The Ultimate Guide to Shower Heads
When it comes to design of any room, the devil is usually in the details. In a bathroom it may seem like it’s all about picking the right tiles and pouring over the mirror placement, but an experienced decorator knows that the shower is not to be forgotten, especially not if you care to make the room polished and, above all, practical. Modern bathrooms utilize not only superior materials, but a minimalist approach to design that places great importance on creating a fully rounded picture – a place that’s comfortable, spacious, and that has a sleek, clean vibe. This is where the shower head enters – it’s the cherry on top of a cake, the thing that allows people to fully relax and wash off the day’s worries. So, how do you make it pop? How do you pick the perfect one to suit even the most finicky of tastes? Well, there are some things you need to bear in mind, so let’s talk about good design and modern technology.
Types of showerheads
There are several types of showerheads, and the one you pick will depend mostly on the needs of the people who’ll be using the bathroom, and the budget you have at your disposal. The most commonly purchased option is the single-spray showerhead, a thing you’ve probably seen a dozen times or even have one in your own house. It’s the most budget-friendly of the bunch, and since everyone knows it, it’s easy to use and it gives your design a sense of familiarity and comfort. It’s not particularly glamorous, but it does the job, and it’s a good option for most households that want to save some money. It usually comes with an adjustable nozzle that changes spray patterns. The best thing to say about these is that they’re reliable, easy, but ultimately a bit underwhelming if you’re looking for luxury.
Of course, if you want more practicality, you can go for a handheld showerhead. These are similar to the regular single-spray type, but since they are attached to a long hose they offer more flexibility and are good for households with children or the elderly. Bathing is made easier because you can reach any part of your body without fuss, and they offer a little more visual interest in terms of design, particularly if you want to go for a bit of a rustic vibe and pick a copper-toned metal, or maybe something gold for a dose of chic. Another good option for those who need flexibility are sliding bar showerheads. If there are several people of vastly different heights, this will make it easy to adjust everything.
To move onto more luxurious options, go for ceiling mounts – they’re built into the ceiling and release a steady flow of water, and the best part is that they don’t stick out at all. They look seamless and neat, and if you’re going for a minimalist design you’ll love this option because it simply looks clean, orderly, and high-tech. However, bear in mind that this will require different plumbing, so the cost of the installation could be outside of your budget. Another slightly different, but equally luxurious option are rain systems, which are much easier to install and offer the same kind of benefits – a glorious, steady stream of water falling directly over your head. These kinds of showers are great because they offer a sleek design and a special atmosphere. The showerhead is large in diameter and has a steady water pressure, so when you stand under it you feel like you’re bathing in nature, with raindrops to cleanse you.
Yet another more opulent option are shower panels, also called body sprays. They require special installation, but they are ridiculously enjoyable and usually chosen by those who wish to pamper themselves thoroughly. The panels are fitted from top to the bottom of the wall and can spray the water from the sides, giving you an invigorating massage experience. This kind of thing is a good idea for anyone who loves long, hot showers, but it’s also good for people with muscle aches and back pain that need relief. The water pressure can relieve cramped muscles, so athletes and frequent gym-goers could also potentially benefit from this kind of system.
Of course, bear in mind that sometimes you can install more than one showerhead, especially if the area allows you enough space. What’s the purpose of this? Mostly, it’s about water preservation for people who are very environmentally conscious, or couples who are used to showering together and find the whole experience to be romantic. These are generally not encouraged in smaller bathrooms, especially if you want to avoid everything looking cramped and messy.
How to properly implement a showerhead
The first thing you need to consider before choosing anything are the bathroom installations. Are you renovating the bathroom completely? Can your plumbing handle what you had in mind or will you have to redo the entire thing to make it work? Some types of showerheads require very specific piping and can’t be implemented without some custom work from a professional. This can all be time consuming, so keep that in mind when doing the designing. Another thing to pay attention to would be environmental considerations – are there limitations in the area you live in? When it comes to water pressure and usage, aerating showerheads offer great benefits because they mix air and water to create more pressure. They’re more expensive, but they can save money on utility bills and are a welcome addition to any eco-conscious household.
