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Taking the bath out of the bathroom

By: By Lucy Haines

  |  Posted: Saturday, Jan 11, 2014 06:00 am

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  • ROYAL THRONE – One of several displays of bathrooms at Rona. This particular one is very popular, says store manager Marcel Podlosky.
    ROYAL THRONE – One of several displays of bathrooms at Rona. This particular one is very popular, says store manager Marcel Podlosky.
    APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette
  • BELLS AND WHISTLES – Luxury steam showers include features like steam, radio, seat and lights.
    BELLS AND WHISTLES – Luxury steam showers include features like steam, radio, seat and lights.

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Want the trendiest of bathrooms? Get rid of the tub. That may sound like heresy to those who look forward to regular “me-time” in a tub filled with bubbles – candles lit and glass of wine in hand. But those who know bathrooms know this: we’re becoming a showering nation.

According to retailers and trend-watchers, there are a couple of reasons for this: our fast-paced lifestyle means no time to soak in, fill or even clean the tub – same goes for that oft-forgotten hot tub – and the continued quest for green living means we’re looking for water and energy conservation in all our bathroom fixtures – read: no tub.

“People used to buy big tubs when we opened in the ’80s, but they’ve found they just don’t use them. Now we remove more tubs than we replace,” said Murray Sund, owner of Splash Tub and Tile in west Edmonton. “As our population ages, getting in and out of the tub is a factor too.”

Walk-in showers with seats and grab bars, and low flow hand-held shower heads address those issues at Splash. As for the rest? “We carry what people ask for – today that’s natural, earth tones and a lot of tile and stone like limestone and marble,” he said.

At Rona, a mecca for do-it-yourselfers, tile, granite and marble remain big in bathroom renovations, from floor to backsplash to countertop, along with luxury touches like pendant lighting and smaller framed mirrors over the sink.

“Many do tackle bathroom renovations themselves, but with removal, installation and product costs, it’s still several thousand dollars. Bathroom renos aren’t cheap,” said Rona store manager Marcel Podlosky, who describes this time of year as the biggest for bathroom renovations, before spring and outdoor projects take priority.

Podlosky also sees that trend toward renovating en suite baths with just a shower stall – maybe a tub in the main or basement bathroom instead.

So we’re back to the shower again, but lest you think it’s a spartan option – not in keeping with the sanctuary that many want their bathroom to be – check this. For the same space a 59-inch tub occupies in the typical five- by eight-foot bathroom, a luxury steam shower can offer a spa-like experience, with seats, lights, radio and rainfall showerhead.

“Homeowners think you have to have a tub to sell a house, but realtors are saying, ‘put in a steam shower instead’, said Kim Collins of Soak Luxury Bath Products. “People are using the bathroom more than ever before, but the room is still smaller than the average walk-in closet. So, they want every bit of space to count.”

Said to be great for dry skin and colds, the steam shower uses no energy or water, reaching steamy-hot temperatures in just a few minutes. Collins said at his store, the trend is definitely toward luxury steam showers, which come in various sizes and range from $2,000 to $10,000. A combination unit, often on sale at local trade shows for about $3,000, features a corner steam shower over top of a jetted tub.

“People are looking for that relaxing environment, so everything we sell has that touch of luxury. But we get lots of DIYers too,” said Collins. “A spectacular look doesn’t mean it’s not affordable too.”


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