A RELAXING IN-HOME SPA
Clean Up, Chill Out and Recharge With the Newest in Bathroom Design
By Barbara Canetti
By Susie Tommaney and Natalie de la Garza
The bathrooms of tomorrow will incorporate high-tech gadgets, taking advantage of smart technology and digital innovations for soaker tubs, next-gen toilets and faucets. These features are already showing up in the newer hotels and designers are adopting these concepts for the home.
Bathtubs are being made with chromatherapy functions, those colored LEDs that help set a mood. Relax with turquoise and purple, find balance with green, and stimulate creativity with yellow and orange. Other soakers maintain water at a uniform temperature or come with variable pressure air jets that are controlled electronically; both are available in alcove baths and freestanding tubs.
Kohler’s Numi Intelligent Toilet isn’t cheap, but with a motion-activated and heated seat, advanced bidet function, dryer, deodorizer, music and foot-warmer, it’s easy to see why. The Brondell Swash 1000 will probably take hold in Europe and the Asia-Pacific regions first, with its separate tank of warmed water for washing nether parts and featuring an oscillating massage. The TOTO Neorest 550 and the Duravit Starck 3 SensoWash Shower Toilet both come with nightlights while other manufacturers are counting on lifestyle changes. The colorful Neo-Metro miniLoo Toilet works in small spaces and the Sun-Mar Compact Composting Toilet converts waste to fertilizer for soil.
In fact, bathrooms are becoming fully automated. Motion-activated lights, digital faucets with a sensor, a news feed in the shower and smart mirrors and windows are just a few of the ways that residential bathrooms are mirroring those found in commercial applications. Bluetooth seems to be the choice of most when it comes to connectivity, followed by Wi-Fi and 3G.
But one design mainstay that will never go out of style is luxury, that five-star hotel feeling that helps you get ready in the morning and also sends you off for a good night’s sleep at the end of the day. It’s certainly easier to build luxurious features into new construction but, with the right contractor and designer, even existing bathrooms can be transformed into a relaxing spa environment.
Cabinetry serves as the foundation for any project and needs to be both functional and beautiful. There are a variety of options available, including European-style frameless cabinetry, traditional styles, and pieces that resemble high-end furniture. Contractors and builders will have their own trusted sources, like ASIA Cabinetry, a direct wholesaler that stocks a large inventory locally and can offer same day pick-up.
Homeowners refitting an existing bathroom might discover that nothing prefabricated will work once the dimensions for new components are factored in. In those instances a custom fabricator might be the best choice. Ace Kustoms Cabinets & Trim can create a personalized storage solution that’s perfect for any space, adding in custom trim and elegant molding for a finished look.
Another way to furnish even the most challenging of spaces is with Wood-Mode, a custom line that turns cabinets into functional art. Here you’ll find floating vanities, tub surrounds and linen cabinets in a variety of finishes, including hammered stainless steel, antique mirrors and leather drawer inserts. Whether you’re going for European Colonial influences (think shell details, rattan and exotic island motifs), the soft colors of a Cape Cod Bath, or the sophisticated look of stained and quartered ribbon mahogany in its Park Avenue & Murray Hill Vanity, Wood-Mode has a design for everybody and every taste. Cabinets & Designs Incorporated is a family-owned business that has been selling the Wood-Mode line in Houston since 1966. President Maria Frank says she “drank the Wood-Mode Kool-Aid” and, not only is she a firm believer in the quality of the product, she’s looking forward to the new features coming on the market in early 2019, including more colors, new aluminum frame profiles and painted glass doors.
SHOWERS AND TUBS
The age-old debate of shower versus bath isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon and many homeowners select both. Shower doors and enclosures now come with new features designed to make cleaning a snap, like deSola Glass’s ShowerGuard™ protection, a high energy, ion-beam technology, as well as their ClearShield glass coating. Whether you select a framed or frameless door, deSola Glass now carries all sorts of artistic and etched finishes to complete the look.