Next in line is the design itself. As we’ve already mentioned, you need to pick a showerhead based on your needs, but you also need to pick something that fits in with the overall feel of the room. Why would you want polished chrome in an old-fashioned bathroom with antique vibes? Everything from mirrors, to the design of the sink needs to be very cohesive, and it all needs to fit in neatly with the budget you have at your disposal. Always put practicality before luxury because no one will be very happy with a bathroom that looks pretty, but doesn’t give a comfortable, easy-to-use experience. People do want to feel at ease there, and an overly-modern, impractical look can be a little intimidating.
Depending on the level of work you plan to do, installing a new showerhead could be as easy as using a wrench to twist off the old one, and then twisting back the new one. However, if you’re doing anything more than that it’s definitely recommended that you call a professional plumber, especially if installations need to be shifted and adjustments made for an entirely new system in the shower. You don’t want to be attempting any of this work on your own, especially not if you don’t have much experience. Do yourself a favor and call a good plumber to do all the hard work. If you’re really worried they’ll mess up your creative idea then you can discuss things with them beforehand, but otherwise just let them do their work.
When it comes to colors and matching, the first thing you want to look at are the tiles in the bathroom. Most bathrooms will look great with a simple, silver metallic shower, but if the tiles are in a vintage floral pattern then you might want to think about different colors – copper, brass, or even gold. In a vintage environment you can also incorporate wooden elements such as cabinets and towel shelves, or small tables with decorative plants on them. These will further match the old-fashioned design of a brassy showerhead and give a beautiful sense of cohesion. You’ll be creating a truly unique-looking bathroom with a lot of attention to detail behind it. This kind of thing is important because, after all, we do spend a lot of the time in the bathroom and it’s a room that lets us be alone and puts us at ease as we go about our daily pampering rituals.
Of course, a lot of designers prefer something more modern, so for a sleek vibe don’t be afraid to use darker tiles and showerheads to match. Chrome and silver work perfectly well here, and you’ll be oriented more towards cool-toned color palettes and a soothing atmosphere. Ceiling showerheads also work well, especially if you’re going for minimalism and are looking to create a space that’s free of clutter and distractions; this truly feels like an orderly heaven. If you’re dealing with a bathroom that has floor-to-ceiling mirrors showcasing concrete elements and polished wood, then definitely invest in a luxurious showerhead to complete the look. Besides ceiling mounts, rain systems and wall panels are also encouraged because they always give off that neat vibe that minimalism thrives on.
If you feel like the bathroom is too bare or want to match the showerhead with other elements even further, look at the other details in the room – pictures on the wall, faucets on the sink and the tub, design of the toilet bowl and even the lighting in the room. It looks really good if all the faucets are matched in design and color, and if you want more of a pop, you can rely on towel bars and racks to further bring a sense of unity to the room. Complement all this with fluffy grey towels and maybe some geometric shapes or graphic paintings on the wall to make it more approachable and softer-looking.
Another topic we’d like to cover is corrosion. Rust can be a huge problem in bathrooms where a lot of cheap materials are used, and showers are especially susceptible to this problem. Piping is not the only issue you might have in the long run either; the showerhead itself can get rusty pretty quickly if you don’t pay enough attention. The best thing to do is to maintain the general cleanliness of the room. Proper air vents can go a long way in helping you fight moisture and mold spores, so look into installing them into the room as a really good long-term investment. If you’re remodeling a bathroom that’s inside a house and decide to get an exhaust fan, then make sure that it’s venting air outdoors. The common practice of venting into the attic is just asking for trouble because it will cause mold and weaken the roof isolation over time.
Modern day living definitely has its perks, and technology is one of the best ones. Comfort and ease of access to everyday amenities is no longer the only thing that you can look for in a home; indeed, technology is taking us straight from coziness and into straightforward luxury. Sometimes it’s merely opulence and our simple human need for aesthetically pleasing things to surround us, but sometimes technology brings us things that are just plain practical, or even better, things that make our everyday life a little more fun.
