Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bathroom Shower Design for New York Apartments

By: Darren China, R.A.

Bathrooms in Manhattan, New York homes always seem to be too small, tight, cramped…old.  There is also an over abundance of tubs. I find that clients typically wish to remove the tubs as they do not work for the way in which they actually live.  As an architect I always advise clients to maintain at least one tub in their home whether it be for resale value, a yet to arrive new born or for an elderly individual where a bath tub may be more feasible, certainly a tub in every bathroom is not needed.  This leads to the design of bathroom showers that not only work well in the allotted space but that feature elements that work well for modern day living.  Here are four of those elements:

1)  The Shampoo Niche   This recessed space built right into the wall of the shower allows you a place for not only your shampoo but also a bar of soap, razor, etc.  Typically I design these to be one foot wide so it will fit between the framing inside the wall and allow for the finish tiling.  Height can vary but again, atleast one foot tall accommodates standard shampoo bottles.  Stone is one option for the sill of the opening but many materials can be used to fit with the design language used in the rest of the bathroom. 
2) The Shower Bench   I have been finding clients increasingly requesting that we design into the shower a bench so as to help women shave their legs without having to perform sophisticated balancing acts.  As in the above photograph the shower bench can be of the teak wood type. This type of bench can be folded flat against the wall so as to open up floor space when not in use. Alternatively a bench could be built into the structure of the wall, tiled and then fit with a horizontal seating (or stepping) surface.
3) Glass Shower Enclosure   Even after completely “gutting” the old existing bathroom you are more often than not still left with the same basic tight room dimensions. I like to open up the space by designing a glass shower enclosure. This type of enclosure creates two attractive aesthetics. First it allows the space to feel as open and grand as possible since there are no solid wall structures in the bathroom to segment it.  Second, while using the shower, the entire bathroom begins to feel as if it is the shower as opposed to the feeling of showering in a compartmentalized stall.
4) The Shower Curb    This raised threshold helps to delineate the shower from the rest of the room but more importantly it keeps the water in.  Often only four or five inches tall it creates a minimal step into the shower while providing a place for the glass enclosure to rest.
Bathrooms and their showers are a very personal space whether found in a Manhattan luxury condo or in a new home out in the country.  They therefore should be personalized for each individual user so as to provide a level of comfort suitable to modern times.  Does your shower head remember your desired water temperature in the morning?
Darren China, R.A. is the principal of Studio China Architecture + Design.
Contact him at or 201-575-5180
© Copyright 2011 Darren China. All rights reserved

1 comment:

Shower Doors Nassau County said...

I agree, from the time I lived in New York I felt the same way, very cramped, tight, and overall unattractive.

-Irwin Zinkin