The design team discussed the curious but highly practical bidet a month ago — and there were a lot of questions and a lot of interest.

We hope this column clarifies some of your questions. There are different kinds of bidets — we discussed the elegant stand-alone unit, which requires extra space and plumbing and tends to be regarded as “high end”. But many people without room or the desire to redo the plumbing in their bathrooms asked us about the toilet seat-type bidet. The toilet seat bidet is just what it sounds like — it is mounted on top of a conventional toilet like a larger-than-usual toilet seat. And it does exactly what a bidet is supposed to do — it cleans your posterior parts with soothing water (rather than subjecting them to the repeated and sometimes irritating scrubs with toilet paper or washcloths).

We’ve got to admit this — from a design point of view, we don’t like a toilet-top bidet that looks too bulky and too “high-tech”. Please keep sleek and streamlined in mind — the last thing you want in a bathroom is a complicated and overly technical-looking piece of equipment, especially on a toilet.

That being said, we cannot deny that the toilet-seat bidet has unbeatable practical advantages. For instance, it takes virtually no room. Once installed, it simply makes the existing toilet a little taller in the back. And it hooks up to the existing toilet, so not much extra plumbing is involved. In addition, the toilet seat bidets are easy to install and come off easily for cleaning. How persuasive is that?

The bidet toilet seat also has the advantage of being used in the same way a toilet is used — users sit on the toilet in the usual way and operate controls to turn on a water spray. So users with limited mobility may find the toilet-top bidet easier to use than a stand-alone unit, since they do not have to move themselves from the toilet, face the wall, and straddle the stand-alone — a task that takes considerable physical dexterity.

“There is no squatting (with a toilet-top bidet )— easier for those with sore knees,” notes Rita Van Dyke, sales consultant with Burnaby-based BC Plumbing.

The other amazing thing about the toilet seat bidet is the frankly astonishing range of features that are available — and these can range from necessary to quite luxurious. With a remote control, you can control water temperature and intensity, but you can also choose pulsating sprays, decide on various directional (front or rear cleansing) or massaging sprays, blow-drying, whether or not you would like a heated seat — all wonderful possibilities.

And to reassure you in case you had worries about hygiene, the water sprayed at your bottom from a toilet-seat bidet comes out of a small retractable hose which tucks back into the unit after the spraying is complete. The hose end does not touch any surfaces or body parts. (All the same, it should be cleaned once a month or so, by gently pulling it out of its housing, and brushing it with a soft brush, says Van Dyke.)

She notes that prices for the stand-alone bidet and the toilet-top bidet are about the same — ranging from $650 to $850 on the average.

But the bidet faucets on a stand-alone unit (a toilet-top unit has no faucets) can jack up the cost considerably — these can range as high as $945 for solid brass, to $500 for brushed nickel or chrome.

– Tammy Schnurr and Jeffrey Fisher are hosts of Arresting Design on W Network. Tammy is an interior decorator. Jeffrey designs home furnishings and bedding through his company Jeffrey Fisher Home.

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