While trophy bathrooms were all the rage not so very long ago, today it's all about getting back to basics. The buzzword for the day is "wellness," as consumers increasingly look for feel-good spaces to nourish both body and soul.
Nancy Moon, owner of Colorado Springs, CO-based Beckony Kitchens & Baths, explains: "Today, especially in America, people are busy, hectic and stressed. When they get home, they want a place of relaxation'a place to let go'and the bathroom is the ideal location."
This trend is not exclusive to the U.S. At this month's ISH, International Trade Fair in Frankfurt, Germany, one of the hottest attractions was the showcasing of the winners of the Messe Frankfurt's recent design competition whose theme was "Outlook: Shaping Water."
Responding designers conceived what the ideal relationship between man, room and water might look like in the future.
Although the three winning designs'titled "Blue Hour," "Ambient Water" and "Circ," respectively'differed in style and approach, they all focused on the theme of wellness, according to Roger Coleman of the London, England-based Helen Hamlyn Research Center, Royal College of Art. Coleman, who served as a jury panel member for the Messe Frankfurt competition. He explains: "[The goal] is for people to feel good about themselves and their relationship with the natural world."
French designer matali crasset, who also served as a jury panel member, adds: "Today, we want to breathe freely, even in our private bathroom. In the private sector, in family life for example, I like the idea of an open room with direct access to the nursery, where all I have to do when I want to take a bath is draw a curtain, immediately creating an intimate ambience."
Here in the U.S., Carol J. Weissman Kurth, AIA of Bedford, NY-based The Office of Carol J. Kurth, AIA, architect, p.c. offers a similar view. "People want a more luxurious experience at home, one that responds to their experience on vacation. Some people are into yoga or Feng Shui and are requesting that we integrate that into [the bath as well]." She notes that clients are also responding to radiant floor heating, whirlpool spas and mood lighting with dimmers'in short, products that nurture both body and soul.
Moon adds: "High-end products like deluxe toilets, fancy showers and special tubs contribute to the feeling of luxurious relaxation. Gentle lighting and upscale surfaces exude a similar attribute."
Mark Palmer, president of Savannah, GA-and Jacksonville, FL-based Atlantic Coast Kitchen & Bath offers: "We are also seeing body sprays, floor heating and towel warmers, as well as installed music systems and more televisions being incorporated into these projects."
The designers interviewed agree: A Zen-inspired master bath featuring natural materials, or a suite infused with high-tech gadgetry such as LCD-screen TVs and stereo systems, can have a major impact on the client' sense of happiness and well-being.
Coleman adds: "For the future, we must [view] hygiene as a given and start to focus on comfort, warmth, luxury, indulgence and all of the other messages that alternative approaches can give us. A particular feature must be a new approach to materials and cultural and historical references."
Following are some bath remodeling projects that spotlight this growing trend toward wellness as a key design component.
While it's nice to have "all of the comforts of home," Carol J. Weissman Kurth wanted to ensure that a recent bath remodel project she designed had all that plus all of the amenities of a luxurious hotel.
"The concept was to create what we call a 'hotel at home,'" she recalls. "We really wanted to create a soothing retreat from which to end and begin the day."
To accomplish this, Kurth'along with fellow project design team members Michael Lent, Christine Schwab and Jenna Burger'incorporated a mix of high-end technology, materials and product lines, including an LCD-screen TV, Bottochino Fiorotto light tile, Barbara Barry sinks from Kallista and "Tara" fittings from Dornbracht.