(ARA) - Americans find themselves cocooning in their homes and dreaming of a nice, warm, relaxing retreat.
One way to "get away," and at the same time enhance a home's value is to turn the bathroom into an in-home retreat. In fact, making the bathroom a place of retreat is one of today's most popular home remodeling projects, according to Homestore.com, as homeowners look for relief from hectic lifestyles and choose to spend more time at home.
As the country faces tough times, homeowners are focusing their spending on the home to make it a secure, comfortable environment according to a Unity Marketing study.
According to the American Standard Bathroom Habits Survey, Americans revealed that they would spend between $2,500 and $7,500 to remodel and decorate their bathrooms. Thirty percent would be willing to spend more than $10,000 to make their bathroom the ultimate dream bathroom.
"Homeowners want a beautiful, relaxing space they can call their own," says Gary Uhl, director of industrial design for American Standard, the world's leading plumbing products manufacturer and distributor. "To make the bathroom a personal retreat, homeowners are expanding the size of bathrooms and adding whirlpools and more decorative fixtures."
"The bathroom is becoming more of a centerpiece in the home with design trends ranging from the bold and colorful to the simple and elegant," says Jim Krengel, one of the first certified bathroom designers.
Krengel and Uhl suggest homeowners consider the following five trends when turning their bathrooms into a personal, relaxing retreat.
The number one bathroom design trend among homeowners is making the room larger. Homeowners are knocking out walls to make the current bath more functional and comfortable.
"Today the bath needs to be big enough to accommodate everything homeowners want to include," says Krengel. "Bathroom furniture and a separate shower and bathtub are emerging as hot items in today's bath."
Today's homeowner is looking to make the bath more comfortable, stylish and personal by using fixtures with more than one function. One popular trend is the separate shower and bath. A separate bath provides more flexibility in choosing a tub -- whether a free-standing bath or a relaxing whirlpool.
According to the American Standard Bathroom Habits Survey, a majority of Americans choose a whirlpool as the number one item they want in their bath. American Standard's whirlpools have ergonomically correct head and arm rests for maximum comfort and strategically positioned jets to create ultimate relaxation. Their whirlpools come in a variety of sizes including corner pools, such as the Savona Corner Whirlpool, that will fit discretely into the corner of a smaller bathroom.
"Another hot trend in fixtures is above-counter sinks that serve as a sink as well as displayed art," Uhl says.
The Striata and Carnivale above-counter basins by Porcher are great examples. The Striata is a fused-glass basin in jewel tones that turns the bathroom into a showcase. The Carnivale, crafted of brilliant artisan-made glass, blends striking designs with bold colors creating the ultimate fixture.
Today's bathrooms are equipped with more than just the traditional bath and sink. As homeowners increase the size of their bathrooms, they are experimenting with armoires for storage, music or television and chaise lounges for reading and relaxing.
Vintage furniture is also making a splash in the bathroom. Homeowners are using vintage pieces as vanities or for more decorative purposes such as a towel rack or sitting chairs.
Many manufacturers are creating fixtures that look and feel like furniture. For example, the American Standard Enfield Suite showcases a freestanding tub large enough for two encased in a wood frame.
Combining different materials is another hot design trend. Everything from glass, chrome and china can be found in baths across the country.
"Glass and chrome are popular materials emerging in today's bathroom fixtures," says Uhl. "For instance, decorative glass above-counter basins in bold colors bring art into the bath."
American Standard's Dune Console Lavatory combines a number of materials, including marble, wenge finish wood drawers, chrome frames and a glass shelf to provide artistic flair.
Glass tile is emerging as a favorite material for the bath. Homeowners are designing showers with glass tile in ocean colors to create a warm, relaxing atmosphere. Many homeowners are opting to combine glass and porcelain tiles to create accents or borders that are more affordable.
Believe it or not, stainless steel also is making its way into the bath. Designers are incorporating stainless steel in everything from the sink to the medicine chest to the bathtub to shower walls. The look of stainless steel is fairly cold, so to help soften the look, a natural stone element in the room can add warmth and a contrasting texture.
Although white is still the most popular fixture color according to Uhl, homeowners are looking for other colors that will remain timeless.
"Adding a little color to a bathroom is as easy as a hand-painted sink or a new paint color to the walls," says Krengel. "Homeowners need to choose a color that suits their personality but also fits the type of environment they are looking for."
The latest color trends are running the gamut. Natural colors are the most versatile, but designers are incorporating some bolder colors such as red and blue as well as deep forest and emerald green and terra cotta and rust. These colors are used in everything from the paint to the sink to decorative tiles.
For homeowners who aren't confident in their design capabilities, Krengel suggests calling on a professional designer. "It's better to get the expert advice ahead of time, instead of after a project has gone horribly wrong."
If you are looking for a tub, be sure to try it out before you buy it. It should be long enough for you to stretch out. Make sure that you feel comfortable, with support for your back, head, and neck.
Thinking About A Whirlpool?
Make sure you have a good supply of hot water.
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