Remodeling Tips for the Master Bath
An atmosphere of personal indulgence, which used to be the domain of day spas, is finding its way into master baths remodels. Limited only by imagination and a project's budget, standard master baths are turning into customized retreats. The good news is luxury can be incorporated into any design.
"We're starting to put in more luxurious items," says Sara Ann Busby, National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) president-elect and owner of Sara Busby Designs of Elk Rapids, Mich.
Unsure about how to describe your desired style? Not a problem. A book like Yes/No Design: Discover Your Decorating Style With Taste-Revealing Exercises and Examples, by Diane Love (Rizzoli International Publications) can help sort through different styles. Paying a visit to decorator show houses, kitchen and bath showrooms and plumbing showrooms provides the opportunity to see bathrooms firsthand and get ideas for your project, says Jessica Clock, a designer with Carmel Kitchen Specialists Inc. of Carmel, Ind.
For master baths, no material is too luxurious or too unusual. "(People) are going over the top," Sara Ann says. Of course, "over the top" can mean different things to different people. To some, it might mean splurging on granite countertops. To others it could mean going top-of-the-line from top to bottom.
To create a custom floor plan, consider hiring a certified bathroom designer, who will analyze the size of the space and your family's needs. Some things to discuss with the designer include:
Shower or Bath: The master bath has undergone some changes in recent years. Giant tubs, once wildly popular, have fallen out of favor. Instead, people are choosing custom showers including overhead showerheads, wall-mounted showerheads, hand-held showerheads, shower tiles, rain bars, body sprays and steam showers. "People aren't spending the time in the tubs," Sara Ann says. "They can get the same benefit and be in and out in five minutes (with a shower)."
Choosing a custom shower with a smaller bathtub can have a big impact on the layout of a bath, too. "A big tub with a nice surround takes up a tremendous amount of space. We can do a great big custom shower in a lot less space," Sara Ann says.
Number of Sinks: Often Sara Ann's clients will ask for two sinks in a master bath remodel. After discussing the matter further, most often what the clients really need is one sink and more counter and mirror space. "It's rare we put in two sinks," she says. Plumbing for a second sink can raise the price of a remodel, so it's wise to give the matter careful thought before deciding on the number of lavatories.
Delicate Matters: "Bathrooms are much more personal than talking about a kitchen," she says. Though it may seem a bit awkward to discuss things like a separate room for the toilet or dual showerheads with a designer, doing so will result in a better bathroom remodel.
Universal Design: Another trend in master bathrooms is the use of universal design. This approach, designed to accommodate people of all ages and abilities, includes wider doorways, showers with no raised lip around the bottom, larger shower doors and more room around fixtures. Once thought of as industrial-looking, universal elements such as grab bars now blend seamlessly into even the most luxurious master bathrooms.
When it comes to extras in a master bathroom remodel, look toward the luxurious. Hang an extravagant chandelier over a soaking tub; add built-in warming drawers for towels or install a pass-through fireplace for ambience and warmth. You might also consider increasing the master bathroom's convenience by housing your washer and dryer, adjacent dressing rooms or even massage tables in the space.
Sound systems and televisions have become quite common in master bathrooms, but today's remodels are taking the concept to a new level. Flat screens are becoming more popular and in-mirror models, where the television is visible only when it is on, are another option.
A master bath should be a calm, quiet retreat, and that can be tough to pull off with the noise from a television or stereo bouncing of the room's hard surfaces. "I would be aware that you want to put some softening materials (like plush towels and fabric window treatments) into the space," Sara Ann says. These finishing touches will add that extra bit of luxury to an already spalike master bath remodel.
Sara Ann Busby
NKBA President-Elect, 2007
Sara Busby Design
Elk Rapids, Mich.