Not all bathroom innovations are gimmicky or expensive — we've hunted down some of the latest and most impressive products currently on the market and think they are well worth a look.
Your bathroom design should take into account all the needs of those who will be using it and the products and fittings you kit it out with should all work towards creating a room that runs smoothly, feels like a restorative place to spend time in and is easy to maintain.
Our round-up of the latest innovations in the world of bathrooms includes all kinds of ideas, from those that will reduce the chances of mould developing to products that are designed to save water.
Which bathroom innovations are worth investing in?
With the cost of fitting a bathroom in mind, just which innovations are worth investing in and are there any that your should be particularly looking out for as we head into 2024?
It seems that the majority of the newest products are focussed on saving homeowners time and money — both precious commodities. The latest products on the market not only look great, but they are also really practical and mindful of the strong desire most of us have these days to save energy and water.
Many of the newest launches in the bathroom sphere also focus on making life easier — for example cutting down on cleaning. That said, there is always space for a little luxury when it comes to the bathroom — it should feel like somewhere to relax and unwind, not just behave like a functional space. With that in mind, we have included some more indulgent products here too, designed to help with minimising stress levels and boosting a sense of wellbeing.
1. Mould-resistant surfaces
Mould in bathrooms can be a real headache for many homeowners, whether they find it gathering in the sealant around the bath or sink or appearing in shower enclosures or ceilings.
Bathroom manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to address the problem and one such way is through the introduction of new surfaces that can be used for items such as bathroom furniture or even sanitaryware.
A good example is HIMACS' Solid Surfaces, which can be seen here in this bathroom, designed by the firm Bruno Vanbesien Architects.
The large bathtub has been integrated into a special structure consisting of an external wooden covering and an area with a flat surface created from HIMACS Solid Surface in the shade Babylon Beige S102. This also appears across the entire length of the bathroom worktop, with two integrated sinks – also in HIMACS – and the lower units in oak.
The seamless, non-porous surface prevents germs, mould and bacteria. This, together with its resistance to impacts, scratches and even powerful cleaning products, makes it durable and easy to maintain.
2.Toilets with added benefits
There are many different types of toilet to consider when configuring your new bathroom, but the latest launches are designed to carry out additional functions in addition to the more obvious.
'Shower toilets', also known as 'bidet toilets' are really catching on and while talking about bodily hygiene might not be something everyone feels particularly comfortable with, this is one bathroom fitting that is well worth your consideration.
These toilets were developed with the aim of allowing homeowners to cut down on toilet paper usage, to enhance a feeling of cleanliness and therefore wellbeing, to reduce the amount of time spent cleaning the bathroom, to look great and keep the bathroom fresh and pleasant.
Duravit's SensoWash is a range of high-quality shower-toilets that not only look sleek and streamlined but which also come with a whole host of handy functions, including 'rearwash' and 'ladywash', a heated seat, a warm air dryer, night light, odour extraction and a descaling function to name but a few. It even features a bacterial-growth-inhibiting glaze.
3. Superior bathroom ventilation
Great bathroom ventilation is vital and always has been but it seems to be something more on people's minds these days than ever.
Jewson recently undertook research with more than 2,031 homeowners across the UK to ask them how their homes affected their health, comfort and wellbeing and the results were fascinating.
"In the last 12 months, 55% of homeowners have experienced problems in their home relating to poor indoor air quality or ventilation, including condensation (52%), mould in at least one room (26%), leaks (25%) and damaged walls (23%). Of these, more than two fifths (44%) said they’ve experienced a mixture of physical and mental side effects, from allergies, dry eyes and chest infections to poor sleep, low mood and difficulty concentrating," report the company.
"Ventilation is very important and while many of our bathrooms are fitted with an extractor fan, their efficiency reduces over time with dust and dirt build up," say Meaco's experts. "Cleaning the extractor fan regularly improves its ability to reduce humidity in the bathroom."
The Vent-Axia PureAir Sense is not only super quiet but it also features 'Odour Sense Technology' which means when the sensor detects a strong odour, the fan speed increases and quickly extracts the odour turning poor air to pure air. In addition, it features an intelligent, fully automatic humidity sensor to control moisture and can be controlled remotely via the Vent-Axia Connect App.
4. Water-saving taps and showers
Using the Energy Saving Trust’s Water Energy Calculator, At Home with Water were able to find that showers are now the largest user of water in the home. According to their findings: "Across Britain, we use in the order of 840 billion litres each year, and spend around £2.3 billion on heating water for showers."
It should come as no surprise therefore that many of the latest bathroom innovations are focused on ways to help households save water when showering.
A good example of this is the GROHE Everstream, a shower designed to create the showering experience users expect while consuming as little fresh water as possible. In fact, the Everstream uses as little as a quarter of the water and a third of the energy required by traditional showers. It consumes as little as 30 litres of water compared to the average 120 litres of a conventional shower, thus offering an overall water saving of up to 75%. It can also reduce energy consumption by up to 65%.
