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Survey Sees Baths Going High Tech

Updated: Mar 14

PALO ALTO, CA — Homeowners are investing in luxurious, modernized master baths utilizing high-tech features in palettes designed to stand the test of time.

That’s the key finding of the 2016 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Survey, a poll of more than 2,100 U.S. homeowners using Houzz who are planning or recently completed a bathroom project. Findings of the study, conducted online in June and July, were released recently by the Palo Alto, CA-based online platform for home renovation and design (see related Editorial).

“Our industry and consumer studies show an uptick in discretionary projects and spending in several areas of the home, including bathrooms,” said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “The bathroom trends study sheds light into what is behind the spending increase in renovations of these rooms, including a rise in high-tech and luxury features.”

According to Houzz, the company’s 2016 survey revealed that, in master baths, 20% of updated toilets, 12% of updated tubs, and 9% of updated showers contain high-tech features.

Upgraded high-tech toilets frequently include self-cleaning functions, motion-activated seats and built-in night lights (43%, 28% and 18%, respectively), according to the company. Built-in lighting, heated backrests, and scented mist dispensers are popular in high-tech bathtubs (64%, 47% and 7%, respectively). For high-tech showers, mood lighting, digital controls and built-in sound are common features (60%, 31% and 11%, respectively).

“Homeowners are investing in luxurious features in their upgraded master bathrooms to create spaces worth lingering in,” Sitchinava observed. Popular luxury features include rainfall showerheads (54% of upgraded showers), bathtubs with room for two (20% of upgraded tubs), chandeliers (17% of upgraded light fixtures) and bidet-equipped commodes (6% of upgraded toilets).

Luxury items also top the list of features homeowners who recently completed a project wish they had installed in their updated bathrooms, Houzz said. Included among those features are radiant heating, towel warmers and super-sized showers (13%, 12% and 7%, respectively), the company noted.

Homeowners are likely adding these luxurious touches given the amount of time they spend in their master bathrooms, Houzz said. For example, the survey found that 60% occupy their master bathroom for 30-60 minutes daily, and nearly a quarter are there for more than an hour a day. Now more than ever, this includes spending time on mobile devices. More than half (58%) of the surveyed respondents said they use their smart phone or tablet in the bathroom at least once a week. Checking email, texting and taking phone calls are the most common activities, although checking social media, listening to music and reading are also popular.

Nine in 10 homeowners change the style of their master bathroom during their project, gravitating toward contemporary, modern or transitional styles in their upgraded rooms, Houzz said. Roughly the same number tackle their flooring and/or wall finishes, and tend to opt for ceramic or porcelain tile on both surfaces. Given the infrequency of master bathroom renovations, homeowners choose neutral palettes that stand the test of time, including gray walls and flooring, and white countertops and cabinets.

Additional findings include:

  • Many homeowners are done with their dated, aging bathrooms. No longer being able to stand the old one is the top trigger for starting a bathroom renovation, followed by finally having the means. Nearly a third are also tackling a bathroom that is breaking down. Small size and outdated finishes are the most cited old bathroom gripes.

  • Four in five renovating homeowners replace major bathroom features including flooring (91%), countertops (89%), sinks (88%) and showers (87%).

  • Two in five renovating homeowners spend $10,000-$25,000 on master bathroom renovations, yet only a third budget for that amount. Similarly, another third spend more than $25,000, while only a quarter budget this much, indicating that initial budgets do not always line up with actual costs.

  • More homeowners are hiring professionals to help with their bathroom projects (90% in 2016 vs. 78% in 2015).

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