Everybody’s on a different budget and some are turning to companies like Bath Fitter for an affordable yet attractive alternative. Don’t want to pay to have the existing tub removed? No problem. Bath Fitter’s premium quality acrylic tubs and walls fit right over the existing tub in as little as one day. But this isn’t a one-size-fits-all product. Options include designer finishes like wainscoting, trim and molding, and functional accessories such as soap dishes and shower rods. If aging in place is important or you’re making space for an elderly relative, Bath Fitter has products that incorporate grab bars and shower seats, or, when those tub days are over, they can even convert a bathtub to an easy access shower. Visit their website and get lost exploring all the possible configurations with their fun and interactive design tool, and have confidence knowing that Bath Fitter has already installed two million units and will back their lifetime warranty for as long as you own your home.
We understand Shower Designers’ ambitious mission of replacing shower curtains in every bathroom in America, and one look at their glass products and you’ll see why it makes sense. Say goodbye to the children’s splash zone with their practical tub doors or embrace the sophistication that comes with enclosing a shower with a sliding door system or swinging doors.
A tub is a tub, right? Not when it comes to Marathon Spa & Bath. They offer soaker, whirlpool, air or combination features in a variety of sizes and configurations, including corner installs with oval, square and polygonal reservoirs. Kick it up a notch and invest in a portable or in-ground spa that can seat anywhere from three to ten persons, which sounds like just what the doctor ordered on those cold winter days. Marathon also carries both indoor and outdoor Finlandia saunas, available in a variety of woods and perfect for soothing and relaxing tired muscles.
Sometimes the bathtub works perfectly fine, but you just can’t get past that ding or those stains that seem to build up over time. The tub could just need a facelift. Gallaway Porcelain Works / Texas Tubs can step in to save the day, as can craftsman Wesley McDougle. These refurbishers can repair and restore porcelain bathtubs, sinks and tile, cleaning and polishing them until they look like the day they were first installed.
Tubs and Tops takes it a step further, refinishing bathtubs, sinks, ceramic tile, fiberglass shower stalls and even laminate counter tops into like-new condition. For them it’s a numbers game, estimating that they can save as much as 70 percent off a remodel project because their system avoids tearing out the plumbing, floors and sheetrock. If safety is a concern, they also can convert tubs to showers and install safety mats and anti slip surfaces.
Windows in a bathroom can be both friend and foe. Everybody wants the natural light that comes pouring in, but nobody wants neighbor Mrs. Kravitz spying on you in this most intimate of settings. One creative solution is to incorporate stained or beveled glass in the windows. February’s Glass & Door Designers can create a personalized design that’s both unique and functional. Depending on the intricacy of the design, owner Paula McClung and her team can turn around a window in as little as a week, using colored glass that has been tinted with minerals and metals.
Don’t overlook glass blocks as another solution for privacy. Ken Bowman of Houston Glass Block labels it the ultimate in custom, finding the product in many high-end homes. Most homeowners are familiar with the traditional stack bond pattern, in which glass bricks are stacked to create perfectly uniform horizontal and vertical lines. While still a timeless choice, for the more adventurous Bowman suggests the running bond or brick bond pattern, which utilizes half bricks on the edges so that the mortar joints are staggered. Bowman says it’s an option that wasn’t available until recently. In addition to privacy and visual appeal, glass block also can help with security. “Burglars have figured out that bathroom windows don’t have an alarm on them, so we replace quite a few bathroom windows after burglars have broken in,” says Bowman. “I’ve been doing this 15 years, and I’ve never heard of somebody breaking in through a glass block window.” Installing glass blocks is best left to the pros, however, who will understand the need for wall anchors, reinforcing wire and the right type of mortar for structural integrity. Windows can be installed at any time and trimmed with Corian or ceramic tile, while shower surrounds are best left as the last step, so as not to be in the way of painters, plumbers and electricians. Bowman says that glass block just makes people happy and, with so much time spent in one room, finding a way to love your bathroom is a great way to start the day.
Deciding on a floor is sometimes an afterthought, but it shouldn’t be. As much care should be spent on the type and color of the flooring as is spent on cabinet selection. The floor experts at EZ Floors Inc. can guide homeowners in the merits of porcelain versus ceramic, the benefits of tile and stone, and how best to care for and maintain these long-lasting flooring materials. For the budget-conscious, they also carry a moisture-resistant luxury vinyl that mimics wood and tile and is resilient.
Don’t overlook the puddle-factor. Pet Floors of Texas has a longstanding reputation of installing pet-friendly flooring that is durable, scratch-resistant and completely water- and puddle-proof. But doesn’t that sound like an ideal product for the bathroom? Much is asked of this hygienic flooring, which over-delivers on its promise and comes with a lifetime warranty. It also is warmer to the touch than hardwoods and is more quiet underfoot.
