The Toilet Area
It’s important to know the exact dimensions of the toilet specified for a project when locating this fixture. In the past, there was very little difference in size between well-engineered toilets and entry-level fixtures. Today, designer toilets are larger in width and dimension. Additionally, fixtures that combine some type of bidet seat are typically larger in width and depth to accommodate a larger seat opening to provide a comfortable, localized washing space for the user. These toilet/bidet fixtures also require an electrical line, and may have a wall-mounted remote control that must be placed so that the user can reach it.
New on the horizon for residential use are tankless toilets. There is still a tank, but it is concealed in a thicker wall behind the toilet. The fixture itself mounts on a hanging bracket so the toilet is completely off the finished floor. Some consider this a “contemporary” fixture, but it is a marvelous solution in any bath, most notably in small spaces. Visual volume to the space is added by the streamlined fixture, fitting snug against the wall and completely off the floor. The flushing mechanism mounts on the wall, and provides access to the tank concealed behind the toilet. Long a standard in Europe, this is great new possibility for North American bathrooms. For more information, visit www.geberit.com.
The Showering/Bathing Area
In master bathrooms, there is some discussion in the design community about eliminating bathtubs in place of larger, more spacious showers. If it’s a “trade-off” situation, a larger shower may be the best solution. However, I challenge anyone to really be “relaxed” when standing in a shower or sitting on a bench, back against a straight wall in a shower enclosure.
Alternatively, I see a trend towards smaller, freestanding bathtubs, or fixtures with a more modest surround. Reducing the size of the tub may leave enough floor space for a larger shower.
Several things to consider when placing these fixtures:
- The bathtub must be safe and easy to enter and exit. Place the fittings off-center to one side, along the front edge of the bathtub so it can be filled without leaning across the fixture. Include a hand-held shower head to make cleaning easy – and safe.
- Determine ahead of time if the bathtub will be under-mounted or surface-mounted. This will help you match the right bathtub to the right installation.
- If you are using a freestanding bathtub with no apron or ledge space nearby, plan a small piece of furniture for the soap dish, washcloth, glass of champagne or favorite magazine.
- If the bathtub is used for enjoying a restful moment, make sure the light fixtures are on dimmers so the level of light suits the tasks – whether grooming or relaxing.
- Plumbing manufacturers have done an excellent job teaching us about proper placement and water supply sizing for multi-head showers. Some additional key planning considerations include the following:
- If using a ceiling-mounted showerhead, make sure the ceiling is high enough to allow your clients to stand comfortably under the showerhead.
- When suggesting a curbless shower, make sure you calculate the drain capacity compared to the volume of water flowing in the shower when multiple heads are simultaneously in operation.
- When planning a shower bench, make sure the material has a slight texture – it’s more comfortable for the user. For showers without a bench, don’t forget the importance of a footrest in the shower.
- If using a chromatherapy light fixture in the shower, specify more than one to fill the compartment with light. These are all considerations that make bathroom planning more complex in many cases than kitchen planning.
Today, clients are creating master suite retreats, rather than master bedrooms with a bathroom. No longer just sleeping and grooming quarters, these new spaces incorporate a cozy sleeping area, organized dressing room and multi-zoned bathroom. Settling all the details at the planning stage is a critical element to success when planning such spaces.