Reinventing The Bathroom

The recent King Tut Exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto offered astounding artefacts of incredible craftsmanship, intricacy and opulence. Part of the exhibit included a primitive looking stone toilet seat over 3,000 years old.  Fast forward through the Middle Ages when soap production first began. The Renaissance period when water was feared as a carrier of disease and thus sweat baths and heavy perfumes were preferred. And not all that long ago, the malodorous outhouse,  located as far from the house as a cold, winter night’s trudge would allow.

The evolution of the bathroom over the centuries has taken on a whole new status as a luxurious mini-sanctuary. It’s no wonder that bathroom renovations rank as the number one home improvement project in North America. Bathrooms are getting bigger, often stealing space from other rooms during the renovation process. Now a place to de-stress and revitalize, it’s the room you go to for a hug at the end of a long, busy day. Chandeliers, framed mirrors, pieces of furniture, and even fireplaces have taken the bathroom’s function from utilitarian to a place for pampering and lingering awhile. The feel can be vintage, modern, traditional, exotic or Romanesque with many options for green products and materials. The shower has taken over from the tub as one of the main luxury items. The tub/shower combination is being eliminated and converted into a large, glass enclosed shower with a multitude of water options. Rain showerheads, multiple, adjustable body jets, hand-held showers, integrated benches and even a steam option are commonplace. Where room allows, tubs are being replaced with state of the art hydrotherapy bathtubs. Whirlpool water jets massage pressure points for full body relaxation. Options allow for a 66% quieter than typical whirlpool pump making it easier to de-stress and re-new. Air injection systems are a gentler option where air is forced through tiny openings around the interior wall and back rest to provide a gently rippling massage that caresses the skin, stimulates the circulatory system and revitalizes the body. Some tubs, like the Kohler Sok, allows for deep soaks, as the water flows over the edge on all sides. A built-in channel captures the cascading water which is re-circulated through the bath. Freestanding tubs can make a room appear larger since you can see the floor underneath and the wall behind. Whatever purpose the bathtub will serve, comfort in size and support for the head, neck and back are key features.

Real furniture pieces are making a strong statement. Many new vanities look more like a beautiful bedroom dresser with a vessel sink floating on top. The vanity can also be retrofitted from an antique dresser. To create a more open feel to the space, vanities and faucets can be mounted on the wall which gives a floating impression and keeps lines clean and uncluttered, appealing to the minimalist style of a spa retreat. Another way to open up a bathroom and create a light, airy feeling is to use sinks and countertops made completely of glass. Heated floors have become a standard item in many bathroom renovations as it provides the ultimate luxury for the feet without a lot of extra expense. Many people prefer a cooler bedroom for sleeping and waking up to the adjacent bathroom comfortably warm when they get up. Separate thermostats and timers allow you to control when and how warm you want the bathroom to be.

From the floor to the shower, natural materials are making a comeback with tumbled marble, limestone, granite, slate and wood, all of which create a feeling of warmth and connection with nature. Glass tiles of every colour and size from mosaics to subway tile size are wonderful ways to add some depth, sparkle and fun.

Imagine soaking in a tub while watching flames dance in a fireplace. Tall, narrow gas fireplaces with tall, single flames such as the Napoleon Torch are ideal for tight, narrow spaces in the bathroom. Adding to the ambiance they can also provide an extra source of heat on a cold winter’s day. And if the above details don’t offer quite enough opulence for your tastes, you can always kick it up a notch with an electric heated towel rack to keep your towels warm and cozy when you step out of the tub or shower. Or motion sensor activated faucets. Or get wired so you can have classical music playing from the built-in speakers in the ceiling. Or a TV to watch while having a good long soak. How about brand-new self-disinfecting antibacterial tiles. When sunlight or artificial UVA light shines on the tile, the reaction with the titanium dioxide in the tile kills nasty bacteria found in bathrooms.

A serene oasis behind closed doors can be yours with all the products and materials now available and a helping hand from Schnarr Craftsmen Inc.

I wonder if King Tut remembered to put the toilet seat down?

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