People are living in their homes longer, and according to many designers KBDN spoke with for this year’s Spring Bath Remodeling Report, they seem want to live in those homes more beautifully and in many cases, more simply.
These aftereffects of the recent economy have changed the way homeowners view their master bathrooms in particular. “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. It’s no longer just a space to do their business. When people come home from work, they can’t wait to get into their bathrooms.”
With thoughts such as these guiding many of today’s master bath remodeling projects, several trends are emerging. One of the most surprising, according to Heather Moe, Design Moe Kitchen & Bath in Escondido, CA, is the desire to eliminate the tub altogether.
“Every client I have is ripping out their big Jacuzzi tubs and getting rid of them,” she says. “About two years ago I was replacing them with sculptural tubs, but now they don’t want any tub at all. They don’t want to fill it up. They don’t have the time [for a long bath], and they’re watching their 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, 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.
Simplicity is another common trend identified by several designers, including Darren Henault, Darren Henault Interiors, New York, NY. “I think people want a much simpler, less high-tech experience,” he says in reference to waning interest in body jets, sprays and steam showers 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.”
Following are several more trends these designers have identified in recent master bath remodeling projects.
Tanya Woods, AKBD, CAPS
co-owner Xstyles bath+more; Bloomfield Hills, MI
Larger master bath spaces – “My clients are no longer content with a small bathroom,” she says. “They want their master bath to be larger and more luxurious.”
In 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 showers with more amenities – 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 eek out extra inches, then take down walls and open it up with glass to give the illusion that the space is even bigger.”
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 into in the shower as well, which fulfills 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 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.
“It’s an exciting time,” she says. “Years ago it was a struggle to create something luxurious because the price was too high. But now I see products all across the board that deliver luxury at affordable prices. Clients don’t have to go with the most expensive product to remain on-trend and have a beautiful space. There are a lot of options that look terrific.”
Specialized storage – “I talk a lot with clients about creating a spot for everything,” she says, everything from a hair care station – complete with electrified drawers with safety switches for hair dryers, flat irons, etc. – to medicine cabinets with outlets for toothbrushes and electric shavers.
Linen towers, cubbies for towels and cosmetic drawers are also popular when space allows. “There’s definitely a trend toward keeping products off the counter and stored,” she stresses.
Trending products – green products such as dual flush toilets and LED lights, TVs sound systems
Tervola Designs Kitchen & Bath Studio; Maui, HI
Floating cabinets – “They visually open up the room,” says Tervola. “And they lend themselves to contemporary/moderns trends we’re seeing now. Old World/traditional styles aren’t completely out, but they’ve been around for a long time and I think people get tired of seeing the same thing.”
Tervola also indicates she is influenced by European design when it comes to cabinetry. As such, she sees clients requesting more flat panel doors – which are also more conducive to Hawaii’s environment – with exotic veneers and horizontal grains. “We have Maui dirt here,” she says, of soil that is iron rich and reddish in color with a tendency to stain. “We get the trade winds so people open their windows and that dirt blows through. A flat panel door is easier to keep clean compared to one with mouldings and corbels.”
Cabinetry without handles is also making a comeback, which supports the clean lines and simple look her clients are requesting. Curved sink fronts are also currently fashionable with the popularity of contemporary/modern styles.
Large, open showers – Doorless and curbless showers are becoming more popular, especially with Baby Boomers who want to age in place. “There will a greater need for ADA designs,” she notes. “Designers will need to be more conscious of it.”
As such, Tervola also adds backing for shower grab bars, regardless of whether or not they are immediately installed. “It makes it much easier to install them down the road,” she says.
Porcelain tile – “There are some wonderful porcelain tiles out now,” she says. “Manufacturers are introducing designs that look like wood and stone, with the ease of maintenance of porcelain. Plus, installation is less. I am working on a project right now where the porcelain is in plank form, which is a popular choice.”
Tervola also sees her clients wanting to change up the look by laying tiles vertically rather than horizontally, and by mixing them with glass or stone.
Maintain the island look – “In Maui we get a lot of part-time residents,” she says. “Whatever is happening on the mainland, they bring it here and want to give it a Hawaiian flair.”
For many clients, that means a casual look with mahogany or white cabinetry. “White cabinets never go out of style here, no matter what’s going on trendwise,” she says. “Plantation-style, white painted doors… that’s what Hawaii is all about. Although I recently completed a French kitchen, people still want the island look. They want it to look like it belongs here.”
