Richard Eaton, Product Manager at PJH, examines some of the current design trends for radiators and towel rails in the home.

In recent years, radiators and towel rails have shed their singular functional status – providing heat – to become something of a design feature which, if chosen carefully, can really enhance a bathroom style, or any other room, creating a focal point of interest as a statement piece. 

Of course, all this comes without losing any of the functional side, so is a win-win for the plumbing trade and a great sales opportunity for installers. In fact, here at PJH we’ve seen sales growing across all our designer radiator ranges, as consumers are now upgrading the standard panel radiators found in most homes to more of a design-led feature to coordinate with interior room styles.

Broadly speaking, radiator and towel rail styles fall roughly into two categories; modern and traditional, although within these general terms there is much scope for overlap and creativity borne out by the sheer number of styles and designs available. Whatever their variety, designer radiators also come in more shapes and sizes than ever, as well as both vertical or horizontal-shaped orientations, to make full use of available space and bathroom shape. There are even high heat output designer radiators specifically styled for smaller spaces or where the bathroom layout limits scope without forgoing any luxury.

The use of different materials, such as aluminium, combined with modern manufacturing processes, has helped create the many diverse and contemporary radiator designs, being able to deliver a high heat output from a much smaller surface area, without the typical bulk of steel. They are also much more efficient than ever, as well as lighter, which is good news for installers.

Chrome still endures, and white finishes too will probably never be ‘out of fashion’ but, without question, despite the vast number of styles out there, the ladder rail continues to lead the way in popularity and therefore sales. However, there really has been an explosion of colours recently, and radiators can be sourced in all shades. 

If it’s the cool, contemporary look the customer is seeking, there are some stunning new finishes such as metallic bronze, polished copper, antique gold, and brushed steel which are now easily available and competitively priced. 

Traditional styling is still popular too, as demonstrated by the interest we get in the Eterno radiator range from our Bathrooms to Love Collection, which combines period looks with a nod to the modern through its fine finish in either grey or white, with classic polished chrome rails. With strong heat output too, it can make a bold and functional statement in any traditional bathroom and will also stand the test of time. 

The growth of the boutique spa-like bathroom means consumers are looking to recreate their very own private oasis at home and extend bathroom use beyond simple practicality. The wow-factor a skilfully chosen radiator can add to the design is tremendous. For smaller bathrooms or those looking for a more subtle impact, small footprint radiators are available. However, small does not necessarily mean you have to compromise on performance as these systems can still deliver a high heat output.

Radiator and towel rail accessories are also on the list when it comes to luxurious heating solutions. From magnetic robe hooks and hangers, to attachable towel rails and shelves, designer radiators really are multi-functional must-have products.

Driven by customer demand, we will continue to see the once humble radiator establish itself as a key feature item, with products no longer being pigeonholed as either for bathrooms or for living areas. The variety of designs available, will only grow thanks to manufacturer experiments with designer styles, different materials, colours, and finishes that push the boundaries of what is possible.