Accessories for the Bathroom

When designing a bathroom, always consider client lifestyle. Think about grooming habits, bathroom size, room style, i.e., traditional, contemporary, rustic or cottage style. Will the bathroom be for daily maintenance or used as a place of retreat? And what about accessories that make it personal? Those are the icing on the cake.

Bathroom accessories are available in a myriad of options, from specialty hand showers to matching components to fixtures and faucets, towel warmers, specialty mirror frames, mirrored medicine cabinets, matching lighting fixtures and specialty shelving. All of these products add aesthetic beauty to the room, while enhancing functionality.

Bathroom safety

Another consideration when planning the bathroom is safety. Many products designed to meet ADA specifications have also been styled with great care. Grab bars are now offered in a variety of popular finishes and specific styling to meet any bathroom style. Shower seats now move away from the clinical institutional designs to the beautiful built-in tile, granite or solid surface materials designed as corner seating or bench-style seating. The size and design can be custom fit to an individual’s needs. Wooden seats can be quite comfortable, as well as functional, yet stand up to everyday use. A wooden shower floor insert extends comfort to the feet while allowing for proper drainage.

Designer hand grips that affix to the side of the tub by a strong suction system are ideal for assistance getting in and out of the tub/shower. Some hand-held showerheads by Alsons are designed to be used as safety grab bars as well. Moen’s Securemount grab bar systems allow for easy grab bar installation not involving studs. Utilizing the principles of physics, its D-shape anchor is precision engineered for optimal bracing behind the wall. This design offers flexibility so the decorative bar may be placed to meet an individual’s need.

Whatever type of grab bar is used, follow National Kitchen and Bath Association planning guidelines to ensure proper placement. Grab bars in the tub/shower area should be placed at least 33 to 36-in. above the floor and must be 1¼ to 2 in. in diameter and extend 1½ in. from the wall. Grab bars should be at least 24 in. in length and support a minimum of 250 lbs. of pressure. And be sure to design proper wall structure in early planning stages to support grab bars that mount through the wall.

Proper planning

Bathroom accessory planning needs to begin at the onset of room design. By planning early, a decisive design can be created without looking mismatched or making the room appear cluttered. Begin by asking clients to select their favorite products to understand their tastes, wants and needs. As design progresses, a complete package of products, placement, functionality and aesthetics develops into a vision from which the bathroom, with all its amenities, becomes a reality.

The most popular and common practice used in the bath is matching hardware to the fixtures such as toilets, tubs and faucets. Many manufacturers have designed complete collections to ensure coordination. Accessories range from single, double and triple towel bars, robe hooks, valet hangers, tooth brush holders and soap dishes. Toilet tissue holders are available to match by using the standard spring form, pivot style or open-ended, vertical or floor-stand options. Pivoting mirrors, cabinet hardware, lighting sconces and shelving have also been added to the collections. Many options in styles and finishes are available, including some “out of the box” designs such as a jewelry collection by Edgar Berebi.

For bathroom retreats, heated towel bars are wonderful additions. Once again, optional finishes and specialty styling are available. This is one product that definitely needs to be considered at the onset of the design. If a heated floor is in the plan, a hydronic towel warmer can be connected to that system with ¾-in. copper compression valves. Should an electric towel warmer be preferred, the electrical contractor will need to be advised of the placement to ensure a 120-volt line is available. The Myson line carries a nice selection of contemporary and traditional warmers in several sizes, including the smallest model as a shelf for rolled towels.

Mirrors, mirrors on the wall

Mirrors come in all shapes and sizes: full-wall, floor-length for dressing areas, oval-shaped vanity mirrors that tilt up and down, or free-standing magnifying mirrors. Mirrors placed around large tubs will seemingly increase the size of the room, and add ambiance at the same time. Decorative mirror framing is a great way to add to the charm of the bathroom and is one more way to pull a room’s theme together. Moen offers a product called Mirrorscapes that transforms a plain, plate-glass mirror into an absolute vision with an innovative framing system which gives the appearance of a custom-made frame. Mirrorscapes is available in a variety of metallic and wood finishes coordinating with faucets and cabinetry.

The Kohler Co. and Robern offer unique mirror/medicine cabinet combinations. These cabinets can be ganged or stacked to create customized sizes. Side reflection lighting is available, as well as integrated night lighting which casts a subtle blue light from the bottom of the cabinet. For that bath retreat, how about adding their cold-storage mirrored cabinet? The M Series offers discreet sophistication along with the ability to keep items chilled. Those organic-natural cosmetics, special medications which need refrigeration or that special bottle of champagne for those relaxing moments, can be stored at different temperatures to meet a product’s recommended storage temperatures. Electrical outlets are provided as well.

Tub, shower space

Adding shower space to a standard tub/shower or the nostalgic claw-foot tub is as simple as using a curved shower curtain rod; it adds needed elbow room. They typically are available in the three popular finishes of chrome, brushed nickel and old-world bronze, and fit showers between 54 and 72 in. in length.

One product not typically thought of as an accessory is a hand-held shower. Hansgrohe offers a unique ensemble called Axor Starck X. It is a shower faucet that includes a waterfall showerhead and a hand wand system with clean lines and a flat appearance that make it almost blend into the wall. The effect is reinforced with shower controls and shelves that are tucked neatly into the side of the panel away from view. With complementary accessories and superb functionality, it allows one to create a bathroom in the true sense of contemporary.

Regardless of the design theme, consistency and simplicity are the keys to beautiful results. Adding too many items will take away from the beauty of the products and the room design itself. A simple corner unit with a soothing portable waterfall and some coordinating candles around a tub deck may be just the key to the smaller bathroom retreat; while on a larger scale, many of these items will find their place within a well-planned-out design. Accessories should enhance the design, not take away from what should be a private grooming oasis.