Nothing remedies a bad day or an early alarm clock like a hot, strong, steamy shower.
That’s why many homeowners are ripping out their bathtubs and opting to upgrade their sputtering showers into luxury oases large enough to hold yoga poses in, while their troubles waft away in a cloud of cleansing steam.
“We’re taking out a lot of bathtubs, and we’re making showers a whole lot bigger,” says Mike Medford Sr., owner of Medford Remodeling in Arlington.
Large walk-in showers with room for two are now more in demand than the oft-desired but little used garden bathtub, home design experts say.
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Sylvie Meehan, an interior designer in Fort Worth, says many of her clients are realizing that they simply never use their bathtubs, even though they’re taking up precious bathroom square footage. Many keep the tubs for resale value, but they’re more focused on improving the quality of their showers.
From steam showers to hand-held heads and comfortable benches, luxury shower trends are transforming showers from a morning chore to a morning escape. Here’s advice on how to incorporate them into your home.
Medford says many of his clients request showers sans doors and curtains.
“It’s cool, but it’s also less glass to clean,” he says.
Now that showers are becoming the centerpiece of bathrooms, there’s a desire to make them look large and open, he adds.
While clear glass is one way to showcase the shower, steam and water can make upkeep a hassle. The result has been an increase of open-concept master bathrooms with doorless walk-in showers.
Meehan says she has done some doorless entries, though many people still request glass doors, fearing that the removal of a door might make it breezy in the shower. To compensate, she has encouraged clients to install over-the-shower heaters on the ceiling, to help ensure a warm shower.
Some homeowners also are installing heated flooring.
Add a Bench
When opting to scrap their bathtubs, homeowners are compensating with lavish showers, which often include a place to sit and relax. Meehan says she almost always incorporates a bench with a hand-held shower head, offering clients a place to shave their legs or simply to relax.
Medford says that when clients start designing their bathrooms, the first word they mention is “spa.”
The bench helps create that feeling, as the shower becomes less utilitarian and more utopian.
Even if a built-in bench is not incorporated homeowners may buy a freestanding bench for the shower, says Melissa Huff, showroom sales coordinator at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery in Fort Worth.
The more shower heads, the better. Huff says shower trends include combinations of standard shower heads, body sprays, rain heads and hand-held nozzles.
The rain-style heads, installed above the shower, typically are more for ambiance, and they don’t generally have much water pressure.
Medford says he usually offers clients jet valves on sidewalls at three different levels — at the shoulders, lower back and lower legs.
Amy Burns, an outside builder sales representative at Morrison Supply, says rain heads and hand-held shower heads are in high demand.
Hand-helds are great for use while sitting on a shower bench or to clean hard-to-reach areas.
Multiple heads often are installed with multiple controls, so clients can customize their temperatures.
It’s important to be able to control the different water sprays individually, Meehan says.
“They can just use the body sprays if they don’t want to get their hair wet,” she says. “There are so many different kinds.”
Steam showers are a hot ticket item for today’s master baths. Huff says that a steam shower does, to an extent, dictate the look of the shower, as it must be an enclosed space. The steam unit typically is installed in a wall with an access panel, and the features are limitless — with options to add fragrance, lighting and even music.
Medford says there are some architectural requirements to consider, as the ceiling must be sloped to avoid a buildup of condensation. Proper venting also must be installed.
Burns says she has had a lot of interest in steam showers, both in masters as well as in bathrooms attached to home gyms.
“You’re filling the room with steam; maybe you have a bench and you sit there for 20 minutes,” she says. “People enjoy it for health reasons, or maybe they feel more relaxed after they exercise. It’s definitely a luxury.”
But the final effect is certainly an indulgence, says Meehan. “It’s just going to make it more luxurious, more relaxing and stress relieving,” she says.
Soap niches: Having everything you need — and more — at your fingertips helps create the spalike feel of luxury showers. Medford and Meehan say that almost every new-build shower they see incorporates a shelf designed for soaps, pretty canisters of bath salts or candles.
Shelves: Medford says many showers incorporate a niche or a stool that women can rest their feet on to make shaving their legs easier. Even if a shower has a bench, it’s nice to have an option for easy stand-up shaving, he says.
Speakers: For shower singing enthusiasts, waterproof speakers are a thing of beauty. Meehan says many clients are incorporating a sound system into their shower designs so they can stream music from their phones, iPods or computers.
Heated towel drawers/bars: Medford says these aren’t as popular in Texas, where warming up after a shower isn’t often a problem; however, toasty towels to wrap up in après-shower are a luxury that no one would refuse. We can’t think of a nicer amenity to offer in a guest bathroom.