'Generation X' Baths Express Need for Quiet Retreat

'Generation X' Baths Express Need for Quiet Retreat

By John Filippelli

In fact, many designers are finding that Gen Xers' remodeling preferences are not only as diverse as the group itself, but reflect a sensibility that is not seen in any other demographic.

That's the opinion of Jill C. Stumpf, CKD, for Park Ridge, IL-based Kitchens, Baths & More, Inc., who notes that catering to a Gen Xer's individual expression is key to creating a dream bath. "The bathroom is moving from a functional room to a design standpoint room," she says.

To that end, Gen Xers are choosing natural materials, such as granite and limestone, often complemented by warm wood tones and glass enclosures, she notes.

"They don't want the same bath as everyone else. [Most Gen Xers will remodel their bath because] they simply don't like it," she adds.

Leslie Thompson, ASID for Naples, FL-based Into the Mist, Inc., adds: "We've been through a long episode of Old World-looking bathrooms and now people are changing to a more modern style, such as smooth panel doors with no added increments such as paneling or crown molding."

Beverly S. Dalton, owner of Signature Kitchens & Baths in Bowling Green, KY, believes this is simply an example of Gen Xers knowing exactly what they want.

"They want higher-end products and an upscale look," she notes.

"They want a clean look, like a European or Asian look with a slab door," adds Amy Gooden, sales and design for Pacific, MO-based Archway & Bath. "They also want more luxurious materials, such as stone and granite slabs on the walls and showers."

But, that is not to say that they will mortgage their future to create the ideal space, says Stumpf.

"If someone wants the carerra marble sink, they will spend the money but they then may request a low-end toilet. It's not so much how much the item costs, but whether the product is worth it to each person."

Dan Allison, owner of Camarillo, CA-based Bath & Kitchen Builders, agrees: "We're not doing a whole lot of bells and whistles. Quality is still a big issue."

He concludes: "We're getting rid of the seventies and eighties style in the Gen X bath. Today, it's more of a stylistic thing. They do not want the bathroom they grew up in."

Donny and Marie
For Gooden, the need for personal space in Gen X baths is leading to unique design applications.

"We're doing at least two bowls in master baths," she offers. "If they have a larger space, then we definitely separate the two."

Allison adds: "My clients are more into size and open space, whereas older clients want everything crammed into a smaller space," he explains. "[Generally,] each person wants their own [his-and-hers] space in a large, open bathroom. So, the trend is toward a lot of openness, light and room."

Stumpf cites a recent bath she designed as an example of this idea. "For this Asian-influenced bath, we opened up the space and created a built-in closet with a cabinetry face on it. We also installed a stackable washer and dryer and added a large glass shower and a separate whirlpool soaking tub. There were also some unique furniture-type pieces," she describes.
Michael Boyette, CKD, CR, of Boyette Kitchens & Baths, Inc., based in Bloomfield, NJ, offers his own perspective: "I see that people want larger walk-in showers, heavy series glass enclosures and frameless shower design."

Allison agrees: "We did a bath once that had a lot of clear glass, stone and warm tones. We've also done a large glass-free bath and have also put in a couple of steam showers."

Gooden adds: "I would say most of the Gen Xers are looking at a barrier-free type shower. They're also going with the taller access to the vanity."

Stumpf offers: "The thing that I am seeing in my area is the revival bathroom, which incorporates a lot of claw-foot tubs and huge glass showers. These showers have all of the modern conveniences."

"We're still doing multiple showerheads and multiple sinks, as well," concludes Allison.

Schoolhouse rock
There is an abundance of natural stone being used in Gen X bathrooms, according to Boyette. "We're doing a lot more tile work, using natural stone and more tiles in the shower to the ceiling. Also, we're doing decorative tiles, borders and decos. The countertops are still all granite or some sort of stone material," he offers.

Adds Thompson, "In our area, the only countertop being used is stone, such as granite."

Allison offers: "We're seeing a lot of natural materials and tumbled marble. We will do tile backsplashes and floors or showers with solid stone countertops and tub decks."

Dalton continues: "Tile seems to be very popular both for the shower and the floor. For countertops, people are choosing granite and solid surface for a high-end look."

"We're also seeing stone countertops, undermount sinks and even above-counter lav applications," Gooden says. "They want to achieve a clutter-free look."

Cherry blossom
Many of the designers are also finding, as Stumpf attests, that Gen X bath trends are leaning toward dark cherry wood tones.

She explains: "We're doing a lot of very dark wood and painted woods. I'm doing the very dark, espresso cherry or espresso quarter-sawn oak cabinets. I'm not really doing a lot of of the rustic wood."

Allison adds: "We're staying with more dark tones, such as cherry and alder and red birches."

"Having just finished several baths, we're seeing light-colored wood tones [mixed with a] white-colored vanity," reports Boyette.

Allison also suggests that Gen Xers seem to be shying away from finishes such as chrome and brass, electing for more traditional colors such as oil-rubbed bronze and satin pewter finishes.

Gooden agrees: "Yellow is hot in the kitchen and the bath, and finishes are featuring more creamy, earthy tones."
Boyette adds, "We're definitely seeing more traditional colors, such as natural, muted tones."

Thompson sees the trend going in a slightly different direction, however, noting: "We're seeing lighter and more vibrant colors being chosen by Gen Xers."

Dalton concludes, "[Overall,] it seems that Gen Xers are not afraid to use color in their bath. [The bottom line is] they just want more style and an updated look."