Category Archives: Social

What happens behind the closed bathroom door?


Why do we spend so long in the shower?  How often is a double-flush required?  How deep is the bath filled?  Is it hot water or cold water first?  How often is the toilet really cleaned?  Does face washing require the plug to be in or out?

What really goes on in the privacy of our bathrooms? 

In April we will be finding out ….

We have asked 50 UK householders to take part in a unique 7-day study into what happens behind the closed bathroom door, in order to get a real understanding of bathroom habits and behaviours,

The study, which is a collaboration between Trend-Monitor and The Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA),  is in the format of an online interactive diary with two-way, real-time communication between the researchers and the participants.  This enables daily tasks to be set, further details requested, images uploaded, different workday and rest day behaviours to be captured, and much more.

Alongside the diary study, a quantitative survey will question 500 homeowners on their decision-making process when purchasing a new bathroom and evaluate their satisfaction levels after purchase.  Plus record their awareness of water regulations and legal compliance whilst making their purchases.

“This is the first time any organisation from our industry has questioned the consumer in so much detail about their bathrooms and how they use bathroom products,” said BMA CEO Yvonne Orgill.

“The results of the research will aid the BMA to talk with clarity and credibility when working with the government and other organisations on water issues.”

Jane Blakeborough, research director at Trend-Monitor comments “We have been wanting to run a study of this type for some time now and partnering with the BMA has meant that we have been able to work closely with bathroom manufacturers to understand what it is they really want to know about bathroom product usage in the home environment”

The results of both studies will be made available to BMA members and Trend-Monitor Insight Partners.

For more information, please contact, tel 0113 209 3288


Ikea launches furniture range for pets

Ikea pet furniture range

Have you ever felt like your cat or dog wasn’t just a pet, but a member of the family?  You are not alone.

IKEA felt there was a gap in the market for reasonably priced, but nice-looking pet products and developed a pet product range.  The new LURVIG collection, which means “hairy” in Swedish, was launched in five countries — Japan, France, Canada, U.S and Portugal at the start of October.

Ikea pet furniture range

Created by pet loving designer, Inma Burmudez,  with support from veterinarians,  according to Ikea “the range covers all the bases of our shared life with pets indoors and out, so you and your pet can enjoy your home together“.

Ikea furniture for cats

Ikea furniture for dogs

Source:  Ikea 

How much living space do we really need?

Mini Living Urban Cabin

As part of the London Design Week, a collaboration between the car brand Mini and architect Sam Jacob attempts to answer the question of how much living space we really need with the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin.

MINI created the Urban Cabin as part of its ongoing MINI Living project, which is exploring new forms of urban living.   Designed for a future when homes become a shared resource and with modern city living in mind, the Urban Cabin demonstrates how to maximise your living space on a small urban footprint, applying creativity and innovation to a limited space.   Although limitation can have a negative connotation when it forces us to do without the things we believe we need, the MINI LIVING Urban Cabin offsets this by showing that it is simply a matter of creatively exploring possibilities.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

At just 15 sqm, the Urban Cabin is a compact micro-house demonstrating clever alternatives to space-saving. Externally, the design is inspired by London’s rich history of geometric facades, emulating the surrounding architecture by reflecting them back with mirrored surfaces

Inside the imaginative space is a homage to British eccentricity and houses an innovative blend of areas for social gatherings alongside space to take stock and have moments of calm and privacy.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

Equipped with a shared kitchen and micro-library, the miniature space is intended to foster communal exchanges.  The kitchen for example has been created with London’s food markets in mind, aiming to bring their culture and diversity into the home, whilst the micro-library suggests the importance of preserving public spaces for people to read.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

White materials are predominantly used to create a light and airy feel, combined with modern touches.  And the whole space has been designed with versatility in mind, for example the table can spontaneously be moved outside to take advantage of warmer weather.

Mini Living Urban Cabin

Mini Living Urban Cabin

The Urban Cabin is the latest in a series of structures that MINI has built as part of MINI Living. The first was an installation at Milan design week in 2016, which also explored the idea of shared living spaces.

