I’ve never lived anywhere with a bathroom big enough to swing a cat. The littlest room in every home I’ve ever occupied would only just accommodate a revolving hamster. Or possibly, at a push, a whirling guinea pig. And my current home, The Pink House in South East London, is definitely no different.
Chances are, you’ve seen my newly built pink plaster shower room. Here it is again, as a reminder (above and below).
Pretty small, right? Yet it has everything our family needs, thanks to some careful planning and cutting-edge technology, including my fit-for-a-queen ceramic throne, the Geberit AquaClean Sela shower toilet, which leaves each family member’s posterior as clean as the proverbial whistle.
I say it has everything we need, but that’s not entirely true. It has no bath for one thing. And it’s on the ground floor, whereas my and the Pink House Husband’s bedrooms are on the first floor (and the kids’ rooms the floor above that). Luckily for our family of four, we do have another bathroom with a bath on the first floor. But this tiny bathroom is currently a giant pain in my ass.
Not literally – the loo isn’t THAT bad.
However, this boringly beige family bathroom IS deeply disappointing on pretty much every level. There’s the ugly, tricky-to-clean toilet; the broken, leaky tap; the manky, stained sink; the wonky storage; the wee-coloured floor tiles (this is the actual colour of the tiles, not as a result of actual wee, though to be fair my youngest’s aim needs some work); and the all-round general crapness. You want to see? Really? Ok - here it is. And believe me when I tell you it’s worse in real life.
So. Something needs to be done. Lots of things, in fact. Luckily my sanitaryware stars aligned, and Geberit, those kings of kick-ass bathroom technology (their new Geberit ONE range takes toilet tech next level), asked if I’d like to work with them again this year.
Er…does a toddler tarnish the toilet seat?! I was well up for it, especially as they were fully on board with my idea of talking not just about toilets (and how choosing the right one can truly enhance your life), but also looking at how you can help your littlest room fit around family life.
I needed to speak with a bathroom design expert to get to the bottom (yup) of what a great family bathroom really needs. Step up a man with an encyclopaedic knowledge of sanitaryware, the super-helpful Simon Poole from bathroom showroom Plumbersmate, to answer our pressing questions about creating a littlest room that’s no flash in the pan (no more bathroom puns I promise)…
Q&A with Simon Poole, bathroom expert from Plumbersmate
EM: Hey Simon! Thanks so much for talking with me about toilets and stuff. Before we get into the nitty gritty of planning the room, I was wondering how Covid-19 has affected people’s desire to do up their bathrooms?
SP: Hi Emily – happy to help! Well, since we reopened the showroom after lockdown we’ve never been busier. We have all spent months within the same four walls and I think this has really opened our eyes to the things we need to sort out around the house – with bathrooms being a priority for many.
EM: That’s definitely true for me – our little family bathroom definitely needs some serious love. Speaking of which, when it comes to renovating a bathroom, what’s the best place to start?
SP: It’s all well and good checking out products and layouts online, but there’s no substitute for popping down to your local showroom to see the various ranges available. Technological advances mean you’re likely to be surprised by how much things have changed, and showroom sales teams are knowledgeable on everything you need to make your bathroom dream a reality – well we certainly are here at Plumbersmate! If you visit a showroom, I’d strongly advise bringing your bathroom measurements and even a floorplan along with you.
EM: What things should I consider when I’m planning the room?
SP: The key is to be clear on the practicalities of the bathroom you want to create – whether that’s a space that will double as a guest bathroom or creating a walk-in shower. It’s also important to listen to everyone in the family who will be using the bathroom; you never know – they might have a great idea or a practical consideration you’ve overlooked. Also, don’t forget kids grow up fast – think carefully before making irreversible decisions based on having small people around the house – better to get a step so they can reach a higher sink, than a sink that’s going to be too low for everyone in the family in a couple of years.
EM: Is there a loo that will encourage my boys to, er, aim straight?!
SP: You’ll be lucky! I don’t think any toilet can guarantee a 100% hit rate but the brand new Geberit ONE toilet allows you to easily adjust the height of the pan even after installation, so it’ll be easier for them to hit the target!
If kids are learning to use the loo properly, Geberit’s AquaClean shower toilet is great for helping to keep them clean – and of course it’s ideal for grown-ups of all ages too.
EM: I can vouch for that! My AquaClean is genuinely one of my favourite things in the whole of The Pink House even though it’s not pink! So what other toilets go down a treat with your customers, and why?
SP: The Acanto – also by Geberit – has been very popular since we launched it in the showroom. It’s probably my favourite loo as well; I think it’s the curvy, clean lines and reasonable price that makes it so popular. It also comes in both wall hung and floor standing versions.
EM: If I don’t want an ugly cistern on show in the bathroom, what are my options?
SP: We’re seeing more and more customers choose wall-hung toilets with cisterns hidden behind the wall - it looks neater, can save space and has more of a luxury hotel look. It’s also easier to keep clean. Some people worry a hidden cistern will be hard to access if there’s a problem, but we’ve never had any issues with Geberit concealed cisterns and frames. The flush plate easily removes giving you full access to the cistern, so there’s no need to rip tiles off just to change a washer.
EM: Talk to me about showers – what considerations need to be made when it comes to installing one?
SP: It depends on the look you wanting to achieve, and also your budget. You can get cubicals in all shapes, sizes and colours – there are walk-in showers, wet rooms and shower baths. Also, the shower itself comes with various setups: electric, bar shower, concealed vs exposed and so on. Concealed showers tend to be the most popular at the minute as there is so much flexibility. Many people enjoy having the controls positioned just as you enter the shower, so you can adjust the temperature before getting in. Everyone hates turning the shower on and being soaked by cold water!
EM: Could I add a shower to my bath? There are windows right beside where the shower would go – is that a problem?
SP: Without seeing the exact layout of your bathroom it’s hard to say, but it shouldn’t be an issue – get an installer to double check and advise. I would say it’s probably worth having a slight pitch on the windowsills if they’re going to get wet, to make sure the water drains easily. Also, if you’re installing a bath to also use as a shower, I’d recommend a reinforced bath – these are 10mm thick and super strong. The standard 6mm bath isn’t so sturdy.
EM: My current sink has a leaking tap and is so badly designed that I often end up soaked. It’s also really hard to keep clean. What would be the best replacement?
SP: The Geberit myDay unit has a countertop bowl and a space between the bowl and yourself. It’s a deep bowl so the splash is minimal. But before you start looking for a new sink I would recommend getting the leak sorted before it does some serious damage.
EM: That’s what the Pink House Husband keeps saying! OK, so apart from the sanitaryware, what else would you advise installing in the perfect bathroom?
SP: I’m a big fan of ceiling speakers that are suitable for the bathroom – who doesn’t like to listen to music while having a soak? I’d recommend the Bluetooth Lithe speakers.
EM: Finally, where do you stand on closing the toilet seat after use? In a reversal of the gender stereotype, PHH goes crazy when I leave the lid up!
SP: I personally always put the seat down, but this is mostly to stop my cat drinking the toilet water…
EM: Thanks so much for your time Simon – loads of great advice and I’ll definitely be closing the loo seat from now on, in case Coco gets thirsty…
This post is sponsored by Geberit, but as always, all thoughts, views and passionate feelings for loos that shower your behind are strictly my own