People don’t think much about future proofing a bathroom before they renovate theirs. It’s so easy to get caught up in the look and feel of it all that functionality goes out the window.
Or, in many cases, you’ve thought about how you’ll use the bathroom now, but don’t really delve into how you’ll live in the space in the decades to come.
If this is your forever home, and your forever bathroom, then it’s essential to make big changes now that’ll last for years. And so many of them have so little to do with how the bathroom looks. So let’s take a minute to discuss some of the things you need to think about when future proofing a bathroom at your place. Because let’s be honest: who wants to reno now and then reno again in 10 years time? Not me, not you!
These tips come off the back of a recent Bathroom Trends Masterclass I hosted for Metricon Homes, who partnered with Reece. If you want to come along to an event like this in the future, click here.
1. Install a Higher Toilet with a Hidden Cistern
Not many people think about this when future proofing a bathroom, but the height of everything is crucial. Given the amount of times you’ll use your toilet over the years, let’s start with this one.
Joint pain and discomfort are huge issues as you age, so if you’re not looking to install handrails to help you off the toilet just yet, consider installing a floating toilet that sits off the ground. Not only will the loo be far easier to get up and down from, but it’s a cinch to clean the zone underneath it too.
Toilets with hidden cisterns are more of an aesthetic choice than they are an improvement of function. But I have to say, a hidden cistern looks phenomenal and you don’t need to build the wall out anywhere near as much as you used to a few years back. Definitely worth considering.
2. Ensure there’s Storage Behind Your Mirror
I’m all for behind-mirror storage for bathrooms at any age, but this is especially important as you get older. Having a shaving cabinet above your vanity is a great way to access daily essentials without you having to bend down to storage beneath the basin. And the good news is that even modern round bathroom mirrors can have shelving hidden behind. So you don’t have to compromise on the look and feel here.
On that point, install power points in the shaving cabinet while you’re at it. Not only is this a far cleaner look (who loves seeing powerpoints on bathroom walls, really?), but it’s a functional godsend. And because the powerpoint is concealed, you can opt to fo a more affordable option as opposed to investing in a top-notch designer one.
Featured above: diving Issy Halo shaving cabinets from Reece.
3. Have a Floating Vanity with Drawers, not Cupboards
Having a floating vanity in your bathroom is one of this year’s huge design trends, but so often they still have cupboards in them as opposed to drawers. When it comes to future proofing a bathroom, this is a rookie mistake you need to avoid.
Even with a shaving cabinet behind a mirror, vanity storage is still crucial because it’ll hold larger items that the over-basin cabinet can’t. Things like hair dryers, toilet paper and other bulkier essentials can be stored here within easy reach. Drawers in your basin also allow you to see everything without having to dig around. And you don’t have to bend down to look for anything.
Featured above: Issy Halo Vanity from Reece.
4. Ensure your Shower is Walk-in with no Steps
As you get older, seriously considering mobility is key. Sure, you’re fighting fit now, but none of us know what’s going to happen in the years to come. With this in mind, a minimalist walk-in shower with no step is a great option. This style of shower means you can walk in without tripping over. Which, when you become less confident on your feet, is a godsend.
Even in a small bathroom I’d choose to forgo a bath and have just a walk-in shower if you’re really wanting to future-proof. I know showers over baths are a great solution for small bathrooms, but as you age, stepping over the tub has danger written all over it.
5. Install a Hose Shower Head with Adjustable Height
Many of the elderly members of our community need to sit down in the shower, which means the tapware becomes really important. A waterfall shower head alone, for example, is not a great option when it comes to cleaning yourself (or having a support person do it for you).
Consider installing your waterfall shower head, for sure (I love them) but also install a hose shower head on an adjustable height rail that can pull out from the wall. That way cleaning when seated becomes a whole lot easier.
And here’s the thing: tapware has come such a long way. Don’t fear you’ll be stuck with an ugly shower head situation just because you want a hose in the mix. There are so many amazing tapware colour choices on the market these days, so looks are not compromised.
Feature above: The amazing Bayville bathroom from Metricon.
6. Consider a Built-in Shower Bench to Sit On
This speaks directly to the point I made above about the need to sit in the shower as you get older. And it’s something a lot of people don’t think about when you’re future proofing your bathroom.
Rather than have to purchase an unattractive seat to sit in your shower permanently in the years to come, why not build in a sleek shower bench now? Let’s face it, your joints might be in great shape at the moment but you’ll still use the bench. Who doesn’t love to sit and take five when in the shower?
Larger walk-in showers with benches are one of this year’s big bathroom design trends. And they’re a look that’s set to last. So if you are doing a reno, and you have the room to do it, a shower bench seat is essential.
Love the scene above via Better Homes & Gardens.
7. Think About Wider Access for Showers & Toilets
Wheelchair access is another thing people never consider. But if this is your forever home, and you are renovating it to last, you have to consider these things. Nobody wants to think about a time they might become unable to confidently walk to the toilet or shower, but it is an inevitable fate for many of us.
With this in mind, consider spacing things out if you have the room to spare. Wider shower access gets you in and out a lot easier, but also think about accessing your toilet. There are many wheelchairs with a toilet seat built in that actually push over your existing loo so you can use it pain-free. But all too often the toilets are wedged into tight corners and there’s no room either side for these chairs to slot into. Also think about the height of toilet roll holders as these too can get in the way.
8. Choose Larger Tiles over Mosaic Options
As we age, bending up and down becomes harder. Getting on your hands and knees becomes harder. And seriously, at a certain age you reserve the right to be well and truly over scrubbing your shower! You might already be at that point, so look to larger floor and wall tiles and install those as opposed to smaller mosaic style tiles with mountains of grout.
The less grout you have, the easier it is to clean, so by all mans have one wow-moment of smaller tiles in a shower recess or feature wall, but bear in mind the maintenance that’ll come with them as you mature.
Have you considered any of these things when future proofing a bathroom at your place? I’d love to know if there are any additional design or functional considerations you made. Drop me a comment below and let me know.
This post includes images and/or videos of Metricon display homes and events, reproduced with permission.
© Metricon Homes Pty Ltd 2016.