Kitchens and great rooms were the design boom of the 1990s, but consumers are sending those ideas to the shower - literally. All market trends point to the emergence of the shower as a hot point of interest for today's remodelers, and homeowners are going big or going home when it comes to bathroom and shower design.
The average size of an American bathroom today is 136 sq. ft. With the movement toward replacing single showers with two-person showers and the elimination of tub/ shower combinations, new shower designs show that one size definitely does not fit all.
The need for homeowners to express their individuality and personal style was clearly evident at this year's kitchen, bath and builder shows, and the shower surround and enclosures available today promote that custom look consumers strive for.
Clients looking beyond the old standby of sliding glass won't be disappointed with the market today. The mixing and matching of materials ranges from classic glass block and stone to solid surface, chrome or stainless-steel. Here are a few of this year's highlights:
With a partial wall of glass block or a heavy glass panel, the shower stall must be long enough to contain spray associated with everyday bathing. Clear glass may not be the most private of materials, but the expanse of space helps homeowners retain the feeling of openness they crave - inside and outside the shower.
A special note on the texture option afforded to solid surface: Swanstone offers geometric or stone-like designs, and can even create the look of beadboard without the worry of rotting away wooden material.
Steam requires special attention, though, as airtight integrity is extremely important for steam shower operation. Alumax Bath Enclosures' 890c has a continuous drip rail and vinyl wiper blade at the bottom of its heavy glass door and hinge with return panel.
Steam Room USA's SHA-523 is a compact steam/sauna unit with added features, such as a radio and CD player interface, built-in speaker phone, rain-head ceiling shower and a foot massager.
Its collapsible water barriers provide no-step entry to spacious showers, which feature special backing that allow future attachments or relocation of safety bars without causing damage.
Summer Rain is a curved, tempered glass enclosure with two center-opening doors. Its center shower column contains 12 powerful, heated jets that emit warm air to provide complete head-to-toe drying. The jets are fully adjustable, and a preheat cycle provides instant warm air after the shower.
The tower is powered by a 30-amp motor and air can reach temperatures up to 140 degrees F. The fully plumbed unit installs easily in just one to two hours.