In part two of our series, we asked designers what they considered must-have products for the bath. Their responses reflect choices driven by technology and the transformation of the bathroom from utilitarian space to a spa-inspired sanctuary.
Some designers, for example, feel a window is ideal in a bathroom because it provides optimum lighting conditions for grooming and makeup application. A view of the great outdoors can also enhance relaxation and visual appeal, according to designer Lori Carroll, principal of Tucson, Ariz.-based Lori Carroll and Associates. “You can bring window heights up if you’re concerned about privacy and don’t want window coverings,” she says.
Sculptural soaking tubs that boost the spa-like look and experience remain popular. So, too, do showers with multiple showerheads or, at the very least, one showerhead with a handshower. Nicholas Mather, design associate at Milwaukee-based architecture firm Deep River Partners, notes, “We try to put handshowers in all of our showers because they make cleaning that much easier.”
For additional showering convenience, designer Kenneth Henry, of Alspaugh Kitchen and Bath, a kitchen and bath design firm in St. Louis, often installs a thermostatic valve directly under the showerhead and a separate volume control valve closer to the door. Doing so allows his clients to wait for the water to heat up before entering the shower and “adds very little expense,” he notes.
Some designer must-haves are just good practice, such as creating an efficient layout, installing a humidity-sensing bath fan, and ensuring ample counter space on both sides of a vanity sink. Similarly, having one large sink instead of two sometimes makes more sense, especially in a guest bathroom. Wall-mounted vanities help reinforce a feeling of openness in remodels with modest footprints. In New York City, where space is very limited, Asifa Tirmizi, managing partner of interior design firm Navigate Design, will often replace the tub with a larger shower, as “most New Yorkers don’t need a tub.”
Recently, Jonas Carnemark, owner and founder of Bethesda, Md.-based design/build firm Carnemark Design+Build, has undertaken several bathroom renovations for repeat clients interested in aging in place. “It’s been fun because they’re making them so you wouldn’t know they’ve been designed with living in place/aging in place in mind,” Carnemark says.
And finally, some bathroom must-haves, though universal in appeal, are largely aspirational. “It’s very luxurious to have a fireplace in the bathroom,” says Kean. “Sometimes I’ll do one, but it depends on how much room there is and what the budget is.”
For all other projects, big or small, here are 12 product essentials that will help bring any bathroom into a state of contemporary bliss.