The Elle bath from Glass 1989 has a practical glass door that opens 90 degrees inwards to aid access to the bath. It’s made from HardLite — a strong material that offers lasting performance. It comes in sizes W70xL160cm, W70xL170cm and W75xL180cm, all H50cm, with made-to-measure solutions on request. From £5,400 for the bath, and £457 for seat/shelf
According to the Office for National Statistics, there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of multigenerational households in the past decade. So, how easy is it for people of different ages to all live together under one roof?
It is important for every person in the house to feel as though they have their own space, so, if budget and property style allow, it’s worth considering an annexe building, an extension, or converting a loft or garage to add to the overall space. One of the most important spaces to get right for this type of household is the bathroom, and manufacturers are looking at its requirements and taking them very seriously.
‘The recession has been a key influence in shaping the market. Increasingly, there is a need for the multigenerational bathroom,’ says Ideal Standard designer Robin Levien. ‘A fragile economy has meant that children are living at home for longer. At the same time, the UK’s ageing population and an increase in care-home fees has meant that the domestic bathroom has had to adapt to work for consumers with various mobility needs.’
People are also looking at turning little-used rooms, such as spare bedrooms, into additional bathrooms. Thanks to modern advances in central heating and water systems, old cylinders and boilers can often be removed to create space for an extra WC or a shower cubicle here.
Adapting the family bathroom
Last year, at a round-table event organised by Mira Showers, industry experts met to discuss the ‘rise in multigenerational living’. They looked at why there is an increasing number of such households, the potential problems that they face, and the key features that they require.
The panel explained that often conventional baths are now being removed in favour of large, low-access shower enclosures. Large bath and shower areas are essential, and double sinks help to alleviate bathroom congestion, with homeowners looking for efficiency as well as a safe place for both junior and senior members of the family.
‘We have seen the inclusive bathroom market evolve to become so much more than shower stools and grab bars,’ agrees Raffaela De Vittorio, marketing and brands director at Geberit. ‘Wall-hung sanitaryware is a good choice for the multigenerational bathroom, because the height of the frame can be adjusted to make it more comfortable for those with reduced mobility to sit and stand. The other big trend in bathroom design is for wetrooms, which open up the bathroom and remove the tripping hazard created by a shower tray. With a wet room, a wheelchair can be easily wheeled in and out of the shower area, so all family members can shower in comfort.’
‘Generous storage is essential for hiding the products and children’s toys that a family uses on a day-to-day basis,’ says Dan Cook, designer at CP Hart. ‘A pull-out hand shower is also a welcome addition when bathing children. While being highly practical, they maintain a streamlined look when stored.’
Take time to think about who might use your bathroom over time, and how to make the design futureproof. Consider yourselves getting older, and how the space might be used by other family members.
‘There’s a whole host of products that, with careful thought and planning, can create exactly what you need while looking stylish rather than clinical,’ says Sabine Mane, head of marketing at Twyford. ‘Raised-height toilets reduce the need to bend too much, baths with built-in seating, grips and wide edges make getting in and out easier, and shallow basins enable washing while seated. Making simple changes now could avoid the need for costly future adaptations.’
Tony Passmore, managing director of More Ability Bathroom Solutions and a member of the Federation of Master Builders, answers some of the most common questions about multigenerational living, below.
Are new homes making allowances for this way of living?
Planning and building regulations for all new homes are compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act, taking into account full access requirements for those with disabilities.
Is it difficult to transform a bathroom with new fittings?
No, it shouldn’t be a problem. The main question for many is whether to have a bath or shower, as most bathrooms can’t accommodate both. A shower cubicle or wet room is almost essential for older people, but a growing family may want a bath.
Who can offer advice on planning?
Any good installer (often denoted by membership of a leading trade association or body, such as TrustMark) should be able to navigate through the various legal obligations when installing a bathroom.
Are multigenerational suites more expensive?
In principle, no. As with any bathroom, it is all about choice, look and feel, so you can spend as much or as little as you like. The key thing is to match up the specific requirements and needs of all the people who live there along with the look and feel of the finished bathroom.
Baths and showers
Super shower solutions
New styles of enclosures and trays use clever design ideas to work around specific needs and space restrictions.
This Mira Vision Dual shower is a great choice for different ages and needs. You can divert between the two water outlets, or have both on together, and thermostatic temperature stability ensures it is safe for all the family. There is also a maximum temperature setting. Programmable functions include a warm-up mode, clock display, shower timer, eco setting and a bath-fill mode.
Basins and toilets
One of the benefits of a wall-hung basin is that it can be hung at the height that is most appropriate; families with young children or wheelchair users could place a low-level basin alongside one of standard height.