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metricon bathroom with marble mosaic tiles beige and grey bathroom freestanding bath

Reno Once, Reno Well: 8 Ways to Future-Proof your Bathroom

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.

floating toilet with hidden cistern furture proofing a bathroom

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.

reece issy halo floating vanity and shave cabinet

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.

reece zuster issy halo floating vanity with drawers holding hair brush

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.

bathroom with large stone wall and floor tiles and walk in shower

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.

matte black shower head with hose wash metricon bayville

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.

better homes and gardens grey marble tile shower with bench seat

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.

bathroom with terrazzo floor and white walls in black the block tess and luke bathroom

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.

the block 2018 challenge apartment hayden and sara bathroom black bath

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.

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He's also spent time on TV, on Channel 10's Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7's Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you'd like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

COMMENTS
  • Rebecca

    REPLY

    We just renovated our bathroom last year, so I was a bit terrified to read this! 😉 But yay for us, we have done most of these things! phew.

    12 March, 2020
  • Glenda Smith

    REPLY

    Well 5 out of 8 ain’t bad for my bathroom.

    16 March, 2020
  • Tamee

    REPLY

    Hi Chris! Great article with lots of helpful tips and advice! We have an open shower behind a beautiful feature wall that has our wall hung vanity and mirror on it. As we had enough space still for good fall for the drainage we opted for no shower screen. Definitely one of our best decisions as who likes cleaning glass shower screens! And for those asking, no we don’t get cold having no screen.

    17 March, 2020
  • Barb Schiller

    REPLY

    Would probably add a rimless toilet. We just got one and they are more hygenic and much easier to clean.

    17 March, 2020
  • Joanne

    REPLY

    Thanks for this post Chris. We are just starting to look at both renovating an existing bathroom and building a new ensuite, so this is very timely!

    17 March, 2020
  • Jan

    REPLY

    When we did ours the decision was, a huge ensuite, higher pedistal, wall hung 3 mtre vanity, floor to cieling porcelain wall tiles with the same tile on wall and floor, floor in differing texture but same col. smoked glass screens in double shower 2 shower heads 1 hand held for cleaning the shower properly beautiful floor to cieling timber louvres for privacy and air. th only thing we missed from your list was the concealed system….damn. This room won 2 HIA bathroom of the year awards.

    18 March, 2020
  • Karen Wheeler

    REPLY

    Love this Chris! Future-proofing – such Reece speak haha! I have run a bathroom design class for them too and I love everything you are saying – except the bit about the high toilet. I am 5 feet tall and when we renovated our bathroom recently my husband (he’s a builder) accidentally ordered us a “comfort height” toilet instead of the standard one I had wanted. I am so sad as my little feet now can’t fully reach the floor when I sit on it!!! AAhh, you live and learn. I am seriously considering changing it over or moving it to our other bathroom when we renovate that. So yeah, disclaimer – ‘comfort height’ is great for the older person not wanting to lower themselves so far – but not for small 40 year olds. I don’t know if I am willing to compromise for the next 40 years to wait for it be indeed “comfort height”. xx

    18 March, 2020
  • Valora

    REPLY

    Love the picture with the mirror. Gave me some good ideas!

    31 March, 2020
  • Rose

    REPLY

    One of the most important issues that I see in my job as a community nurse is slippery floor tiles. The slip rating of floor tiles never seems to be discussed but it should be particularly when being specified in new bathrooms that may be used by elderly people. I have been to the scene of a lot of falls with elderly patients with polished marble bathroom floors. Yes they look wonderful but they can be lethal to old folk.

    4 May, 2020
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