Baths Get Personal
Elegant 'super showers' are now taking center stage as consumers seek to upgrade their baths to fit their lives.
BY BARBARA CAPELLA LOEHR
Indeed, today's market offers a wide range of bathroom products that can help someone rediscover his or her individual voice. From cabinets and fixtures to countertops and tile, these products allow consumers the opportunity to create a restful, luxurious and beautiful room that also reflects a personal sense of self.
It's no surprise, then, that today's consumers are spending more money to obtain the luxury and comfort they believe they deserve in the bath particularly in the master bath. That's the word from designers recently interviewed by Kitchen & Bath Design News. The same idea, they say, holds true for powder rooms, which have increasingly become a place to put products in particular, vanities and vessel sinks that have enough visual punch to wow the guests who use them.
As for main baths geared toward accommodating both parents and children, the fixtures, surfacing materials, vanities and finishes may take on a more functional feel. They provide easy care while still reflecting individual style.
In the last several years, the bath especially the master bath has been redesigned to be a refuge from the stresses of increasingly hectic lifestyles. However, the definition and the look of that refuge is constantly evolving.
For instance, even just a few years ago, jetted whirlpool tubs were the product when it came to rest and relaxation at day's end. Indeed, whirlpools have been a sort of status symbol over the years, representing a certain level of luxury consumers wanted to attain in their baths especially in the master bath.
However, jetted whirlpools and their cousins, the deep soaking tubs are taking a far less prominent role in the bath today, designers agree. Showers are now taking center stage, as people have far less time to soak in a tub, whirlpool or not.
"What I'm finding in the last year and a half is that showers are more of a focus. It used to be that bathrooms were built around whirlpools. Now they are built around showers. They are taking up more square footage in the bath," confirms Lisa Davenport, ASID, who co-owns Glastonbury, CT-based Lisa Davenport's Home Gallery with business partner Ed Richman.
Richard Hendrick, CKD with Custom Kitchens, Inc. in Richmond, VA, agrees. "A really nice shower seems to be the hottest thing," he says. "Showers with all of the bells and whistles seem to be the centerpiece."
Some designers are even seeing consumers removing their existing whirlpool tubs. "I find in existing homes when people are remodeling, they are sometimes eliminating them," notes Joan Eisenberg, CMKBD, ASID of JME Consulting, Inc. in Baltimore, MD. "Other times, they keep them to maintain the home's resale value, but don't upgrade them."
"More and more consumers are going away from tubs completely," adds Steven Haas, who co-owns Rockville Centre, NY-based Architectural Kitchens and Baths with business partner Marino Ceko. "And they are going toward showers in the master bath, as long as there is a tub somewhere in the house."
However, while consumers are paying more attention to their own shower experience, it does not mean that whirlpools and soaking tubs are obsolete. In fact, Haas reports that he still sees "a steady flow of whirlpools.... Clients still want the option of using them."
DeWitt Beall, principal of DeWitt Designer Kitchens in Studio City, CA, adds that full-blown master suites in his market would have both, and the shower would include steam.
Additionally, some designers are seeing an increase in air-massaging baths. "Nothing relaxes and rejuvenates the body and spirit better than massaging waters and air," says Scott Tennant of the Cliffwood, NJ-based Acryline USA, which makes air system massaging baths. "They are extraordinarily valuable [for] your health.... Because injected, or channeled, air immediately diffuses into bubbles once it enters a bath, it provides a systemic method for massaging the body with thousands of tiny bubbles."