13 top bathroom remodel trends
From heated floors to soaking tubs to flat-screen TVs, the emphasis today is on luxury and comfort.
Designer: Malcolm Davis Architecture; Photo: Treve Johnson Photography
The bathroom is the new den.
More and more, people are going to the bathroom to relax and even luxuriate after a day in the rush-rush world, say home remodelers and designers. Homeowners are upgrading the rooms -- outfitting them with everything from soaking tubs to heated floors -- to make themselves comfortable. But peace and quiet aren't the only motivating factors. An upgraded bathroom helps sell a home and can be a good investment.
We polled several award-winning remodeling experts around the country for their recommendations about what's on the rise. If you're mulling a remodel, here is a baker's dozen of trends to consider, both for yourself and for the market.
Large, airy showers: Showers are big, literally. In small bathrooms, homeowners are tearing out the tub to expand the shower. Not only is the stall getting larger, it's getting more airy, with much more glass. "We're going to hinged doors and heavier glass, instead of the sliding glass," says Barb Friedman, president of Oswego Design & Remodeling in Lake Oswego, Ore. Friedman calls opening up the shower "a huge, huge trend. … People want luxury in their bathrooms. They want to feel like they're going into a spa." Some homeowners are even taking out partial shower walls, or all shower walls entirely, and making the entire tiled bathroom a shower -- a European approach that requires correct drainage, says Ed Miller, president and owner of E. Miller and Associates in Cedarburg, Wis.
Noisy Jacuzzis replaced by soaking tubs: The tub is far from dead, however; it's just changing. "The more forward-thinking clients I work with have done the Jacuzzi" and now they often want a quiet, serene experience of a soaking tub, says Richard Landon, of Richard Landon Design in Bellevue, Wash. These jetless tubs are often deep, insulated tubs like those from Victoria + Albert. Notably missing: the huge amount of decking that typically surrounded many tubs installed in nicer homes in the '80s and '90s that "you could literally kill yourself trying to get in and out of," Friedman says.
Let the light in: "The master bathrooms, they're becoming sanctuaries," says Jerry Kuther, director of custom home sales for award-winning Sun Forest Construction, a company in Bend, Ore., that builds custom homes and developments and also does remodels. People want master bathrooms to be brighter and more sun-filled than before, say Kuther and others. That means adding windows and even skylights to a bathroom. "We took one of our bedrooms in our little cottage house and turned it into a master bath" with several south-facing windows, says Kuther.
Steam bath: "The big thing in bathrooms is steam," says Landon. "People are discovering how wonderful it is to come home at the end of the day and de-stress." Landon favors a steam-room system by Steamist ($1,500-$5,000) that a homeowner can switch on in the garage upon arriving home (the steam room takes 10-15 minutes to heat up). The bathroom usually has to be reconfigured to include the following, says Landon:
- a sloping ceiling to drain condensation;
- a seat;
- a floor drain;
- tile or marble on all surfaces; and
- a vapor-tight door (the steam room must be completely enclosed and insulated on all sides).
The big blow: What bathroom couldn't use better ventilation to clear off mirrors ASAP and extend the life of the finishes? Jeff King of San Francisco's Jeff King & Co. recommends a remote fan -- with a motor elsewhere, such as the attic -- because it "is about 10 times as powerful" as an old-school fan and costs only about $50 more. "They're also extremely quiet" if installed properly, King says. Also on the market are fans with humidity sensors that switch on automatically.
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We are completing a master bedroom/bath renovation. The upstairs room is 30x16 feet. We turned the standard 4x8 closet into a half-bath, and put another sink with a long counter and vanity area, along with a huge standing shower, outside of the closet at one end of the bedroom, making the total bath area 200 sq. feet. We added a 7x16 walkaround closet at the other end of the room, with three clothes rods, shoe shelf, and left some of the remaining shelving from a former wall-sized bookcase. The bedroom area is in the middle. Amazing that when we interviewed prospective plumbers, most of them wanted to "do us a favor" by taking the toilet/sink combo OUT of the closet. I LOVE the results. We removed the closet door and made the opening into an arch, then put an arched mirror on the wall in front of the door. Not only is the toilet hidden, but no one even asks where it is, nor do they seem to care. But while using the facilities, there is plenty of space and total privacy, even without the door.
Everybody get's steamed: If you are thinking of wanting a steam room then you should be prepared to spend extra in the short for a great result for the long. Some tile contractors will cut corners when it comes to the grouting of the tile. Cement based grout is a timeless medium that the pros can apply in their sleep, whereas epoxy and urethane grouts have a couple of added steps that some old hats do not like. Grouting is one of the components that has evolved into a better mouse trap for some applications. The extreme condition of a steam shower is one of them. Be prepared to pay extra for the hybrid products and the process to install them correctly. Once it is done relax take a steam and enjoy the time and money saved in the yearly sealing & resealing maintenance that is required for cement based grout.
When you know better you do better…