The Rise of Home Workers

A desire for a better work-life balance, coupled with converging technologies and the digitisation of products has led to 4 million people leaving the office behind to work primarily from home, with a further 1.8 million of us wanting work from home if we could.


Working from home trend
Infographic produced by Sage


Trend-Monitor’s own research into kitchen purchase behaviour and the motivations behind the purchase of kitchen products found that over 40% of UK kitchens have to double up as a home office space.

According to Mariano Mamertino, EMEA economist at global job site Indeed, said: “Flexibility is high up the wishlist for employees of all ages – from new parents who need to juggle work with childcare, to older workers.

“But younger workers in particular see it as essential. Digital natives often expect to be able to harness the flexibility that technology provides, to enable them to work whenever and wherever suits them.”

In 2014 The Office of National Statistics investigated the characteristics of home workers.  Their key findings are as follows:-

  • Of the 30.2 million people in work in January to March 2014, 4.2 million were home workers, giving a home worker rate of 13.9% of those in work.  This is the highest rate since comparable records began in 1998.
  • The number of home workers has grown by 1.3 million and the rate by 2.8 percentage points since 1998
  • Home workers tend to work in higher skilled roles than the rest of the population and consequently earn on average a higher hourly wage.
  • Almost two-thirds of home workers were self-employed in 2014.
  • Using the home for work is most prevalent within the agriculture and construction industries.
  • Working from home is more prevalent among individuals who are older.
  • The South West was the region of Great Britain with the highest home working rate at 17.1%.

More recent research by the TUC, published in May 2016 to mark National Work from Home day, found that the number of employees who say they usually work from home has increased by a fifth (19%) over the past decade, with nearly a quarter of a million (241,000) more people working from home than 10 years ago.

The biggest growth in regular home working has been among women employees, with 35% (157,000) more working from home in 2015 than in 2005.

However, men still account for the majority of homeworkers, with 912,000 regularly working from home in 2015, compared to 609,000 women.

Older employees are more likely to work from home, with 454,000 in their forties and 414,000 in their fifties home-working.


Source:  The Office of National Statistics, Sage, The TUC


Designing Homes for Multigenerational Living

Multigenerational living trend

Nearly 7% of UK households are multigenerational, the equivalent of 1.8 million households, and yet in the UK this concept is not well-understood and there has been little development of new home designs to suit the needs of families that would like to live in a multigenerational household.

Households are defined as multigenerational where there are three or more generations of the same family living together, or two generations of the same family living together, consisting of parents and one or more adult children (over the age of 25), or two generations of the same family living together consisting of one or more adult children (typically middle aged) and their elderly parent(s)

New research by The NHBC Foundation identifies a growing trend towards multigenerational living.  Their report, Multigenerational Living, An Opportunity for House Builders?,  analyses the scale and types of multigenerational households currently found in the UK and explores the experiences of British families living in this way.

Multigenerational living was also discussed with a range of house builders to understand their perspective on this market, in terms of their perception of both opportunity and risk.

The research provides evidence that challenges some myths about multigenerational living in the UK and suggests that it is not just ethnic minority families who choose to live in multigenerational households,  it is not just a response to care needs or housing affordability problems and it is not just about living in properties with annexes.

Key Findings

  • The number of multigenerational households in the UK has been increasing, driven by greater numbers of adult children (aged 25 or over) living in the parental home.
  • Four out of five multigenerational households in the UK are White British, although some ethnic groups (predominantly Asian families) are more likely than White British people to live in multigenerational households.
  • Multigenerational households tend not to be large and typically much smaller than often portrayed. Approximately one-quarter of households with grandparent(s) present contain three people, just over 20% contain four people and a similar proportion contain five people. Two-adult-generation households are generally smaller and are most likely to comprise just three people.  Average-sized homes with little or no modification may therefore provide satisfactory accommodation for many multigenerational households
  • Multigenerational households are most likely to live in three- or four-bedroom homes that they own, and the households, in general, are not living in poverty.
  • Multigenerational households predominantly live in ‘standard’ properties, and not all have annexes or extensions to accommodate household members separately

Requirements for Multigenerational Living

The research showed that, in terms of the design and use of space in the home, privacy is important but so is the ability to flexibly use any ‘additional’ space.  The best model included some shared spaces, open-plan dining and
an element of private space. For example, there needs to be space for interaction, such as family meals, but some privacy, such as separate rooms to entertain guests or watch television.

