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The bathroom is a place where modern consumers not only look for functionality and usability, but also for luxury. It is a room where individuals might look to spend hours at a time enjoying a bubble bath; where consumers get ready for date nights and important occasions, and where entire families spend time every day making themselves presentable. Modern bathroom walls are lined with images and mirrors which can be purchased through homeware retailers and department stores, while the larger appliances are often bought and fitted by specialist bathroom stores and brands which offer everything from standalone items to complete bathroom sets with a variety of discounts and deals applied.
To look at a bathroom today, there are a select range of items you would expect to find. However, the presentation of these appliances and products is such that every bathroom is able to create a different finish, be it through the spacing of the appliances throughout the room, the colouring and material of the appliances, floors and walls, and the amount of natural light in the room and the way it is supplemented with electric bulbs and other light solutions. To look at a bathroom today against the backdrop of technology development which is encasing most industries at the moment, it appears as though the future of bathrooms is expanding into the smart home realm – with industry experts hinting at massaging robots, automatic cleaners, smart mirrors which display different make-up colourings before application, and speakers which are built into the wall tiles. Right now though, the focus of the bathroom industry is on inclusivity, functionality, and drawing and sticking to that very fine line between what is useful, safe and hygienic, and what is luxurious and aesthetically pleasing for the consumer.
One only has to look back through the history of bathrooms to see just how far they have come over the years. From outdoor toilets and iron basins filled with water boiled on a stove, to the more recent separated shower rooms and toilets, all the way up to the modern day complete bathroom with every facility available behind a single door, it seems that much of the development in bathrooms has come as a result of both design and innovation, and an increase in the hygiene of bathrooms and toilets in particular.
Consumers may be surprised to find that out that one of the biggest changes over the years has in fact been in regards to attitudes to hygiene and cleaning, with the Renaissance period favouring clean hands but also viewing water as the carrier of disease rather than something required for washing. Thus, water was rarely used anywhere on the body except for the hands – with individuals preferring sweat baths.
Meanwhile, the first indoor toilet was not designed until 1596 and even then, it was ridiculed, with the trend not catching on until the 18th century when indoor plumbing made mass market bathrooms possible and hygienic.
One of the most interesting things to note about the bathroom industry is how many modern trends are reminiscent of ideas from way back in the past – for example the standalone baths which were the standard in the 19th and early 20th century, and which today are regarded as something extremely high end and luxurious.
For consumers looking for a complete renovation and refurbishment of their bathroom, the market is home to a series of dedicated and specialist retailers which not only supply and manufacturer the various appliances needed for such a job, but also house the expertise needed to get it done. The demand for bathroom space has changed the way that both new builds and home renovations are being approached, with many creating more bathroom space which lets in more light and which offers consumers more ways of creating and designing their perfect bathroom.
Some of the top retailers operating at this very top level of the industry, designing and fitting complete bathrooms, include:
Once the main parts of the bathroom are fitted, consumers can move on to the accessories and extra items which transform their bathroom and give it that spa-like feeling which oozes both practicality and luxury. Some of the most popular products here span from full length mirrors and mirrors framed with lights, to bathroom cabinets, toilet rolls holders, shelving units covered with natural plants and body lotions, shower curtains and vibrant bathmats.
For consumers seeking the best bathroom accessories, one of the main focuses should always be on the effectiveness of the accessory – especially in the moisture-filled surroundings of a bathroom. By this we mean making sure that every accessory you bring into the bathroom is designed in line with the atmosphere of a bathroom, for example mirrors which de-mist quickly and bathmats with enough grip underneath that they do not become slippery if the bathroom floor is wet. Another consideration here with regards to safety is the source of electricity and lighting in a bathroom, with lighting specialists able to fit bulbs and flush lighting options which protect all the wiring from any moisture or water droplets circulating in the air.