This is all down to technology that recirculates and cleanses the same 4L of water via heaters, filters, and UV light. While the Everstream is currently just in its concept stage, it has a launch date in spring 2024 — so keep an eye out.
5. Built-in entertainment
Those who like to linger in the bathroom and turn their bathing or showering rituals into something a little indulgent will like this one.
Bathroom manufacturers seem to be becoming more aware of the importance of making this a room in which to enjoy spending time and as such are incorporating all kinds of technology into fittings to suit these modern bathroom ideas. From baths with built-in television screens to lights with speakers, there is no reason why you can't be entertained at the same time as carrying out the more practical tasks.
Zuma pairs premium speakers with LED lights inside a fitting that can be installed flush into your ceiling. Not only can the Zuma app offer ambient lighting control, with a whole host of tuneable intensity and colour options, but with one touch, you can fill each room with circadian light that tracks the sun throughout the day. You can also take advantage of the speaker to stream music, podcasts and audiobooks — being IP65 rated means they are safe for use in bathrooms.
6. New materials for sanitaryware
While marble and its use in the bathroom is certainly not a modern innovation, the way it is being used these days definitely is.
"While marble has been used since ancient times, in today’s world it can be hugely expensive and not that practical for modern living" says Barrie Cutchie, design director at BC Designs. "That’s why we have seen a raft of marble-inspired and marble-replicated products. One room in the house where the use of marble has gained most popularity is the bathroom."
In recognition of this, BC Designs has launched a marble finish to its Cian® range of baths. Made using handcrafted techniques, each marble bath is completely unique with homeowners being able to choose any colour vein and with slight alterations to the marbling effect.
The new marble baths have been designed to be durable, stain and scratch resistant, plus the natural mineral compounds in Cian® means it remains warm to touch and retains heat much longer.
7. Bathroom lighting with a difference
After some bathroom lighting ideas that offer a little something more than just illumination? If so, then this next innovation is just the thing.
Bathroom lights these days are expected to do far more than just give the room a glow — as the Keuco Shower Light proves. This is basically a ceiling light combined with a large integrated head shower. It has been designed to blend the beneficial effects of water and light together. Even better, it can be adjusted from daylight white to warm white and dimmed to suit the time of day and mood.
8. Smart bathroom taps
It isn't just kitchens that have seen developments in terms of taps — bathrooms have got in on the act too.
In terms of design, bathroom taps have come in leaps and bounds, from monobloc taps that look more like little sculptures than a practical item to those that send out mini waterfalls through their trough-like spouts.
However, their technology has also advanced and many now have water- and energy-saving features, as well as promoting safety (great for those after family bathroom ideas).
GROHE's Plus Single-Lever Mixer M-Size with LED temperature display contains a range of user-friendly technology. The upper surface of the acrylic spout features an LED temperature display, which shows the exact water temperature as it flows. The tap also employs infra-red sensors to switch smoothly between a sustainable standard spray (5.7l/min) and even greater water-saving with the spray function (4l/min). Just wave your hand in front of the lit icon on the spout to activate.
The large size of this tap means it is easy to use, plus the GROHE AquaGuide lets you adjust the spray angle of the spout with ease. Finally, cleaning the tap is simple thanks to the SpeedClean aerator which can be wiped free of limescale using just your finger.
9. Stylish accessible bathrooms
Up until fairly recently, manufacturers of accessible bathrooms were most definitely putting practicality way ahead of style — thankfully it is now possible to design lifetime homes which are both highly functional as well as super stylish.
One such range has come out of a collaboration between KEUCO and the design agency Studio F. A. Porsche. The entire KEUCO AXESS barrier-free range features clear lines, starting with the folding support rail over the rail system for the shower and the grab rails, right through to the stool.
The special functions of the range, such as the drop-down supporting rails, have been designed not to be directly apparent. The grab bars drop down when needed and the shower height and direction are easily adjustable. Even the shower stool features carefully-considered details such as a drainage hole and slip-resistant feet.
10. Sustainable bathroom wall coverings
Wall panels have been used in bathrooms in place of tiles for some time now but the newest developments have made them even more attractive, so if you have been weighing up the differences between shower panels vs tiles, this next innovation could help tip the scales.
Not only are wall panels usually far less fiddly and time-consuming to fix than traditional tiles, they require no grout (and subsequently no grout lines to keep clean) either.
Multipanel estimate that by choosing wall panels over tiles, on average homeowners can save £30/m2. There are also sustainability benefits to be had. Multipanel's products are all manufactured in the UK using Forest Stewardship Council (FSC® C128180) certified materials and are 100% recyclable — plus the company also recycles 99% of their post-production waste.
Shown here is one of their Tile Collection products in Antique Rose, a cool-toned, pale pink which can be purchased in either a plain panel, or large metro or herringbone style-effect.
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Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.