A wet room can be a real luxury at home, even when the space you have to work with is limited. Without the need to squeeze in a shower enclosure or raised shower tray, these wet room ideas open up the opportunity for contemporary creative design.
Try thinking along the lines of colourful floor-to-ceiling tiles, built-in seating and sleek, concealed pipework. A true wet room without any panels provides you with more room to move, and an open-layout is easier to keep clean than a regular shower.
Wet rooms are a big project to take on, however. The tanking process to ensure your room is completely watertight can be a significant upheaval, not to mention costly, too. You may want to weigh this up against the longevity of the space, as a wet room’s seamless design makes it a great option for accessibility and futureproofing your home for years to come.
WET ROOM IDEAS
1. GREEN LIGHT
Create an immersive wet room by tiling the floors and ceilings with the same design.Make sure the floor tiles you want have an appropriate slip rating for wet areas – look out for raised, textured finishes or anti-slip properties in your search.
2. GO GEOMETRIC
'Good-quality porcelain tiles are perfect for use in wet rooms and walk-in showers,' says Jo Oliver, Director at Stone & Ceramic Warehouse.'Firstly, they are impervious to water, making them an ideal solution for everyday use. They also won’t be damaged by detergents or any of the other chemicals we frequently expose our shower surfaces to.'
3. SEAMLESS SPACE
The materials available to create wet rooms today mean you don’t need to compromise on style when making an accessible space.Consider opting for wall cladding with a durable solid surface material such as Dekton – it could be an easier and cost-effective solution for covering a larger area.
4. FLUTED FINISHES
Though a bathroom that has been tanked doesn’t necessarily need a shower panel, you may want to add one to prevent towels or toilet rolls getting wet.Opt for a fluted or frosted finish to maintain a level of privacy if your wet room forms part of the main bathroom.
5. REST AND RECHARGE
Consider what type of shower you want to install in your wet room.
'Features such as steam, sound and chromotherapy through built-in lighting modules are increasing in popularity due to growing demand for spa and wellness inspired bathroom spaces,' says Paul Bailey, Senior Category Manager at GROHE UK.
6. TAKE A SEAT
Add built-in seating to your wet room for a sauna-like experience. Complete the look with a large rainfall showerhead, then simply sit back and relax.
A wood look can offer a holistic spa-like experience, but you'll need to ensure any timber is treated so that it's suitable for a wet area. Or you can mimic the look with tiles. Just make sure they have a non-slip treatment and are comfortable to sit on.
7. LET IN THE LIGHT
If you are creating a new space for your wet room, you will need to think about light sources during planning. A huge skylight like this creates the illusion of showering outdoors. So if you've been inspired by trips to tropical climes such as Bali or Thailand, this could be a practical way to recreate that magic.
It is a good idea to have at least two lighting circuits installed – one for overhead lighting and another for adjustable mood and task lighting. Where you place these will depend on any natural light sources, too.
8. BARELY THERE
Don’t forget to allow for adequate drainage at the planning stage. Your wet room flooring will need to be fitted at a sloped angle away from any doors so water can drain away easily.Alternatively, you may want to consider a sunken shower tray that can be installed flush to the rest of the floor.
9. THINK PINK
Bright and colourful wet rooms make for an invigorating shower experience. Ideal if you're not naturally a morning person.Maintain a seamless look by incorporating a recessed shelf within the shower – a handy place to keep essential bottles without encroaching on the rest of the space.
10. BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
A wet room design can also work alongside a bath, as Sally Cutchie of BC Designs explains. 'Choosing to have a wet room can actually be hugely beneficial when wanting a bath to sit in the same space,' she says.
'As a wet room is fully waterproof it doesn’t need a shower enclosure fitting,' she adds. 'This can free up a lot of extra space for the all-important bath.'
11. SEAL IT TIGHT
In order to create a true wet room, a watertight environment must be created by tanking both the floor and walls of the room to thoroughly protect it from leaks. First a watertight membrane is laid, then the room will need to be tiled throughout with a gentle gradient in the main a shower area so the water flows away easily into the waste.
12. LIGHT IT UP
Add glossy finishes and sleek chrome fittings and use matching tiles or composite panels on both floors and walls to accentuate the sense of space. Create areas of colour and even patterns using mosaics or tiles in a variety of formats to give definition to your shower space, or mix shapes, sizes and shades for a unique look.
13. FAKE IT
If you are not able to create a true wet room, the latest ultra-low profile shower trays are a clever alternative. A frameless shower enclosure will give any bathroom a modern, seamless feel and create a contained area for showering without the need for a separate cubicle. Paired with a low-profile shower tray these frameless, clear glass panels help to make even the smallest of spaces feel less claustrophobic and therefore a more calming showering experience.
