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Bathroom, shower room, wet room?

We received a question from a reader who has a slightly tricky problem about designing a new bathroom and wanted some ideas about the best solution.

Jenny writes:

We have recently moved into a house which has a small bathroom, with a shower over the bath, but this doesn’t particularly suit the needs of our household. I’m at my wits’ end to figure out what’s best to do to please everyone. Fortunately, our children have already left home and they’re flexible anyway about what they have. However, my husband wants a proper shower cubicle, whereas I like the luxury of relaxing in a bath. To complicate matters, my elderly father lives with us and the ideal for him would probably be a walk-in bath or shower. It seems there’s no way to please everyone… unless you can suggest something. Can you help with some ideas, please?

This is a problem which many people face as they struggle to adapt old properties to modern living. I’m assuming you have an older property, as more modern ones – unless they’re very small – tend to have more than one bathroom. It’s all about compromise, but sometimes when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. Let’s have a look at your options. You might also want to keep in mind how any changes will affect the value of your property if there’s any possibility that you may want to sell or rent it out in the future.

Can you find space to create a new shower room?

If your property had two bathrooms (or even a cloakroom), it would greatly increase your chances of pleasing all your household members. For example, you could keep the existing family bathroom as it is, except for replacing the existing bath with a walk-in bath, and convert one into a shower room. This would suit you and your desire for a relaxing bath. It would also suit the family member with reduced mobility, who could also enjoy the new bathing space. If you converted the second bathroom or cloakroom into a shower room, it would suit your husband, who just wants a quick unfussy shower without having to clamber in and out of a bath.

But this requires two rooms with toilet and washing facilities, which is easy to say, but may not be practical in your case, depending on the type of property. I would first look to see if there’s any suitable space to install a second WC room with a shower. You might be able to do this under the stairs, depending on the space available, or perhaps even create a new en suite with a shower in the master bedroom.

If adding another room for showering is out of the question, then we’re back to trying to please everyone in the one small bathroom. So, what are your options?

Converting the existing space

bird on a beachFirst, let’s remember that this is a small bathroom, so presumably you don’t have space to create a walk-in bath and install a separate shower cubicle. This option would pretty much satisfy everyone’s bathing needs. I wonder why you like a bath so much. You mentioned that you find it relaxing. Might you be happy with giving your existing bathroom a relaxing luxury spa ambience?

A wet room could be the ideal solution. And it doesn’t have to cost the earth. You could even DIY, if you’re clever at these sort of jobs – see our earlier article about how to install a wet room.

Alternatively, if that seems like too much work or upheaval, you could remove the bath and replace it with a double shower unit. This would create a sense of luxury but be a very practical solution to your problem. You could provide a seat for your father, to make things easier for him. Your husband can nip in and out quickly without the nuisance of clambering in and out of the bath. And if you add some nice bathroom accessories, you might find you prefer the more modern and upmarket feel of your new bathroom – without the bath!

Good luck with whatever you decide, and do come back and tell us how you get on with the project!