A recent survey shows significant regional changes in bathroom design trends, including a decline in the installation of shower systems in the West, lavatories in the Midwest and Northeast and bidets in the Southeast.

The annual survey conducted by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) shows the average selling price for Certified Kitchen Designers (CKD) and Certified Bathroom Designers (CBD) in 1996 for a bathroom job was $9,300. The most expensive items in the bathroom were the cabinets (33 percent), followed by installation labor (21 percent), fixtures and fittings (16 percent) and countertops (11 percent).

“This survey mostly shows what’s going on in the higher end of kitchen and bath jobs,” says Nora DePalma, director of marketing for the NKBA. “This survey can tell us where the market is going and what may trickle down into the more average job.”

Of the total bathroom jobs, 60 percent were for remodeling an existing space, 20 percent were for replacing an existing room and 10 percent were for completing a bump-out or addition. There were fewer room replacements in the West than in other regions. Just over half of the bathrooms, were more than 65 square feet.

About 50 percent of the bathroom jobs completed by CKDs and CBDs in 1996 were for master bathrooms, and about 20 percent of the jobs done were for master suites.

There was a higher percentage of master suites done in the West than in other regions, but an almost 10 percent increase in the number of master suites done in the Northeast from 1995 to 1996.

“The uptake in master suites is due to empty nesters,” says DePalma. “It looks like they’re taking over some of the space left behind by their children. In makes a lot more sense in the Northeast, where the older houses have smaller rooms. We’re finding quite a few jobs in that area.”

The number of shower systems installed in the West, 25 percent, dropped significantly in 1996 — down from 40 percent in 1995. Across the nation, 30 percent of bathrooms had shower systems installed.

The survey says the CKDs and CBDs agreed that separate shower areas remain strong, and installation of dual shower heads were popular, but there were some reports of decline in the use of multiple elements that required the use of diverter valves.

“Showers are not losing ground,” says DePalma. “There are no clear reasons for decline, but price resistance from consumers may be one possibility.”

The number of bidets installed in bathrooms declined overall, with the greatest decline in the Southeast.

“The South was particularly high last year,” DePalma says. “The drop off was expected.”

White (64 percent) overwhelmingly is still the color of choice for bathrooms, besting second place almond/ivory (20 percent) by over three to one.

DePalma says that she believes within the next couple of years there will be a swing toward more wheelchair accessible bathrooms. She believes there will be more products introduced dealing with accessibility as baby boomers age.

DePalma also points to the kitchen as an area bathroom specialist should watch.

“We’re seeing a trend with the type of counter tops being installed,” she says. “Concrete, stainless steel and chrome may start to make their way into the bathroom. We’ll see what this trend means for the bathroom.”