2 European bathroom inspiration By The Bower Team / In Home Improvement Some European countries are leagues ahead of the UK when it comes to bathroom facilities, leading the way in bathroom designs and innovation. In a typical British home, the bathroom is often one of the smallest rooms and there tends to be just the one main bathroom for the whole family to use. Yet, across Europe, it is not uncommon to have a second or even third bathroom in the home; each beautifully designed and showcasing some of the latest examples in bathroom technology. From wet rooms, bidets and pulsating showers, to self-wiping and self-sanitising toilets, we have scoured bathrooms across the Channel for inspiration for anyone considering a bathroom makeover with a difference. Fully waterproofed wet rooms Homeowners of all ages can benefit from having a wet room installed in their home! A wet room is an ultra-stylish shower room that does away with the restrictive shower screen and tray. The whole room is an open, tiled shower area which usually features a toilet and sink on an opposite wall. Who would benefit from a wet room? Everyone can enjoy maximum usage from a wet room. Young families will love the convenience of having one in the home; it will be smiles all round when the little ones can enjoy washing themselves down without any hassle from mum and dad about soaking the bathroom floor! Homeowners in retirement, or less able people, may find bath time a struggle, especially getting in and out the bath. With a wet room, however, you can enjoy the simplicity of being able to wash in a wet room that is all on one level. The convenience of all that open space is fantastic for wheelchair users too. And for those simply not bothered about having a bath in the home, you will be amazed how much bigger your bathroom looks without a tub taking up all that unused space! A wet room is perfect for bringing a contemporary look and feel to your bathroom. They are also ideal for smaller second bathrooms, ensuites or even for larger downstairs W.C.s. And if you still need some convincing, think about how much easier wet rooms are in general to clean: with the addition of wall-hung toilets and sinks, the entire floor can be mopped in a matter of seconds! Contemporary showers Latest designs in European shower systems are meeting the highest demands of comfort and style. The shower ‘Aquatica Elise’, features an ergonomic shape which delivers a normal spray, pulsating massage jet, vitalizing jet and even a pleasant rain effect shower. The three rotating body massage jets cover a wider shower area and makes for a very relaxing shower experience. Enhanced safety element of modern showers Built-in safety technology is a key benefit found in many of today’s contemporary shower designs, too. Those of us who are responsible for young children, or care for older people living with dementia, for example, know that they can be at more risk of knocking the water onto its highest temperature setting without realising. Contemporary showers offer high tech thermostats, ensuring a constant water temperature is delivered; and many feature anti-scalding safety mechanisms. Self-cleaning toilets For those seeking the latest in toilet technology, look no further. First there was the smart phone, then there was the smart television – and now, the smart toilet. An intelligent washlet system designed in Japan is being introduced in Europe for 2016 and is set to revolutionise bathroom technology worldwide. The Toto Neorest smart toilets are combined toilet and bidet systems which have heated seats, open up as you approach them and close as you leave (complete with remote controls); they even flush automatically – great news for those living with other halves lacking in the memory department! In addition, the toilet virtually eliminates any need for toilet paper – scanning and delivering warm aerated water before drying your posterior with warm air. As if that isn’t enough, your high-tech toilet will then clean and sanitise itself with electrolyzed water. Thanks to its special coating of titanium dioxide there is no risk of anything sticking to the bowl, so you can expect to leave it a whole year between giving it a clean yourself, meaning less chemicals going down your drains. The toilets are said to be great for the environment, fantastic for hygiene and will ultimately improve our experience in the bathroom. It isn’t all good news though; the price will set you back by around £10,000. Bidets A bidet – which in French means ‘pony’ (perhaps due to the sitting position the user has to take) – typically offers a high powered water wash following the use of a toilet. They are designed to replace the need for toilet paper and are so commonplace in Europe, Japan and Latin America that it is regarded as the best way to stay clean. In fact, in those regions of the world, those who choose not to use them are considered to be unhygienic! Whilst bidets are not new to the UK by any means, they are considered by the younger generations to be rather outdated. That being said, bidets are experiencing something of a comeback thanks to a modern twist on the Continental European bathroom staple… Combination Units If you like the idea of a bidet but want to avoid the hassle of having an extra unit added to your bathroom suite, consider a bidet seat installation on your existing toilet. Contemporary bidet ‘washlet’ models are being marketed as a bidet solution without the astonishing price tags of high tech toilets with in-built bidet functions. Bidet seats attach to the existing water supply and can offer quite elaborate features. Jets of heated air, front and rear washing self-cleaning nozzles projecting warm water, deodorisers, remote controls and even various water massage settings are all available. Making home improvements in retirement Finding the funds to make larger home improvements can be challenging, especially when adjusting to a reduced income in retirement. To find out how equity release could help you make the home improvements you have in mind, speak to a member of the Bower team today to arrange your FREE, no-obligation home consultation. Call us on free phone 0800 411 8668. Remember, equity release will reduce the value of your estate and the amount of the inheritance you leave, so it is vital you speak to an independent specialist in retirement lending such as Bower before making a decision.