Any wet area has the potential for danger and thankfully there is technology that can help minimize that risk in the home. One such provider is Not Slippery When Wet LLC, a company that uses a chemical process on existing floors to make them slip resistant. It’s effective enough to be used for commercial and institutional applications, giving any residential user peace of mind. Not Slippery When Wet warns that any tile or natural stone floor can become hazardous when wet, and they have safety solutions for bathtubs, showers and bathroom floors, as well as other areas like the entry hall, poolside or back patio. Best of all their invisible slip-resistant floor treatment leaves little or no change to the look and feel of surfaces, which means you can continue to enjoy the flooring you spent so much time selecting.
SINKS AND HARDWARE
Don’t leave the house without your accessories and don’t consider a bathroom done without the sinks, faucets and drains. For something stylish, modern and uniquely personal, we turn to Brasswerks Specialty Sink Store for the powder or bathroom. Copper, nickel-plated, porcelain, glass, stone and traditional sinks are available in all shapes and sizes, including under mount, vessel, drop-in and countertop. For a bolder, more natural look, be sure to look at the rectangular, low wave sinks in quartz or white and black granite. This is one area where your contractor won’t mind handing over the reins, so stop by Brasswerks’ showroom to select from the hundreds of options to find that finishing touch for your bath or powder room.
LEAVE IT TO THE PROS
Perhaps no areas of the house have more moving parts than the bathroom and kitchen, with the necessary integration of electrical and plumbing. A good contractor can lead you through the design stage, drawing up plans and making sure the concept fits your family’s needs in terms of function, budget and style. Whether you hire an interior designer, or your builder relies on someone with whom they work regularly, it’s important that your bathroom project have somewhat broad appeal. It’s great if you absolutely and positively love turquoise, but how will that hold up when it comes time to sell? A professional can suggest elegant finishes that are timeless, and you can always get that pop of color with turquoise towels.
Homeowners will be surprised at the range of price points quoted for a new or remodeled bathroom. Get three bids and, in the process, you’ll gain a better understanding about each potential company. The lowest price isn’t always the best price, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples, and recognize the people who listen to your wants and needs and who also make suggestions for products that are a better or longer-lasting fit.
It’s not a decision that should be made lightly, but ending up with a new bathroom will pay untold dividends for years to come. Close your eyes and imagine hanging a plush, fluffy robe in a sparkling new bathroom. The feeling you’ll get relaxing in a deep soaker tub or enjoying the invigorating steam of a hot shower. What it feels like to get ready to face the day in a room that feels more like a spa than just a necessity. Start here.
Ace Kustoms Cabinets & Trim
ASIA Cabinetry Inc.
7875 Northcourt Road, Suite 100
356 Garden Oaks Boulevard
Brasswerks Specialty Sink Store
9820 Tanner, Suite 270
Cabinets & Designs Incorporated
1022 Wirt Road, Suite 308
EZ Floors Inc.
Houston, Cypress, Montgomery, Conroe, Katy, Spring, Tomball
February’s Glass & Door Designers
26440 I-45 North
Gallaway Porcelain Works/ Texas Tubs
17119 Little Cypress, Cypress
Houston Glass Block
Multiple retailers in the Houston area
Marathon Spa & Bath
1549 Highway 36 North, Rosenberg
Not Slippery When Wet LLC
3240 Fuqua, Suite 3267
Pet Floors of Texas
21414 Julie Marie Lane, Katy
Tubs & Tops
CONSTRUCTION, REMODELING and DESIGN
Bob Jackson Painting & Remodeling
(Bath remodeling, whirlpool tub repairs)
Creative Improvements, LLC
(Bathroom remodeling, plumbing)
Fisher Lane Building and Design
(Construction, remodeling, renovation)
3301 White Oak
Frederick Builders & Remodelers, Inc.
(Baths, interior remodeling)
(Custom cabinets, remodeling)
O.B.R. Remodeling Services
(Carpentry, painting, cabinets)
PLM Remodel & Restoration
(High-end, luxury bathroom designs)
6424 Highway 6 North
Tatco Construction & Remodeling, Inc.
Wendt Design Group
(Traditional, contemporary, classic modern)