History of showers

Showers have been around for as long as people have, but not in the form we recognise today. Ancient people discovered that washing under a waterfall was far more effective than simply bathing in standing water. They then tried to imitate this phenomenon by pouring jugs and barrels of water over themselves. It is thought that the ancient Greeks were the first to invent what we think of today as actual showers; first it is thought that the elite Greeks would have their servants pour water of them in specially designed shower rooms, and then they invented the plumbing that allowed them to have hot running ‘waterfalls’ in their own homes. The Romans soon followed suit. These two ancient civilizations were very proud of their personal hygiene and believed in bathing almost every day, if not every single day.
It seems strange, then, that showers did not come into common usage in households in Britain until the late nineteenth century, and even then they were installed in very few households. Showering is actually a relatively new phenomenon in today’s Western world. The reasons for this are complex. Firstly, it is thought that after the fall of the Roman Empire and the growth of Christianity, regular washing was considered to be taboo for religious reasons. Hot water was also not as freely available as it is today, so many people preferred to heat kettles to have baths rather than have cold showers.
However, after several outbreaks of diseases such as cholera in the nineteenth century, public health became a major concern. Scientists realised that regular washing could prevent disease, and gradually the taboo against regular washing disappeared and it became common for people to bathe more regularly. In the 1920s council houses with bathrooms were introduced, but they remained a luxury for many years. Even in the 1960s there were many homes without a bathroom at all, never mind a shower, which made daily washing very impractical.
Hand pumped showers were actually around even in the late nineteenth century, but they were only owned by the most affluent members of society. What we think of as the shower today was invented by William Feetham in 1767, but didn’t come into common usage until after more than two hundred years! It was only in the late twentieth century that showers finally became popular, but once they did they quickly became more popular than baths.
Today, showering is seen as a far quicker and more hygienic way of washing than having a bath. Because most people wash on a daily basis, it has become necessary to have a quick and easy method of thoroughly washing. Bathing is still common, but has come to be seen as an activity for relaxation rather than practical purposes. For this reason, many households have replaced their baths with shower enclosures (walk in shower enclosures are becoming very popular), and baths are becoming the exception rather than the rule. Unless a bathroom is particularly large, it is unlikely that a bath would even be considered as part of its design.

Walk in shower enclosures

Personally, I’m a big advocate of walk in shower enclosures. I’d really like to see them replacing every other type of shower enclosure in the near future; they’re just so much more convenient!
Consider this: could there be anything more annoying in the bathroom than that little area underneath the door that you can never reach with a cloth and that always develops mold! Some shower enclosures have these little ledges all the way around that you can never properly get into. I’m not an absolute clean-freak or anything, but it really does annoy me to be able to see mold as I’m showering. It just feels unhygienic. With a walk in shower enclosure there are only clean lines that are easy to clean and don’t have the same tendency to develop mold in the first place, as water doesn’t have anywhere to puddle.
I also find that many shower trays aren’t really properly designed to allow all of the water to drain out. More often than not, there is always a little bit left over lying in the tray. Again, this is unhygienic and the stagnant water encourages the shower tray to develop mold. I also absolutely hate the process of having to clean a shower tray. It always seems to involve getting down on your hands and knees and scrubbing it. With walk in shower enclosures, you simply clean the floor of your shower the way you do the rest of your floor; probably with a mop, and comfortably standing up. Because the floor slopes down to the drain, all of the water handily drains out.
Having to step in and out of the shower is also an irritating, because I find that I’m forever stubbing my toe on the edge of the shower or tripping over my own towel and falling out. Maybe I’m particularly clumsy, but I can’t be the only person who finds that a little inconvenient. Again, with a walk in shower enclosure you avoid this problem. The other great thing is that you don’t have to actually get out of the shower to dry yourself, which means you don’t have to soak the rest of the bathroom while you’re doing it. You simply turn the water off and grab your towel. With the normal shower enclosure you’d have to turn the water off, open the door and then scramble in an undignified manner to get your towel while trying not to drip all over the rest of the floor.
If I find all of this inconvenient, I can only imagine any family with young children or elderly people would find it doubly as inconvenient. I can’t imagine attempting to bathe a young child in a shower enclosure; you’d have to leave the door open and soak yourself and most of the floor in the process. I imagine it would probably be easier to try and wash your children in the basin! For the elderly, it’s even more inconvenient to think of having to bend down and scrub all those little moldy areas.
Overall, it’s just so much easier to choose a walk in shower enclosure, and they just so happen to look great too. They are, without a doubt, the best type of shower enclosure.

