The concept of a future-proof home has broadened its appeal in the past decade. It used to be something that we only considered inour advancing years, but the evolution of design and a greater awareness of the long-term benefits have influenced a significant shiftin mindset. Instead of treating the idea as an afterthought, many people are adopting a forward-thinking approach which ensures that a home never requires a costly and disruptive retrofit. Today’s future-proof living is all about a layout that works at every stage of life, providing multigenerational use.
As a space where safety in use is critical, the bathroom is subject to many of the most important design decisions in any future-proof home. It needs to be an environment that maximises accessibility and comfort whilst offering support for those that need it most.
In the past, there has been a common perception that facilities which aid mobility are aesthetically incompatible with the finer details of contemporary bathroom design. Many people have come to realise that the opposite is true. Shower facilities are a perfect example. Traditional shower baths and shower trays are often cumbersome, with a high clearance that makes them more difficult to access for those of restricted mobility. They are increasingly being replaced by less obstructive alternatives: wet rooms and level-access showers that provide frictionless floorspace throughout the bathroom.
Wet rooms provide a slight gradient in the floor that directs the water into a small drainage point, which means the whole floor can become wet, especially with high-output showers. That can be problematic in terms of laborious cleaning and maintenance, hygiene issues and risk of slipping. We advocate a less hazardous and more efficient option in the form of a level-access shower which has a built-in drainage catchment space below the floor level. Rather than spreading across the bathroom, the water falls through a grille which sits flush to the rest of the floor, with no gradient required to effect drainage.
Well placed support fittings can enhance comfort and assist mobility to provide a facility suitable for a lifetime of use. In the past, these types of fixture have carried a negative association as features that make a bathroom look like a clinical or institutional environment rather than a homely, domestic setting. Much of the blame for that perception can be attributed to a lack of imagination on the part of manufacturers. The rare examples of high-end products have tended to come at significant extra cost, with a premium price on materials like chrome.
Thankfully, this rule of thumb no longer applies if you know where to look. Investments in product development, advanced manufacturing techniques and value engineering have enabled a wide range of superior options in an affordable price range, so a stylish and modern inclusive bathroom needn’t come with a price tag which is anything but inclusive.
Powder coating techniques have improved the quality and diversity of the finishes available on the market, including metallic styles such as chrome-effect. Vibrant contemporary colours can add a burst of brightness to complement the monochrome style of many modern interior schemes. That strong visual contrast is a hugely beneficial feature when the eyesight deteriorates in later years.
When designing a future-proof bathroom, we should never lose sight of its primary purpose to provide safety, comfort and ease of access. Thankfully, that purpose no longer compromises visual appeal, making it possible to have a facility which can be used by everyone, as well as admired by everyone. With the right choices, we can create a bathroom that provides timeless style and timeless use.