Forgive the potty talk, but today we are discussing bathrooms. These came to mind because, not to sound too la-di-da, I’ve just spent a week biking through France’s Loire Valley and the overly lavish castles of beheaded kings and other aristocracy to visit. It showed me both why French citizens were revolting and how far bathrooms have come.
As I walked through dozens of palatial bedrooms and drawing rooms in luxurious French castles, I didn’t see a single bathroom. There. She. Not. Exist.
Today, French bathrooms are of course commonplace, but whenever I come back from any foreign country, I thank heaven for American plumbing.
When I got home, I happened to discover 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 a Bathrooms had been completed or were in the process of being remodeled.
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. I would any day choose a bedroom with a private bath over a castle without a bath.
The report also confirmed that US bathrooms are getting even better. If you want to improve yours, the trending data matters. Every time you start a home improvement project, you want it to not only make your life better, but also add value to your home.
I looked at the 32-page report, then called Houzz economist Marine Sargsyan to discuss the findings. But first I had to ask, “What about 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.
If you want to renovate, you should know the following:
Biggest surprise: “Wood replaces white,” Sargsyan said. “For a long time, white was the dominant color in bathroom and kitchen cabinetry, so we were very excited to see wood-colored furniture as well as other colors trend for the second year in a row.” While 32% of respondents still opted for white vanity tops , 30% chose wood (mostly midtones), followed by gray (14%), blue (7%), black (5%) and green (2%). “We still see white in showers and on walls, which gives the impression of cleanliness that people want.”
Main motivation: The most common reason homeowners remodel bathrooms is that they are tired of their outdated style (48%).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 renovations 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: More than 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. The majority (53%) chose natural stone like quartzite, marble, or granite, while 40% chose artificial quartz, a man-made, less expensive quartz lookalike.
Style trend: This year, transitional style (a mix of traditional and contemporary or modern) overtook modern and contemporary style as the 25% preferred design style. Modern and contemporary styles slipped to 16% each. Traditional came in at 11% and farmhouse looks stayed at 5%.
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. Nearly two in five added a high-tech toilet feature, with notable increases in bidets (24%), self-cleaning elements (17%), heated seats (15%) and built-in nightlights (13%). Many also installed water heaters, underfloor heating and anti-fog mirrors.
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. “If the systems don’t work, no amount of design will help you enjoy the space.”
Marni Jameson is the author of six home and lifestyle books including Downsizing the Blended Home. Reach her at www.marnijameson.com.