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  • Velux skylights in the bathroom. Click for more information.
    Luxurious Bathrooms

    Do you ever look at the pages of home plan magazines, see the featured bathrooms and wish you could live like that? Do you find yourself loving the bathroom at your favorite fine-dining restaurant and hoping its hardware is available for residential bathrooms? Fancy the spa down the street? Why not bring the relaxing qualities of it to your own master bath?

    Master bathrooms are closely rivaling the kitchen regarding time and money spent on design. Gone are the days of the all-in-one shower/bathtub and small vanity space. Now, master baths compete with some of the hottest spas with their body-spray showers, artistically-designed toilets and vanities spacious enough to give everyone their grooming privacy. And according to designer Krista Watterworth, luxury items are not only more popular, but practically necessary.

    “Luxury items have almost become necessities. I regularly use Nuheat in-floor heating systems in my designs, as well as body spray systems and jet tubs,” she said. As host of HGTV’s “Save My Bath,” Watterworth helps families renovate their bathroom into luxurious spaces and is an expert on bathroom design.

    “The bathroom is no longer that tiny room that you run in and just as quickly run out of. It is a space that is meant to relax and rejuvenate,” Krista said.

    When designing a bathroom, many homeowners strive for peace and unity in this relaxing space. Through modern décor or a peaceful color scheme, any homeowner can design a spa-like bath no matter how big or small. In newer home plans, the master suite is usually grand in size and designed to promote luxury while offering privacy. Dual vanities and a separate bathtub and shower combination simplify the design process, as they offer plenty of spaces in which to relax. Consider a large soaking tub or bubble jet tub, and separate steam shower when looking for ways to indulge yourself.

    “If you are buying a bubble jet tub, it’s a good idea to get the integrated drying system,” Krista said. “Water can get trapped behind the hardware and then you get an awful, moldy smell every time you turn the system on,” she said. Krista also advises choosing higher-end materials should you choose high-tech gadgets, such as integrated toilet systems and steam rooms.

    “Consider adding a chromatherapy tub or steam shower for added luxury,” Krista suggests, in addition to the body spray systems she frequently uses. The typical body spray system consists of a shower tower with as many as four body sprays, a showerhead and temperature control valve. Designed to give you a light mist or massaging shower, body spray systems are one of the biggest indulgences to hit the market. Chromatherapy uses color to aid in relaxing the senses and is available in both tubs and shower systems. Some systems also offer aromatherapy and include a compartment that houses scented oils. If you’re not a fan of spending lots of money, the rainfall showerhead provides the same feeling as standing in the rain and offers a relaxing feel at a fraction of the price of higher-end units.

    When exiting a sauna, steam room or bathtub, your body is typically warm and relaxed. What better way to keep that warmth than with the addition of a towel warmer? It is a small touch that goes a long way. Not just for towels, they are also a great way to dry a bathing suit, baby blankets or hand washables. Available in several colors, finishes and mounting options, choices exist to suit practically everyone.

    Just as you want a warm towel to wrap around your body, in a true spa you would also want a warm floor when you exit the bath. Wide popular, floor warmers consist of electric heating systems that can be installed under new floors to keep toes toasty after exiting the bath. These warmers are also available for other areas of the home. For true warming indulgence consider the newest trend to hit the market: the bathroom fireplace. Fireplaces have always been popular in the great room and frequently appear in the bedroom, but are now finding their place in bathrooms as well.

    As the ultimate indulgence, bathroom fireplaces are the absolute latest trend in luxury bathroom design. Kurt Rumens, President of Travis Industries, is the first to design boutique-style fireplaces for the bathroom. “For 2007, we want to promote these fireplaces for the woman looking to get away. You can lock the door, pour the wine and absolutely relax. This is your personal spa at home,” Rumens said.

    Designed with a vertical format, these small gas fireplaces are perfect in a suite-type master bath. One of Travis Industries’ brands is Lopi, (www.lopifire.com) and features an aromatherapy fireplace that has a hidden chamber designed to hold essential oils that infuse pleasant aromas throughout the room. Many homeowners install the fireplaces at the foot of the tub and allow the fragrance to relax them as they soak.

