Despite ongoing economic challenges, the bath remains of key importance to consumers seeking refuge from the stresses of day-to-day life. And the water experience – often defined by the luxury shower – continues to be an important part of creating that spa-like haven.
At the same time, the growing interest in water conservation is impacting the shower and tub market. But while the two trends may seem at odds, new technology has made it possible to have a drenching water experience with less water, satisfying both performance needs and water conservation mandates. So say manufacturers interviewed by KBDN, who cite custom showers, technologically advanced showerheads and accessible tubs as hot trends.
BIGGER IS BETTER?
While overdone trophy baths may be out of vogue, neither do consumers want to skimp on their personal bath space. The bathroom is an extension of the living space, and for many, the tub or shower is where they go to relax. For that reason, showers and tubs that reflect the spa trend remain in high demand.
“People have a love affair with their showers and want to be as generous and luxurious as space permits,” says Diana Schrage, CAPS, CAASH, senior interior designer for the Kohler Design Center, based in Kohler, WI.
Rob Larson, director of business development for Woodbridge, IL-based Danze, agrees: “A good shower is considered by many to be a necessity, not a luxury. We expect showers to remain personal sanctuaries for years to come.”
Even as homes are being downsized, many manufacturers claim bathrooms are often growing larger. Paul Flowers, senior v.p. of design for Grohe America in Bloomingdale, IL, says, “Well being and relaxation remain important grounding factors for individuals, and a premium bathroom environment and water experience can allow for this release.”
Flowers notes that freestanding tubs typically can accommodate two individuals, and even showers that are not ‘car wash’ style are often incorporating at least a showerhead and handshower with a built-in bench.
But not everyone is on the “bigger is better” bandwagon. Lars Christensten, director of product development at Hansgrohe’s U.S. headquarters in Alpharetta, GA, sees many consumers moving away from all the shower bells and whistles to more pared-down systems. “Over the last few years, ‘modern’ and ‘simple’ have been the buzzwords in bathroom design,” he says. “[As a result], many consumers are opting for either a large showerhead or a showerhead/handshower combo.”
Christensten also believes the size of shower areas has decreased over the last few years, and he has seen soaking tubs replaced by 3'x4' shower spaces that have glass doors and walls that make the rooms more open and bright.
Luxurious, water-drenching showers provide a refuge that many consumers desire, and Larson notes, “Many designers and homeowners want to create that retreat-type feeling in their bathroom [by] mixing/matching an overhead showerhead, handheld shower and body sprays.”
These can also provide flexibility, according to Larry Jacobs, president, Ashley Harris Marketing, marketing agency for Strom Plumbing by Sign of the Crab in Rancho Cordova, CA. He explains: “These [multiple sprays/showerheads] are still very much in demand, primarily because the bathing area is a multi-functional room: showers, baths, infant baths, even dog bathing.”
At the same time, Larson says, “The second trend is the emergence of water-saving showerheads.” However, he notes, “We’re firm believers that having a water-saving showerhead in your bathroom does not have to mean a lack of performance.”
Judd Lord, director of industrial design for Delta Faucet Company in Indianapolis, IN, asserts, “Consumers want to be green without feeling like they are sacrificing their experience with water. Increased industry participation in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program, paired with increased awareness among consumers about the importance of water conservation, has led to greater demand for water-efficient fixtures that meet WaterSense standards.”