Downsizing, as it is known, is a property trend clearly here to stay but what are the benefits of a more compact life?
In general terms, downsizers opt for smaller, more manageable homes for the later years of their life – selling the larger family home to purchase an apartment or townhouse. The benefits range from closer proximity to inner-city areas, ease of maintenance, more time for lifestyle experiences through to having more money at hand leading into retirement.
Even the Federal Government has recognised the benefits, and since 1 July 2018 those over 65 can make a post-tax contribution to their superannuation from the sale of their home. For a single-person this is capped at $300,000 and for a couple $600,000, with the intention being to open up the market to younger families as our suburbs reach capacity.
The statistics on the ageing population in Australia are astounding – we are living longer, living better than ever before and the vast majority of us want to age in place so planning for the future is important. Moving into a smaller home is a big call and commonly the compromises are in the number of bedrooms with the kitchen and living area being the focal point. It's of great appeal to downsizers as there is less home-maintenance and lower energy bills but that also means less storage.
We discussed the changing face of the kitchen for downsizers in a previous article that can be found here. In this piece, we explore the other focus point for downsizers, the bathroom.
In the bathroom, keeping things simple with ample space on the vanity is a simple solution – easy to clean and providing a feel of elegance though it is what’s under the basin that really counts.
Keeping joinery and fittings simple means less time cleaning. Bathroom by by Lukas Partners. Photograph by Caitlin Mills
Traditionally, vanities are the haven of cleaning products and plumbing though they are actually prime real-estate for storage. Selecting a basin where the water drains to the rear reduces those issues and frees up our options to store essential items in a highly accessible place.
The added benefit here is just that, accessibility. By installing drawers rather than cupboards the things you use daily are at your fingertips without having to reach around various containers or bend down.
It's what is referred to as ergonomics, and you can read more on that here with a key take-out being that generally in Australia, vanities or basins are positioned approximately 850mm above the floor - based on the average height of an adult.
Material innovations like with the Edge vanity by Falper provide an organic feel that is also functional.
Another key consideration is the quality and materiality of your bathroom. These two go hand in hand as quality materials and manufacturing mean less chance of things breaking and, with the contents of the tool shed sold in the garage sale, replacing a tap means tradespeople so will cost you more in the long run.
Technological advancements in materials can also reduce the amount of time taken in cleaning, not to mention less products needed. Something we’ve explored here, and given we downsize to be closer to the action, with more time and money to enjoy it, any second saved is one spent enjoying life.
Quality and material choices also negate one of the biggest stigmas around downsizing – that in doing so we lose that level of grandeur or luxury held in the larger, former home. This is something that Melbourne studio Lukas Partners recognised in the design of the penthouse of the Arthur Apartments in Albert Park. It is also the focus for Nick Johnston, head of the in-house design team at Rogerseller. Using materials like brass combined with precision engineering for bathroom hardware means they will last longer than the alternative plastic options.
The Caldera range by Rogerseller focuses on quality materials and detailing.
Developments in surfaces aren't just limited to new technologies with traditional glazing methods making tiles both more attractive and safer. Choosing the right tiles for wet areas is important, especially as we age and while there is no regulation for slip ratings in residential buildings – tiles with more grip are indeed safer. Here is a simple explanation of slip ratings, it's extremely important that for wet areas the right tiles are selected. Speciality wet area tiles doesn't mean they are harder to clean, in fact they can repel bacteria and dust as we discovered here. Minimising corners and joins also reduces cleaning time with larger tiles meaning less grooves to clean as does designing a shower recess that doesn't need a door.
The Quattro series vanity by Falper provides easy to access storage, right where you need it.
Consideration to shower heads and taps is also important. Shower heads that are adjustable in height are an easy way to add a personal touch and so are mixer-style taps though their placement is important. Running your hand through freezing cold or scalding hot water while you get the temperature right is the last thing anyone wants so positioning taps away from the waters spray is something you will thank yourself for, every day. Attaching an adjustable shower head so the centre point is at shoulder height (1600-1700mm) should accommodate most heights and for overhead showers, the head should be around 2350mm from the ground.
As Johnston points out, a combination shower – bringing together a hand held and overhead water source – is ideal though the size of the head is also important. The smaller, stick-like, versions may be cheaper but they provide a harder water flow so in developing his new combination shower he has opted for a broader diameter meaning a more relaxing shower with better coverage.
The position of towel racks, hooks and storage for soaps is also worth thinking about. Like your shower mixer, anything you need to reach for should be set at approximately 1200mm from the floor and in close proximity to the shower entrance as the less we have to reach the less chance there is of slipping or walking water across the tiles. Simple as these things sound, they can save you time and ad an extra touch of enjoyment.
By following the simple principles above, we were able to create a bathroom that feels spacious with ample storage while retaining a sense of luxury that is with us to stay.
FOR MORE ON THE FALPER, CALDERA AND ROGERSELLER RANGES CLICK HERE
1.With ample storage in the vanity, bench surface space can be reclaimed. Aim for a vanity depth of 600mm.
2.Quality materials can vary from natural stone to porcelain, both with their benefits. The coatings though are important, look out for smoother surfaces as they provides a simple, durable and sustainable approach.
3.Choose a tap colour combination of coated metals that makes it easier to clean and doesn't pick up the dirt and smears as easily, leaving more time to enjoy your new bathroom.
WRITTEN BY HouseLab