Designing healthy bathrooms

31 July 2018

Like a green kitchen, a ‘healthy’ bathroom will be designed for the good of the homeowners (both now and in the future), with minimal impact on the planet.

In this feature, the Kitchen and Bathroom Designers Institute of Australia (KBDi) sets out a three-tiered approach to designing a healthy bathroom.  

Design for Wellness

Statistically, the bathroom is the area most associated with accidental injury, with slips and falls most likely to occur in the wet areas of the home. A well-designed bathroom won't have a dangerously slippery floor or sharp-edged furniture.

A healthy bathroom will be free of chemical and biological indoor air contaminants. A well lit and adequately ventilated bathroom will minimise mould and mildew, and eliminate the need for toxic cleaning chemicals.

Green Design

Green design will support eco-friendly habits such as:

  • Discouraging rubbish from being flushed down the toilet - allow space for a waste bin in the toilet area and consider installing a good-humoured sign reminding visitors not to flush anything other than toilet paper, pee or poo!
  • Minimising waste - reducing the storage space required in the bathroom for beauty and cleaning products provides an extra incentive to avoid purchasing products that are often unnecessary.
  • Airing - allowing sufficient and practical space for the airing of towels and bathmats extends the period between washes.
  • Eliminating mould and mildew - ensuring natural and mechanical ventilation are adequate will help combat mould and mildew, and minimise the associated cleaning required.

Universal Design

Universal design is an approach to the design of products, services and environments to be usable by everyone, including children, the elderly and people with diverse physical abilities, without the need for adaptation or specialised design.  In the bathroom, some Universal Design considerations are:

  • Ensuring entry to the shower is level (i.e. no hob) to reduce the risk of people tripping and allow easy access for a wheelchair.
  • Allowing both standing and seated showering positions in the shower area. A stylish seating in a shower recess will accommodate both short and long-term physical disabilities. A ‘Navy’ shower or Japanese style bath is easy when a there’s a warm spot to sit.
  • Providing a showerhead that is vertically adjustable or hand-held enables maximum flexibility.
  • Installing lever-style tapware allows ease of use for frail or arthritic hands.
  • Sufficiently bracing all fittings (e.g. towel rails) is essential. Fittings should be capable of supporting a person’s body weight (minimum 112kg) in order to minimise the risk of serious injury from falls.
  • Providing accessible space along the full length of bath allows greater passage for bathing small children and cleaning the bathtub.
  • Installing a thermostat control on the hot water supply avoids scalding of older people and children.
As the editor of BUILD I have a keen interest in sustainable housing and new technologies.