Solutions: Luxury, tech big in bathroom remodels

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

Today’s bathroom remodels are more elaborate than ever before. For example, according to the 2016 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Survey, high-tech features are on the rise in these freshly renovated spaces.

The survey of more than 2,100 U.S. homeowners using Houzz who are in the process of, are planning, or recently completed a bathroom project, also found luxurious touches to be in demand, such as spacious bathtubs, rainfall shower heads and chandeliers.

In addition, more homeowners are hiring professionals to help with these projects.

High-tech features often include toilets with self-cleaning functions, motion-activated seats and built-in nightlights and bathtubs with built-in lighting, heated backrests and scented mist dispensers.

For high-tech showers, digital controls and built-in sound are popular.

Today’s bathroom dwellers are spending more time on their mobile devices. More than half of those who responded to the survey use their smartphone or tablet in the bathroom at least once a week.

When renovating, most of them alter the aesthetic of their master bathroom with contemporary, modern or transitional styles being the more prevalent options. Many also tackle flooring and/or wall finishes, often choosing ceramic or porcelain tile for both.

Given the infrequency of these renovations, homeowners tend to select neutral palettes, like gray and white that will stand the test of time.

No longer being able to stand their existing bathroom is the main trigger for embarking on a bathroom renovation, followed by finally having the means to do so. Nearly a third of those surveyed are also addressing a bathroom that is breaking down. Tight spaces and dated finishes are the biggest complaints.

Four out of five replace major features, such as flooring, countertops, showers and sinks. Double sinks and proper lighting are among the priorities.

While 2 in 5 renovating homeowners spend $10,000 to $25,000 on their master bathroom renovations, only a third budget for that amount. Another third spend above $25,000, while only a quarter plan to spend that much, indicating that initial budgets don’t always match actual costs.

One reason for the extensive remodeling projects, according to Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz, is that mobility has decreased, with many staying in their homes a lot longer than they intended to after the recession.

“These findings confirm what we see as a whole,” says Sitchinava. “Consumers are more confident about being able to spend money and renovate their homes. The master bathroom space is increasing in popularity with a lot of luxurious upgrades.”

High-tech features are among the other indicators of economic well-being as part of the larger story, she says, along with more luxurious elements like room for two in the bathtub and the shower.

“Because these renovations don’t happen very often, they want to try to bring in the stone or the bathtub they’ve been dreaming of,” says Sitchinava. “They want the space to be more functional and more practical.”

For information, download the full U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study at /HouzzBathroomStudy2016.pdf.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at