The concept of a future-proof home has broadened its appeal in the past decade. It used to be something that we only considered in our advancing years, but the evolution of design and a greater awareness of the long-term benefits have influenced a significant shift in mindset. Instead of treating the idea as an afterthought, many people are adopting a forward-thinking approach which ensures that a home never requires a costly and disruptive retrofit to accommodate changing circumstances such as declining mobility or the arrival of an elderly relative. Today’s future-proof living is all about a layout that works at every stage of life, providing multigenerational use which suits a teenager and an octogenarian in equal measure. Getting the design right first time will save money on added installations further down the line.
As a space where safety in use is critical, the bathroom is subject to many of the most important design decisions in any future-proof home. It needs to be an environment that maximises accessibility and comfort whilst offering support for those that need it most.
In the past, there has been a common perception that facilities which aid mobility and independence have a clinical feel that is aesthetically incompatible with the finer details of contemporary bathroom design. Many people have come to realise that the opposite is true: the best future-proof bathrooms demonstrate that user-friendly functionality and sophisticated styling can work in harmony.
Shower facilities are a perfect example. Traditional shower baths and shower trays are often cumbersome, with a high clearance that makes them more difficult to access for those of restricted mobility. They are increasingly being replaced by less obstructive alternatives: wet rooms and level-access showers that provide frictionless floorspace throughout the bathroom. Also known as walk-in showers, these options combine attractive minimalism with ease of access for all levels of mobility.
Wet rooms v level-access showers
When comparing different types of walk-in shower, it’s worth considering the potential drawbacks of wet rooms. The clue is in the name: a slight gradient in the floor directs the water into a small drainage point, which means the whole floor can become wet, especially with high-output showers. That can be problematic in terms of laborious cleaning and maintenance, hygiene issues and risk of slipping.
Neaco advocate a less hazardous and more efficient option in the form of a level-access shower which has a built-in drainage catchment space below the floor level. Rather than spreading across the bathroom, the water falls through a grille which sits flush to the rest of the floor, with no gradient required to effect drainage. Our Neatdek 3 shower grille system remains unique to the market as the only facility that combines zero gradient with a seamless transition from the showering area to the rest of the bathroom – no steps, no ridges and no slopes. It offers contemporary style without compromising safety. We also manufacture a range of attractive shower doors which complement our Neatdek 3 range and are also compatible with most wet room facilities.
The evolution of support fittings
To complement a level-access shower, well placed support fittings can enhance comfort and assist mobility to provide a facility suitable for a lifetime of use. These could include grab rails and hinged shower seats or hinged support arms that fold back against the wall to save space when not in use. In the past, these types of fixture have carried a negative association as features that make a bathroom look like a clinical or institutional environment rather than a homely, domestic setting. Much of the blame for that perception can be attributed to a lack of imagination on the part of manufacturers – too many products have focused purely on the essential functionality without heed to the non-essential visual appeal. Design quality has often been rudimentary: worn, scratched plastics and rusting metal fixtures age the appearance of a bathroom. The rare examples of high-end products have tended to come at significant extra cost, with a premium price on materials like chrome.
Thankfully, this rule of thumb no longer applies if you know where to look. Neaco have invested in product development, advanced manufacturing techniques and value engineering to produce a wide range of superior options in an affordable price range, so a stylish and modern inclusive bathroom needn’t come with a price tag which is anything but inclusive.
All Neaco’s manufacturing takes place at our UK factory, where our powder coating facilities have enabled us to enhance the quality and diversity of the finishes available. We have made contemporary metallic styles more affordable. If you want a grab rail in a chrome finish, you no longer have to buy one manufactured from chrome – thanks to Neaco’s coating technology, you can choose an aluminium grab rail finished with the appearance of chrome. A powder coated finish is also warmer to the touch, scratch resistant and rust-free. It is also less slippery to hold than chrome, especially when hands are wet.
Support fittings are another element of future-proof bathroom design that can serve both practical and aesthetic purposes in tandem. For example, Neaco offer a range of vibrant contemporary colours, from bold blue to warm yellow, which can add a burst of brightness to complement the monochrome style of many modern interior schemes. That strong visual contrast is useful for people with impaired vision, so it can be a hugely beneficial feature when the eyesight deteriorates in later years.
If you prefer the traditional look, we also offer a range of rich and rustic colours in keeping with classic country homes and period living. We have plenty of popular standard options (which can also be applied to our shower grilles) but we can also produce bespoke finishes encompassing any RAL colour if you need a very precise formulation to match specific details of your bathroom design. We manufacture a wide range of accessories in matching colours, including towel rails, coat hooks, toilet roll holders, back rests, shelves and tilt-adjustable mirrors.
Over the years, Neaco have invested in performance as well as aesthetics, incorporating features that reflect care and attention to the user’s needs. Neaco include routered surfaces on the inside of grab rails to provide a more secure grip, and locking mechanisms to prevent hinged support arms from dropping down. As an optional extra, Neaco offer enhanced hygiene with coatings that contain quality controlled antimicrobial technology, providing an additional level of protection against microbial growth such as bacteria.
Neaco also supply an economy range of support fittings. They are available at a lower price point but offer the same outstanding manufacturing quality as our luxury options: precision engineered aluminum finished with smooth, durable powder coating.
Neaco’s experts have decades of experience in designing future-proof bathroom facilities. They have helped countless customers achieve the ideal blend of functionality and aesthetics. With Neaco’s help, you can create a bathroom that provides timeless style and timeless use.