Shower room and small room design ideas
Showers have been a part of our life since the first domestic bathrooms were installed in Victorian times. Charles Dickens insisted that his lavish bathroom in Tavistock Square should be equipped with a cold shower, the strength of which was such that it was known in the family as ‘the demon’.
Today, we prefer the comfort of a thermostatic shower that will deliver water at a steady and
reliable temperature. There is an excellent choice available for use either over the bath or in a
separate shower enclosure, including many designs to suit period homes. It is always wise to consult your plumber before committing to any purchase, though. Seek their advice on whether your water system and available space will allow you to realize your plans.
AWASH WITH SHOWER ROOM CHOICE
When choosing a shower, thermostatic control is a must. The thermostat inside the shower valve
keeps the temperature at a chosen level and prevents a change of shower room water temperature if a tap is turned on elsewhere in the house. A manual shower room mixer does not have thermostatic control. A shower fitted with a temperature limiter, usually set between 38-43°C, stops
the user selecting dangerously hot water, particularly useful for those with young families.
An exposed shower is where the valve is set on the surface of the wall with either a riser pipe or a
hose to the shower head, which can be fixed or hand-held by unhooking it from the wall. Some
showers have a combination of a fixed head and a hand shower. With a concealed shower, by
contrast, the working part of the valve and the pipe that connects it to the shower head are concealed within the wall; all that can be seen is the control. The shower head is fixed and can sometimes be angled. This type of shower valve is more expensive to fit than an exposed shower and may involve re-tiling. The latest concealed showers feature a large spray plate recessed into the ceiling.
An alternative or addition to the wall-mounted shower is the bath shower mixer, a bath tap with a
hand shower attached by a hose. Shower heads come in a variety of shower room designs. A drencher, or deluge head, is a large watering can-style fitting available in a wide range of sizes, and with either a square or traditional round head. Daisy wheel heads have spokes pierced with holes. Most hand showers offer several different spray patterns including massage, needle spray, rain spray and a soft mist – usually achieved by rotating the head. A wet stick hand shower looks rather like a microphone and will only deliver one type of spray.
Rainbars are long tubes pierced with spray holes and can be used alone or in conjunction with an
overhead shower. Body jets are small wall-mounted adjustable jets that can be directed towards
different parts of the body.
APPLYING THE SHOWER PRESSURE
Any shower can only work as well as the available water pressure allows, so check that the shower
you are buying is compatible with your plumbing and heating system. Most showers on the market
indicate the pressure needed for efficient performance, measured in bars. If you choose a shower that needs more than 1.5 bar pressure to operate you may need a pump and additional stored water to supply the shower head. If you have a combination boiler, be sure to buy shower controls
recommended for use with one, as it is illegal to pump a combi boiler water system. For advice
contact the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, it is an ideal place
to locate a reputable local plumber.
SHOWER WATER COURSE
Unless you seek the wet shower room experience, where the whole bathroom is tiled and water from the shower simply slips away down a floor drain, you will need a curtain, bath screen or enclosure to contain the water.
For a shower over a freestanding bath, a curtain suspended from a circular ceiling rail is the only
option. Choose a heavyweight shower room, mould-resistant curtain with a weighted hem, although be prepared for some water to escape. A simple plain glass bath screen can be used with just about
any built-in bath, however, and a screen that folds back against the wall makes access easy.
Shower enclosures come in all shapes and sizes and most are sold complete with a tray, which can be either a few centimetres deep or flush with the floor (called level access). The choice in style
depends on the space you have available. A corner or pentangle model is a good option for a small
bathroom as the doors slide on rollers so do not need floor space to open. If space permits, section
off part of the bathroom to build a walk-in shower room, which can be finished in natural stone, ceramic tiles or mosaic and fitted with a glass shower door to contain water.
ANTIQUE SHOWER ABLUTIONS
Wealthy Victorians and Edwardians loved canopy shower baths. One end of the bath had a canopy
pierced with tiny holes or fitted with perforated pipes and water flow to the canopy shower system
was controlled by a complex array of valves and diverters. Restored canopy baths are available from specialists such as Chadder & Co and The Water Monopoly. ■
FEATURE JAN ORCHARD