Cheryl Gurner

Cheryl Gurner, creative director at Bathrooms International, has worked within interior design and the bathroom industry for the last 30 years. She has amassed a huge database of high-profile clients and projects both in the UK and abroad, offering what she describes as an "unrivalled personal service"

Future-proof your bathrooms - install a home spa

Posted 20th Apr 2012

As I got out of the bath today, the process of grunting as if I had been hit in the stomach prompted me to consider deeply why I emit this response more regularly than I once did.

How did I get from being 18 years old, seemingly last week, to the point where I am beginning to think bungalows are the perfect housing option?

It also brought to mind a question posed to me recently regarding the 'shower rooms versus bathrooms' debate.

Our friends the Americans – whom we seem to follow after a couple of decades or so – have preferred showering to bathing for as long as I can remember. Ablution in the US is a fierce hot shower – twice, maybe three times a day.

Baths (or 'tubs'), where they exist, are about 150cm long, extremely shallow and always positioned beneath a wall-mounted shower. They are really shower trays that double as baths, and they are only really useful, to be perfectly frank, for bathing young children – or the dog.

Space allocated to the domestic bathroom in the US is even smaller than in the UK, so this set up is the norm unless the room is turned into a dedicated shower room, and, as a general rule, our American chums do not 're-model' often. Upgrading is not high on the agenda.

But people don't grow younger, and, while the low bath tubs are easy to step in and out of and the hand grip on the wall is fail-safe, the sides of the tub are so low they are easy to trip over.

If you're mad enough to actually try and have a bath, it's absolutely impossible to get up, whatever your age.

It is encouraging that new builds across the pond seem to be following the UK trend for having separate showering options in the master en-suite and full shower rooms in any additional en-suites.

For once, we lead. And now we Brits are taking things to the next level.

Our designers, architects and property developers are introducing en-suite shower rooms that are just as sexy, calming and relaxing as bathing rooms.

The natural follow-on is the home spa: a room-wide, walk-in shower with glass panels, steam-proof doors and honed, sloped, non-slip stone flooring with underfloor heating to keep your feet dry and warm and avoid water build-up.

Some home spas feature built-in seats, sometimes at either end. Behind the seats, and set into the wall, are body jets, set to massage your neck and back when you are seated.

Steam generators are inexpensive and easy to install. Hidden in a false ceiling or in a roof space, they offer, at the flick of a switch, a thermostatically controlled steam/shower room.

Myriad rainshower options – with or without chromotherapy lighting and integrated speakers – can be set into the ceiling; a wall-mounted shower can provide a fiercer clean.

Stresses that were previously washed away with a long soak in a bubble bath are now tamed by a work out in the home gym and an indulgent shower and steam session.

The ability to sit down and relax offers a contemporary option that, until recently, was only found at health clubs. Fortunately, it doesn't cost £1,000 a year or more to enjoy.

Most importantly, a contemporary shower room is an investment that you won't have to change as you get older and bathing becomes impossible. Similarly, if, God forbid, someone becomes wheelchair bound, they needn't rip the whole thing out.

That is when the 21st Century shower room wins.

It requires no changes at all, with the possible exception of a grip in the shower. The jets, music and lighting become both relaxing and therapeutic.

And – hopefully – you won't grunt.

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