Make the most of the latest smart solutions to transform your bathing space into a luxurious mini spa
Image: Grohe (0871 200 3414; grohe.com)
Bathrooms have become much more than functional rooms in which to clean our teeth. Today, we want an oasis of calm, a private space in which to unwind and relax, or refresh and revitalise – a centre of well-being at the heart of the home. Which is where hi-tech developments come in: these innovations can personalise your experience for comfort and convenience, from setting the ideal shower temperature to ensuring the perfect depth of bath. It looks like this is only the beginning, too: Grohe’s recent ‘Bathrooms in 2034’ study predicts that in 30 years, every element will adjust to an individual’s favourite settings on each use, including the height of the loo and the colour of the lighting. So read on to keep your finger firmly on the pulse.
A luxurious hose-down is one of the best ways to bring spa-like relaxation to your bathroom, and it’s good to see that manufacturers such as Aqualisa, Crosswater, Grohe, Kohler and Dornbracht are developing the potential of the digital shower.
Image: Crosswater (01322 475 800; crosswater.co.uk)
Digital controls can be used to set the temperature and flow rate of your shower via a remote, or wirelessly via an app from the comfort of your bed. Systems that enable you to set temperatures for each user are useful not only for personal preferences but also for safety reasons – to prevent scalding if you have very young or elderly members of the family. For more luxury, some systems offer different water-flow types, from a drenching soak to an invigorating or stress-relieving massage, as well as steam settings. Others come with programmed and choreographed water-massage treatments, which sometimes sequence different jets or several shower heads at once.
For the ultimate spa experience, consider a system with harmonised colour therapy and aromatherapy settings, such as the Sensory Sky by Dornbracht, price on application (02476 717 129; dornbracht.com).
Image: Duravit (0845 500 7787; duravit.co.uk)
Just as we are seeing digital controls for showers, digitally controlled spouts for baths are also becoming more popular – such as the Crosswater Duo bath system, from £1,299 (01322 475 800; crosswater.co.uk). They’re useful if you want to be able to switch on the tap remotely and have the bath filled to a set depth and temperature while you carry on reading a book or relaxing on the sofa.
Image: Teuco (01279 771 159; teuco.com)
Another innovation is audio systems that are built-in to baths, designed to play music from a Bluetooth-enabled device such as a tablet, smartphone or laptop. Kaldewei’s Sound Wave system, £610 (01480 498 053; kaldewei.co.uk), turns the bath itself into the speaker. It can be retro-fitted across any of its steel-enamel baths, as well as installed on new models.
Whirlpool baths have been around for a while, but digital developments allow for remote controls, Bluetooth music systems and lighting to complete the experience.
Image: Kaldewei (01480 498 053; kaldewei.co.uk)
Many of the advances in tap technology have been developed for water control in public WCs and hotels, where there are obvious safety, energy consumption and cost advantages to low-contact operation, set water-flow rates and temperature levels, and automatic shut off. Recently, however, manufacturers have spotted their potential for domestic use, and are now coming up with a host of easy-to-use digital tap systems. They’re a boon if you have children who forget to turn off taps, you want to cut down on water bills and save resources, or you simply like the convenience of a set water volume.
Image: Dornbracht (02476 717 129; dornbracht.com)
You may also want to consider touch-free or low-contact taps, such as Laufen’s LumiTouch range, from £1,201 (01530 510 007; uk.laufen.com), where sensors within the brassware react to a simple hand movement to activate the water flow. Some taps have touchscreens or red-and-blue lights to indicate temperature, designed to make them intuitive to use.
Image: Alchemy Design Award (01279 771 159; alchemyaward.com)
Intelligent Lighting & Heating
If you’re installing a new bathroom or revamping an entire property, you may want to consider the bathroom as part of a whole-house automation system, so you can dim different circuits of lights as you wish, play music through waterproof speakers and adjust the heating to the ideal temperature. A fixed control panel can be installed in the bathroom, offering another advantage over traditional light switches, which need to be fixed outside (or inside on those old-fashioned cords). Home automation app Crestron Pyng (crestron.com/pyng) is worth a look, too.
Image: Iconic (01342 305 579; iconicradiators.co.uk)
‘Plan your cabling from the beginning of your bathroom project, so that you can factor it into your design – an afterthought doesn’t work,’ says Alistair Ingram at ClearSphere (0845 388 4934; clearsphere.co.uk). He adds, however, that cabling is getting easier thanks to Power over Ethernet (PoE), which means a single cable can provide both data connection and electrical power – useful if you are installing a waterproof TV, for example.
Underfloor heating is popular, offering even distribution of heat and the comfort of a warm floor on bare feet. It’ll reduce the need for big radiators (traditionally hung beneath windows or on outside walls to counteract cold-air convection), so you can opt for a stylish and spacesaving heated towel rail instead.
Image: Knief & Co (+49 421 163 2300; kniefco.com)