Despite the housing slowdown, size, features, and high-end products in the bath (and the kitchen) are still important to consumers, reports the American Institute of Architects. This means that you can't skimp on the swank.
Conventional wisdom would tell you that in a tight market you should include less-expensive products in the two most important rooms. But consumers still want the coolest bath stuff, and manufacturers are listening.
Phil Weeks, president of West Palm Beach, Fla.–based Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath, says the manufacturer will be mixing cool design with practicality in its products as part of an ongoing effort to keep up with changing market demands. “Increasingly, we're finding that homeowners want quick and easy fixes that transform baths into practical, accessible sanctuaries,” he says.
The International Builders' Show this past February saw a number of product introductions that should make consumers take notice. Jacuzzi, for its part, unveiled the eye-catching Finestra bath that allows users to simply walk right in. The bath is available in several configurations including air jets or a traditional soaker and comes with an electronic touchpad, chromatherapy lights, and inline heating.
Not to be outdone, MTI Whirlpools in Sugar Hill, Ga., unveiled its Stereo H2O, an invisible audio system that delivers music through the tub. The key to the system is an acoustic transducer that is applied to the bath's shell, transforming the entire unit into a sound board.
Of course, not all new bath products are about the “wow” factor. Some, such as Broan's Ultra Silent humidity-sensing bath fans, serve a beneficial function. The fans detect a rapid rise in humidity, activate automatically, and turn off when the job is completed. This is an important function, as manufacturers say most homeowners turn off bath fans too soon after a shower to be effective.