While large shower enclosures simply scream luxury, with the price tag that extravagance affords, those designed for smaller bathrooms are often considered a cheaper option. But a small bathroom doesn’t necessarily equate to a low budget.
Bob Bowlen, managing director of Showerlux, points out:“With the average UK bathroom getting smaller due to new builds and properties with multiple bathrooms, this is an outdated perception. Homeowners, today, want as much luxury from a small bathroom or en-suite as they would from a spacious one, which is why you can now find luxurious I enclosures to suit the smaller bathroom.”
And Pete Mills, sales director of Aquaplus Solutions, agrees:“Space-saving certainly doesn’t have to mean boring, cheap or uninspiring. Even in the gmndest of homes and apartments, you will find bathrooms and en-suites that aren’t blessed with endless amounts of space.”
Seeking style leaders
Such is the demand for stylish, space-saving shower enclosures, manufacturers have worked hard to create models for the most design – savvy of consumers. People now expect their space-saving shower enclosure to provide the same coveted look of larger models. It means that the semi-frameless or frameless look, together with thick glass options and even ‘easy clean’ treatments are filtering from walk-ins to space saving models.
Loraine Henderson, marketing director at Roman, says: “The latest look for space-saving enclosures is in-line with the current trend towards minimalist design with limited framing and glass at least 6mm or 8mm thick.” And Clive Organ, salesand marketing director of Lakes Bathrooms, agrees: “The trend is towards heavier, thicker glass and reduction in framing on doors. The quality and luxury suggested by 8mm models is growing rapidly in demand.” ln fact, Aquaplus Solutions has taken it one step further and has just launched sliding door enclosures and three-sided enclosures with 10mm thick, ‘easy clean’ glass as standard.
Semi·frameless or frameless designs are available in a raft of space – saving shower surrounds. Quadrants, pivot, sliding doors and inward openings are among the models that designers can use to help maximise showering space.
Jayne Barnes, managing director of Aqata, says: “Space-saving enclosures can be placed in corners, in alcoves or against a wall. A pivot door on an enclosure set into an alcove can save space, or curved glass against a wall rather than a corner… can save space.”
Michael Hoyne, CEO of Merlyn Industries, agrees and points out his most popular models: “Traditionally, space-saving shower enclosures have been curved quadrants, bi-fold and pivot doors. The sleek sliding doors and clever in-fo|d doors are becoming increasingly popular and meet the design needs of consumers.”
His views are re-iterated by David Savage, general manager of Heritage Bathrooms: “Single panel in—fold doors and single sliding doors are popular because they help achieve a more minimalist look and, as they do not swing open outside of the shower are much more efficient on space.”
However an interesting proposition for bathroom designers has been the introduction of bespoke showering screens. Created to match the exact dimensions of an area, bathroom designers can begin to explore using otherwise redundant bathroom space for showering. Bespoke enclosures can be considered for areas too small or just too awkward to lit a standard enclosure, such as beneath a pitched ceiling. Loraine Henderson, of Roman, suggests: “Retailers and designers need to forget about the space they don’t have and think about the space they do have – how it can be used in the most effective way, so that the biggest showering space is the one presented.”
And, arguably, one of the best methods is by creating a tailor-made showering area. Jayne Barnes, of Aqata, says she has noticed a demand for bespoke showering enclosures: “In terms of offering a tailored solution to the consumer the increasing prevalence of bespoke personalised products is certainlygrowing in the premium end of the market, particularly semi-frameless styles.” She continues: “Our service is showing increased demand not only for bespoke products, but also specialist survey and installation direct from Aqata.”
In fact, Pete Mills says tailor – made enclosures will be the future for space-saving concepts: “It is bespoke offerings that will have an impact (on sales). I expect, over the next few years, manufacturers will follow suit and start to offer made to-measure shower enclosures and wetroom panels.”
Small is beautiful
Whether tailor-made or a standard-shaped and sized enclosure, certainly there will continue to be a market for space- saving models. And with the continuing trend for premium- priced but bijou city apartments, it supports the theory that not all small bathrooms are low cost. Retailers and designers should ensure that their enclosures cater for a wide range of budgets, offering space-saving models at the luxury end of the market too.