things clean. Throw in anybody who qualifies as a dependent on tax forms and the game is about controlling chaos.

  • Corinne Twining 20th April 2016 at 9:06 am

    Brilliant, Kate. Real bathroom designers know where it’s at

  • Vivienne 20th April 2016 at 8:36 am

    I totally agree about having a hand held attachment in a shower with a huge showered. We inherited a beautiful bathroom; underfloor heating/tv/ huge bath by the window, steam shower with colour changing lights, etc. But the shower is a pain to clean, because there is no shower hose to rinse off all the cleaning products in the corners. It would have been such an easy thing to put in when the room was designed, but now would involve hacking off tiles.

  • Fiona Duke 20th April 2016 at 7:35 am

    absolutely fantastic post today. loved it. totally with you on the underfloor heating piece. i will so be doing this when this bathroom gets a revamp
    thank you 🙂

  • Diane 20th April 2016 at 7:19 am

    Hi Kate

    Where water pressure is concerned, it’s not the mains pressure entering the house you need to focus on, it’s the water pressure leaving the boiler. If you have an older boiler – one that doesn’t reset automatically when the clocks change for example – then it won’t cope with the demands of modern plumbing. Most taps have restrictor valves to prevent scalding and inhibitors to prevent scale build up, these make for very sensitive fittings that will result in a trickle of water coming from the shower instead of the gushing flow the clients expect. I’ve had this with several clients recently and the only real solution is to upgrade the boiler at the same time as doing the bathroom.

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