Master Bathrooms Going High Tech

Homeowners are investing in luxurious, modernized master baths in palettes designed to stand the test of time.

High-tech features are on the rise in updated master bathrooms, according to the 2016 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Survey. The survey of over 2,100 U.S. homeowners using Houzz who are in the midst of, are planning, or recently completed a bathroom project found that in master baths, 20 percent of updated toilets, 12 percent of updated tubs, and nine percent of updated showers have high-tech features. Upgraded high-tech toilets frequently include self-cleaning functions, motion-activated seats and built-in nightlights (43, 28 and 18 percent, respectively). Built-in lighting, heated backrests, and scented mist dispensers are popular in high-tech bathtubs (64, 47, and seven percent, respectively). For high-tech showers, mood lighting, digital controls and built-in sound are common features (60, 31 and 11 percent, respectively).

Homeowners are investing in luxurious features in their upgraded master bathrooms to create spaces worth lingering in. Popular luxury features include rainfall showerheads (54 percent of upgraded showers), bathtubs with room for two (20 percent of upgraded tubs), chandeliers (17 percent of upgraded light fixtures) and bidet-equipped commodes (six percent of upgraded toilets). Luxury items also top the list of features homeowners who recently completed a project wish they had installed in their updated bathrooms, such as radiant heating, towel warmers and super-sized showers (13, 12 and seven percent, respectively).

Homeowners are likely adding these luxurious touches given the amount of time they spend in their master bathrooms—60 percent occupy this room for 30-60 minutes daily, and nearly a quarter are there for over an hour a day. Now more than ever, this includes spending time on their mobile devices. More than half of respondents use their smartphone or tablet in the bathroom at least once a week (58 percent). Checking email, texting and taking phone calls are the most common activities, (63, 49 and 38 percent, respectively), though checking social media, listening to music and reading are also popular (36, 35 and 31 percent, respectively).

“Our recent industry and consumer studies show an uptick in discretionary projects and spending in several areas of the home, including bathrooms,” said Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “The Bathroom Trends study sheds light into what is behind the spending increase in renovations of these rooms, including a rise in high-tech and luxury features.”

Nine in ten homeowners change the style of their master bathroom during their project (90 percent), gravitating toward contemporary, modern or transitional styles in their upgraded rooms (27, 17 and 16 percent, respectively). Roughly the same number tackle their flooring and/or wall finishes, and tend to opt for ceramic or porcelain tile on both surfaces (68 and 45 percent, respectively). Given the infrequency of master bathroom renovations, homeowners choose neutral palettes that stand the test of time, including gray walls and flooring (29 and 26 percent, respectively), and white countertops and cabinets (36 and 34 percent, respectively).

Additional findings include:

  • Reaching the Breaking Point: Many homeowners are done with their dated, aging bathrooms. No longer being able to stand the old one is the top trigger for starting a bathroom renovation (46 percent), followed by finally having the means (38 percent). Nearly a third are also tackling a bathroom that is breaking down (29 percent). Small size and outdated finishes are the most cited old bathroom gripes.
  • Major Master Upgrades: Four in five renovating homeowners replace major bathroom features including flooring (91 percent), countertops (89 percent), sinks (88 percent) and showers (87 percent).
  • Budget vs. Spend: Two in five renovating homeowners spend $10K-$25K on master bathroom renovations, yet only a third budget for that amount (42 vs. 34 percent, respectively). Similarly, another third spend more than $25K, while only a quarter budget this much (31 vs. 26 percent, respectively), indicating that initial budgets do not always line up with actual costs.
  • Pro Hiring on the Rise: More homeowners are hiring professionals to help with their bathroom projects (90 percent in 2016 vs. 78 percent in 2015). Over half of renovating homeowners enlisting the help of a professional hire a general contractor (55 percent) and a fifth a bathroom remodeler (19 percent).
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