Forgive the potty talk, but today we are discussing bathrooms. These come to mind because, not to sound too la-di-da, I’ve just returned from France, where I spent a week cycling through the Loire Valley and visiting several châteaux .
While wearing sweaty spandex and helmet hair, I toured the overly lavish locks of beheaded kings and other aristocrats, which taught me both why French citizens revolted and how far bathrooms have come.
As I passed through dozens of palatial bedrooms and parlors furnished with fine tapestries, painted portraits in gilded frames, carved marble fireplaces, and ornate ceilings, I did not see a single bathroom. There. She. Not. Exist.
Definitely not a royal flush. Even Chateau de Chambord, the valley’s largest chateau with 426 rooms, had no bathrooms. Imagine the residents throwing a lavish dinner party with guests all decked out in ermine fur, pearls and silks seated around a decorated dining table, and then, heaven forbid, one guest has to powder their nose?
I saw a chair with a built-in chamber pot.
Thankfully, French bathrooms are now commonplace, but still don’t live up to American standards. Whenever I come back from there or any other country, I thank heaven for American plumbing.
Don’t take it for granted.
When I happened to get home, I found that Houzz Inc., the online home design platform, had just released their 2022 US Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, which compiled data from more than 2,500 homeowners who recently had remodeled their bathrooms or were in the process of doing so .
Houzz’s juxtaposition of how many homeowners are installing defog mirror systems and dual showerheads while I’d just watched the wealthiest French kings and queens take weekly bucket baths didn’t escape my notice.
The report also confirmed that US bathrooms, which I believe are among the best in the world, are only getting better. If you want to improve yours, the trending data matters.
I looked at the 32-page report, then called Houzz economist Marine Sargsyan to discuss the findings. But first I had to ask, “What’s wrong with the bathrooms abroad?”
“In other parts of the world, people tend to think of bathrooms as purely functional, while Americans think of them as a place to de-stress and relax,” Sargsyan said. “But you will be pleased to hear that bathroom renovations are the most popular project not only here but also internationally.”
Thank God. Here are more insights:
◼️ Biggest Surprise. “Wood replaces white,” Sargsyan said. “For a long time, white has been the dominant color in bathroom and kitchen cabinetry, so we were very excited to see wood-colored furniture as well as other colors trending for the second year in a row.”
◼️ Main motivation: The top reason homeowners remodel bathrooms is that they are tired of their outdated style (48%). The second biggest driver (33%) is that the old room breaks down.
◼️ average cost. According to the report, the national average spend on bathroom remodeling increased 13% year over year to $9,000. The cost of the top 10% of projects increased 17% to $35,000 or more.
◼️ Popular moves. Over 80% of renovators replaced faucets, floors, showers, lighting fixtures and wall paneling. More than three-quarters (76%) swapped out their vanities. Most (59%) opted for white counters.
◼️ Style trend: This year, transitional style (a mix of traditional and contemporary or modern) overtook modern and contemporary styles as the preferred design style. With a 25% share, transitional looks have grown steadily over the past four years.
◼️ Non-contact technologies. Motion-activated toilets and hands-free faucets are no longer just for airports, Sargsyan said. Half of the respondents installed one or more high-tech features in their remodeled bathrooms.
◼️ pro help. Because bathrooms are complex spaces, 85% of homeowners hired a builder and 13% hired a designer.
◼️ Main upgrade: If you can’t afford a complete bathroom remodel, start with the systems. “The average US home is 40 years old, so our survey shows that 62% of homeowners have updated their bathroom plumbing and air conditioning,” Sargsyan said.
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books including What to Do With Everything You Own to Leave the Legacy You Want.