A limited number of bathrooms can cause tensions if everyone needs to be ready at the same time of day, so en-suites or multiple bathrooms were welcomed.

The flexibility to adapt properties over time to suit different family arrangements was welcomed. Such future-proofing might, for example, enable easy adaptation of a downstairs room (with access to a WC) into a bedroom.

Adaping New-Build House Designs for Multigenerational Households

A design review by The NHBC Foundation identified various existing common new-build house designs that are suitable for multigenerational households, or which could easily be adapted to be so.

  1. Suitable without change
    These are typically designs in which one or two bedrooms and a bathroom form a relatively separate suite of rooms on its own floor (typically the top floor of a three-storey house). These house types offer the possibility of immediate use of this suite of rooms, either by an elderly relative or by adult children, without any alteration or conversion of the existing plan.
  2. Adjustment of existing plan layout
    The second type of newbuild design identified by the review comprises houses in which the original plan offers a particularly large double bedroom, usually with an ensuite bathroom, often located above a double garage or a ground floor wing. In these cases the layout can often be changed to provide a self-contained space with a living room, double bedroom and ensuite bathroom, plus the option of a kitchenette.
  3. Opportunity to extend
    These are houses which offer the opportunity to provide a separate self-contained extension to the original house. Such homes might be marketed either with planning consent and designed to comply with Building Regulations, leaving the purchaser to engage a contactor to carry out the work, or as an ‘off plan’ option in which the house builder would complete the extension as part of the main work.
  4. Ground-floor alteration
    Where the existing ground-floor plan has a large bedroom or family room, this may be suitable for conversion into a self-contained living area with its own entrance.

NHBC Foundation Multigenerational Living

The full report from The NHBC Foundation can be downloaded here >>

Source:  The NHBC Foundation “Multigenerational Living, An Opportunity for UK house builders” Report


The Structure of Families and Households in the UK

uk family structure

The structure of our family or household is one of foundations on which we decide how we live in our homes and the type of products we will buy for our homes

Here we highlight 6 key facts about UK family and household structures, courtesy of the Office of National Statistics:-

#1. Married or civil partner couple families are the most common family type

Of the 18.9 million families in the UK, the most common type of family is married or civil partner couple families, of which there are 12.7 million.  And married or civil partner couples without dependent children are more common than those with dependent children, at 7.9 million and 4.8 million respectively

Families by family type ONS

The second largest family type is the cohabiting couple family at 3.3 million, which is the fastest growing family type and has doubled over the past 20 years.

Opposite sex married couple families account for 79.1% of all couple families. Opposite sex cohabiting couple families were the next largest type of couple family at 19.8%.  Same sex couple families (including civil partner, same sex married and same sex cohabiting couple families) accounted for 1% of all couple families.

#2. Lone parent families have grown significantly

Since 1996, lone parent families have grown by 18.6%, a statistically significant increase; in comparison married couple families have grown very little (0.3%).

Of the 2.9 million lone parent families in the UK in 2016, the majority (86%) were headed by a female lone parent.  This percentage has changed little over the past 20 years as women continue to be more likely to take the main caring responsibilities for any children when a relationship breaks down and therefore become lone parents.

#3. More young adults are living with their parents

In 1996 around 5.8 million 15 to 34 year olds in the UK lived with their parents, this increased to a peak of 6.7 million in 2014 and remained around 6.5 million in 2016.

Although the total population aged 15 to 34 in the UK has increased over the past 20 years, the percentage living with their parents has risen from 36% in 1996 to 39% in 2016.

Young adults living with their parents

A large percentage of 15 to 19 year olds would be expected to be living with their parents and the number of young adults living with their parents has shown to decrease with age.   Looking at 20 to 34 year olds, the number living with their parents has increased from 2.7 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2013 and has since remained at 3.3 million. The percentage living with their parents has risen from 21% in 1996 to 25% in 2016.Young males are more likely than young females to be living with their parents. Around 44% of males aged 15 to 34 are living with their parents and 31% of males aged 20 to 34 are living with their parents.   This is compared with 34% of females aged 15 to 34 and only 20% of females aged 20 to 34.

