Family fortunes

With multi-generational living on the increase in the UK, how can developers design bathrooms that meet the needs of all? Daniel Ward of  Twyford, looks at some of the options.

The way we live is changing: the effects of rising property prices, the cost of care for the old and young and an ageing population are leading to a revival in the trend for multi-generational living, with millennials leading the move.

Latest research from Aviva suggests that almost 36 million people in the UK have experienced being part of a multi-generational household, and for 3 million of them it is an arrangement lasting as long as 10 years or more.

With multi-generational households becoming more common, the way our homes are designed needs to adapt to meet the differing needs of those living there. One of the pinch points for this shift is the bathroom, with developers having to be mindful of making this space accessible for all while not compromising on style. The onus is on specifying products and solutions that enable the bathroom to be future-proofed now, so it provides comfort and independence to the whole household as their needs change.

Safety is one of the main concerns for families, particularly if the household includes the very young or elderly. There are simple solutions for developers here, that will put minds at rest. Thermostatic taps will prevent scalding, with the lever variety making it easy for arthritic and young fingers to use alike. For bathing, products such as Twyford’s All Offset Family Bath has a movable and reversible seat, headrest and a wider edge for parents or carers to sit alongside the bather. Shower seats are also available, as well as flush to the floor shower trays that reduce potential tripping hazards. Perhaps the best thing about all of these is that they can be easily incorporated into the bathroom’s design, without compromising on style or leading to the space having to be redesigned over time.

Regardless of the size of the bathroom, storage is crucial, particularly if there are lots of people all using the space. Hiding away products will give the illusion of space, create a clean look and remove potential hazards. Cleaning products can be kept out of reach of little hands, messy teens can shut the door on their array of lotions and potions and adults can relax in an element of calm among the chaos.

Multi-functional storage, such as under-sink cupboards, or movable stools with hidden compartments, enable every inch of space to be utilised in a practical way. For very small bathrooms, tall units, a growing trend in the UK, are a good solution for giving each family member a shelf of their own.

Hygiene, too, needs to be considered as keeping the bathroom clean becomes even more important when designing a space for more vulnerable users. Ease of cleaning and increased hygiene levels can be achieved with the inclusion of solutions such as a rimless toilet. Originally developed to meet the stringent demands of healthcare buildings, Rimless WCs leave nowhere for dirt and germs to collect. Combine this Rimfree® technology with a wall hung pan and cleaning is easier still.

With the latest figures from Aviva (research results here) suggesting that there could be as many as 2.2m multi-generational households in the UK by 2025, creating bathrooms that meet the needs of all ages will become commonplace for developers. Knowing what to focus on and employing some clever trick and solutions will help future-proof their sales margins. Do we have a link to this research to back up what we are saying?

Daniel Ward is ceramics product manager for Twyford