Bathroom accessory is a very broad term which includes a lot of products, from bathroom mats to soap dishes - they offer both practical solutions and can make a great style impact.
WHAT IS IT MADE OF?
Bathroom accessories come in different materials, finishes and ultimately cost.
Plastic or PVC bathroom accessories are cheaper and tend to be sold as matching sets. They come in a wide range of colours and are easy to replace but the downside is the lower quality doesn't make them very long lasting.
Metal bathroom accessories such as aluminum and stainless steel are more expensive but they are heavier and more durable than plastic. The extra weight means that if you want to fix them to the wall you need to do so securely.
Ceramic bathroom accessories are cheaper than porcelain but are easy to clean and do not have the same problems with corrosion that chrome plated steel does. You do have to be more careful as ceramic will shatter if accidentally dropped.
Freestanding bathroom accessories are practical and simple as they can be placed anywhere and moved around without worrying about using tools or measuring up. They are a good option if you like to change your design more frequently.
Bathroom accessory sets can be a more cost effective way to furnish your bathroom and you don't have to worry about products matching.
Sets usually come with a soap dispenser, toothbrush holder and soap dish as standard with larger sets including items such as toilet roll holder, toilet brushes/holders and towel rails.
For fitted bathroom accessories, such as shelves and toilet roll holders, these are almost always fitted to the wall.
You need to ensure you make the right decision as these will need to be drilled through your tiles - although some bathroom accessories come with suction cups you cannot use them with heavy items.
MAKING A BATHROOM ACCESSORY LIST
It can be helpful to write down a list of bathroom accessories you might need before you go shopping, this can include what are essential items and those little luxuries. Just be careful not to overdo it, as too many unnecessary items can lead to clutter and make it more work to keep everything clean not to mention that you might not have enough room for it all.
You also need to keep in mind your storage needs too, as you will need a place to keep your cleaning products and towels, for example.
Some ideas of what to add to your bathroom accessory list:
Soap dish or liquid soap dispenser
Toilet brush holder
Towel rail or ring
Shower curtain rail
Although not the most glamourous item on your list, toilet roll holders and toilet brushes/holders are vital to have in every bathroom. It might also be a good idea to have a spare toilet roll holder so that you never get caught short and it minimises on clutter.
The most common type of toilet roll holder is a simple, horizontal bar which is easy to install and usually has a chrome finish to tie in with the rest of the bathroom decor.
A toilet brush is an essential item for cleaning your loo and the holder stores it while not in use. You can find them in various colours, designs and finishes, both freestanding and wall hung versions - the wall hung versions are a smarter option as there is no risk of accidentally knocking it over.
Bath racks might be seen as more of a luxury than a necessity but they are great for keeping bathroom essentials close at hand or for giving you a place to prop up a good book or a glass of wine for when you want to enhance your bathing experience.
Bathroom mats are great for adding a pop of colour to your bathroom or to tie in your style theme by matching them to your choice of towels. For a touch of comfort, opt for one made of memory foam.
On a more practical note, they are good for absorbing water and reducing the risk of accidents via slipping. You can get one for inside the bath too - shower mats serve the same purpose of preventing accidents.
Grab bars, also known as grab rails, are assistive products designed for those with mobility issues or the elderly but can also be useful for small children. They are a permanent fixture that offer stability and safety when using facilities in the bathroom.
Grab rails come in different lengths to be used in different places:
System bars - are a series of bars, custom cut and installed on the walls, to be used together to support a person over a larger area (usually the entire bathroom).
Straight bars - these are wall fixed bars that run in one direction and can be fixed in the vertical, horizontal or at an angle.
Floor to ceiling bars - vertical bars that run floor to ceiling that are helpful when used beside the bath to assist with getting in and out of the tub.
Angled bars - As the name suggests, these are fixed to the wall at an angle - the angled part acts as forearm support, good if you have weak wrists and hands.
The finish is also important not only for the look but also the grip it provides:
Slip resistant/ribbed finish provides extra grip especially for wet hands but can be uncomfortable if you have sensitive hands.
Polish/chrome finish look attractive but can be slippery when used with wet hands.
Plastic finish offers a warmer feel than chrome which makes it less susceptible to condensation and comes in a range of colours - opting for a brighter, contrasting colour from the wall can be beneficial if you have low vision.
The sole purpose of shower curtains is to prevent your bathroom floor from being soaked by water while you take a shower.
They are typically made from PVC or polyester which are strong, durable and easy to clean. Modern shower curtains come in a wide variety of colours and designs so they can be as plain or bold as you like!
Shower curtain rails can be attached to the wall or ceiling, the wall versions can be fixed or removable. They come either straight or circular, in various finishes from traditional white to chrome and gold effect.
Shower storage usually comes in the form of shower caddies or shower storage baskets which neatly and conveniently store your shampoo, shower gel etc
You can choose from versions that hang over bath screens, those that can be fixed to the wall or those that use clever suction technology. Storing your toiletries in caddies also helps prevent the build up of residue on the bottom of bottles that normally occurs over time making them a more hygienic option.
A simple yet effective concept, towel rails have been around for many years. Single bars are good for small spaces whilst those with large families can opt for holders with multiple rails or arms. Towel hooks are another option which are wall mounted and can be placed handily beside sinks, baths or behind doors.
Heated towel rails are becoming more popular but only work when you have your central heating switched on, unless you opt for an electric model which has the benefit of giving you warm towels all year round. You can learn more about them here.
Make sure that if you use or install a towel rail/ring behind the bathroom door that you can fully open the door without banging the towel rail against the wall as this can cause damage. A solution to this can be to use a door stopper at the base of the door to prevent the door from opening all the way.
SOAP DISHES & DISPENSERS
Soap dishes/trays help keep your surfaces free of soap scum and residue, to help with keeping your bathroom cleaner but also giving you a place to store your slippery soap bar.
Not all soap dishes are created equal unfortunately, and many leave your wet bar of soap sitting in stagnant water leaving the bar slimy and unusable.
The solution is to buy a soap dish that avoids this problem by having a drainage feature that allows the soap to dry out fully.
Liquid soap is quick and convenient to use but not only are the plastic bottles unattractive but they are also bad for the environment so liquid soap dispensers are a more environmental alternative. Simply refill them whenever they are empty.
Manual dispensers come in bottles with a pump and come freestanding or wall mounted.
Bathroom shelves are an effective storage solution if you are short of space around your basin or don't have enough room for any freestanding bathroom units. Glass shelves are a sturdy and stylish way to tidy away your bathroom products.
The benefits of great bathroom lights can change the look and feel of a room depending on which type you go for. We go into more detail about the various options here.
Bathroom mirrors are seen as an essential item for most people and come in a vast array of sizes, shapes and modern designs come with additional extras such as lights and demisters. Mirrored cabinets kill two birds with one stone by also offering additional storage. You can find a more in-depth guide on choosing the right bathroom mirror here.