Updated January 13, 2019
“This isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile” the commercial in the 1980’s proclaimed. What General Motors was trying to tell consumers (although this commercial might have backfired on them more than helped) is times had changed and the designs of their cars had to change with it. When I think of effective shower design which fits today’s family I think the same phrase could apply, “This isn’t your fathers shower!”
So – you may be asking, “Mike – what has changed that Dad or Grandpa’s shower no longer works?” Consider these 3 things:
- (1) Pace of life – Like it or not we live in a 24/7 world. There is more to do with less time to do it (even though we have the same 24 hours our Dad or Grandfather has). This faster pace means we have less time (and desire) to spend maintaining our homes. We need less maintenance and more thoughtful design.
- (2) We’re living longer – That’s good – but it has repercussions. While medicine is keeping us upright longer, it’s not keeping all of our body parts from wearing down (bummer). As we get older it’s just not as easy to step over a tub rail or shower curb. Shower design needs to be safer.
- (3) Homes are getting smaller – Homes have grown steadily from 1973 to 2014 but for the first times in over 40 years homes actually started shrinking in 2015 according to Realtor.com. People have become enamored with tiny homes, container homes and a more sustainable lifestyle. Given these trends shower design needs to be more thoughtful than in Dad’s days of increasingly bloated square footage.
As a result of these 3 factors you and I need showers which require less maintenance, improved safety and better design. Let’s check out 7 shower design tricks to help your shower evolve from your fathers’ old shower.
Shower Design Trick #1 – Continuous flow – the one level design
We’re starting in the United States to break the “walls” down of the shower or tub “enclosure.” What this means is the separate compartmentalized space which encloses the shower with stud or glass walls from the rest of the bathroom is being rethought. The one level bathroom design which is so prevalent in Europe and Asia (who have smaller homes/apartments) is growing in popularity. One level (barrier free) showers are safer to walk into with no curb to step over and use the total bathroom square footage more effectively.
Shower Design Trick #2 – “Think Frankie think” – more thoughtful design
When my cousin Frank Foti (who is CEO of Telos Alliance today and a technical wiz at broadcast audio processing) was growing up he would spend hours at his Dad’s (my Uncle Sam’s) workbench learning how to put things together. When something didn’t make sense to Frank my Uncle Sam would say, “Think Frankie Think” challenging his young son to use his mind to figure things out. It was through this mental challenge that Frank’s technical genius was inspired. Just like Frankie at his Dad’s workbench shower design needs to be more thoughtful. For example one simple change our Cleveland Design and Remodeling division recommends is to locate the shower valve as you enter your shower.
With this small change you don’t have get wet by turning it on with your body directly under the shower head. Good shower design eliminates the things which bug you about taking a shower. Simple improvements can make a better showering experience.
Shower Design Trick #3 – Build in and flip down – more function per square inch
Showers are all about trading inches – space is tight – and every inch counts. When designing your shower use the wall cavities for recessed niches to make the shower more spacious.
If you lack room for a seat get one that can flip up and down. Excellent shower designers finds inches in a shower others didn’t know exist.
Shower Design Trick #4 – Embrace the hybrid – stationary and fixed glass doors
Hybrids are not just for cars – but for showers well. While many people love the idea of a walk in shower (to eliminate the hassle of cleaning a framed shower door or curtain) many feel they don’t have enough room for one. There is a cool hybrid option called a shower screen or a shower shield.
This glass shower system has a 24” fixed glass panel and a 15” pivoting door. What is nice is you can use it to create a walk in shower in a 48” space. A more thoughtful design in a smaller space. How cool is that?
Shower Design Trick #5 – Eliminate Public Enemy Number One ….grouted walls
Why is so much tile used when people hate grout? Maybe we’re stuck in our father’s shower design choices – doing what’s been done for ages before? Maybe it’s what our contractor always recommends (if you haven’t noticed contractors are not noted for being the most progressive tools in the shed!). What is finally happening is shower wall panel technology has progressed beyond the cheap 1/8” panels you find at the big box store into more elegant (and thicker) units.
While I’d love to tell you they are also less expensive (in the short run) than tile that is often not the case. What I can tell you is the long term costs (without the need for maintenance) they are less expensive without the maintenance hassle.
Shower Design Trick #6 – Going incognito….hidden drains
While drains are obviously essential (the water has to go somewhere!) in a shower they are not normally where most people want the eye to focus (unless you use a cool linear drain with LED lighting …. I digress). How about making these drains visually disappear? New drain designs can use tile in-lays where they literally disappear.
Shower Design Trick #7 – Curved and doorless……the walk in shower
If grout (as discussed in design trick #5) is public enemy number one, framed shower doors (and cleaning the gunk out of them) is public shower enemy number two. A simple way to get rid of this maintenance hassle is to eliminate the door. Even in a space as small as 60” wide (the standard tub size) you can put in a glass wall where the curvature of it’s design allows the water to bounce back towards the drain and eliminates a shower door. A glass block shower is one easy way to accomplish this. Also , by using a cultured granite shower pan you’ll also be working to cut down your maintenance at the same time. Now that’s a double-bonus!
I don’t need to tell you things have changed. The reality is today’s shower should not be designed like your fathers old-school shower! It doesn’t fit with today’s need for efficient design, low maintenance and improved safety. Which of these 7 shower design tricks would help you the most? If you have questions about shower comment or call the numbers below.
For nationwide supply of innovative shower design products contact Innovate Building Solutions at 888-668-5888. For a bathroom or Cleveland shower remodeling project call Cleveland Design and Remodeling at 216-658-1290 or in Columbus Bath Doctor at 614-252-3242. If you’re in the building business, click here if you’d like to learn how to become a shower wall panel dealer or call and ask for Mike at 877-668-5888.
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