If you have children or simply feel like you’re a bit silly inside, you might like the latest 3D printed animal bathroom fixtures. If you haven’t heard of 3D printing, it’s currently all the rage in the techie community. In fact, it’s so popular that interior designers are investing in some 3D design courses, especially because this technology can make any idea from your mind come to reality as long as you have the right materials. The showerhead fixtures shaped like animals are absolutely the perfect thing for anyone with small children in the house, but the figures actually look so lively and fun that we’d recommend it to anyone. They are made into animal heads that can fit over the showerhead, and these funky designs are available in great variety of animal shapes and colors. From an eagle and a lion to a T-Rex or a silly looking dolphin. This kind of thing is a really good investment for those who want to make bath time more fun for their children.
If you like sculptures but the ones mentioned seem a little too juvenile for a bachelor pad, why not opt for a more artistic version of ceiling mounts with flexible tentacles? When attached, they look like a particularly modern sort of sci-fi chandelier, and they can be bent, twisted, and moved around. Each tentacle releases a stream of water and using them as a showerhead makes it easy to adjust the way water hits. Beyond sheer functionality, this kind of piece simply looks beautiful and brings an artistic touch to the bathroom. It can give it a futuristic vibe which you can further build upon by installing LED lights, using dark tiles, and favoring chromatic metals for soap holders, towel racks and faucets.
Another great innovation will please designers who are looking to make sustainable modifications to a bathroom, especially if they care a lot about water conservation. The fact is that we do tend to use up a lot of water during shower time, with the average household consuming almost 400 gallons in a single day. Long, hot showers are pretty relaxing, and we should definitely indulge in them occasionally; however, if you care about the environment and the fact that our water supplies are dwindling, then keeping your showers short is the key to decreasing your footprint. And that’s where color-changing showerheads come in! With LED lights installed inside them, they change color depending on how much water you’ve used during the shower itself. From green, to purple, to orange, to red – the colors all indicate how much water was used and whether you’re wasting and need to quit the shower.
This is an easy way to teach children and other members of the household how to be more mindful. Of course, this kind of investment can also reduce the cost of the utility bills. Not only will the household pay less for water, but they’ll pay less for heating as well. As it turns out, this can save people quite a few bucks in the long run, in addition to making them feel more eco-conscious. Of course, LED lighting can also be used simply for aesthetic purposes, and if you want to make the bathroom seem livelier feel free to have it installed in the showerhead. As long as it gets activated during shower time, it can make the whole experience more fun and unique.
One of the best technological innovations in additions the ones presented previously are probably showerheads with Bluetooth speakers. Yep, those who sing under the shower can finally make their dreams come true! Not only can they sing, but they can bring music to accompany them. The awesome thing about these showerheads is that they’re easy to install and easy to use, and all you really need to do is to connect it to a phone or other Bluetooth-enabled device. There’s a rechargeable battery, so you’ll get 6-7 hours of playback which is more than enough to last anyone for several weeks. A shower playlist can easily be created, and if you’re looking to merge design and comfort, this is a pretty good way to do it. Besides music, a person can also listen to podcasts and even use their bathroom time to listen to an audio book, or maybe learn a language from lecture tapes.
Finally, the last thing you need to know about is simple, effective, and straightforward. The so called “touch-clean” and “easy clean” showerheads with rubberized spray holes are good option for people who hate cleaning. Calcium and lime scale build-up are annoying to deal with, so if you hate using harsh chemicals to clean your bathroom, these can be a great option. Sadly, there’s not much variety to this kind of showerheads just yet, but they aren’t going to break the bank and they can easily be installed in households where you’re working on a tight budget.
Showers designed by famous designers
When you’re in need of inspiration, the best thing you can do is turn to art. Design, more than any other form of art, is practical, and bathrooms take a very special sort of skill to be made beautiful. A lot of people don’t even realize that having a really gorgeous bathroom is a possibility; most of them just want something functional that allows them to clean up quickly and be off to other, nicer rooms. But that’s just underestimating the possibilities at your disposal – if you care about interior design at all, this is where your attention needs to be.