Larger numbers of young adults tending to stay at home for longer may be explained by them staying in education and training for longer, delaying leaving the parental home as they formalise relationships and have children at older ages and also as it has become more expensive to rent or buy a home.


#4. Average UK household size is 2.4 people

There are 27.1 million households in the UK and this number has increased by 7% since 2006, in line with the growth of the UK population during this period. As a result, the average household size has remained at 2.4 people over the decade.

Around 28% of households contained one person. Although this has not changed much over the last decade, compare this to 1971 when only 17% of households in Great Britain contained one person, it would suggest that the proportion of one-person households has increased considerably since the early 1970s.

Households were most likely to contain 2 people (35%) while 16% of households contained 3 people and 21% of households contained 4 or more people.

#5. Multi-Family Households are the fastest growing family type

Households containing 2 or more families have increased by 66% from 194,000 households in 2006 to 323,000 households in 2016.

Multi-family households cover many different situations; the families may be completely unrelated, or they may be multigenerational and related in some way, for example, a married couple with their son and his girlfriend, older couples moving in with their adult child and their family, young adults who are partnered or lone parents, remaining or returning to their parent’s household.

The increase in multi-family households is considered to be statistically significant, yet despite this rise, which was also seen using the 2011 Census results, multi-family households still only represented a very small proportion (1.2%) of all households in 2016.

#6. More women than men live alone

Of the 7.7 million one-person households in the UK, overall 54.2% of them contain one woman and 45.8% of them contain one man.

However, when considering the ages of 16 to 64, the majority (57.8%) living alone are male. This pattern is reversed for those ages 65 to 74 and 75 and over, where 62% and 71.8% respectively are female.

The disparity in the younger age group could be explained by the higher proportions of men than women who never marry, men marry at older ages than women and marry women younger than themselves, and partnership dissolution leading to men living alone while women are more likely to live with any children from the relationship.

In the older age groups, the higher percentage of women living along is partly because there are more women than men in the total population aged 65 and over due to women’s higher life expectancy.  By the age of 65 most women have been married and husbands are typically older than their wives. These 2 factors accentuate the gap in life expectancy between husbands and wives and mean that more women than men become widowed, which may lead to living alone.

However, it should be noted that the number of widowed women is falling due to life expectancy increasing faster for men compared with women.


What you should know:-

  • family is a married, civil partnered or cohabiting couple with or without children, or a lone parent, with at least one child, who live at the same address. Children may be dependent or non-dependent.
  • household is one person living alone, or a group of people (not necessarily related) living at the same address who share cooking facilities and share a living room, sitting room or dining area. A household can consist of more than one family, or no families in the case of a group of unrelated people.
  • Dependent children are those aged under 16 living with at least one parent, or aged 16 to 18 in full-time education, excluding all children who have a spouse, partner or child living in the household
  • The term “Parent” could include grandparents, step-parents or foster parents
  • Once a person either lives with a partner or has a child, they are considered to have formed their own family and are no longer counted as being part of their parents’ family even if they still live in the same household.


Building Places That Work for Everyone

Building places that work for everyong

This report by the UK Green Building Council gives an insights into key Government priorities for the built environment and how the construction industry can address the challenges these priorities raise.

Under Theresa May’s leadership, the current Conservative Government has set out its vision of a country, an economy and a society that works for everyone. Achieving this vision requires the Government to address some of the fundamental challenges facing British people today.

  • The urgent need to build new homes and thriving communities
  • To reduce energy bills for those that are just about managing
  • Improved health and wellbeing to reduce the burden on the NHS
  • For jobs to be created, skills to be developed, and productivity to be boosted in a post-Brexit Britain

The UK Green Building Council (UK-GBC) and its multitude of diverse and progressive member businesses believe that the built environment is fundamental to addressing these challenges, indicating that building places that work for everyone can and will support the Government’s policy priorities.

Download the report here



Woman twice as likely to take charge of building projects

Women in construction

When it comes to making vital decisions regarding building work, women are twice as likely to have the final say on the style and scope of the project.

