Six ways to shape and style your showers, inside and outside of today’s splashy bathrooms.
By Brad Mee
If showers have a moment, we are in it. High-style showers have been rising in popularity during the last few years and, in 2014, are cited among the top must-haves in homes across Utah and the country. In fact, showers have replaced bathtubs as the preferred spot to rinse and relax. As a result, they are being doused with refined functional features, increased square footage and head-turning design. The following shower variations are among today’s most-wanted and offer spectacular options for any bathroom, including yours.
1. Steam Showers
Unless you insist on rinse-and-run ablutions, a steam shower may be the most pleasurable feature you can add to your home. “Almost all of our master bathrooms include a steam shower,” says Jeremy Jackson, a principal of Jackson and LeRoy Remodeling in SLC. He notes that the feature has replaced the jetted tub as a must-have in today’s spa-style bath. Designer Nicole Zeigler of Enzy Design agrees. “Clients are more likely to spend on a luxury shower than a luxury tub, and steam is favored over body sprays in showers today,” she says. Steam showers require professional design and installation; they must be completely enclosed to operate properly and be entirely waterproofed to thwart steam from escaping into the bathroom. Movable transoms often perform as glass vents to regulate moisture and heat.
2. Frameless Glass
No one’s knocking shower curtains (well, maybe a little), but glass is clearly a superior solution to splash-proofing a shower with style. Do it without a frame and you’ve got a leading shower trend that continues to be hot and shows no signs of cooling. “Most showers are now being done with a frameless type of glass,” says Jackson. More expensive than its framed counterpart and certainly more costly than shower curtains, it positively affects the style of a bathroom. “Frameless glass not only looks great, it also makes a bathroom feel more spacious,” says Zeigler. She explains that while frameless glass has been popular for a number of years, its hardware continues to evolve stylistically. “From handles to hinges, we’re seeing many more options beyond simple chrome,” she says. Fresh profiles, assorted finishes, a range of styles and even sliding barn door tracks provide homeowners beautiful ways to incorporate frameless glass into their customized bathroom designs.
3. Curbless Showers
A solid step toward to creating a truly accessible shower, curbless designs remove the curb at the base of the shower enclosure allowing flooring to run unobstructed from the bathroom into the shower space. This less-is-more approach appeals to modern aesthetes as well as those best served by roll-in showers devoid of physical obstacles on the floor. “I absolutely love them and would put them in every bathroom if we could,” says Zeigler. The challenge is engineering a sloped floor for drainage. “This is easier to accomplish in new-builds but often requires modifying existing floor joists in remodeled bathrooms,” Jackson says. “Building up the floor or adding a small lip at the shower’s entrance provides alternatives,” says Zeigler, stating that many clients want a curbless entry but don’t really understand the construction required to create it. When designed with a linear drain, curbless showers also provide the opportunity to use larger floor tiles that can flow uninterrupted from the room into the shower. “The single slope and linear drains provide more design flexibility,” Jackson says.
4. Walk in Enclosures
Prefer a little more privacy than a glass-enclosed or open shower will provide? If you have the space, consider the walk-in shower. Basically a room-within-a-room, walk-ins are enclosed by tiled walls—often shapely and curved—that create water and visual barriers from the rest of the bathroom. When inspired by the universal design, the boast curbless, doorless entries and spacious interiors equipped with seats and grab bars to serve the disabled. “They’re less popular in remodels than in new builds because the require a lot of space,” Zeigler says. The walk-in is often ruled out because it can be too cold, according to Jackson. “They don’t trap the warmth and steam like enclosed showers do,” he says. To lessen this problem, his team often runs heated floors into walk-in shower spaces.
5. Barrier-free Showers
Devoid of enclosures or obstructions, this ultra-hip, easily accessible shower fosters a spacious, airy feel for the bathroom. Be warned: If you suffer splash-phobia, barrier-free design is not for you. These showers guarantee water splatter. Jackson’s team has installed barrier-free showers foremost in homes in which access and space are musts. “Wheelchairs need more room in a shower and barrier-free showers can provide it,” he says. Often, barrier-free showers are part of a wet room in which the shower, tub and sometimes even a sink share the same waterproofed area of a bathroom. “More people are considering wet rooms, but it really depend on the amount of space you have to work with,” Zeigler explains. “Wet rooms fit better at the end of long narrower bathrooms rather than in the center of square spaces.”
6. Outdoor Showers
Today’s growing obsession with outdoor living has led to increased interest in outdoor showers. No longer just for resorts, beach homes and pooled properties, they are popping up everywhere, refreshing everyone from grimy gardeners and overheated athletes to little leaguers, pet owners and others who simply relish invigorating, open-air clean-ups. “I love outdoor showers, and it seems we are creating them more often,” Jackson says. “Most often they serve a nearby hot tub or pool.” Obviously, plumbing, site selection, drainage, privacy and material selection all play a part in creating the perfect alfresco shower for the home.