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22nd March 2019

With economic pressures and social factors having an impact on the traditional concept of family living, architects need to re-think the conventional approach to home design, particularly in one key area – the bathroom.
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In recent years, factors such as rising house prices have triggered the growth of multi-generational living: typically, three generations living in one home, also known as 3G living. As well as young adults returning to the family home, many families, facing the rise in the cost of residential care, also opt to care for elderly residents at home.

So, this means bathrooms need to be suitable for the needs of both young and old occupants, whilst fitting with the décor of a family home. Whilst it can be sensible for architects to design accessible bathroom facilities in at least a percentage of properties to ensure wide appeal, we know that historically this has been challenging.

This is because, in the past, bathrooms designed for people with reduced physical or mental capabilities had an institutional and functional appearance and looked like they belonged in a hospital ward rather than a domestic setting. Fortunately, things have moved on, and today it is simpler than ever to create a stylish bathroom space which can be used safely and easily by people of all ages and abilities.

One major solution is the wetroom. This is ideal when it comes to planning a bathroom that is both appealing to the style conscious buyer and easily accessible. This is because a wetroom brings all the benefits of a shower installation, whilst eliminating many of the possible hazards. One important advantage of a wetroom is that there is no need to delineate the shower area, so all of the space can be fully utilised and provides more space to manoeuvre.

Having established the principle of the wetroom as a key feature of the 3G home, the next step is to consider the detail. Fundamental to this is, of course, the shower. With older people and young children, it is important to have a shower that can be used safely and easily by people with different capabilities. Showers designed specifically for the care market have been available for some time, but design-wise would probably not be considered to be a desirable feature for a domestic property.

At Bristan, we offer what could be considered to be cross-over products; showers that are designed with care needs in mind, but in terms of aesthetics no different from the most stylish of domestic showers.

Bristan Electric RNIB Endorsed Shower

For instance, certain showers are endorsed by the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) and specifically take into account the needs of the elderly and people with disabilities. These showers incorporate features such as large, easy to move dials for ease of use, raised markings, audible clicks when settings are adjusted and contrast back boxes for better visibility.

3G living is bound to create challenges but it does not mean that bathroom style has to go out of the window. Careful thought will see a combination of functionality and style which will strike the balance between meeting physical needs and matching aspirations.