Showers and baths are usually the center point of the bathroom, and the thought that goes into making them can make the whole design stand out. You’ll have the freedom to use your creativity to its full potential, and if there’s one thing you should do, it’s utilize unusual materials. Don’t be afraid to step out of the box, and feel free to play with shapes and colors. You’re looking to create a sense of serenity in this room, but you can tackle that any way you want. Perhaps you’ll use soft pastels or frosted glass, or maybe you’ll have an entirely different kind of idea about what calm is supposed to look like.
Of course, if you’re not sure where to begin, it’s always a good idea to look at the works of great designers with a keen sense of aesthetics. If you take a look at designs from Isabel López-Quesada, you can see some interesting shower enclosures made from Moroccan plaster an almost cave-like vibe that gives the person both a complete sense of privacy and a modern look. There’s something almost primal about this kind of design that utilizes textured materials, and when you couple it with a beautiful rain system showerhead you’ve got an experience full of tactile sensations.
But the easiest way to bring luxury into the bathroom is to use marble. The famous architect Tom Kundig is known for using them on most of the surfaces, and it’s really easy to make any place look more splendorous if you incorporate marble patterns. Pairing white marble with gold details is a no-brainer way to make the room look expensive, but this is where you need to be careful and not go overboard. Too many shiny details and it will end up looking tacky. The trick is to really keep the colors uniform and only break the monotony with small details. Another designer who’s known to love marbleized surfaces is Timothy Corrigan, and here you can pick up another color scheme: white marble, white and grey tiles, and brass showerheads and faucets. This is sheer, unmarred beauty, and it can be made to look even more spectacular if you throw in some crystal details in the form of lamps and flower holders.
Bobby McAlpine and Ray Booth are also fans of marble, though this architect and designer duo prefers a more subtle version of it. They are known to incorporate both a bathtub and a shower in a bathroom, and this gives everything a sense of practicality. Not to be left purely functional, the bathroom they designed in Baton Rouge is ornamented with a Hugo Köcke painting that brings the whole room to life and makes it look more like an art gallery than anything else. Showerheads and bath fittings are silverized and perfectly fit the whole understated elegance of the place.
Another beautiful material that a lot of designers are scared to use in the bathroom is wood. Wooden surfaces need to be very well done and made of high-quality materials with the proper polish, but they have such an ability to transform a room into something that instantly recalls fresh nature and trees into mind. Decorator Kathleen Walsh and architect Mark Hutker have worked together on a house in Martha’s Vineyard and the results ended up pretty stunning – hardwood floors, sinks with a wooden base, a beautiful white ceramic bathtub, and a wicker laundry basket standing in the corner for some homey charm. The shower installations are brassy and fit beautifully into the picture.
If you’re not sure about using actual wood but still want the feel of wood, you can do the same thing the architect Steven Harris and designer Lucien Rees have done – use wood patterned tiles. Found in a big Manhattan apartment, this bathroom is light and airy, with tiles that look like they were made of pale wood. The handheld showerhead completes the relaxing experience and makes the whole room look wonderfully familiar.
One last thing to consider is related to outdoor showers. More popular than you think, the option to have an outdoor shower is perfect for the hot climate of cities such as L.A., and in the home of John Goldwyn and Jeff Klein there’s a simple overhead showerhead fixture, a small space with a wooden floor and a door to provide privacy, and the best bit of all, a garden of blooming roses. The pink flowers are so relaxing and give you the sense of bathing in nature. Of course, a home can have an indoor option as well, like in the home of Sara Story. With narrow hallways that lead from inside to the outside, there are options both for people who want to enjoy the warmth of sun on their skin, and for those who prefer a more secluded private experience.
