This blog entry is dedicated to my good friend Jean Butler, with who I am beyond grateful to have crossed paths at the beginning of my interior design career. She is the person who introduced me to my love of bath design and walked me through the eccentricities and choices clients have when designing their dream shower. The inner workings of your system can be a little confusing and there are quite a few items to consider when it comes to deciding how you would like your finished product to behave. Here is my breakdown of the different components, and how to decide what works best for you.
First and foremost, when deciding on what you need for the shower it is helpful to consider who the bathroom is designed for, your guests, your kids, or your master bath?
Back to the Basics
We are going to start with the most basic configuration, and one I know you are familiar with and is what you find in a simple shower. It consists of a pressure balance valve and the showerhead. The pressure balance valve is the most used system in showers, as it is the most efficient. As you increase the pressure, the pressure increases the temperature. This type of control is typically paired with one of three showerheads: the most common wall-mounted showerhead, a handheld showerhead, and in some cases a rain head. (There are other types of showerheads, but for this article, we will stick with the three basics!) You most likely see this most basic configuration in guest bathrooms and even at most hotels.
A Second Wind
The second most common configuration is a spin-off of the above and used wherever you have a tub/ shower combo. Typically reserved for Kid Bathrooms, a diverter and tub spout is added to the system, and voila, you now have a way to divert the water from the Shower Head to the Tub Spout.
Now that we have laid out the most basic systems, let’s move on to the fun basics of Shower Design!
Third Times a Charm
The Thermostatic Valve is quickly replacing the Pressure Balance valves in Master Bathrooms as well as upgraded Guest suites. The thermostatic Valve allows you to set the temperature, and then increase the pressure. Think the same temperature every time you take a shower! No more guessing on which tick you last set it to.
However, with a Thermostatic Valve, you have to incorporate a way to control the water, so Volume Controls are required. The rule of thumb with most Thermostatic Valves is you can have up to THREE functions. Below are a few diagrams. Function implies one of the following: in-wall showerhead, handheld showerhead, rain head, or even side sprays for that car wash feel!
In an upgraded Guest Suite for example, you can add two functions; that would consist of a Thermo Valve, 2 – Volume Controls, an In-Wall Shower Head, and a rain head. OR you can keep it simple with 1 -volume control and one shower head. Hate the rain head? Then add a handheld by a bench for a nice upgrade.
In the Master, we have infinite possibilities (OK typically just 9, but still! – need to check my math) So let’s start with the size of the shower. More often than not, it is about 60” x 48” including a bench, and one thermo valve will suffice. In this scenario, we will have all three functions: an in-wall shower head, hand-held by the bench, and a rain head. Some of our clients opt to nix the rain head or hand-held and sub in body sprays.
If the shower is large enough for two thermo valves, we typically recommend 4 functions, two for each valve. One thermo valve will host an In-wall Showerhead and rain head, while the other valve hosts a separate in-wall shower head and hand-held. This is great for partners who prefer different temperatures while showering.
Keep in mind, a third function could be added to each showerhead but is typically limited by the size of the shower. For example, System One could include; in-wall shower head, rain head & body sprays, while System two could include a separate in-wall shower head, separate rain head, & handheld! That’s a lot of water in one place.
Now that we have hopefully clarified, but probably confused you, let’s talk about other upgrades! The most requested is a Steam Shower. A steam shower requires a variety of considerations during the build-out, so make sure to add this to the design as early as possible in the process! Steam Showers are what my dream showers are made of!
There are also a bit more extravagant upgrades that are not as commonly requested, but you tech gurus out there, feel free to check these out!
The Edge // Shower Products
KOHLER Smart Showers is a unique option to give you high tech gurus another way to Smartify your home! They provide digital shower solutions to help elevate your shower experience.
For a simple shower solution, MOEN has the perfect option to renovate your current bathroom! The Moen Annex Shower system adds shower functions, without having to replace your current shower valve aka open up the wall. The Annex attaches to your existing supply (your current showerhead), and voila you have a whole new shower experience! It also comes in a variety of finishes and styles.
If you are ready to tackle your bath design and need help on the design side, please book a consultation through Water Closet Chic and we will help bring your shower dreams home.