Our day at the Bath Store

I’ve never really considered myself to be ‘into’ interior design or anything, but it’s funny how things can change once you buy a house. My husband and I bought a nice old tenement flat recently for a very decent price. It didn’t need major redesign or anything, but its fittings were a little shabby. I just couldn’t face scraping the mildew off the bathroom taps, so I decided we should just get new ones and we headed to the Bath Store to pick some out.
Of course, things never go the way you plan them, and as soon as we got to the Bath Store I had a funny feeling I wouldn’t be satisfied leaving with just taps. Their bathrooms made ours look beyond shabby, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before. Our suite was actually dark beige; that nasty colour of a seventies bathroom. There was peeling wallpaper everywhere and ripped lino on the floor. There was an unfortunate lingering odour that I think had got into the floorboards. But as I said, having never owned my own home before I’d never really paid much attention to the finer points of my bathroom.
We strolled around the aisles of the Bath Store and ideas began to fill my head. What if we got rid of that horrid old frosted glass window and let some light in (after all, no one can see you on the third floor)? What if we lifted up that nasty lino and sanded down the floorboards to reveal their former glory? What if we tiled all the walls and installed a cool walk-in shower? What if we got a big roll-top bath instead of that shabby little beige number? If anything, the Bath Store had given me too many ideas. I had so many visions for the bathroom that I couldn’t actually decide what I really wanted.
My husband, ever the sensible one, agreed that we probably did need a new bathroom but that we should choose a few things we liked and measure them, then go home and try to picture the fittings in our bathroom before we went ahead and bought anything. I took some measurements and grabbed a catalogue so I wouldn’t forget how things looked, and we headed home to have a good look at our scabby old bathroom.
It took a while to choose between all the options available, but eventually I decided to go for a traditional bathroom to go with the style of a traditional tenement flat. We had the frosted glass window taken out and replaced with a proper clear window, and the light streamed in. We had the horrible old suite taken away and replaced with a shiny new, but traditional style Edwardian suite. I painted the walls bright red (which you may think is a little much for a bathroom, but actually it suits the style perfectly) and had some funky black and white tiles installed. Now that I’ve started on the bathroom, I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the house!

Concealed cisterns for small bathrooms

Most people these days have close coupled toilets, and have never considered installing any other kind of toilet. Close coupled toilets are where concealed cisterns are attached to the back of the toilet bowl for convenient and easy flushing. However, toilet cisterns actually take up quite a bit of room and that makes all the difference in a very small bathroom. Have you ever considered how much space you would free up if your toilet cistern was concealed?
One way of doing this is to have your toilet wall hung. This means that the cistern is concealed within the wall, and the toilet bowl simply hangs onto the wall itself. Ultimately this frees up a lot of room in any bathroom, and also looks very chic and contemporary. It does involve quite a major amount of work, as the wall needs to be opened up in order to have the cistern embedded in it, and also needs to be strengthened in order to take the weight of a person. If you are in the middle of doing a major renovation of your bathroom anyway, it’s a great time to consider a wall hung toilet. Once the work is done, it’s done, and you will no doubt reap the benefits in terms of space for many years to come.
Another way of concealing the toilet cistern is to have it embedded into a vanity unit or cabinet. While this doesn’t technically free up the space the cistern occupied in your bathroom, it does tend to create more space by fitting storage space tightly around the toilet cistern. This is space that would otherwise have gone unused. With the toilet cistern embedded into a vanity unit, the toilet bowl itself simply hangs from the front of the vanity unit, making the whole thing one piece of bathroom furniture. The vanity unit is attached to the wall for security, so that the whole thing can take the weight of someone sitting on it.
It’s a great idea to have both your toilet and your basin embedded into a vanity unit. It simply means that instead of plumbing taking up space, it is neatly hidden away, and all the space around it can be used to pack bathroom accessories into.
Of course, space saving is not the only reason to consider concealed cisterns. It is also a very simple way of creating a more sleek-looking, minimalist bathroom. A bidet can be put side by side with a toilet with a concealed cistern in larger bathrooms, creating a particularly luxurious atmosphere. You could also choose to have both toilet and bidet attached to one of the very stylish continuous bathroom vanity units that are now available, perhaps one that even takes up the whole length of one bathroom wall.

