We’ve all been there – looking at old, cracked wall tile and stained grout, or perhaps you are still using the vanity/sink/faucet that was in place when you bought your home. It’s hard not to want to upgrade when you know that there are products that are not only beautifully designed but energy efficient and perhaps even healthier for the environment. When you’ve reached that point where you just HAVE to remodel – take a step back and breathe. Then take a step forward and start doing research. US News & World recently published a trends report, with information from respected industry experts like Ilyce Glink, author of numerous real estate books, including “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask.” Glink has found that trends in bathroom design now include “larger shower spaces with all the trimmings, such as aromatherapy steam showers and more.”We are seeing a trend toward incredible shower experiences, with big, round rainwater showerheads. We are seeing places to sit in the shower and more elaborate shelving. Lots of glass tile and multispray heads,” Glink says. These shower spaces can include built-in containers that allow you to preload your shampoo and conditioner.
All of that being said, let’s break down some of the product choices that abound in the world of bathroom design. Since the report mentioned steam showers, let’s begin there.
Steam has been shown to have many benefits aside from post-exercise relaxation. We’ve come a long way in the understanding of what a true steam shower can do for your body. The heat helps aching muscles relax and open the pores for detoxification and skin rejuvenation. Those with respiratory problems enjoy steam therapy because it has been known to help soothe throat irritation, loosen phlegm in the lungs and loosen mucus in the nose. If you are remodeling your bathroom, you might think about adding a steam shower unit for the reasons mentioned above. ThermaSol is one manufacturer that works very hard to make figuring out what type of steam shower unit to purchase very easy!
ThermaSol’s product offerings also include aromatherapy oils, and they’ve made sure to produce their controls in finishes that complement virtually every faucet/shower finish on the market – so you don’t have to worry about your steam controller looking out of place. They also offer Bluetooth capability and their MicroTouch controller works in the same way as a smartphone – technology continues to advance!
The array of faucets on the market today is enough to make anyone dizzy – so before you become overwhelmed, it’s best to try to narrow things down using a few criteria:
- Contemporary styling or Traditional? Or somewhere in between (called Transitional)
- Do you want low-flow aerators to ensure that you are being kind to the environment? Most faucets do have aerators, and in fact a ‘Low-flow’ faucet today is made so well you would never be able to tell that you are saving water.
- Single-hole or widespread. Do you like having ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ handles separate or would you prefer a single hole faucet?
Once you’ve narrowed these criteria down in your head (and perhaps by looking through magazines or online), you will be better prepared and less likely to become frustrated or overwhelmed by the choices.
The average toilet gets flushed nearly 2,000 times a year. And in the U.S., one-half of all toilets are older, less efficient models that waste up to 1.6 billion gallons of water every day. That data is from Kohler, the manufacturers of some of today’s most efficient (and stylish) toilets. Here again, as with faucets, you’ll want to do a bit of research first:
- One-piece versus Two-piece toilets
One-piece toilets integrate tank and bowl into a seamless, space-saving design that is easy to clean. Some low-profile models can be installed under a vanity extension when space is at a premium. Because of their special design detail, most one-piece KOHLER toilets ship with a complementary Quiet-Close™ toilet seat with Quick-Release™ functionality.
Two-piece toilets feature the traditional design of a separate tank and bowl. Two- and three-bolt installation systems provide a sturdy, level connection between the tank and bowl, making installation easy.
- Bowl Shape
Compact elongated one-piece toilet designs enable an elongated bowl to fit in a round-front space.
Elongated bowls provide added room and comfort for adults. These will have the abbreviation “EB.”
Round-front bowls require less space and are good for small children. These are also referred to as “plain bowls” with the abbreviation “PB.”
- Flushing Types
Kohler offers two main toilet flushing types: gravity and assisted. Gravity flushing comes in two types: siphonic, which uses the flow of water and the s-shape of the trapway to create a siphoning action, and washdown, which uses the force of gravity to send all of the water through the rim and out. Assisted flushing moves water from the tank to the bowl and out of the trapway using electricity.
If all of this seems overwhelming – your safest bet is to gather every photo you can of things you like and head into the showroom. A trusted showroom (and the well-trained staff) should be your one-stop shop. No need to run from one to the next – a good showroom has a great selection of products in ALL categories (faucets, fixtures, furniture for the bath, tile, even lighting.)
Next time, we’ll tackle tubs and tile!