Studies show that people are living in their homes longer, and as such, they seem to be more interested in making their home a haven of beauty and simplicity. Indeed, the recession not only changed many homeowners’ financial situation, but in many cases, their values as well; and the growing interest in home, comfort and a simpler lifestyle has had a major impact on the home design arena, especially in the master bath.
“The master bath has become a living space where people spend a lot more time,” says Tanya Woods, AKBD, CAPS, co-owner of Xstyles bath+more in Bloomfield Hills, MI. “They consider it a retreat, and they want it to resemble a spa. When people come home from work, they can’t wait to get into their bathrooms.”
But while escape is a key theme in the master bath, many consumers are foregoing the “just for show” bells and whistles and increasingly looking for a bath that is simple, uncluttered and restful, with functional and comfort-based amenities as the “new luxury.” This trend seems to hold true regardless of the bath’s size.
Darren Henault of Darren Henault Interiors in New York, NY notes, “I think people want a much simpler, less high-tech experience.” He sees interest in body jets, sprays and steam showers waning in the traditional and transitional bathrooms he designs. “Prior to 2008, people were doing such over-the-top stuff in their homes. It actually became more complicated. Now there’s a different idea of luxury. It isn’t so much about bells and whistles…it’s easier, less conspicuous consumption. It’s more about how the master bath looks and feels.”
Time and energy concerns are also impacting bath design, according to Heather Moe, Design Moe Kitchen & Bath in Escondido, CA. She explains, “Every client I have is ripping out the big [whirlpool] tubs and getting rid of them. Two years ago I was replacing them with sculptural tubs, but now they don’t want any tub at all. They don’t have the time [for a long bath], and they’re watching water and energy usage. They see it as frivolous, and they’d rather save the space for a bench, window seat or larger shower.”
Cindy Tervola, Tervola Designs Kitchen & Bath Studio in Maui, HI, sees the same trend occurring in Hawaii. “If space is limited, people tend to take out the tub and enlarge the shower,” she says.
Following are several more trends these designers have identified in recent master bath remodeling projects.
Tanya Woods AKBD, CAPS
Xstyles bath+more Bloomfield Hills, MI
Larger Master Bath Spaces – “My clients are no longer content with a small bathroom,” says Woods. “They want their master bath to be larger and more luxurious.”
To that effort, Woods often steals space from wherever possible, such as adjacent bedrooms, closets or even portions of hallways. “A lot of times I’m gutting an adjacent space as well as the master bath,” she says.
Larger, Amenity-Laden Showers – Along with the desire for a larger room, clients are also requesting larger showers, oftentimes at the expense of the tub. “That gives us more room for a big shower,” she notes, adding that she tries to grab space for at least a 4'x4' or 4'x6' shower, and larger if possible. “I’ll try to eke out extra inches, then take down walls and open it up with glass to give the illusion that the space is even bigger.”
She says some clients request double showers, and most everyone asks for multiple shower heads – including a rainhead and personal, handheld shower – and body sprays. Steam showers are also on the rise.
Typically Woods will incorporate a bench in the shower, fulfilling aging-in-place needs as well as comfort.
Economical Luxury – Bathrooms are product-driven spaces, Woods notes…the more you add, the more expensive they become. However, she indicates that many manufacturers – in particular those with plumbing fixtures and porcelain tiles – have done a lot in recent years to offer value-priced products that still meet design trends.