Designing adult, children’s shower spaces

Small yet distinct differences exist in showers for adults and those for children, which is a fact that became clearer in the past six months. During my last trimester of pregnancy and within the two months after I had my little girl, I’ve spent plenty of time in the bathroom and learned what works as an adult, especially as a pregnant woman, and how a child’s bathroom could be designed to adjust as children grow.

Designing a shower for adults can be summed up in a few simple basics. Then, based on individual needs and wants, it certainly can get more complex. Basic shower-space requirements for adults would include the following:

  • A 36- by 48-inch shower or larger would be ideal. This would allow for most adults to turn around and bend over without feeling too confined.
  • A showerhead with multispray function, good water volume and water pressure installed specific to the owner’s height or at a standard height of about 72 inches is appropriate.
  • A slip-resistant shower floor should be installed.
  • Decorative wall tile is where you can have some fun with patterns and textures, but make sure it’s not something your clients will tire of quickly.
  • A soap and shampoo shelf should be installed approximately 66 inches from the floor.
  • Luxury showers quickly are taking over what used to be occupied by whirlpools in master bathrooms. If you are remodeling for added resale value, it would be wise to add some body sprays and dual showerheads—one fixed showerhead and one adjustable-height unit.

One more item to add to every shower is a bench. While pregnant, I wondered why these aren’t more common. A bench would allow clients to sit or use it as a footrest when washing or shaving their legs. The bench could be at the back end of the shower space. If the shower is too small to accommodate a bench, a large corner shelf installed at 18-inches high can be used as a footrest. Imagine being nine-months pregnant and having to bend over around that big belly to wash your legs or trying to balance on one leg.

Having two teenage boys and now a two-month old daughter, it’s more apparent than ever how the shower for children needs to grow with them through their infant to teen years. The following should be considered when designing a shower for children:

  • A shower should be at least 36 by 48 inches. If you’re remodeling, however, and there is an existing tub, use the entire area for the new shower.
  • Easy maintenance is key to a child’s shower, so use materials with smooth texture and small grout lines.
  • Use slip-resistant floors but not with too much texture in case of sensitive feet.
  • Install an adjustable showerhead so the height can be changed with the child’s physical height. Because children are rough on items, be sure to install a sturdy brand.
  • Frameless shower doors would be best, but in some cases I prefer using shower curtains because they can be replaced as needed, and you don’t have to rely on children to keep the glass streak-free. If using shower curtains, hang two curtains on a single rod to ensure there is plenty of material to cover the shower opening.
  • A good ventilation system can draw out the moisture after each use. I’m not quite sure what the reasoning is, but my teenagers take multiple showers throughout the day, and when they walk out, the mirrors are dripping from condensation. All that moisture needs to be evacuated, and teens don’t always remember to turn on the fan. If they do, they forget to turn it off. Use a ventilation system with a moisture sensor or one with automatic shut-off.

Have fun with colors and patterns in the shower, but once again don’t go too crazy because children grow quickly and they might become tired of it or grow out of it.

Whether a shower is for adults or for children, the key is to customize it for the users. With that in mind, it makes sense that a child’s shower should be designed so the space will grow with them.

Lisa Loushin, president of Haute Kitchens, Plymouth, Minn., has been in the kitchen and bath design industry for more than 20 years. She has been a featured guest on the DIY Network’s “Kitchen Renovations” program, where her expertise helped create a dream kitchen. Loushin has served locally for the NKBA as vice president of communications, long-range planner and as a two-term chapter president and certified instructor.

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