Shires bathrooms used to be one of the major players in the bathroom industry until they were withdrawn from the UK market in 2007.
Shower controls have already been mentioned briefly. The advantages of thermostatic controls over manual ones are well worth considering; they give consistent temperatures irrespective of whether somebody else in the house is using hot water from the system and they are safer for children in particular. Various types of shower arm and shower head are available – either fixed or adjustable – and some give a more efficient shower if your water pressure is not very high. It is well worth having soap holders and grab handles in the shower, placed at the right height for everybody to use.
One useful, though rarely provided, shower accessory if space permits is a seat in the shower that can be used when washing one’s feet and legs. This can take the form of a boxed- out shelf clad in the same material as the shower compartment. Ready-made shower cubicles are, of course, easy to install and come complete with all the accessories built in. As a means of providing the basic facility, they have a lot to be said for them. Unfortunately, many of them are hideous to look at and, without skilful design, they are hard to integrate into the rest of the bath- room so the effect is likely to be that of a large and ungainly piece of cabinet furniture rather than a built-in unit.
Despite an increased awareness of its prevalence on the continent, the bidet – the fourth major item of bathroom equipment – is still a rarity in the British bathroom. Its inclusion, as with a separate shower compartment, depends on the space available, but the fact remains that no French bathroom is thought complete without a bidet, even if this means having a shower instead of a bath for space reasons.
The primary purpose of the Shires bathrooms bidet is, of course, personal hygiene. Other uses, including washing feet, soaking stockings, and sailing toy boats, are bonuses that vary from family to family. In spite of the relatively low level of demand for bidets, manufacturers make them match many WC suites. The different types of Shires bathrooms available are discussed on other websites. In terms of planning, it is important to ensure that there is enough space on each side of the bidet for comfort – 200mm is a minimum – and 600mm in front of it for access.
Pipes can be concealed in a duct, as with basins, and bidets are available that are cantilevered out from a wall or duct so as to leave the floor free. A soap holder and towel should be kept near at hand.