Bathrooms That Make You Go 'Ahhh'
New luxury and convenience items provide for the perfect home retreat
If there is one room in the house that has been completely redefined
in recent years it is the bathroom. Kitchens are still for cooking,
living rooms are still for living and rec rooms are still for recreation.
But the bathroom has evolved so far
beyond its traditional functions that to truly reflect its current
status in many homes, "spa room" or the "retreat" might be more
appropriate names for it.
Today's bathrooms, particularly those incorporated into master
suites, are being designed and built to be a source of luxury and
After all, for many parents the master suite's bath may be the
only room in the home where they can truly enjoy some private time
for relaxation away from the kids.
Add to this the fact that bathrooms add more to a home's value than
any other room -- with the possible exception of the kitchen and
so it's no wonder more and more people are spending more and more
time and money to create an in-home retreat in their master bath.
It's Like A Day Trip to the Spa -- At Home Vertical Spas, which
incorporate multiple showerheads, water diverters and sophisticated
temperature control systems, are perhaps the biggest trend in today's
baths. They offer the relaxation and luxury of a whirlpool spa,
but without the time required to fill a large tub. And they still
function as an ordinary shower for times when functionality is all-important.
Customer demand and acceptance of the concept has been increasing
steadily as more consumers become aware of the option to turn their
showers into spa-like havens.
People want a steamy massage in a relaxing environment and they
want to walk out feeling clean and refreshed. No other environment
can accomplish that quite like a Vertical Spa." Vertical Spas vary
in design and some work with standard plumbing. Others require special
behind-the-wall modifications to install larger water supply and
drainage lines, or an extra hot water heater.
These styles may be more suitable to new home construction instead
of renovation where entire rooms are gutted and walls rebuilt. But
Vertical Spas are definitely catching on and many believe they are
the new millennium's replacement for the whirlpool tub, which may
be on the decline.
"Not everyone who's had one of these whirlpools really wants one
when they do another bath," said Linda Lentz, features editor at
Home Magazine and an expert in modern kitchen and bath design trends.
"They find they don't want the extra maintenance or that the tubs
are noisier than they expected. Because of that, a lot of people
are opting for Vertical Spas and taking longer showers, or installing
soak tubs, or both."
In general, the trend is toward larger showers, often with stylish
frameless doors and glass block walls that allow in more light while
sealing off the shower stall. With the extra room in the shower
stall, homeowners are not only putting in items such as Vertical
Spas, they're sometimes installing oversized showerheads or even
entire Vertical Spa units on opposing walls, enabling two people
to shower simultaneously without having to share a showerhead.
"The shower is coming into its own and we sell more "showering
systems" than ever before, whether that means a Vertical Spa, two
opposing Vertical Spas, or just twin and flexible hand showerheads
on opposing walls. People love to shower and they're showing it
by devoting more space than ever to their showers," said a leading
In addition to Vertical Spas, many homeowners also are adding steam
units to their showers, or installing a ready-made, self-contained
steam unit that fits into the bathroom much the way a pre-fabricated
shower stall would.
By installing a steam unit into an existing custom shower stall,
a homeowner can create a pragmatic shower and a luxurious spa-like
steam room in a single package that fulfills either function.
What Else Is "Hot" In the Bath? But hot water isn't just coming
out of the showerheads in today's top-of-the-line bathroom. It could
be running beneath the flooring and around the towels! Lentz said
that heated floors, using hot water running beneath them or electric
heating elements, are a new trend in bathrooms.
Likewise, the use of towel warmers is also on the rise.
Which brings us to the sinks. Yes, that's "sinks" as in more than
one basin -- because, if the available space allows it, today's
well-done master suite bath definitely has two.
According to Lentz, different shapes, such as square sinks, are
becoming more popular, and console sinks that do not have attached
vanities are replacing vanity sinks and pedestal sinks as designer
favorites. Relying on the wall and forward legs for support, console
sinks provide the countertop of a traditional bath vanity and even
allow a person to sit at the sink without having cabinetry in the
way of their legs. But doesn't that mean the under-sink plumbing
will be exposed? Yes, but that's no sin in today's fashionable bath.
"People aren't ashamed of their plumbing anymore. In fact some
companies are selling very nice designer pipes in special finishes
that people want to show off," said Lentz.
Change Your Faucets Whenever You Change Your Mind Of course, if
you want to focus on the plumbing above the sink, as well as below,
your options are almost limitless when it comes to faucets. Faucets
can be an important part of a master bath update, and they are often
changed for appearance's sake long before they've worn out.
Some of today's faucets have been developed with this very fact
in mind. People want the ability to change the look of their faucets
without the time and expense of installing entirely new units."
Another fixture that may need updating is the toilet. Like it or
not, the toilet is a major element in any bathroom. But trends in
bathroom layout are downplaying its presence by surrounding it by
walls or even putting it in a small ante-room attached to the master
bath. As for the toilets themselves, low-flow models are still the
rule (despite consumer efforts to circumvent low-flow requirements
by recycling older toilets or even traveling to Canada to purchase
The good news is, the newer low-flow toilets flush much better than
their predecessors. In addition to improved operation, newer models
also offer easier cleaning. Lentz advises consumers to look for
newer models with skirted bottoms that are easy to clean. Some companies
use special glazings inside of the bowl to prevent build up and
decrease the need for cleaning, she says.
So what's left once you've got your Vertical Spa, soaking tub,
dual console sink, designer faucets and high-tech low-flow toilet
Luckily, only lighting and paint, both of which can be taken care
of relatively inexpensively.
For lighting, look for bright, non-fluorescent multi-bulb fixtures,
or perhaps halogen lighting. This will keep you from casting yourself
in a blue pall first thing in the morning from unnatural fluorescent
lighting, while still ensuring that you have enough light to make
sure you look your best.
As for paint, white goes with anything and it is economical and
always in style for the bath. But Lentz says colors, especially
those connoting water, are the latest trend. Since paint is easy
to change, why not finish the room with some pale blue or green
hues to complement the rest of the bathroom.
Courtesy ARA Content