New research by the Federation of Master Builders  also asked female home owners if they have ever carried out a range of basic DIY tasks around the home and the results were as follows:

• Almost 80 percent have painted a room;
• 65 percent have put together flat-pack furniture;
• 58 percent have unblocked a sink;
• Over 50 percent have changed a fuse;
• 44 percent have unblocked a toilet;
• Over a quarter have cleared the guttering.

Jenny Carter, mum of one from North West London, said:

“I’m happy to hire a builder for the big jobs but it would cost me a fortune if I had to pay a tradesperson every time I needed to change a fuse. If I’m a bit unsure, I tend to search online for “how-to” videos to help guide me through the process – these videos give people like me a bit more confidence to tackle the smaller jobs. Every family is different but in our house, when it comes to these sorts of tasks, I’m easily as handy as my other half.”
Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said:

This research shows that any lingering gender stereotypes regarding domestic life are totally outdated. Not only do women lead on decisions regarding the style and scope of building projects, they also get stuck in themselves when hiring a builder isn’t necessary. In 21st century Britain, you’re just as likely to find a woman up a ladder clearing out the guttering or battling with flat-pack furniture, as you might be likely to find her performing some of the more traditional domestic chores.”

Berry also added  “On a more serious note, the construction industry is facing a massive skills shortage and we’re crying out for more female builders. At present, only 2% of construction workers onsite are female and until we start to appeal to 50% of the population, we won’t be able to plug the skills gap. It is my hope that these hands-on women, many of whom will be mums, are inspiring their daughters to think differently about what is an acceptable career path for girls. There is no reason why young women can’t become the next generation of brickies and sparks and it’s our job to remind them of that.”


Source: Federation of Master Builders


Bathroom habits are keeping us awake

UK sleeping patterns

According recent research by sanitaryware manufacturers, Geberit, the call of nature is a leading cause of sleep anxiety in adults across the UK

The survey which investigated the UK’s sleeping habits revealed that 90% of Brits wake at least once a night, with 1 in 10 of us waking five times or more.  The number one reason for waking up in the middle of the night is to use the lavatory, with more than half of survey respondents waking up at least once to visit the bathroom. Once back in bed though a massive 80% of the population say they struggle to get back to sleep again. The problem is so bad that 30% of adults dread waking for this very reason, with 40% saying they avoid drinking anything at all during the evening in case it wakes them.

Geberit teamed up with independent sleep practitioner, James Wilson, aka the Sleep Geek, who believes that while pre-bedtime habits are vital to ensure a good night’s sleep, waking during the night and worrying about getting back to sleep is often the biggest obstacle in achieving a good night’s rest. “Everyone’s sleep pattern is different, but the average sleep cycle should ideally be 6 – 8 hours for adults,” explains James. “If we are outside of these cycles, we could be doing more harm than we realise.”

According to James there are three key environmental factors keeping us from the land of nod: light, temperature and noise.  Turning the bathroom light on to navigate your way to the toilet sends a message to the brain that it is time to wake up. This tallies up with the research which revealed that 40% of people turn on the light when they wake to go to the toilet. Add to this the shock of sitting on a cold toilet seat and it becomes clear that we don’t stand much chance of keeping our brains in sleep mode.

More than half of the population (55%) flush the toilet regardless of how small the hour is and despite the risk of disturbing others. This could explain why many people struggle to return to a peaceful slumber after using the bathroom. With hearing being our most sensitive sense and the last thing to switch off, the noise from the flushing toilet could be enough re-awaken the brain.

Members of the household that are disturbed by other people’s bathroom noise such as a flushing toilet are often left feeling grumpy and disgruntled the next day too, with 33% of those surveyed citing this as a concern.

Rather than letting sleep deprivation set in, opting for bathroom fittings that are sympathetic to the senses can help return us quickly to sleep,” comments Raffaela De Vittorio, Marketing and Brands Director, for Geberit.  “The Geberit AquaClean Mera and Geberit Monolith sanitary module, for example, have a sensor-controlled orientation light that guides the way with no harsh glare. The seat of the AquaClean Mera automatically heats up on approach too, while TurboFlush technology provides a thorough, yet super-quiet flush”.