The best retailers through which to find such accessories for the bathroom, both decorative and functional, include:
One of the growing trends in the bathroom industry is all to do with global scaling and growth, with the rise in prominence of cheap manufacturers across China and Eastern Europe ultimately making it possible for consumers to update and upgrade various appliances and elements of their bathroom in line with budgetary limitations. This creates a price war which has a huge impact on those local and large scale businesses which design and fit complete bathrooms, as the cheaply made elements from these far flung countries offer consumers fresh decorative accessories and functional products which can make a tired bathroom feel a little more updated and lively. Thus, those businesses which rely on demand for refurbished bathrooms in order to generate business must continually offer new solutions to everyday problems and create innovative design trends which make bathroom renovations and refurbishments ever more appealing.
A major trend which is changing the way that consumers use their bathrooms is the concern around water efficiency and sustainability, with a high demand for showerheads and toilets which conserve water as part of an eco-friendly drive for the home. A great example of this is an eco-friendly toilet making waves across Japan which uses a low flow flush and also takes away the need for toilet paper by instead introducing a small cleaning wand for convenience and a fresher experience. Other examples include water limiting shower heads, and automatic taps which operate in the same way as those found in commercial bathrooms – running water for a few seconds before cutting out automatically, resulting in the need to reactivate another few seconds or else walk away if the user is finished with the tap. Many of these kinds of products are still being investigated and experimented with as part of ongoing trials, and so the market is consistently subject to new and improved product launches – however, with the rise in education around the environment and what we can do to protect the planet, this is a trend which is likely to only grow in momentum and focus.
This eco-friendly driving force for the bathroom in particular is being felt across other areas of the industry outside of the main appliance sector. Toilet paper is one of those products which is constantly making industry headlines for all manner of reasons – it is the first item that people turn to and panic buy when something unexpected hits the world or their community, and it is a product which is designed as something entirely functional and yet boasts a variety of different options in line with the varying demands of consumers. Despite organisations like ‘Who Gives a C*rap’ driving a demand for recycled toilet paper which is not only friendly for the environment but which also supports sanitation in third world countries as part of its overall marketing and business campaign, consumers are often led to believe that these recycled papers are not as soft and thus not as convenient or pleasant to use. While these smaller organisations are doing their bit and continuing to create demand for their products by helping their rolls stand out and offering bulk orders with significant discounts and deal vouchers with every purchase, one of the main challenges in the way of recycled toilet paper is the concept of comfort.
Moving on to the design and accessorising of bathrooms, the industry is one where luxury and functionality hold hands across a very thin line. White has long been one of the staple colours found in bathrooms, not only because it goes with and compliments every decorative colour and design style, but also because it serves up feelings and thoughts of cleanliness and hygiene. White is also a great colour to use when the consumer wants to make a smaller space feel more open and airy – moving away from the dull and unfashionable bathrooms and toilets of previous eras and instead opting for spaces which are pleasant to spend time in. Some of the key design trends which are making their way into and across the bathroom industry include:
Another trend which creates a real driving force in many homeware industries is the rise in the prominence and influence of social media, home styling accounts and magazines, and home decorating and renovation shows. All of these mainstream media outlets now provide the kind of insight into the homes of celebrities, the rich and famous, and simply the new and updated, which consumers never had before. Before this insider access was so widely popular, most of the ideas for home designs came from what those around us were doing and what we read to be popular in magazines and home blogs. However, as the demand for home-related shows has increased, so too has the amount of inspiration available for captive consumers looking to bring inspiration into their own homes. Some examples of these kinds of shows include:
And finally, the growing prominence and importance of technology which is making waves across so many different industries and sectors. In bathrooms, consumers are already finding technology beneficial in the way it provides heated floors, LED lighting options, smart taps and advanced personal care items. In fact, some of these concepts and items are now so commonplace that they can be found across a multitude of retailers with deal and discounts applied to attract additional consumers and buyers. However, as the bathroom industry continues to expand in line with consumer demand and the constant hunt for convenience in the home and beyond, the industry is likely to adopt technology in new ways which create more of a luxurious experience and which take the functional and practical aspects of the bathroom in-house and under the influence of technology. This could mean robots, it could simply mean automation of various elements to the room. Whatever it is, it’s likely to drive the industry forward to new realms of innovation.
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