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A Room That Says "Aah..."
By Tracy Dickinson
KITCHENS & BATHS December 2018/January 2019
home :: home & garden :: kitchen & bath

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Today’s bathrooms provide more than just the basic necessities.

Today’s bathrooms provide more than just the basic necessities.

Americans have always valued their personal space. That’s what brought the first colonists here 400 years ago, after all. That need for privacy and relaxation has only increased as our lives have grown steadily more hectic. Home designs reflect that change.

Since the addition of family rooms and finished lower levels, homeowners and designers have begun addressing the rest of the home in order to meet that desire for private space. The latest room to benefit from this focus is the bathroom—and the transformation is refreshing.

According to Moehl Millwork’s Tina Noel, “A bathroom can be a place to get away from it all, a sanctuary to relax and have a spalike atmosphere.”

Whether it’s the home’s main bath, one shared by guests, a Jack-and-Jill bath for the kids, or the private master suite, a lot has changed in bathroom design in recent years. There are so many more options available to choose from so you can have a unique and personalized space.

Yours and Ours

Baths in master suites tend to get a lot of attention. However, design professionals are seeing a trend toward quality updates in other baths as well.

“I’ve noticed a trend toward budget-friendly family baths and guest baths,” says Jill Lampe of Woodharbor. “But homeowners are focused on making them look new and fresh. They really want to get the most bang for their buck, so they’re tending toward classic looks and finishes.”

She notes that “durable” is often the go-to criteria, which is most easily accomplished with good materials, such as quartz that comes in a variety of price points.

Angie Nichols of Sunderland Brothers agrees. “For secondary baths, people seem to be remaining much more cost-effective and neutral with the more permanent choices such as cabinets, counters, tile, and fixtures.”

Key to this space are classic materials and finishes that will hold up to years of family and guest use without looking dated. Clean lines in the cabinetry, along with neutral colors for flooring and fixtures, allow for more decorative freedom in accessories.

Because these baths tend to be smaller than those in the master suite, design professionals recommend simpler styles and patterns.

“In a smaller hall bath, a 12×12 tile will still give you the popular large-tile look, but it’s more suited to a smaller space,” AIM Kitchen & Bath’s Corey Gersdorf says. “Also, sticking with a basic tile pattern and a standard tub-shower unit or shower only” will offer a more spacious feel.

“Most of my clients want something classic, timeless, and natural in the bathroom,” Lampe says. “Then they like to address style and color in the other things they can change out easily themselves, such as mirrors, towels, lighting, and accessories.”

Even the classic cabinetry can be designed efficiently, and this is especially valuable in a bathroom that will see more widespread use.

“Incorporating unique storage features like a hair dryer pullout cabinet or a pullout for small items like toothbrushes, nail clippers, and makeup can provide plenty of storage without the clutter, even in a small space,” says Sunderland’s Jennifer Sweet.

His and Hers

Whether it’s simply updating the style or creating a luxurious retreat, money spent on the master suite is worth the investment.

Lampe says, “Many of my clients are in their 50s or older. A lot of them are thinking about fitting out their bathrooms to address their concern about staying in their home as long as they can. It often becomes a discussion of how we can update to be ADA-friendly and attractive at the same time.”

Gersdorf says numerous stylish options meet those criteria. “Frameless shower doors, comfort-height or ADA-height stools, handheld showers, heated flooring, even large-format tile,” he says, will give a master suite both comfort and beauty for years.

In fact, many features that typify a spalike suite are equally suited to homeowners redesigning for aging in place. Those features include zero-entry showers, in-shower seating, radiant flooring, wider doorways, and LED and task lighting.

“Lighting is very important for several reasons,” Nichols says. “In addition to how materials reflect off one another, it’s amazing how lighting can play a part in the appearance and tone of colors.”

Gersdorf says, “Lighting has come a long way in the last few years. Adding recessed LED lights and a dimmer can give you a lot of quality light as well as a way to tone it down when you need that.”

And Fido’s, Too

Only the most pampered of pets have their own private bath. But our design professionals are seeing more homeowners opt for a pet station somewhere in the home.

Noel explains, “Typically found in an entry space near the mudroom or garage, dog baths are becoming more popular.”

Lampe says, “If I can keep the pet washing in mind when we first start designing a first-floor laundry-bath combination, homeowners appreciate that. If it’s a larger dog, flooring is a consideration, too.”

Sunderland’s Shelby Silvers explains, “Why mess up your own tub or shower when you can create this efficient space? Features like a flexible, handheld showerhead and a curb on the front of the washing station keep splashing and cleanup to a minimum, too.”

“My biggest piece of advice to any homeowner is to spend time identifying the looks that draw them in. Even with a few pictures, a designer can get a good sense of the homeowner’s style and direction,” Nichols says.

Whether the bathroom is being designed for years of family use, an hour’s peace and relaxation, or ongoing pet maintenance, every homeowner is ultimately looking for the same thing—a space that says, “Aaah. That’s exactly what I needed.”


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