Little toilets. Primary colors on faucets. Mickey and Minnie Mouse running down the sink bowl. Winnie the Pooh on the showerhead.
Are these the bathrooms at Disney World? No, but they could be the bathrooms of your customers or future customers.
Today, the average number of bathrooms in a home is two and a 1/2, but there are homes out there with three, four or five bathrooms.
“It used to be that you had one bathroom, so that bathroom had to suit everybody,” explains Gary Uhl, American Standard's director of design. “You couldn't do a bathroom specifically for any one age group or person. But the number of bathrooms in a home is growing, so the notion that you can take one of your bathrooms and dedicate to the kids is a definite trend.”
He adds that baby-boomers are driving that trend. Boomers now have more money than ever, and they're either redoing their homes or building their retirement homes. Because the homes are larger, they have more bathrooms - it's OK to decorate one of these bathrooms for when the grandkids come to visit. This is true even with homes in lower price ranges.
“We do see a strong personalization for the children's room, even when the children are going away to college,” notes Diana Schrage, interior designer at Kohler's Design Center. “It may be the guest room, but homeowners are still going to have some of the color influences of the child for whom that room was intended. That extends to the bathroom, where they can put in custom tile that is playful, making the room easier to transform with the aging of the children.”
Fun And PlayfulOne of the most colorful bath collections for children is Kohler's Disney Collection, which features a Mickey and Minnie Mouse sink, plus two other sink styles, as well as faucets, tiles, towel bars, paper holders and robe hooks. Customers can mix and match the various accessories, or pick a few things and decorate around them with paint, towels and a colored shower curtain.
Adding to the Disney theme are two child's showerheads from Alsons Corp. - the Pooh 100 Acre showerhead and the Fireman Mickey showerhead. Each showerhead has a 36-inch hose and two suction cups to adjust to any height. Just connect to the adult shower; a lever diverter redirects water from the overhead showerhead to the child's showerhead. Parents can unscrew the hose from the diverter until the child's next shower.
Maybe your customers aren't big Disney fans. American Standard has two hand-painted patterns for kids in its Porcher brand - Hey Diddle Diddle and Owl & Pussycat. When you buy the sinks, a poster and poem come with them. Homeowners can then finish decorating with complementing paint, towels and shower curtain.
For those more contemporary-designed households, Tebisa Faucets USA has a line of faucets and accessories in primary colors: red, blue, green and yellow. The style is very simple, but adds bold color to any bathroom that children use. The Tebitron line includes single-control faucets for sink, tub and shower; slide bar and hand shower; towel bars and rings; paper holder; soap holder; cup holder; and robe hooks.
Safety And ErgonomicsWhile its fun to decorate a kids' bathroom from a style standpoint, it's even more important to do it from a safety and ergonomics standpoint, notes Uhl. “American Standard has low toilets that are at the height for kids just learning to use the toilet,” he says. “Also, you need to position a lavatory so it's low enough for them, or provide furniture that has steps. And faucets should have safety stops on them so that kids can't scald themselves.”
While child-sized toilets and lavatories are seen more commercially, such as schools, American Standard's Baby Devoro toilet at 10 inches high is for home use.
A lot of ADA-compliant fixtures are useful for a child's bathroom, such as single-handle faucets with antiscald technology or electronic faucets. Delta Faucet Co.'s eFlow hands-free electronic faucets are easy for kids to operate and have a built-in safety feature to set the water temperature to avoid scalding, says Faye Adams, new product development manager at Delta.
Wall-hung toilets or lavs are also ideal for children's bathrooms as they can be installed at lower heights.
Another up-and-coming trend is wall-bar systems with hand showers, says Kevin Buckner, Alsons vice president of marketing. “Besides the ability to have a hand shower and showerhead spraying at one time, it is also good for people of different heights (and kids) because the hand shower adjusts up or down the wall bar - down to a kid's height and back up to the adult height.”
Don't Forget The TeensManufacturers are really beginning to gear a number of products toward kids and teenagers between seven and 17, explains Adams. “This is a very, very big demographic segment that needs to be recognized. Kids, if you can tie them in when they're young, if you can make them brand-loyal when they're young, you've got them when they're older.”
In fact, she adds, retailer Pottery Barn launched a whole new catalog and Web site last year primarily focused on the teen segment. “It's not typically a company that's marketed to kids or teens in the past, and now they've given teens their own catalog to build their own 'teen space.'”
Delta's Botanical Bath Collection lends itself to an adult look or a teen look. Three interchangeable spout options and two different handle options, one with color accents, can give the faucet a number of different looks, fitting into a kid-type environment or a more sophisticated adult design. “It's the chameleon of faucets,” she says. Accessories include towel bars and rings, paper holder and robe hooks, each with the option of color accents, she adds. Lighting from Progress Lighting caps off the line. Teenagers can pick colors that represent high school or college colors, or colors that blend in with certain movie or music posters.