Cool off this summer with the latest designs for your bathroom.
Our bathrooms are becoming ever more deluxe and showers are increasingly the focal point. From walk-in wet rooms to multiple body jets, now's the time to add a touch of luxury to your daily showering experience. There are three types of shower: electric, mixer and power showers. Electric showers have the distinct advantage of supplying as much hot water as you need because they use cold water and heat it as it's used. They are generally available in a choice of power ratings, from 7.5kW to 10kW: the higher the kW rating, the greater the flow of performance. From a design point of view, electric showers offer a limited choice of styles and you'll need a control panel that can often be bulky. They are also rarely as powerful as mixer showers, which are easy to install, with no electrical connections. They simply mix hot and cold water and are ideal if you have an ample supply of hot water. Mixer showers usually have a higher flow rate than electric showers and there's a huge range of styles and added features to choose from. Power showers produce the most impressive spray because the water pressure is boosted by a pump. This won't compromise your design either, as it can be hidden away and you can add one to virtually any style of mixer shower.
Choosing the right shower is partly down to personal preference, but you also need to consider your water pressure and hot water system. If you have a traditional, gravity-fed hot water system – a tank in your loft and hot water cylinder in your airing cupboard – you have what's known as a low-pressure system and should consider a power or electric shower.
If you have a combination boiler and your hot water is heated as you need it, you have what's called a high-pressure system and can choose between a mixer or electric shower. You can't install a power shower with a combination boiler.
If you have an unvented system, where hot water is stored under pressure in a large cylinder, you have enough pressure to give you a powerful shower from a mixer, but if you don't want to heat a full tank of water every time you shower, an electric shower is another option.
Lap of Luxury
Showering isn't just about getting clean; increasingly it's a luxurious, spa-like pampering, complete with massage jets, chromotherapy options and more. For a truly indulgent experience you should choose a shower that offers a variety of pressures to suit your mood, from invigorating strong jets to a rainwater-style flow that gently soothes. For some serious de-stressing, try a shower tower, which pummels your body from all angles – along with the overhead nozzle, shower towers feature multiple jets built into the wall at varying heights. Try Fantini's Acquazzurra, available from alternative-plans.co.uk.
Light also helps make the showering experience more pleasurable. Some showers now deliver water in varying colours (try hansa.com) and you can incorporate optic lighting into your shower tray too. 'Optic lights are built into the tray and are designed to give a relaxing ambience, similar to that created by candles. It's ideal when you want to have a relaxing shower – team it with a multi-function shower valve with body-jets for the ultimate indulgence,' says David Osborne, managing director of Roman Showers (roman-showers.com).
Showers are becoming increasingly hi-tech. Wireless digital showers such as Grohe's (grohe.co.uk) mean it's now possible to switch the shower on and off from any room in the house and to programme different temperature settings for every member of the family. Some showers have digital interfaces instead of taps. Kohler's DTV uses digital technology to control up to eight nozzles (including showerheads, hand showers and body sprays) from a single digital interface. Choose from predefined programmes or customise the temperature and then choose your preferred setting, (from unwind to surround to downpour) at the touch of a button. The unit can be installed outside the shower too, so you can get things started without getting wet (try kohleruk.com or westonebathrooms.co.uk).
More than two thirds of the water used in the home is used in the bathroom, and showers are greedy consumers of water. Eco-friendly showers that lower the rate of water flow without reducing the pressure are now available. Try Matki's (matki.co.uk) new water-saving device, which inhibits the flow of water coming through the showerhead to 12 litres instead of 40 litres per minute. Using the flow restrictor means that if you spend an average of 10 minutes in the shower you could save 101,920 litres of water a year. The new Crometta 85 Green from Hansgrohe goes one better. Equipped with Ecosmart technology, it delivers just six litres of water per minute and reduces water consumption by up to 60 per cent irrespective of water pressure.
For other eco-friendly options look for the RVEDM symbol, a label developed by the BMA to highlight water-efficient products (waterefficiencylabel.org.uk).
Words: Trish Lorenz