    “I’ve always been intrigued by hidden compartments in furniture, and the Looking Glass by Lopi has a secret compartment and a keystone that telescopes out toward the room with a tray behind it where you put the aroma oil. As the fireplace is in use, it heats up the oil and activates the aromatherapy in the room,” Rumens explained. “You’ve got the beauty of the fire, the heat and now the aromatherapy in the room,” he added.

    Architects and designers are also aware of this trend, and Rumens hopes to see future plans include alcoves for fireplaces.

    “These fireplaces come both top and rear-vented so they can be flush with the wall and save space. We’re hoping to get in front of the architects and designers and start seeing these fireplaces in their luxury master-bath designs,” Rumens said.

    If you’re afraid a fireplace might mess up the color scheme you’ve carefully designed, Rumens’ fireplaces from Lopi and Fireplace Xtrordinair are offered in a variety of textures and colors to choose from.

    “These portrait-style fireplaces come in numerous options for a custom, personalized look that will work with the consumer’s design scheme. For example, we’ve created rustic French-Country, hand-hammered, brushed nickel and more. There is a wide range of finishes and styling to accommodate your lifestyle,” Rumens said.

    Just as fireplaces are a hit in the bathroom, so is another trend you might not have considered: above-surface sinks, also called vessel sinks. With many plans offering dual vanities, sink choices are vast. Above-surface sinks are often made of glass or pottery and offer an artistic and modern appearance in the bath. Often seen in high-end commercial buildings and restaurants, the vessel sink is now just as at home in residential bathrooms as anywhere else. If you favor an antique look over a modern one, try integrating a vessel sink into an old piece of furniture. Sunken into an old chest or cabinetry, sinks in antique furniture combine the beauty of yesteryear with functionality in the washroom.

    Once you’ve decided what to do with the vanity space, along with the shower and bathtub, consider color for your bathroom. Blue and soft tones help calm the senses and aid relaxation. Bright, loud tones are to be avoided when designing a calming environment. Neutral tones create a backdrop for color in more versatile areas, so that hardware doesn’t have to be replaced every few years.

    “Avoid buying plumbing fixtures that are anything but neutral. Enough with the harvest gold, pink, purple or avocado toilets, tubs and sinks. For a more timeless look, go for color in areas that can be easily changed, such as walls or accessories, unless you plan to update your bathroom every two-to-three years,” Krista advises. For more cutting-edge color trends, Watterworth suggests looking into the world of fashion.

    “A great way to discover color trends is to look to the runways. Fashion pre-empts the design world. Younger lines will often have a more current edge,” she said.

    For those who want to experiment with colors and patterns, Krista suggests reserving the more daring combinations for a powder room.

    “A powder room is a great place to go hog wild. You can use more exotic and expensive fixtures and features because the room isn’t used as much. It is normally designed to make a statement to your guests as opposed to being a highly functional space,” Krista said. When it comes to colors, let your imagination run wild. “Colors can run the gamut, and if you’re dying to have chocolate brown walls and a gold leaf ceiling, the powder room is the place to do it,” she said.

    If you live in a smaller home and aren’t afforded both a master suite and a powder room, Krista offers tips for maximizing a small space to its full potential.

    “If you have a small bathroom, utilize your wall space efficiently. Purchase some hanging storage cabinets, and keep the lines clean and simple so as to not clutter the space with too much decoration,” she said. “Also, a crystal-clear shower door will automatically open the space.”

    Krista also suggests that just because you have a small space it doesn’t mean you can’t opt for luxury. “Bubble jet tubs are available in the industry standard size. You can even choose to do a large five-foot, standing glass shower and the nix the tub altogether for a real modern and open approach,” she said. For those who have a larger bathroom, Krista also offers advice for keeping the room cohesive and cozy. “Good spacial relationships take planning and thought. You have more options in a large room. I often choose a large platform tub and separate standing shower steam room. Often times a separate makeup area is a great idea for a large space, as well as double sinks. But you can make a large space intimate with lots of warm lighting on dimmers to create a cozy feel,” she said.

    Whatever your size or style bathroom, the idea behind luxury bathroom design is to make it your own comfortable haven where you can truly relax every day.


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