Is it time to build your dream bathroom?

Bathrooms, along with kitchens, are consistently two of the top remodelling projects in the home, and with good reason.

For homeowners planning to sell, both are renowned for having a good return on investment and, since they can be prone to looking dated, are sometimes in need of a good updating.

Those in their “forever homes” may decide to create their spectacular dream bathroom to feel like a spa-type of sanctuary away from the spa. In this case, it can pay off to embrace your personal side and unique taste while also considering functionality of course. If resale is ultimately in the cards, don’t forget about practicality and more mainstream popular trends.

Invest Wisely

According to the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC), washroom renos recoup between 75 and 100% of their investment.

Importantly, an upgrade to the bath might even turn a starter home into something more livable long-term.

Research from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) as part of their 2015 Remodeling Impact Report found that 62% of respondents had a greater desire to be home since completing their bathroom, and 58% had an increased sense of enjoyment when they were home.

Even if not replacing the tub and shower, new state-of-the-art showerhead, faucets and other small renovations make a big difference long-term.

Find Your Focus

“A single focal point is always the best way,” says Tom Calder, Customer Service Representative for Emco Corp. “Multiple focal points become confusing. People are looking at all the pieces and they aren’t seeing the sum of those pieces.”

Once you have your focus, don’t forget the accessories, reminds Garry Scott, Vice President, Marketing and Ecommerce at Moen Canada.

“When renovating a bathroom, don’t forget the co-ordinating accessories–towel bars, robe hooks, towel rings and toilet paper holders,” he says.

“We offer a wide range of accessories that perfectly match our faucets and shower heads, so it’s easy to create a cohesive look in the bathroom. Coordinating all elements in the bathroom together will create a seamless aesthetic.”

A good way to tie everything together, notes Calder, is to bring a piece of the eye-grabbing element with you to every store —or a paint chip if the walls are the focus. “The vanity is a good place to start,” he says of selecting the focal point.

A tip: If moving away from chrome hardware and fixtures, you may need to decide on a single manufacturer as every manufacturer’s brushed nickel or colours are slightly different, Calder says. “But chrome is universal; chrome is chrome is chrome.”

Photo courtesy of CanSave

Photo courtesy of CanSave

Let Your Vanity Show

One way to add value to your home and make it more aesthetically pleasing is adding a double-sink and wider than 40” vanity, says Stephanie Brown, Sales Manager at Cabinetsmith/CanSave. “Most new construction has single sinks and big wide vanities in the ensuite. So, to add a second sink is really nice,” she adds.

When selecting vanities and cabinets, Brown says homeowners should consider looking at where those vanities were constructed and the material source. She recommends buying domestic when possible and reviewing the product’s material lifecycle. “For example, because of the climate the lifecycle of a maple tree in China is shorter than in Canada. So, maple sourced there will be not quite as strong as Canadian maple.”

Sustainability is a consideration, and also stability. Brown points to her company’s Impressions family of vanities that use an MDF (Medium-density fibreboard), which is denser than plywood to prevent warping. It’s naturally anti-microbial and formaldehyde free.

Lighten Up a Bit

Brown says in cabinetry light colours are a good call, saying light browns are selling well and, of course, white. “We’re seeing whites pick up again,” she says. For the past several years white has shared attention with darker browns, but they are lately falling off. Gray is also a consistently popular choice.

Simple, contemporary style, such as shaker doors or a raised panel accompany the colour trends.
“We’re seeing a real surge in that contemporary look. A horizontal grain slab, especially in the grey tone, just spiked this summer.”

Photo courtesy of CanSave

Photo courtesy of Spectrum Brands

Or Join the Dark Side

In faucets, black is growing in popularity, says Adam Findlay, Senior Marketing Manager for Spectrum Brands / Pfister. “Matt black is trending, but it’s also classic,” Findlay says. He adds that black will have long-term impact. “There are a lot of trends that are a bit eccentric, but they aren’t popular in a year or two. Black is not one of them.”

“Depending on the manufacturer, it’s classic, classy and sustainable.”

