With the trend for spending on home improvements set to continue into 2021, Richard Harvey, Commercial Director for Plumbing and Heating at Wolseley Plumb & Parts, explores the latest trends for bathroom renovations. 

According to money.co.uk, 65% of UK homeowners chose to improve their properties between March and August 2020. The top reason for this investment is a simple one, with respondents saying that they wanted to be more comfortable while spending so much time at home.

Once purely functional spaces, today’s bathrooms are expected to be havens of tranquillity. To meet the growing demand for high-end, spa-like sanctuaries with exacting design specifications, many merchants now offer virtual reality software which enables homeowners to take a virtual tour of their new bathroom. 

As well as giving the customer an opportunity to bring their design aspirations to life, the software enables tradespeople to make changes to the design before the bathroom is installed, saving time and money, and improving customer service. 

The use of smart technology doesn’t stop at the design phase though. Already a feature in most homes, smart technology is set to become more popular throughout 2021. Technology such as smart showers, Bluetooth mirrors, automatic sensors, and even integrated TVs and smart speakers bring a little bit of extra luxury to our fingertips.

Yet, when making a compelling case for customers that aren’t impressed by gadgetry, luxury, and convenience, installers can focus on longer-term benefits. Sensor taps and smart showers, for example, offer the ability to monitor water usage and temperature at the touch of a button, offering users the information they need to make savings and reduce wastage.

For customers that are technology averse, smaller improvements to their bathroom, such as no-touch soap dispensers and taps, can help elevate the design of bathroom appliances while also improving hygiene – an essential consideration in the light of COVID-19.

The How We Live report from Aviva, which was carried out during 2020, found that over a third of homes in the UK are multigenerational, with the number set to rise partly due to lockdown. This trend is reflected in the increase in wetroom installations, which offer a solution for the elderly and infirm, as well as being a solution for a high-traffic bathroom.

On top of being practical, wetrooms can also look incredibly stylish and add value to the property. However, for a successful installation, water drainage, waterproofing, extraction, and accessibility must be thoroughly and professionally executed. 

While many will stick with the more traditional approach of using tiles and waterproof membrane to create a watertight finish, wall panels and glass panels are becoming increasingly popular due to their stylish appearance and easy installation, making them a popular choice for savvy installers.

For those looking to update their bathroom this year, sustainability may be high on the agenda. When it comes to changing attitudes and introducing new technology, installers have an important role to play by recommending and installing products specifically designed to reduce water consumption.

The good news is, with so many suppliers now turning their attention to creating sustainable options, going eco-friendly doesn’t mean sacrificing on style. There are an increasing number of water-saving taps on the market, with products such as Bristan’s eco-smart range and Methven’s V-Jet technology specifically designed to reduce water usage by up to a third.

Showers and shower heads from the likes of Aqualisa, Triton, and Mira are also cleverly designed to reduce water consumption – with savings of up to savings of up to 25% without compromising on water power. 

By the same token, upgrading from a standard toilet to a dual-flush mechanism can save more than 7,000l of water each year. With so many options to choose from, installers can help demonstrate that there is no need to sacrifice style for sustainability. 

While the influence of tech and the latest in bathroom technology will bring joy into the heart of anyone who loves a gadget, there are also some great style trends for 2021. Black looks here to stay, with sales of black brassware still on the rise with the resurgence of marble. 

The trend for industrial style is seeing some plumbers using their pipe-bending skills to create statement pieces that put brass pipework at the heart of the design. For installers, the key is tapping into trends, knowing your materials and being able to advise customers on a solution that fits their style aspirations, budget, and functional needs of their home.