Today’s master baths have become spaces for escape, pampering, and indulgence.
Once just a place for tending to our most personal needs, today’s bathrooms have become luxurious retreats. Homeowners are sparing no expense to make sure these rooms have all the creature comforts imaginable. Of course, privacy still plays a significant role in the design. Bringing together just the right elements to create a relaxing and elegant bath, yet still functional is what it’s all about.
“People consume a lot of time in their bathrooms, as much time there as in any other room of the house,” says Warner McConaughey, owner of HammerSmith in Decatur. “Why shouldn’t they make it something that makes them feel comfortable and relaxed?”
But, McConaughey says, just because it’s a luxury bath doesn’t mean it has to be massive. “It’s really the details that make a bath comfortable,” he says. “If you don’t have much clutter, Decorating on a Dime: A room makeover for less than $1,000 tends to feel cleaner and more relaxed.” William Fadul, owner and president of The Building Firm in Atlanta, agrees. “The biggest trend I’ve seen over the last five years is toward spaces that are much more in scale to the home, and much more usable,” he says. “Clients are not asking for huge spaces; they want attractive, usable spaces, and they don’t mind a bit if they are smaller and more intimate.”
Regardless of the bathroom’s size, many of the same creature comforts, including jetted shower systems; deep whirlpool, soaker tubs; fabulous fixtures, and handcrafted sinks; natural stone flooring and countertops; and even heated floors and towel warmers, are topping homeowners’ wish lists.
One familiar part of a luxurious bath is the tub. They now come in all shapes and styles imaginable, and many designs to fit at least two adults.
MTI Whirlpools in Sugar Hill builds all of their whirlpools to order, giving homeowners choices in design, jets, color, and style. “Many homeowners want baths that combine the standard whirlpool jets with an air bath system,” says Russell Adams, vice president of business development for MTI Whirlpools. “Our System Aira II injects heated air through a series of small holes located on the bottom of the bath, which creates an effect similar to a light massage.”
MTI also has a patented cleaning system that conserves water when it’s time to clean the jet’s plumbing. “With ordinary whirlpool tubs, you have to fill the tub with enough water to cover the jets. add a cleaning solution, turn them on, drain the tub and then fill it again with fresh water to rinse them,” Adams says. “Our fill-flush system sends fresh tap water into plumbing lines before it even goes into the tub. To clean the plumbing, you close off the jets, add detergent and then rinse, which uses only about 5 gallons of water.”
And you don’t have to have a whirlpool to have a genuinely relaxing tub. Deep soakers are also popular. “Deep garden tubs are popular,” says Amanda Johnson, a designer with Small Carpenters at Large in Atlanta. “The larger sizes and decorative appearances seem to be our clients’ priorities with tubs.” Kohler, MTI Whirlpools, and Jacuzzi all make deep soaker tubs. (Just sure you have a water heater that is large enough to fill a deep tub.)
McConaughey says many of his clients are also requesting claw-foot tubs. “We still do a lot of claw-foot tubs, especially in older houses,” he says. “In those cases, we really try to integrate the new with the old.”
The demand for elaborate tubs doesn’t at all mean homeowners need to skimp on their showers. On the contrary, Johnson says. “Our clients like open, bright showers with nice tile and frameless glass shower doors. Double showerheads are also a common request. And a bench seat in the shower is a nice addition when space allows for one.”
Intricate spray systems, steam units, and multiple body jets have helped make showers elaborate. Many homeowners are giving up the tub entirely and opting for just a shower. “There are a lot of folks in this rush-rush lifestyle who have completely forgone. having a soaking tub or whirlpool, and are happy with a nice, big attractive shower,” Fadul says. “And the frameless glass surrounds help make the room feel larger.”
And when it comes to the tile—both in the shower and on the floor—the natural stone look, such as slate, travertine, granite, and tumbled marble, is still hot—and expensive. If you like the natural stone look but can’t work it into your budget, Fadul suggests going with a ceramic tile designed to mimic the stone look. “There are wonderful tiles available that are much more affordable and easier to install and maintain than natural stone,” he says.
As far as color goes, subtlety is key. “Neutral colors are also popular because they allow flexibility in selecting colors for paint, fixtures, and linens,” Johnson says. But the classic black and white porcelain tiles are also ideal for achieving a period, classic, simple look.
Artistic sinks and faucets
In some cases, the more decorative the sink, the better, but functionality still reigns supreme in the master bath. “I think everybody is looking for what the next generation of sinks is going to be,” McConaughey says. “The under-mount sink is here to stay because it’s the most functional and easiest to clean. Top mounts are more difficult to clean, and I think more decorative ones are suitable for powder rooms.”
Pedestal sinks and furniture pieces with drop-in sinks are also still popular. “We have a lot of recommendations for more decorative pedestal sinks in master baths,” Johnson says. “While vanities offer more storage, the look of a pedestal sink seems to appeal to people more.” But top-mounted bowls, combined with wall-mounted faucets still combine to create a look that’s hard to beat.
Just as the right sink can add a touch of artistry, so can the right decorative faucets. Sculptured taps and wall-mount units increase in popularity, as are the brushed and hammered nickel, chrome, and pewter finishes. And because faucets are available in many styles, finishes and prices, they’re ideal for personalizing the room. “When you do a bath project, you should pick a couple of bells and whistles to personalize the space,” McConaughey says. “Faucets are perfect for that.” Just hold in mind that the overall price can weigh heavily on the fixtures’ price. “You can spend tons of money on fixtures alone,” Fadul says.
Countertops and cabinets
Sleek cabinetry, and even new and antique furniture, A Material World through fabric’s countless combinations. And because pedestal sinks are still common, concealed storage spaces and small side cabinets on top of countertops are ideal for storing hairdryers, bathing products, and other accessories.
“Linen and toiletry storage cabinets have been popular in master baths,” Johnson says. “The look of an older cabinet in a bath with some of the traditional detailing like wood beaded-board wainscot is nice. Medicine cabinets designed with the same traditional style are also popular storage solutions.”
And when it comes to countertops, granite slab and tiles, concrete surfaces such as Corian, Silestone, Cambria, and even concrete replace the standard cultured marble tops.
Let there be light
In keeping with the open and airy designs, lighting is getting more attention, too. “Lighting in a master bath has to be designed just as it needs to be in another room,” Fadul says. At the same time, there used to be just one light in the middle of the space. Now you can have decorative wall sconces, vanity lights, recessed lighting, and even chandeliers—all with dimmers, of course. “We’re seeing lighting used not as much for giving off light, but more for looks,” McConaughey says. “Some light fixtures can really make a statement in a room.”
Large bay windows and vaulted ceilings with transom windows are also incorporated to allow in natural light.
Extra creature comforts
As if jetted tubs, over-sized showers with multiple showerheads, decorative lighting, and fixtures weren’t enough, many homeowners are taking the idea of luxury one step further. Heated floors, towel warmers, and even re-circulating water for hot water on demand are not uncommon. And don’t forget about high-tech electronics. “We’ve had baths with built-in flat screens, TVs on small shelves and music from the radio,” McConaughey says. “There’s not one bath style right now. You can go in so many other directions.”
The price of luxury
While there are certainly enough styles and trends to cover everyone’s dream bath, the real driving force behind the project is how much you can afford. Either the job determines the budget or the budget determines the position. Still, the bottom line is you must know your account.
And while a master bath—whether built during new construction or part of a remodel. It can undoubtedly tax on the overall budget of your plan. The final product will be well worth your investment.