Create the illusion of space in a small bathroom

Without extending your bathroom, it is not possible to actually get more space in your small bathroom. However, how small the bathroom feels depends a lot on its furniture and design. While you can’t improve your bathroom’s space, you can definitely create the illusion of space.
The first step in going about this is having a good look at your bathroom. The room will be a certain shape and the plumbing will be in certain places limiting your options as to how you can change it (of course you can change the plumbing if you wish, but this would be a larger job). Look at your bathroom carefully and, if necessary, draw a plan of it so that you can see it clearly. It’s essential to use your space properly in a small bathroom, so figure out exactly where your toilet, shower and basin should go.
You may be able to fit your shower into a smaller space than you thought. Have you considered having a quadrant shaped shower? This is where the shower is basically fit into a corner and cut across at a diagonal to make the door. You can then choose to have a bi folding door attached, so that it only requires a swing of half its width to open (and it can open either inwards or outwards, whichever is more spacious). If you happen to have a square space where it seems the shower should go, you can also choose to have inward or outward bi-folding doors attached to this, again saving space. You might be surprised by how much sleeker it is to have a shower door that doesn’t bang into anything on its way out.
Remember that you can choose to have a miniature basin rather than a full-sized one. Miniature basins function just as well as bigger ones, and are perfectly suitable for all bathroom purposes. You can either have them attached to the wall, so that the plumbing is hidden inside, or attached to a vanity unit to combine your basin with storage. Generally, all bathrooms require storage space, even the tiniest ones. Bathroom vanity units come in all sizes and colours so that they are suitable for any bathroom and allow you to cleverly conceal plumbing while storing your bathroom accessories at the same time.
Bathroom vanity units are a great way to conceal your toilet cistern.  This is just as simple as it sounds. The cistern sits within the cabinet, while the toilet bowl is attached to the front. The whole vanity unit is attached securely to the wall so that it can take the weight of the sitter. This can look just as tidy and compact as a wall hung toilet, but requires far less effort to install. Wall hung toilets have to have concealed cisterns embedded into the actual wall, and the wall itself has to be strengthened in order to support the weight of a person, which requires a great deal of renovation as you can imagine. They can be a great solution for a very small bathroom, however.

Bathroom cabinets and storage options

It is essential in every bathroom to have a great deal of storage. Most people keep quite a lot of things in the bathroom which they would rather not have on display. Cleaning products such as bleach, for example, shavers and personal hygiene products do not exactly make for great design features. Luckily, most contemporary bathroom designs incorporate some great storage options too.
But first of all, here’s a quick guide to what you definitely shouldn’t do when it comes to bathroom storage. On occasion, I have seen shelving above baths. Now, while this could work if it was very well designed, generally shelving above baths is quite dangerous and unnecessary. The steam from the hot bath can make the objects on the shelf slippery and cause them to fall off. The steam will also cause the wood of the shelf to degenerate and rot, which means that the shelf itself can easily fall off. An over-bath shelf is also prone to becoming mouldy, and can be very difficult to clean.
Another place you should never put storage is in front of the door. In very small bathrooms, you may have no other space, but you should always turn to other options before obstructing the door space in any way. Even a tiny bathroom should not feel cramped in any way. Whatever you do, do not place bathroom cabinets and storage on the wall at head height in front of the door. This of course causes anyone entering to bang their heads.
So what should you do for bathroom storage? Well, with a contemporary bathroom, bathroom cabinets and storage shouldn’t be a problem at all. There are plenty of bathroom cabinets and storage available from The Bath Store which incorporate basins and mirrors. The toilet itself can even be made to be part of a vanity unit, with the cistern kept inside. The basin plumbing is conveniently hidden within the unit, leaving plenty of space inside to keep bathroom essentials. These vanity units come in all shapes, sizes and colours to suit every bathroom. They are especially useful for very small bathrooms where space is at a premium. Most bathrooms require a mirror, so why not use the space behind the mirror as storage space? Mirrored cabinets have always been a great way to use that space as bathroom storage.
However, with traditional types of bathroom much of the bathroom furniture is freestanding, and the plumbing is designed to be exposed on purpose. This does not leave much room for storage space. In this case, it is even more necessary to utilise the above-basin mirror and cabinet combination. In vintage bathrooms it is also often a good idea to bring in a separate piece of traditional furniture to house bathroom accessories and towels. Otherwise, you could choose to have a combination of contemporary and vintage pieces in your bathroom. This means that you could pair a functional and spacious contemporary vanity unit along with your heritage bathroom suite; combining the ease and convenience of modern furniture with the elegance of vintage.

Save space in your bathroom with a bi fold shower enclosure

Are you struggling with the type of clumsy bathroom where your shower door opens onto your sink, and you have to practically climb over the toilet in order to leave the room? It sounds as though you need a bathroom redesign, because even tiny bathrooms can be elegant with the right features.
If you have a full-sized basin in your tiny bathroom, this is an immediate mistake. Nowadays there are loads of great miniature basins on offer for smaller bathrooms, and there really is no need to have a large basin in a bathroom. After all, a tiny basin can perform the same functions just as well. Smaller basins also look more elegant and suited to the space.

