The pandemic is pushing bathroom design towards cleanliness and hands-free comfort


Allison Greenfield never liked the tub in her main bathroom or the small shower with the glass that was hard to clean. Spending so much time at home during the pandemic only intensified her desire to renovate the bathroom.

“The huge tub was not functional and took up so much space,” recalls Greenfield, who lives at Plymouth Meeting. “There was a very small shower, poor lighting and very little storage space.

Last spring, she created the bathroom of her dreams, with dark blue shower tiles that stand out in the predominantly gray and white room. Special features integrated by entrepreneur Tom Nguyen of TN Contracting Solutions in Bensalem include a large shower with an additional rain head, a niche for storing bath products and a built-in bench. In addition to a double vanity, she installed a separate makeup station. The bathroom now has layers of lighting and heated floors controlled by a programmable thermostat.

The bathroom has taken on more importance for many people who have spent a lot of time at home during the pandemic. According to the American Houzz 2021 Bathroom Trends Study, two in five homeowners say they use their renovated bathrooms for rest and relaxation, with an emphasis on cleanliness, lack of clutter, dimmable lighting and greenery.

These design trends are influenced by hotel experiences, technology, nature and European trends, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Design Trends 2022 study. The study found that millennials are looking for showers and larger storage / dressing areas, energy and water efficiency, connected products for water temperature, as well as entertainment and communications.

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“The bathroom has become a sanctuary, a Zen spa where people can go to relax,” said Marcello Luzi, managing director of Ardmore-based WPL Interior Design and designer of the Greenfield bathroom.

The median spend for bathroom projects was $ 8,000, according to the Houzz report. Spending for major renovations, including upgrading the shower, was three times that for minor renovations – $ 15,000 versus $ 5,000, respectively.

Still, high-end bathroom renovations, including specialty bidet toilets, huge showers with plenty of water sources, and technology that can heat floors and flush your smartphone, can cost $ 25,000 to $ 100,000, said Luzi.

Private spaces, including separate vanities, often on different walls, have become popular, as have toilets enclosed in their own closets. Showers are larger and often include multiple layers of water from many shower heads.

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Ship’s tubs with a sculptural design add artistic beauty. Americh’s new models, launched in October, feature uniquely textured tubs created by hand-applying a controlled splash of resin to the outside of the tub, which is then smoothed onto the surface.

The technology, installed by specially trained integrators, has become an essential part of the bathroom for many people. Voice activation allows for a hands-free experience, including toilet lids that lift automatically, the ability to start your shower from your phone, bidets that clean without toilet paper, and touchless sinks. Homeowners are also installing music, TVs, LED lighting in showers, and smart thermostats to heat the bathroom floor.

Bidets, which have been popular in Europe for many years, will see sales increase by 15-20% over the next two years, according to the NKBA study. Lack of toilet paper during the pandemic made them much more accepted in the United States

“All the things we talked about before the pandemic, now people are asking for it,” said Pamela McNally, vice president of marketing for the National Kitchen & Bath Association, based in Hackettstown, NJ.

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Past pandemics have also had major influences on bathroom design. The onset of tuberculosis at the turn of the century taught people about germs, both airborne and those that might stay on surfaces.

“Wood is porous and can contain germs, so we switched to enamel for tubs and toilets, eliminating the wood and looking for surfaces that could be cleaned more easily,” McNally said. This included the removal of hard-to-clean rugs, drapes and clawfoot tubs, as well as the installation of non-porous and easily cleanable white subway tiles, porcelain pedestal sinks, and toilet bowls.

The 1918 flu pandemic spawned the powder room / guest bathroom, because people walked into your house and wanted to wash up, and you didn’t know where they were, McNally said. Now the powder room is closer to the front or side entrance to the house.

Over time, as many styles and color palettes have followed one another, classic white tiles with chrome finishes remain timeless. Any pattern that looks like Carrara marble, even if it’s porcelain or quartz designed to look like marble, will also stand the test of time, Luzi said.

For DIY enthusiasts, a bathroom is often a challenge. Someone who is practical can install tiles and vanities, for example, but experience is useful for layout and space planning, and you should always use licensed electricians and plumbers, Luzi said.

Greenfield is thrilled with their new bathroom. “With various lighting options, an oversized shower, separate sinks and vanity area, heated floors and a design reminiscent of an upscale hotel, that’s everything we could have hoped for,” he said. she declared.


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