Americans want the biggest and best, and our bathrooms have become the latest manifestation of those aspirations. A large shower just isn’t enough anymore. These days many of us want innovative steam jets and showerheads that simulate rainfall. Ordinary whirlpool tubs? They are so 1990s. Air jets in whirlpools are the new rage.
Bathrooms also are getting sleek, artistic new looks, and they are replacing the bedroom as a place to relax and escape from everyday life. You can thank the hospitality industry for the new trends in home baths.
Resorts’ huge tubs, spacious showers, saunas and large fluffy towels pamper us. The plush look and feel of the spa transports us away from everyday hectic lives. When homeowners remodel their baths, increasingly they want that lush, relaxing and spacious spa look and feel at home.
“We are seeing large bathrooms the size of bedrooms,” said Larry Andersen, lead designer at Sea Pointe Kitchen and Bath, based in Irvine. “What used to be used as a gym or a retreat is now a bath.”
Separate tubs and showers have replaced the combo units popular in older homes, and homeowners are finding ways to get a spacious feel, even in smaller baths.
“If homeowners are remodeling they may even eliminate the tub altogether if they are tight on space,” said Gary White, designer for Kitchen and Bath Design in Newport Beach. “They want a space big enough to share with their mate and big enough to sit down in. If the tub isn’t used enough, they may incorporate body sprays or even a steam system.”
Handheld showers, seamless glass doors and solid stone are gaining popularity, Andersen said. Benches are finding their way into shower designs, too.
AN UPDATED LOOK
When Patrick and Erica Thompson updated their Laguna Beach bath, a priority was to give the room a more spacious feel and an updated look.
“We wanted to open the space more and add more storage,” Erica Thompson said. “Plus we wanted a more modern feel to match the rest of the house.”
The Thompson’s ripped out a vanity, lots of pink tiles and a large mirror. Separate mirrors and sinks are now in its place. Creating separate spaces makes for a much better flow in baths, especially for busy couples.
The vanities sit just off the floor and a light shines underneath each so they appear to float just off the floor. The faucets extend from the wall and flow into bowl sinks.
“Patrick wanted to add the lights underneath and have them sit off the floor,” Erica Thompson said. “I wasn’t too sure of it at first, but now that they are done I like the way they turned out.”
They liked the way a waterfall flows into a pool or fountain and wanted to re-create that look and feel in their tub. So they found a tub fixture that would work. But they had to build a shelf around the tub to make it work, Erica Thompson said. The shelf helped them add storage, too. They converted empty space between the wall and tub into a linen closet.
Ron and Maggie Briskie had similar ideas when they remodeled their Coto de Caza bath. They even wanted to get rid of pink tile and a large mirror in their bath, too.
The bath was 13 years old and needed an updated look. They also wanted to open up the room and let in more natural light.
The pink tile was replaced by a ceramic tile, which looks like marble. A deep oval tub replaced a narrow, rectangular tub. The whole project took about six weeks to complete. “The oval is better-looking than the old tub,” Maggie Briskie said. “It isn’t a Jacuzzi; we didn’t want that. But it has elbow rests and is wider than the old one.”
“The shower was a good size, but it had glass and chrome around it,” Ron Briskie said. “I wanted a rimless/seamless glass look instead.”
The large mirror was replaced by separate his and hers mirrors. The separate makeup and vanity was updated for Maggie, too. The old one had just two drawers and not much space. Now she has four drawers and there is space for their towels to be stored.
The Thompsons and Briskies have some advice for those thinking about remodeling their baths.
“Go through one company,” Erica Thompson said. “Don’t try and do it yourself and hire separate contractors. One company manages everything for you and coordinates all the work and scheduling with the subcontractors.”
“Plus having professional input on the design helps,” Patrick Thompson said. “Erica had good designs and ideas but the professionals offered advice that we didn’t think about. If we did it all ourselves or just worked with a general contractor it would not have turned out as nice.”
The Thompsons remodeled their kitchen and bath at the same time. The whole project took about two months.
The Briskies’ contractor, Sea Pointe Kitchen and Bath, suggested sconces on each side of Maggie’s makeup vanity. She opted not to have them installed, but now thinks it would have been a good idea. “It isn’t a big deal really, but now it would have been nice,” she said. “Maybe Ron will install some for me. He can do that sort of thing.”
Besides having a professional design and contractor help, remember to be patient.
“Prepare yourself; be patient,” Ron Briskie said. “It will take longer and be more costly than you think it will be.”
“And don’t remodel without having another bathroom to use” Patrick Thompson said. When remodeling a bathroom, the entire area around the tub and shower has to be stripped down to the home’s frame. This is so the contractors can check for water damage, mold or rotting.
“We didn’t even stay in the master bedroom while they redid our bath,” Patrick Thompson said.
Once you have decided to go ahead and remodel, how do you sort through the endless choices of fixtures, tile, tubs and showers? The Briskies toured model homes and open houses to see what others did and what is popular.
“I had no idea there were so many options,” Maggie Briskie said. “It was just mind-boggling. You have to live with it and be happy with it, so take your time.”
The Thompsons also scoured magazines and catalogues. What they liked they tore out and kept in a binder. Then when they sat down with their contractor, from Sea Pointe Kitchen and Bath, they had examples of what they liked and the designs they were after.
“You can tell someone you want a modern design or a certain color,” Patrick Thompson said. “But what one person thinks is modern or red, another has a totally different example.”
COST OF LUXURY
Bringing the spa experience home can be a costly endeavor. The Briskies spent about $30,000 for their remodel. Andersen said you should expect to spend $25,000 to $45,000 on average, depending upon what fixtures, options and designs you choose. You can relax in your new bathroom stress-free knowing you can recoup a large amount of your initial investment. Recent studies have shown remodeled baths return a majority of the homeowners’ initial investment.