Consumer research conducted by Pfister found people love matt black, and not just faucets and hardware, but utensils, pots, pans and more. Some 47% of respondents to a recent survey rated the matt black trend 8+ on a scale of 1 (extreme dislike) to 10 (love).

Get Industrious

Findlay also points to the popularity of the mainstream industrial trend. Consumers rated this stylish trend 8 or more 38% of the time.

Combined, the two can really pop, he suggests. Already Pfister has several industrial-style faucets in matt black, with more to come. This summer, Pfister is releasing matt black versions of its Breckenridge Widespread Bath Faucet exclusively in Canada.

On the other hand, Scott notes that modern styles remain popular in the bathroom, pointing to fixtures with chrome finishes and sleek geometric shapes. There are style options abound to meet everyone’s personal tastes.

Photo courtesy of Mirolin Industries Corp.

Stand Free and Flexible

Another popular way to add luxury to your bathroom (and bathing) is to add a free-standing bathtub. As well as a sense of elegance, a freestanding bathtub affords some flexibility, says Daniel Rosato, National Account Manager at Mirolin Industries Corp.

Although interest has been high for the past few years, the trend has been growing, along with its size options. “About five or six years ago we had a line of eight free-standing tubs, and everything was 66 to 69’,” Rosato says. “Now we have more than 20, of all different styles, and now our smallest is 59’ and it goes all the way to 71’.”

It’s become easier, he says, for homeowners to replace traditional 5’ tubs with freestanding models.

Take a Seat

Seated shower stalls continue to be a popular option for homeowners, even those who don’t want to take a load off.

“In the models that we offer with or without seats as an option, the majority of sales have seats. Even in custom builds, I’m seeing more and more people putting in seats, even if they don’t use them,” Rosato says. He adds that many put in seats in lieu of shelves.

Given time constraints many homeowners are eschewing baths over showers. “We’re seeing a lot of people remove the tub altogether to have a bigger shower with seats in it,” Brown adds.

A word of caution, though. You might want to consider the effect on resale if you remove every tub from your home, Calder says.

“Think of the broader family-oriented buyer,” he adds. Of course, if it’s a reno in your permanent home, that’s not a concern for today.

Photo courtesy of Moen Canada

Photo courtesy of MAAX

And Get Showered with Praise

“One trend that jumps off the page for me is the number of larger showers people are putting into their bathrooms,” Calder says. “And they are adding a higher quality.

As opposed to corner showers, they’re doing squared-off units with sliding or pivot doors, and are adding a higher-end finish. Tiling as opposed to acrylics for a more luxurious look. Subways tiles, for example, are always fitting.”

Scott points to exciting innovations happening in the shower, and his company’s designs that “improve homeowner’s everyday experiences with water.” Sometimes it’s the little design features. For example, Moen’s Magnetix showerheads feature a magnetic dock that makes it easy to release and return the showerhead with closed eyes. The showerheads also offer six spray functions for greater customizability.

Put Smarts into the Showerhead

But shower innovation doesn’t stop there.

“Consumers are looking for convenience and personalization throughout their home, including the bathroom,” Scott says. “We know homeowners have the desire to have a connected home.”

He says those are the inspiration for his company’s new U by Moen shower, the first Wi-Fi / cloud-based, app-driven digital shower. U by Moen gives homeowners mobile connectivity and personalization to create the “ideal showering experience with the push of a button.” Smart tech meets shower tech.

Keep it Clean and Functional

For many, maintenance-free is a godsend. To that end, Calder points to Utile by MAAX shower and tub tiles. These do-it-yourself panels look like tile, but can be installed in a day and are basically maintenance-free. They bridge the gap between higher-end tiles and plain white walls, he says.

If looking to improve water efficiency, obviously little can be saved around the tub (which gets filled up). Still, there’s a lot of opportunity to save water, Findlay suggests. Toilets, of course, now have excellent options that use half (or less) water as tradition 6 or 10 L options.

“In showerhead technology, you need technology to make less water feel like more, and there’s been some great technology developed to do that.” It’s crucial technology, since Findlay suggests, “Few people are willing to compromise their experience.”

Of course, innovations have made it so aesthetics and experience, form and function, require very little or no compromise. After all that effort, your bathroom needs to be beautiful, but also needs to work.