State of the Bathroom Address

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By Erik J. Martin

Kitchen may get a lot of love, but homeowners are lavishing more attention on bathrooms lately. That’s the major takeaway from a new poll that sheds new light on the latest preferences in bathroom redos.

Indeed, the recently published 2018 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study had some fascinating revelations. Consider, for instance, that most homeowners remodel their bathrooms for a simple reason: they just can’t put up with them anymore.

Among other study findings: over half of those redoing a bathroom are at least age 55 and implementing age-in-place amenities; most are choosing to remove the bathtub (34 percent) and change the layout (47 percent); almost half of master bath projects are tied to a master bedroom remodel (46 percent); spending on a renovated master bath averages $7,000 (just behind kitchens, at $11,000); demand for dual showers, vessel sinks, built-in vanities and one-piece toilets has increased over the last three years; gray is the color of choice for walls, flooring and (sometimes) cabinets; and polished chrome and matte nickel place tops when it comes to metal finishes.

Nino Sitchinava, principal economist for Houzz, notes that many homeowners yearn for a more modern design esthetic today in the bath.

“Contemporary style continues to be the leading choice among renovating homeowners, despite its drop in favor over the past three years from 26 percent in 2016 to 20 percent in 2018,” she says. “Farmhouse style, on the other hand has more than doubled in popularity from three to seven percent over the same period.”

Even more revealing are inclinations among baby boomers.

“A significant proportion of age 55-plus households are aware of pending aging needs and are proactive about integrating universal design features during renovations,” Sitchinava adds. “Boomers who address aging-related needs are tackling major changes to the master bathroom, with nearly half changing the layout and one-third removing the tub.”

Other upgrades among this demographic include “installing accessibility features like seats, low curbs, grab bars and non-slide floors in upgraded showers and bathtubs,” she says.

Larry Greene, president of Case Design/Remodeling, is encouraged that good lighting – including natural light – remains a “top design and functional priority” in bathroom redo projects, garnering a 47 percent response and ranking second after “stylish and beautiful” (78 percent); rounding out the top 5 priorities were “adds to the resale value” (45 percent), “easy to clean and disinfect” (44 percent), and “reflects who I am” (33 percent).

“The popularity of premium features, as reflected in this survey, is a positive sign that the current remodeling market is strong for both homeowners and renovators,” says Greene.

Tackling a bathroom redo is a huge undertaking and big investment, “so you want to make sure you do it right,” cautions’s in-house interior designer Lauren O’Donnell. “You first need to figure out your needs and what currently is and isn’t working for you. Perhaps you need more storage or counter space or want to create more privacy for the toilet or shower. Take these into consideration and then work on the layout by collaborating with a designer.”

Jonathan Faccone’s recipe for a successful bath reboot? “Maximize your renovation dollar by creating the best bathroom that the space allows, and consider the next owner carefully,” says Faccone, founder of Halo Homebuyers LLC. “You should love your updated bathroom space and its design but not scare away people with design choices that may hurt resale value.”

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