Most rested vs least rested
Bristol is most rested city (33% don’t wake in the night to use toilet)
Chelmsford is least rested (80% of people waking to use toilet)

Who gets back to sleep most easily (most chilled)?
Aberdeen most chilled 40% people getting back to sleep easily after using the toilet.
Glasgow, Coventry, Wolverhampton 90% people struggle to get back to sleep

Who flushes (most hygienic)?
Aberdeen are the cleanest (66% flush toilet in the night)
Sheffield are least clean (45% not flushing the toilet in the night)

Who turns on the light (least considerate)?
Portsmouth are the least considerate (58% people switching on the light to use the toilet)
Worcester are the most considerate (77% navigating to the toilet in the dark)

Who is the grumpiest after being woken?
York are the grumpiest with partners after being woken in night (16% grumpy next day)
Oxford being the least grumpy (66% not grumpy at all about being woken)

SOURCE Geberit


The Pet Pound

When planning a new kitchen, 12% of homeowners take their dog into consideration.  This is probably our favourite fact coming out of our recent research into kitchen purchase behaviour.

The humanising of pets, and in particular dogs, is a fast growing trend in the UK and research by Mintel has revealed some interesting statistics which show that humanising pets is a key theme running through the pet care industry, with consumers making adjustments to their daily lives to accommodate pets as part of their families. For example

  • 21% of pet owners either have used or would be interested in trying restaurants with special pet menus.
  • On average, British pet owners spend £34 on pet food and treats monthly. Thus expenditure on pet food could run at £405 a year.
  • The demand for travelling with pets is high; almost four in 10 pet owners feel guilty leaving their pet behind when they go on holiday.
  • A third of owners buy their pets a Christmas present.
  • Over a quarter of pet owners admit they like to pamper their pets and women in particular find it hard to pass by a new toy or a treat even if they did not plan on buying it (46%)
  • Half of people who own dogs or cats are interested in monitoring their pets while they are out with half of pet owners aged 16-34 interested in pet TV to amuse pets.
  • 7% of pet owners have bought clothing for their pets in the past 12 months.
  • Companionship (57%) is the biggest reason for getting a pet, and this rises further to 69% amongst people living on their own.

Source: Mintel

According to the Telegraph, Britains now spend approximately £450m each year taking their pets on holiday. A third of owners now holiday with their pet and spend an additional £126 on average to keep their pet by their side when they travel. This trend has led to the proliferation of pet-friendly hotels and holiday cottages, and companies such as budget airline, Ryanair, to announce that they are looking into allowing pets to travel in the passenger cabin.

Euromonitor claims the opportunities to capitalise on the humanisation of pets are vast and has identified three different types of cash-splashing pet owners:-

  • Mainsteam humanisers who account for about two thirds of pet owners, opt for reliable premium brands “that convey an indulgent feel”.
  • Anti-humanisers, who choose smaller, ethical brands over large corporations and are most likely to put their pets on wild, raw or organic diet, account for 20-30 percent of pet owners
  • Extreme humanisers, who make up roughly 5pc of pet owners, tend to be high-spending urban-dwellers who value status, fashion and exclusivity and see their pet as a personal accessory or a substitute for a child. This group are most likely to buy their pets designer outfits, crystal encrusted drinking bowls, exercise activities and extreme grooming treatments

With the dog population in the UK reaching 8.5  million and 24% of households owning at least one dog (Source PFMA), articles are being featured in many of the top interior design magazines such as Elle Decoration  showing readers how to do ‘pet-friendly and stylish at home’.

Changes in social behaviours are just some of the reasons behind this key trend. People are living in increasingly ‘dehumanized’ societies, there are more single person households than ever before, and owning a pet is a way of staving off the loneliness this creates.  Also, couples are delaying marriage and their first child,  and often chose pets to display their love and affection.

The USA has historically been the model which has led the trends in the UK pet care market and whilst the more conservative UK market may currently be outraged at the extent to which the US humanises their pets, it is a strong indication where the future lies for pets in the UK and the UK consumer will continue to spend more and more money on their pets.