Wednesday, February 20

Without too much splash

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Designers opt for water-wise and smart to make being clean more eco-friendly.

Bathroom designers are coming up with innovative ways to reduce use of water in bathrooms. They are leading the way with high-functioning taps and faucets that lessen flow while retaining a luxury showering experience. Use of organic products and clever toilet flush systems are other designs to reduce water consumption.

Considered choices

There has been a move towards product conscientiousness over the past few years, says Adri van Zyl, owner of Cape-based Atelier Interiors.

“Nothing is more pertinent than water saving in South Africa at the moment. Being from Cape Town, we’ve learnt keeping a bucket in the shower goes a long way without impacting on our sanitaryware choices. Now that companies offer products that expertly temper water flow and heat control, it’s a double bonus,” says Van Zyl.

But practicality need not supersede aesthetics.

Korine Krüger, architect and one of the founders of Studium Design Office – a collaborative threesome who transform spaces using unique interior designs – says style need not be compromised for functional sustainability.

“There are many clever ways of incorporating water-wise solutions into a bathroom without taking away from aesthetics. You could use low-flow fixtures, flow regulators or aerated taps that use much less water than traditional sanitary fixtures. You can install these fittings yourself to most taps and shower heads,” says Krüger.

Bathroom aesthetics shone at the recent Design Joburg exhibition, where design studios collaborated with bathroom manufacturers to create exciting and eco-conscious designs. Krüger and her team worked with bathroom sanitary manufacturers Kohler at the show.

Incorporate organic elements, like copper. Picture: Kohler

Shower shape-makers

The best way to save water is to shower rather than bath, says Durban-based expert bathroom designer Sally Shaw, owner of Sally Shaw Bathrooms.

“A shower uses far less water than a bathtub. In general, a tub will use around 80 litres, and a shower only about eight litres a minute. To be more sustainable, you could install a grey water recycling tank, then use the water from basins and shower to water the garden,” says Krüger.

Making use of showers need not mean you shouldn’t install a bath because beautiful tubs are still considered statement pieces and can be show-stoppers.

“A master bathroom still needs a beautiful bath in terms of resale, in my opinion,” says Shaw.

Low-flow toilets

Toilets can be responsible for up to 30% of home water consumption so installing a clever loo that saves this precious resource is a good idea.

At the USA Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Show earlier this year, there was a revival of sustainable bathroom products focusing on being fashionable.

One innovator showcased a toilet that uses flush water to disinfect the bowl.

Dual-flush mechanisms are also popular with commercial and residential bathroom designers.

“Dual-flush washing closets are used commonly these days and ensure less wasteful water use because you can choose how much water you flush,” says Krüger.

Behind the scenes fixtures can also be installed or retro-fitted to ensure water and energy savings.

“Ensure the geyser is set at the correct water temperature and has a modern high pressure unit to eliminate water wastage,” says Shaw.

Organic products

To augment strides or give bamboo, wood, glass and copper a burnished bronze or tempered steel look, don’t be scared to infuse darker colours in the home’s retreat.

Surfacing is also a popular way to install organic tones and textures. Tiling manufacturers have broken the mould with gorgeous faux wood cladding.

Integrating technology into daily lifestyle components such as toilets and showers also encourages the considered use of the fittings by water-sensitive owners.

Van Zyl says they chose to create a bespoke bathroom experience by fusing innovation and technology in an ultra-contemporary space.

Practicality need not supersede aesthetics. Picture: Supplied

Light and more light…

We don’t all enjoy 180-degree views from our bathrooms, as American entertainer Pharrell Williams does, but we can make sure the lighting in our homes is eco-friendly and captures the daylight. Not only will well-positioned windows flood the area with much-needed sunshine, but our climate can also provide energy from solar panels to heat geysers.

But, says Shaw, white, light and simplicity is the trend. Ensuring you harness natural light means saving on electricity.

Williams’ $7 million (R92m) hilltop house has views of Los Angeles, with large windows allowing the light and a spectacular vista to flood in. Get the same feel when you invest in floor to ceiling windows or sophisticated skylights.

Five fabulous trending bathroom styles


Traditional styling, such as claw-foot baths, ornate mirrors and free-standing bathroom cabinetry, give the bath area a heritage feel. Olde worlde handles and checker flooring complete the look.

Claw-foot baths give a heritage feel to the bathroom. Picture: Supplied

Hotel chic

Accessorise with towel racks, neat open shelving and generous mirrors for a retreat feel. Remember sweet-smelling soaps and plush hand towels.

Glossy modern

Basins with sleek work tops and wall-hung cabinets make for an ultra-modern feel. Add frameless shower doors and seamless tiling for an easy flow and sophisticated look.


The original Scandinavian style of steam rooms/saunas has a retro effect highly desirable in our modern lifestyles. Sally Shaw of Sally Shaw Bathrooms says many clients are asking for wood-look tiling to obtain an organic feel.

Scandi style will make you feel like you’re in a sauna. Picture: Supplied

Wet rooms

Opting for a flush-to-floor walk-in shower or a complete wet room will give your bathroom a spa-like feel. If the wet room is created with good sealing and efficient water usage, a raised shower tray is not required.

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