ARTICLE Stephanie Matheson
Possibly the easiest and cheapest upgrade you can make is adding LED ambient lighting to your bathroom. The soft light glow from underneath a vanity, for example, adds real drama and atmosphere to an otherwise dull or cold bathroom. Simple white light strips start from under a hundred dollar. They are available at most home improvement or DIY stores and are extremely easy to install. Options also include coloured LED lighting with different colours and levels of brightness. It’s the perfect way to brighten up your morning or set the scene for a relaxing bath in the evening.
Extractor fans are a must have in any bathroom to ensure that moist air is removed. Most bathrooms have a fan installed these days, but it’s worth checking that yours is working properly and is in fact the right size unit for your bathroom. Extractor fans can be wired to be turned on and off separately via a dedicated switch, or you can choose to automate the use of the fan and, for example, have it connected to the light switch so that every time the light is turned on, the fan will also work. This is especially useful in basement bathrooms or bathrooms without windows where damp air would otherwise linger and enable the growth of mould and mildew.
Bathroom mirrors these days come with a lot of different options including lighting and heating (to stop the mirror from steaming up). Mirrors can be manufactured in any size or shape and there are several options for finishes and edge design. LED lights are becoming more affordable and mirrors can either have lighting built in or be backlit with LED strips installed behind a wall-mounted mirror. It’s generally always kinder on the budget to go with a standard product, but a custom-made mirror may be the best way to transform your bathroom into a light and roomy space. The larger the mirror the greater the impact, so this is an item can offer great value for money.
For comfort and personal hygiene, a Cleanlet electronic toilet seat / bidet is a great addition to your bathroom, especially post surgery or in case of lowered flexibility due to age or illness. The bidet offers functions including a heated seat, different bottom washes with adjustable water pressure and a warm air dry. It can easily be retrofitted and fits most toilet pans. All functions are controlled via a control panel on the right hand side or via an optional remote control.
Another practical add on suitable for many bathrooms is a shower dome. It’s a clear acrylic dome that can be attached to an existing shower cubicle to help prevent the formation of steam. Less condensation means no steamed up mirrors, no wet walls or ceilings and an overall drier room. With this investment starting from around $300 for a do-it-yourself kit, you can minimise the moisture levels in your home and enjoy a warmer, more energy-efficient shower.
Having a shower is a common and revitalising way to start the day – especially if it feels like soft summer rain on your skin. The beautiful soft touch of rain-like water droplets is pure luxury, and a basic rain shower fitting doesn’t break the bank. You have the choice of round or rectangular fixed showerheads that are installed in the ceiling or the wall. Some shower fittings come with integrated LED lights and you could also consider installing speakers in your shower so you can listen to the radio or your favourite tunes.
When it comes to radios or speakers that are suitable for the bathroom, there is a host of different options. A simple and easy solution is a waterproof shower radio that you can hang up inside the shower. You could opt for a plain, low-cost model that takes batteries or a clever radio that is operated by water pressure and can be installed above or below the tap. There is also a smart device called iShower that can be mounted inside the shower cubicle and connect to your iPhone or other music players via Bluetooth. Other Bluetooth speakers are also available, with most offering some basic controls such as adjusting the volume and skip. Wired speakers can be integrated into the bathroom ceiling or even into specialist showerheads.
Waterproof TVs and entertainment systems are making a splash in more and more bathrooms around the globe. One of the best ways to seamlessly integrate a TV into your bathroom design is to select one of the high-end bathroom mirrors with in-built TV. If you have a multi-zone entertainment system in your home, you should be able to install outlets as well as control panels in your bathroom and connect them to TV and audio sources elsewhere in the house.
Last but not least, underfloor heating will add a real feel good factor to your bathroom routine. Not only will your feet no longer be ice cold on a winter’s morning, the warm air rising from the floor will also help keep the room drier preventing the build up of mould and hence helping to create a healthier home.
Installation costs can vary so it’s worth shopping around and getting a detailed quote before you commit. There are two main types of underfloor heating available for your bathroom – electric and hot-water-circulation heating systems. Electric systems tend to be cheaper to install, while hot water systems are free from magnetic fields and can be powered by different heat sources including an air-to-water heat pump or a boiler that runs on gas, diesel or wood. Aside from the initial installation costs it’s worth considering the long-term impact on your power bill. Most systems are actually relatively cost-effective to run, especially considering the benefits they bring including less mould and a healthier home.
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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
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