Trending products: Rainhead/ceiling-mount showerheads, handheld showers, vessel sinks, framed mirrors.
Darren Henault Interiors; New York, NY
Fully tiled, fully stoned spaces – During the recession, many of Henault’s clients embellished their master baths with tile or stone inside the ‘wet’ area only, or maybe half-way or three-quarters of the way up a wall. “Now we’re back to fully tiled, fully stoned master bathrooms,” he says, noting that trend includes ceilings as well as floors and all four walls of the typically transitional and traditional homes he designs.
Tile and stone are also back to being accented with detail pieces, such as mouldings, baseboards and door casings. “People quit using these details to save money,” he says. “But now they are back to using them. They’re interested in fully designed, fully articulated walls. They want their bathrooms to feel like finished rooms.”
That goes a long way toward improving resale value, he notes. “They’re cost conscious,” he says. ‘They want to know that money is coming back to them someday when they sell the house. People are happy to spend the money, as long as they’re getting value for that money.”
Price-conscious luxury – “Even though the economy is getting better, people are still being conscious about price,” he says, “even when they’re asking for super lux.”
That means he no longer shows clients $300-per-square-foot tile, unless they request it. “I need to stay in the $100-per-square-foot tile, but there are some amazing products out there [in that price range],” he says. ‘We’re going back to lush, but instead of lush at $300, it’s lush at $100.”
Neutral luxury – “I don’t see bold, bright bathrooms,” he says. “As much as people want to put their own mark on a space, in New York, in the city, people are very aware they won’t live there forever, especially if they’re in an apartment.”
That means Henault’s clients are trending toward neutral colors. “They’re doing beautiful, rich things,” he says. “If they’re doing mosaics, I’m not seeing big, bold Italian mosaic. Instead, I’m seeing subtle, neutral tones… rich patterns, but quiet. People are looking for more muted luxury. They want something that is universally acceptable, but with their own twist.”
Henault feels that trend is being driven by the universalization or mass marketization of design through companies such as Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. “Everybody wants a certain kind of neutral, beautiful look,” he says, “but I have to make it unique.”
Combination of color and texture – Henault’s specialty is designing with texture. As such, he sees a lot of clients combine tile and honed marble. “I don’t see all-marble bathrooms anymore,” he says. “I see a combination of tile and honed marble, combining elements to make a space super rich in terms of texture, but not visually jarring.”
Trending products – high-end lighting
Design Moe Kitchen & Bath; Escondido, CA
Simplified showers – For a while, many of the showers Moe designed included a lot of extras, such as body sprays, jets, rainheads, etc. “But now I’m getting more and more people who just want two showerheads… one standard, the other handheld,” she says. “I see that change occurring as part of the simplification that has happened with the recession. I think people want a calmer, simpler life.”
Walk-in/zero threshold showers – These address several trends Moe sees happening in her area. Walk-in showers – those without a door – are very attractive from both cleaning and maintenance perspectives. “People envision them as being easier to take care of,” she indicates. “It’s one less wall to squeegee and one less door to fix.”
However, she cautions her clients that they can be cold, since they don’t have a door. As such, Moe encourages in-floor or ceiling heat as well as a design that allows the addition of a door at a later date if desired.
The desire to age in place is also influencing interest in both walk-in and zero threshold showers. Before the recession, “everyone was still changing houses, moving up all the time,” she explains of her clients in their late 40s and early 50s. “With the change in economic circumstances, people are realizing they probably won’t flip their house two or three times before they retire. This is the first time I’m hearing about the desire to age in place from people in this age group.”
Clean design aesthetic – Even with traditional styles, Moe is fielding more requests for less. “My clients seem to want less decoration,” she says. “They want a very clean design aesthetic.”
For Moe that means fewer patterns, particularly when using mosaics. “I couple of years ago I was doing a lot of mosaic borders with a lot of elaborate tile work,” she recalls. “Now I’m simplifying it. I’m still doing traditional styles, but they are much less decorated. Instead of a basket weave pattern with a double border that is carried throughout the toilet room and shower, I might do field tile and change its direction. It’s a much simpler design, with much fewer patterns.”
Trending products – large format tiles (especially 12”x24” tiles that provide new tile patterns); cool, clear colors, especially whites/grays; color added later in accessories such as towels