Bathtubs getting the boot, light getting a boost, survey shows

  • Article by: MARY BETH BRECKENRIDGE , Akron Beacon Journal
  • Updated: March 8, 2014 - 2:00 PM

The latest trend in bathrooms is a bigger, fully tricked-out shower.

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Showers are getting bigger and more elaborate, sometimes at the expense of bathtubs. This shower features Kohler’s WaterTile 54-Nozzle Bodyspray and a DTV digital platform that wraps water, sound, light and steam together in one system.

Planning to remodel a bathroom this year?

Think shower, not tub. And bring in the light — lots of it.

Those are two of the trends that turned up in a recent survey on bathroom remodeling projects by Houzz (www.houzz.com), the home design and remodeling website and phone app. Houzz invited its newsletter readers to share their remodeling plans, and 7,645 responded, said Liza Hausman, the company’s vice president of community and marketing.

This was Houzz’s first bathroom trends survey, so it’s impossible to use the findings to make specific comparisons to the past. But the study does show what’s hot right now in bathroom design.

One of those trends is what Hausman called the “amazing shower.”

Showers are getting bigger and more elaborate, she said. More homeowners are installing two-person showers with multiple sprays, sometimes outfitted with accessories such as seats or shower heads that simulate rain.

Apparently some homeowners are making room for a bigger shower by eliminating a tub, which Hausman found surprising. Forty-three percent of respondents said they’re choosing to forgo a bathtub, even in the master bathroom.

The older the homeowners, the less likely they are to want a tub, although Hausman isn’t sure why. Maybe they’ve been around long enough to know how infrequently garden tubs and jetted bathtubs get used. Or maybe they’re opting for accessible showers that require more space, she speculated.

Those showers are almost always enclosed in all glass, especially in the master bathroom. Frameless glass is popular, with 54 percent of homeowners choosing it for the master bathroom and 37 percent for other full baths in the house. Glass block is out, Hausman said, and shower curtains are still showing up in 10 percent of master baths and 33 percent of other full baths.

The preference for glass enclosures is probably related to the popularity of light in bathroom remodeling projects. People are bringing in light in abundance through windows, skylights and even shower heads with LED lights that seem to change the color of the water, she said, and clear glass enclosures let that light shine through. Hausman said maintenance wasn’t raised as an issue by survey participants, so apparently people are willing to squeegee their shower enclosures religiously — or else, she said with a laugh, they’re willing to live with the water spots.

Other trends the survey revealed:

• Only 25 percent of homeowners will enlarge their bathrooms in the course of remodeling. Most are making do with the space they have. Hausman said that follows the trend we’re seeing of homeowners rejecting mini-mansions in favor of homes that are more reasonably sized but well-appointed.

• High-efficiency toilets are an almost universal choice at 91 percent. Traditional two-piece toilets are still the most popular, but many younger homeowners are choosing wall-mounted and tankless models.

• For those who choose to install a bathtub, free-standing tubs are the most popular choice at 33 percent. Spa or jetted tubs account for another 23 percent.

• Fifty-five percent of homeowners are opting for double sinks in the master bathroom. That’s a more popular choice among homeowners 45 and older (58 percent) than those 25 to 44 (45 percent).

• Brushed nickel and polished chrome faucets are still popular at 26 and 24 percent, respectively, Brushed bronze was the least popular option, at 2 percent.

And then there’s the issue of potty privacy. Surprisingly, 52 percent of the respondents will have an exposed toilet in their master bathrooms, although that choice is more popular among younger homeowners than their older counterparts, perhaps because younger homeowners have smaller homes, so they don’t have the space to hide a toilet in a separate room or behind a partition, Hausman said.

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