Small but perfectly formed

Small but perfectly formed

With the size of the average UK bathroom getting smaller, yet the demands placed on this space in terms of design and function, what can be done to maximise on its potential, regardless of its footprint? Simon Boocock, CRL Managing Director, investigates.

The bathroom has become one of the most important rooms in the home and somewhere where consumers want to relax and unwind. Despite this, bathrooms are not getting any bigger. In fact, the average size of a bathroom in the UK is around 2.4m x 1.8m, which once all the essentials such as a WC, basin and shower or bath are in place, doesn’t leave a lot of room left over. This can make it challenging to design and plan a space that works visually and functionally, to create a relaxing, comfortable room. After all, regardless of their size, bathrooms are now very much an extension of our living spaces and regarded as a place of sanctuary and relaxation. 

An open-plan, wet room style showering area as an alternative to a bath is one effective way of achieving an almost spa-like finish in even the smallest of bathrooms. Gone are the days of bulky shower enclosures encroaching on space and creating a visual obstacle. A frameless shower enclosure is now a staple feature of many a bathroom, suited to any setting regardless of décor, with many homeowners looking to go one step further and opt for a full wet room.

Figures from AMA Research, suggest that wet rooms represent the fastest growing sector of the UK bathroom market, and it is growing at around 5-6% year on year. The AMA suggests that housebuilders are increasingly adding wet rooms to new-build private homes to ‘add value’ and attract buyers. Baths continue to be commonly specified in the main bathroom but the smaller second bathroom or en suite is now more likely to have a wet room installed, both for practical and aesthetic reasons.

While the end results speak for themselves both visually and practically, the reality of installing a true wet room, in terms of the tanking and drainage that is essential, can be extremely costly and time-consuming. Fortunately, there are solutions that can be used to create the wet room look without this expense, and without compromising on the overall results in any way. 

Due to technological innovations, modern frameless enclosures are available in a vast range of configurations that can be worked to the room’s advantage. From a steam room with floor to ceiling all-glass panels fixed by u-channels and connected with hinges and clamps, to a simple sliding door system or fixed glass panel supported by a stabilisation bar. The options are endless. 

From a design perspective, frameless shower enclosures are easy to customise, which makes this option a particularly good solution when dealing with awkward shapes and tight spaces. Conventional shower solutions such as ‘standard’ shower enclosures simply won’t work in bathrooms that are anything but ‘standard’ in shape. In bathrooms situated under the eaves in a loft or between an alcove, a standard hinged shower enclosure of around 800mm x 800mm or thereabouts is not going to fit. Even pre-cut frameless screens could still result in problems with fitting a shower into a specific space. 

What is needed in such situations is a bespoke solution, that fits seamlessly into the bathroom regardless of its shape or size. Shower areas can be designed to fit under sloping ceilings or even in an alcove, for an almost bespoke finish. With the glass cut to size and modern hinges and brackets available in different shapes and sizes and with adjustable options, the shower area can be designed to specifically fit the space, unlike with an off-the-shelf solution that limits design possibilities. 

An alternative solution which works particularly well in the smaller bathroom is to opt for a sliding shower door. This solution keeps architectural hardware to an absolute minimum for a neat finish, with only the header support bar and track holder being visible. Where support bars and brackets are on show, ensuring they fit with the overall style of the bathroom is key, and again less is more.

Such solutions make installing wet rooms and open-plan shower areas far easier, and results in a neat, uncluttered and bespoke finish that help high-end designs stand out from the crowd.

For more details call CRL on 01706 863600 or visit www.crlaurence.co.uk