- When using an overhead rain showerhead, do not position the drain immediately below the rain head: The user will stand on the drain and flood the shower.
- When considering a trough drain in a second floor installation, work with the installers to determine how you are going to raise the bathroom floor height, allowing you then to slope the shower to the trough drain.
- A bench or foot rest is a must. I am distressed at how often I see a luxurious shower enclosure with no place for an adult to be seated – or at least rest their foot.
- If you are planning a steam shower, familiarize yourself with the porosity levels of the surround materials specified, and remember to lower the ceiling – and slant it. Realize that the bench may need to be wider if the principal steam shower user plans on lying down and enjoying the experience. Keep the steam generator head away from the user’s feet – a challenge in small, enclosed showers.
- And, yes – start including grab bars in every shower that you plan.
When it comes to design details, I suggest you consider the following:
- We often see wonderful bathing pools with delectable chandeliers above them. Check with your local code before specifying such a fixture. Some states do not allow a light fixture above a water fixture at all. Others allow a fixture above the tub, but list specific criteria from the finished floor to the bottom of the fixture. Find out what the rules are in your community.
- Lights placed on each side of a vanity need to be located based on the principle user’s height, as well as the design of the fixture. The light source should be placed at or near the user’s face/cheek level. This can be tricky because many fixtures have an electrical connection that is not in the center of the fixture.
- Always consider a heated floor in a bathroom space so that a nude user can enjoy a room that is warmer than the balance of the living areas planned for a clothed individual.
The Storage System
I always enjoy seeing beautiful bathrooms created by many of our respected fixture manufacturers. However, I must admit to being a bit perplexed about where all of the homeowner’s “grooming paraphernalia” is stashed when I see an elegant master bath with architecturally stunning lavatory consoles.
When there is no storage in or around the lavatory (sink) area, separate tall storage, a closet or other areas should be planned.
Flooring and Surfaces
Mentioned before – but so important – permit me to remind you that non-skid surfaces need to be planned for the floors. Indeed, a non-skid surface should be planned for the shower bench as well. Slippery surfaces, the lack of handrails/improper installation of grab bars, surface-mounted soap dish containers and faucets that do not control water temperature shifts are the greatest causes of accidents in the bathroom.
Consider honed or textured bench surfaces for the bather sitting in a slippery shower, or someone exiting the tub or shower and walking across the floor.
Planning a bathroom space starts with knowing who the user is, what the design preferences are, what favorite products have already been researched and what the budget is. Making a “good” bathroom “great” happens when the design professional spends extra time personalizing the space for the users’ morning grooming activities, storage needs and physical stature, while also being keenly focused on creating a safe environment.
Ellen Cheever, CMKBD, ASID, is a well-known author, designer, speaker and marketing specialist.
A member of the NKBA Hall of Fame, Cheever gained prominence in the industry early on as the author of two design education textbooks. She manages an award-winning design firm, Ellen Cheever & Associates, and has been part of the management team of several major cabinet companies.
This article is part of a quarterly series of “Designer’s Notebook” articles, which will continue to run throughout 2011 exclusively in Kitchen & Bath Design News.