Consumers Marvel at the New Millennium Bath
                                                                                       

    Technological advances in the bathroom design industry provide an ever-growing market for today’s consumers. From acrylic tubs with contoured headrests to portable aroma therapy spas, the bathroom more than ever has become a place of     luxbath.jpg (177686 bytes)ury, relaxation and recreation.
    Cutting-edge products, convenience and comfort are the drivers of today’s bathroom market. According to a recent survey by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, over 15 percent of bathrooms remodeled in 1998 incorporated dual showerheads, while just over eight percent had body sprays in the shower. Twenty-eight percent of rooms remodeled had an entire shower system installed. There’s even one shower system product which has all of these luxurious elements plus a sauna and/or steam facility.
    Many luxury whirlpools, tubs and showers are already equipped with stereo systems, televisions, VCRs, and telephones a combination of relaxation and personalization. New products on the market also allow individuals to program the exact temperature of their bathing water, which is both a convenience and a safety feature.
    Studies have shown that the majority of people are taking longer baths. That’s why one of the hottest crazes to hit the bathroom industry is the air massage or air jet tubs. With 35 to 70 air jets from which to choose, this tub is the ultimate getaway after a hard day’s work.
    “Massage or air jet tubs have been a hit in Europe and are making a splash in U.S., but I don’t think they will replace the original whirlpool baths,” said Jeff Burton, owner of The Bath & Beyond, San Francisco.
    What else is on the market? How about calling your home from the car, entering a personalized code and having your bathtub fill to a pre-programmed temperature and level? Or electric defogging devices for mirrors; new toilet technology with ventilation systems that eliminate 98 percent of toilet odor; solar reflective tubes providing even, balanced lighting without the problems of skylights; and portable bathroom furniture available in all options and finishes.
    When it comes to materials, marble, granite and semi-precious stone are rising in popularity. Concrete and slate also are abundant, bringing into the room a natural, outdoors feeling. These mid to upscale stones have helped turn showers into retreats.
    Shower doors define one of the greatest changes in millennium baths. New doors are manufactured in powder-coated finishes, with rounded curves in numerous colors.
    And more than ever, glass is in! People are incorporating glass sinks, glass countertops and glass block into their bathroom designs. This innovative product is porous and provides the consumer with many different options.
    “Glass is no longer manufactured in basic green, but is offered in colors such as cobalt blue and yellow. Its uses are extremely versatile,” Burton stressed.
    Wood sinks are another personal touch consumers can incorporate in their bath design.
    Faucets, the jewelry of the bath, can be off-set with chrome, two-toned metal finishes, 14-karat gold or stainless steel with the option of retractable or electronic - hands free faucets designed with the consumer’s convenience in mind.
    Natural and neutral colors, such as white and biscuit, continue to be among the most popular, but Burton notes that, “People are starting to experiment with different colors. They are designing a bathroom with biscuit counters, a white sink and then introducing a third color as an accent. People want a splash of color incorporated in their bathroom designs. It not only personalizes the room but livens it up.”
    Members of the National Kitchen & Bath Association can help design the bathroom of your dreams. Call 1-800-843-NKBA (1-800-843-6522) for your free remodeling kit, or visit the Association’s Web site at www.nkba.org.

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