Another mistake is to have a separate three piece suite in a very small bathroom. In days gone by, everyone would try to jam a bath, toilet and full sized basin into a small bathroom, but we have now learned that this does not make good design or functional sense. I would advise not to have a bath at all in a small bathroom, but if you are very attached to your bath then why not consider having a miniature bath installed? These are the same depth as a normal bath, but shorter. Most people don’t actually need the full length of a normal bath anyway.  It could also be worth installing a bi-fold shower enclosure as these can save a great deal of space compared to a standard shower enclosure.
Your toilet can also be reduced in size by combining it with another piece of bathroom furniture. For example, a toilet can nowadays be attached to a vanity unit where you can keep all your bathroom accessories tidily tucked away. The cistern is concealed within the vanity unit, making the whole piece look far tidier and more compact. You could also consider installing a wall-hung toilet in your very small bathroom. A wall-hung toilet is where the cistern is embedded into the wall itself, and the toilet bowl is attached to and held up by the wall. It does involve strengthening the wall, as it will have to be able to take the weight of a person sitting on it. However, having the toilet cistern embedded into the wall can save a great deal of space.
Finally, it’s very important to consider the shape of shower enclosures and shower trays if you have a very small bathroom. You may have been fooled into thinking that the most compact shape for a shower is a simple square, but in fact a square shower enclosure takes up quite a lot of room. The best shape for a small bathroom is actually a quadrant shower enclosure; this takes up the least floor space. If you happen to have a square-shaped area in your bathroom into which it would be perfect to fit a shower, that’s fine. Simply install a square shaped shower enclosure with bi fold doors. Bi fold shower enclosures are where the doors fold in on themselves rather than opening out, greatly saving on bathroom space.
As you can see, there really are plenty of great options available for even the tiniest of bathrooms. There is no need to have a cluttered, jam-packed bathroom any longer. Get down to your nearest bathroom showroom to have a look at the options available.

Bathroom inspiration from The Bathroom Store

Whether you’re looking for an ultra-modern and minimalist or romantic and glamorous traditional bathroom, there’s inspiration available from The Bathroom Store in five different styles.
Their first inspirational idea is the wetroom. Basically, wetrooms are bathrooms that have been waterproofed to allow walk in shower enclosures to be installed. Although this sounds like a substantial task, it is actually easier to install than it sounds. In fact, the whole room doesn’t need to be waterproof, only the area where the water hits. The shower is placed behind a glass panel known as a wetroom panel or walk-in shower enclosure, while the floor of the shower area itself gently slopes down to allow the shower to drain. This means that the rest of the room does not need to be waterproof, but the illusion of the fully waterproof room remains. Sometimes only for design reasons homeowners will choose to have the whole bathroom made waterproof anyway. Tiles and waterproof laminate flooring are becoming more and more popular choices for bathrooms even without walk in showers. The wetroom is an incredibly stylish idea, especially for larger bathrooms, and really gives a bathroom a stunning contemporary edge.
The second inspirational idea from The Bathroom Store is the timeless traditional bathroom with vintage fittings such as a freestanding bath and traditional towel rail. There are various types of traditional bathroom design available from The Bathroom Store including the Imperial, Heritage, TC Bathrooms and Burlington Bathrooms ranges. Heritage bathrooms are perennially popular, perhaps because of their pure luxuriousness. Contemporary bathrooms look great, but their clean, straight lines can often seem somewhat clinical compared to the curving indulgence of a traditional bathroom suite.
Beyond the traditional bathroom, however, The Bathroom Store offer the luxury bathroom as the ultimate example of bathroom glamour. These bathrooms are designed to be everything you could ever need in a bathroom. They are spacious and softly carpeted, with wonderful floor to ceiling windows and freestanding baths. These bathroom designs have been created to show you what is truly possible in bathroom design. The bathroom no longer has to be a purely functional room; turn your bathroom into a luxury suite with The Bathroom Store.
Of course The Bathroom Store does understand that not everyone has the space for a huge, indulgent luxury bathroom, but they have accommodated for this with their cloakroom bathroom designs. Just because your bathroom is small, doesn’t mean it can’t look great. You just have to accommodate for its size in your bathroom design with extra small sized basins and wall-hung toilets or concealed cisterns. There is plenty of compact bathroom furniture available today that can allow you to fit an extra bathroom into the smallest of spaces, and a tiny bathroom can be just as beautiful as a large one.
As you can see, there is a bathroom for every state of mind, budget and space at The Bathroom Store. Have a look at their website for images of the bathroom types discussed, and for even more inspirational ideas.

Why choose a walk in shower enclosure?