14. THE RIGHT TILE
The options of tiles are endless and it’s a great place to really show off your personality but the one thing to remember when it comes to floor tiles for a wet room is to go for a design with a raised matt finish, for an anti-slip surface. Smaller tiles like mosaics are a great choice as they’re easy to lay in a slope towards the drainage hole. Alternatively, a mix of metro and patterned tiles create a cool and contemporary appearance.
15. FLOOR FACTOR
Most flooring types can accommodate the pipes needed for drainage in a wet room –even concrete, but in some instances the flooring will need to be taken up before tiling takes place to ensure the drainage pipes can be positioned to have the necessary slope for the water to drain away.
ARE WET ROOMS A GOOD IDEA?
There are lots of benefits to having a wet room – from being able to utilise a small or awkward space where a bath or standard shower enclosure cannot fit, to futureproofing your home.
Estate agents are quick to point out that a family home without a bath will be less saleable. But there are creative options you can explore. For instance, if you have a large master bedroom, consider installing a freestanding, statement tub here for a dash of hotel chic.
'Investing time and money into creating a wet room and properly tanking it can also be incredibly useful when it comes to busy family bath time,' says Paul Bailey, Senior Category Manager at GROHE UK.
The main drawback is the investment and upheaval a wet room project brings, mainly due to the fact a wet room requires proper tanking. 'One other point worth noting is that wet rooms can get quite cold, because there’s no enclosure to keep the steam in,' adds Yousef Mansuri, Head of Design at C.P. Hart.
HOW SMALL CAN A WET ROOM BE?
While wet rooms are not limited to incremental sizing, most bathroom designers would recommend that the showering section of a wet room measures a minimum 800 x 800mm. There are also a few aspects of the design which may determine the space required. Will pipework be exposed or concealed? Do you need to install a glass panel to prevent other areas of the room from getting wet?
Don’t forget that adequate ventilation must also be installed in line with building regulations to prevent mould and damp spots.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WET ROOM AND A WALK-IN SHOWER?
‘A true wet room is a fully waterproofed space without a fixed shower door or tray, and usually has an open tiled shower area,’ explains Nicholas Cunild, Managing Director of Matki.
A walk-in shower on the other hand, is an area in a bathroom or shower room with a low-level shower tray and glass surrounds. While completely watertight, you may still wish to include a glass panel in a wet room to contain the water spray.
IS A WET ROOM MORE EXPENSIVE?
There’s no doubt that a wet room is an investment. The tanking process to ensure the room is completely waterproof can be costly and takes time, as it would be to tile the space from floor to ceiling carefully while ensuring proper drainage. Concealing pipework can also be an investment, though this can often allow recessed shelving and storage to be created as an additional benefit.
HOW MUCH DOES A WET ROOM COST TO INSTALL?
It is never cheap to re-do a bathroom. In a family bathroom with two basins, a WC, a bath and a shower, quality items will easily add up to £5,000. Installation adds a further £3,000 or so and, with cabinets and storage, good quality mirrors, tiles and lighting, it generally adds up to between £10,000 and £15,000.
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON MISTAKE MADE?
Over-ambition is an issue. Clients often bring along a photograph of a freestanding bath in a French chateau, and want that in their Chelsea terrace but there will never be room. Large showers are similar, requiring powerful pumps and huge water tanks. We advise to choose one or two special but appropriate items and keep the rest simple.
HOW DOES PLUMBING LIMIT POSITIONING OF A WET ROOM?
Basins, baths and showers only have to take away water but, if placed four metres from an outside wall, the drainage will have to slope gently downwards for quite a long way, avoiding joists, which may not be running in a helpful direction. The sooner an architect or plumber raises a few floorboards, the sooner you’ll know your options.
WHAT ABOUT CHANGING THE ARCHITECTURE ITSELF? MOVING A WINDOW FOR EXAMPLE?
It depends on each property, but moving windows is generally less costly and far easier than people imagine and can really free up the layout. You only generally need planning permission if your property is in aconservation area or a listed building.
DO INTERNAL RENOVATIONS REQUIRE PLANNING PERMISSION?
Quite possibly if the property is listed, but it varies from council to council. Contacting your local Planning Department at the start of your project to establish what might, in principle, be permitted and what would never get off the ground.
DO I NEED A SPECIAL EXTRACTOR FAN IN MY WET ROOM?
The build-up of moisture and condensation is greater in a wet room than in a traditional bathroom. Fans operated by light switches alone often aren’t effective enough. A good fan needs to be wired into the room (still coming on with the light switch) but with a separate cut-off switch, which is outside the room. Humidity-tracking extractor fans are best for wet rooms as they work continuously and incrementally with automaticextraction for however much steam is in the room.
Additional words, Jennifer Ebert