Safe Haven

by Rachel Morgan | Feb 20, 2015
Safe Haven …From the pages of House & Home…

Taking a bathroom from ordinary to high-end haven.

Bathrooms often take the backseat when it comes to a home’s aesthetic and design. But a new trend is on the upswing. Homeowners are now transforming their bathrooms from utilitarian necessities to spa-like retreats, complete with high-end features such as rain head showers, modern tubs, frameless shower enclosures—even unique and innovative toilets.

“We are seeing a lot of people moving away from traditional looks and going toward a more modern look in the bathroom,” says Reggie Fitzgerald, regional sales manager at Bath, Kitchen & Tile, which serves Delaware and the surrounding areas.

“Quartz countertops [and] rectangular [sink] bowls are popular now. The color palettes are kind of soft neutrals; grays and whites are popular. People are still removing those large, Jacuzzi-style corner tubs and deleting the tub altogether, or going with a freestanding soaking tub or whirlpool and increasing the shower space—or just going with a larger shower space.”

High end, spa-like features are also growing in popularity.

“I’m still seeing whirlpool [or] airpool tubs on the decline, due to the volume of noise [created] by the motor. Instead the latest bathing trend is Kohler’s Vibra-Acoustic technology, which allows true relaxation in a variety of tub sizes,” says John McHale Jr., owner of McHales Kitchen & Bath in Levittown, Pa. “The vibrations and sound of the music radiate through the warm water and into your body without the loud motor distraction, creating the most soothing bathing experience possible.”

McHale also cites multiple shower heads, heated floors, towel warmer units and steam showers as popular features. “With the stress of the work day either ahead of or behind you, more and more customers are viewing their master bath as the room where they can literally wash away their troubles,” he says.

Another trend in today’s bathrooms? Custom shower enclosures. “We have seen that many homeowners are choosing to remove their tubs and replace them with a beautiful custom shower enclosure,” says Deborah Spinosa, profit center manager at Weinstein Bath & Kitchen in Collegeville, Pa. “Many homeowners who purchased homes that are over 30 years old have fairly small bathrooms and the tub takes up a lot of space. Additionally, they say they typically have no time to use their tubs and prefer to use their space for a shower enclosure.”

And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill showers, either. “Many homeowners are making their showers into a mini-spa experience, opting to install multiple body sprays, rain can shower heads, and hand-held shower wands,” Spinosa continues. “Some are opting for digitally programmable shower systems to allow individual showering experiences for more than one user. Many opt for customizable vanities, with solid granite countertops in variegated hues.”

A deviation from builders’ grade materials in bathrooms is becoming increasingly common, says Dave Cerami, president of HomeTech Renovations in Fort Washington, Pa.

“What I’ve noticed is almost inevitably, clients do not want those builders-grade, corner plastic tubs. That is the No. 1 request, to get rid of the tubs,” he explains. “They are removing them in its entirety, going with what I call a ‘human car wash’ or spa [shower,] with multi-faceted jets and handhelds and rainheads. Or they are going with a free-standing tub with a certain design aspect to it: contemporary to transitional to more period types of free-standing tubs.”

Jean Taylor, owner of Master Shower Doors in Newark, Del., notes that the high-end features making their way into bathrooms these days run the gamut from simply convenient to all-out luxury. “Granite is an upgrade we are seeing more and more of.

For some homeowners, just putting in a frameless, clear glass shower enclosure in their existing bath is enough to meet their idea of an awesome retreat. It makes the bathroom seem more expansive. And at the other end of the spectrum, putting a chandelier in a master bath is not out of the ordinary any longer.”

Toilets are not immune to this bathroom trend. “We have been migrating toward wall-hung toilets, [deviating] from the traditional tanks that reside behind the toilet. [Essentially, it’s] a bowl that is mounted to a wall, with the water device within the wall,” Cerami says. “[These] are a very nice design option, especially in more compact space.”

Comfort height toilets, which are a bit higher than standard toilets, are also popular, as are a combination bidet/toilet, such as the Washlet by Toto, says Fitzgerald, noting that heated toilet seats are another popular choice.

And when it comes down to it, homeowners simply want their bathroom to be a haven of relaxation.

“Homeowners and contractors alike are recognizing the fact that the master bath is more often than not a retreat for the end of the day when total relaxation is needed,” Taylor says. “There is no end to the imaginations of bathroom designers which has been ignited by the demands of homeowners. This is their haven when they end their day.”

Photograph courtesy of Kohler.


Bath, Kitchen & Tile Center
Wilmington, Del.
Harbeson, Del.
Newark, Del.
Abingdon, Md.
(800) 282-8656

HomeTech Renovations, Inc.
Fort Washington, Pa.
(215) 646-7477

Master Shower Doors
Newark, Del.
(302) 368-7888

McHales, Inc.
Levittown, Pa.
(215) 874-6655

Weinstein Bath & Kitchen
Collegeville, Pa.
(610) 409-8500

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 15, Issue 8 (February, 2015).
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Author: Rachel Morgan


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