Walk in shower enclosures are slightly more unusual than the shower trays more commonly used in today’s bathrooms, so what makes them different, and why do some people choose to walk into their showers while others like to step in?
Well, firstly because the walk in shower does not have an actual ‘tray’ to hold the water in, it often means that the overall flooring of a bathroom with a walk in shower has to be waterproof. Many more people these days are choosing to have tiled or laminate floors anyway, so this is often not a problem. However, the inner part of the shower is sloped downwards so that the water flows down the drain rather than sitting in puddles on the surface of the floor.
While your first thought may be that the walk in shower would cause a slippery floor, in actual fact many elderly people choose to have walk in showers as they are actually less slippery and dangerous than step-in shower trays. Waterproof flooring can be made with a special non-slip surface, and this can be used for the floor of the actual shower area itself. It is easier to get in to a walk in shower, of course, as there is no stepping up required, and they are often more spacious inside which allows for easier movement and for the installation of shower seats. For the same reason, it can be more convenient and safer to have a walk in shower if you have young children.
However, walk in showers do tend to take up more room than shower enclosures. When there is no ‘edge’ to keep the water in, it tends to spread out further and take longer to swirl down to the drain. Practically, this means that the overall area of the shower cubicle has to be larger even though the floor itself is waterproof. There also has to be a certain area to allow for the gentle sloping of the floor to the drain. This is why people with small bathrooms most often opt for the shower tray option rather than the walk in shower.
Contemporary homes these days are being designed with bigger bathrooms than ever before. While once rooms like the kitchen and bathroom were relegated to secondary status, and fitted into whatever cupboard space was left after the main rooms of the house were accounted for, nowadays they are both being seen as social and family spaces and are being given space accordingly. The bathroom is not just a place for one person to use at a time; it is often a place for parents to wash their children, children to bathe together, and couples to perform their nightly routine together. Because of this increase in bathroom size, features like walk in shower enclosures, freestanding baths, bathroom cabinets and storage are being utilised more and more often.
With this change in attitude towards the bathroom, I predict that many more people with choose to have larger bathrooms installed, perhaps even sacrificing some space from other rooms, and larger bathroom features such as the walk in shower will take prominence.

Your secret design weapon: the towel rail

It is often the quirky, small details of a bathroom that make it stand out from the rest. This means that your choice of small items like taps is very important to the overall design of your bathroom. But how can you bring your bathroom from being just a ‘nice’ bathroom to being a ‘great’ bathroom? How can you put your own design stamp onto what is often a bathroom suite bought altogether from a showroom? Well, the towel rail is an overlooked feature that can actually bring a real level of sophistication to any bathroom.
When I say towel rail, I don’t mean the plain metal rail you may have now. I’m talking about a feature towel rail that is a beautiful object in its own right; not just designed to hold towels, but to be displayed. The boundary between heated towel rails and bathroom radiators is beginning to blur (generally a heated towel rail looks quite like a radiator anyway), so I will discuss both of these.
Some of the most beautiful towel rails/ radiators I have seen are the thin, vertical types. These are quite suitable for a very small bathroom as they take up hardly any space, and can look quite ‘art nouveau.’ Think of the thin, straight lines utilised by art nouveau designer Rennie Mackintosh. Because of this vintage connection, I feel that these types of towel rails for bathrooms are best suited to a vintage type of bathroom; an Edwardian or perhaps Victorian styled bathroom, with contemporary elements.
Another great idea for an old-fashioned or heritage type of bathroom is to make a feature of an old-fashioned column radiator. These can be bought in many contemporary varieties nowadays, so can be more or less thick as you wish, but you can also purchase an original, reconditioned column radiator. Bear in mind that these do take up quite a bit of space, so will only really be appropriate in larger bathrooms. Also, try not to overload your bathroom with large features. If you already have quite a few, it is perhaps best to stay away from the bulky column radiator.
Another option for the vintage styled bathroom is to have a traditional towel rail. Again, these are a great-looking design feature that goes best with either Edwardian or Victorian-type bathrooms. A traditional towel rail is basically a chrome rack with a small, mini-radiator attached to the middle to heat the towels. They resemble today’s electric towel rails (with the radiator in the middle), but have the added chic of being vintage.
In homes with a contemporary style, chrome ladder towel rails for bathrooms are great. They also have the added advantage of being very effective at heating up your towels, and what could be more comforting on a cold winter day? Chrome rails come in various different designs these days, all of which can be very striking and look great when installed next to one of the stylish bi fold shower enclosures that are now available. I particularly like black towel rails in a contemporary bathroom, however. They’re just that little bit more unusual and look great against white or light-coloured walls.