Splish Splash

Bathrooms go high tech & high style by Jennifer Garrett

Imagine pressing a button and the water comes on. The temperature and water pressure are just right, and your morning playlist kicks in just loud enough. The lights are bright but not too glaring. There is a slight mist of eucalyptus today, maybe citrus tomorrow. No, this isn’t an episode of the Jetsons. This is your shower.
“It’s not just going in to take a shower anymore,” says Doug Widish, manager for Gerhards Showroom. “It’s an experience.”
Certainly not all bathrooms are quite so well equipped, says Hensen Fine Cabinetry president Jeff Hensen, but many master suites have luxurious features like the “smart” showers as well as flat-screen televisions behind fogless two-way mirrors, compact refrigerators, exercise nooks with treadmills or elliptical trainers, or even second laundry areas. Then there are the more expected luxuries, such as in-floor heat, heated towel bars and walk-in showers.
“It isn’t every bathroom,” says Widish. “You see people who just want a basic bathroom, and then there are people who have a master suite and turn it into an oasis.”
Solid surface counters, vessel sinks and kitchen-height vanities remain popular among clients, Hensen says. Furniture-style cabinetry that seems to be raised off the floor is gaining interest, too. “Many of the things you see in kitchens, you’re also seeing in baths,” he says.
Contemporary designs are becoming more popular, but the minimalist look can be a little trickier for designers because
of the need to hide plumbing. Yet Hensen says anything is possible—from bracket-less shelving to open vanities—with the right planning.
Widish says other small touches can yield big dividends as well. For example, tubs with a curved apron offer elbowroom without requiring more length. “Choices continue to expand,” he says.


Hensen notes that cabinet inserts are small custom features with major potential impact. Specially designed slots for hair-dryers and curling irons help manage cords and clutter. Nail polish and makeup organizers keep everything at your fingertips. “It’s all about utilizing every square inch,” Hensen says.
Widish notes that high-efficiency toilets and showerheads remain popular as the green movement continues to gain market share. While in the past consumers had to sacrifice style for sustainability, now they need make no concessions. Some of the most eco-friendly models, Widish says, have lower price tags but comparable quality of traditional fixtures. “Consumers are going to see even more of that,” Widish says.
Other changes to watch for include walk-in tubs with better styling so they look less clinical.
The economy has slowed the introduction of new products a bit, but Hensen says customers still know what they want and ask for it. “If they’re going ahead and pulling the trigger on the remodel,” he says, “they’re going to get what they like.”


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