Bathrooms aren’t what they used to be. They used to be cold, miserable places you used when you had to and as quickly as possible. Now they’re home spas, our own, private, health and wellness centers, where we can recharge our mental and physical batteries away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. While our trusty bathroom appliances have been largely unchanged for decades now, if you’re thinking about updating your bathroom, here are four innovations you might want to consider.
Heated toilet seats
Toilet seats have already come a long way from the miserable ones used in early toilets, but even so sitting on a cold one first thing in the morning can really get your day off to a bum note. Self-heating toilet seats are now available at very affordable prices and can help get your day off to a much better start.
Motion-activated taps have been around for quite a while now, but only in commercial settings, particularly hospitals, catering and transit areas such as airports. They started off as being a useful enhancement to areas which had to maintain the highest standards of hygiene at all times (for example, they made it much easier for surgeons to scrub up). But they were quickly adopted by companies operating in environments where lots of people were passing through their toilets, because people in a hurry are not always as careful as they might be about turning off taps and so a lot of water was, literally, being sent down the drain unused and, of course, for businesses this was an unwanted cost they wanted to end. While the hygiene aspect of motion-activated taps is probably a minor issue in the average family bathroom, the water-saving issue is already important both from a cost perspective and from the perspective of protecting the environment. Even if everyone in your household understands the theory and practice of turning off taps between uses, many people leave the tap running while they are cleaning their teeth because turning it off and on again is a faff. While this only uses a small amount of water on each occasion, it adds up, even in a one-person household, so motion-sensitive taps can easily recoup their up-front costs in water savings, plus they help the environment.
As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Shrinking bathrooms have made it a necessity for many people to abandon their baths for showers, in some cases this is to create extra storage space in the bathroom itself, in other cases, it’s because the bathroom has been built to a size which means a shower is the only option. In days gone by, that would only have been likely to have been the case in en-suites or guest bathrooms, these days, there are numerous new-build homes, which only have space for a shower in the bathroom. Fortunately, shower manufacturers have upped their game and have started producing showers which are at least as luxurious as standard baths, if not more so. The height of healthy luxury is the steam shower, which combines a top quality standard shower (typically with a monsoon shower head), hydrotherapy jets and, of course, a steam module, for an amazing health and wellness experience, which is about far more than just getting clean. The hydrotherapy jets give you a great massage every single time you take a shower, no they’re not as good as a human massage therapist, but they are really very good nevertheless. Then, of course, there’s the steam. The beauty industry has been using it for years and facial steamers have been available on the home market for a long time now (and even before then, people used to steam their faces over a bowl of boiling water, some people still do). Steam cleansing the skin inside and out like basically nothing else can and if you think we’re exaggerating on this one, try it for yourself. Even just keeping your head over a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes can make a visible difference to your skin (you need to put a towel or something similar over your head to keep the steam contained). The health and fitness industry has been using it for years too, from upmarket gyms to the state-of-the-art facilities used by top athletes, because steam both relaxes the muscles and detoxifies the body, which is not only important for your outward appearance but also to deal with the build-up of lactic acid which occurs after exercise. While there’s nothing particularly innovative about steam itself – it’s been around for thousands of years, what is innovative is that it can now be delivered to the average bathroom whereas up until recently, apart from facial treatments, it was only available at a price point which was too high for the average home owner. Now, however, everyone can enjoy all the benefits of steam in the comfort, privacy and convenience of their own home.
Baths used to be about getting clean, now they are about relaxing, lounging and enjoying increasingly precious “me time” in a world which just seems to be getting busier and busier. Now, if you do have space for a bath, you really want to make the most of it, which is one reason for the growing popularity of whirlpool baths (also sometimes known as Jacuzzis). The other reason is, quite simply, that, as with steam showers, the price of whirlpool baths has now come down to the point where they are affordable to people on ordinary incomes, which means that now the deciding factor as to whether or not you can enjoy the pleasure and health-benefits of a whirlpool bath is space rather than price. Even that issue is now being addressed as manufacturers create whirlpool baths with smaller footprints and even integrate them with steam showers to create what is arguably the ultimate bathroom appliance – for now at least, who knows what innovations will come further into the future.