As you can see, you can pretty much go wild when it comes to shower design and how to incorporate it into a bathroom. The showerhead is an important detail because it not only completes the look of your design idea, but it provides the whole thing with a specific experience. Do you want to create a space that resembles a garden and has an overhead system that allows a summer rain experience? Or do you want copper installations and wooden panels for a rustic vibe? Either way, let your imagination run wild.
How to properly clean the showerhead
If your showerhead has seen better days and you merely wish to find a way to bring that old gleam back, then you need to know how to clean it properly. How you clean it depends on the type, how dirty it is, and what you have at your disposal.
You’ll need to pay attention to the flexible rubber nozzles on the head. They can get clogged up over time, but they shouldn’t be too difficult to clean if you have a scrubber sponge with you. Be gentle as you scrub away the lime and the mildew, and if you’re finding it hard to reach tiny areas, consider using a toothbrush. It’s an old cleaning trick that most housewives know by heart, but you can’t of course take the same brush you’re currently using on your teeth.
Are the stains still there and won’t come off no matter how hard you scrub? Don’t worry, there’s another trick you can try: get a plastic bag, some alcoholic vinegar, a rubber band, and some baking soda. Mix one cup of vinegar with one cup of water, add a spoonful of baking soda, and then fill up the plastic bag. Put the plastic bag over the showerhead carefully so all the rubber holes are immersed, and then use the rubber band to keep it in place. You want to leave this on for at least 20 minutes, but it’s much better if you give it a full hour. Once you’ve waited long enough remove the bag, then use a sponge to remove any excess deposits. Let hot water run to wash it all off, and you should be all set.
If the showerhead requires a deeper clean, you’ll have to disassemble it to remove all the mineral deposits and dirt thoroughly. The first thing you want to do is to disconnect it, and you can do that by twisting the nut at the shower arm and then removing it. Your hand might not be strong enough for this, so use actual pliers to pull this off. Be careful though – pliers can end up scratching the metal and leaving a mark, so to avoid that use a thin rag to cushion your tool. Once the showerhead is off you can easily rinse and scrub it, and you can always use that vinegar-water-baking soda mix to help you along. You can also use a plain wooden toothpick to help you poke holes through clogged build up, just be gentle while doing it. Once the showerhead is all clean you can dry it off, then wrap plumbing tape around the threads of the shower arm to make sure the seal is tight.
When it comes to overhead fixtures like rain systems and ceiling mounts, the process is a little different. It’s possible you might need to bring in a ladder to reach the ceiling, or at least a sturdy chair. Climb up and use rubber gloves to scrub away some of the deposits, and then bring in that water-vinegar-baking soda mixture, or a higher grade descaler that you can buy at the supermarket. You will need to use a paint brush or something similar to spread it over the ceiling mount, and make sure to leave it on for some time. If it’s a chemical descaler, leave it on for ten minutes. After that, you can use a handheld shower to wash everything away, and then use a big brush or a sponge to remove any residue. While this sounds like it’s a lot of work, in reality it’s unlikely you’ll have to do this very often, especially because most ceiling mounts are made of really good materials.
Is there any way to maintain your shower and slow down all that mildew and lime scale build up? Yes, and it’s not very difficult at all. First, always make sure your bathroom is well-aired because bacteria and mold simply thrive in moist, humid environments. If there are no windows or air vents inside, try to at least leave the door open when you’re done using the bathroom. Next, you can use an electronic water descaler, also known as electronic water conditioner. It can be installed in the piping and it’s pretty effective at keeping the water soft, though you could also use water softeners. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to simply clean everything regularly. That homemade cleaner we mentioned twice is actually pretty great to use in your whole house. It’s non-toxic, cheap, and effective.
So there you go; now you know all there is to know about showerheads and how you can use them in your design projects. Of course, as with anything in design, there are no hard rules. These are examples and guidelines, the basics that are there to inspire you, rather than limit you. Your own imagination and creativity are what brings success, so feel free to push the limits and learn some new decorating tricks on your own. Try things, see what works, and you’ll soon gain more skill and have a new vision of how things should look like. Enjoy the process and have fun!