Home Touch: A clean getaway

Mary G. Pepitone, Special to The Detroit News
Published 6:01 p.m. ET Nov. 19, 2020

         Homeowners are coming clean when it comes to the bathroom amenities they desire. People are refreshing their bathrooms to minimize clutter, provide an escape from stress, and promote wellness, according to a 2020 National Kitchen and Bath Association report.

         “Since the start of the pandemic, we are spending more time seeking places of comfort in our homes,” said Adam Gibson, whose eponymous design firm is based in Indianapolis, Indiana. “As a result, the bathroom has become a place where people want to feel pampered and cocooned.”

         The NKBA’s “Living Impacts Design” report highlights consumers’ inclinations based on more than 750 completed industry surveys. Influential changes to bathroom design include: homeowners’ need to escape from a hectic world, the desire to simplify life, and universal design practices, according to the research.

         “Design trends aren’t fleeting when construction is dictated by how people really live,” said the master certified kitchen and bath designer and aging-in-place specialist Gibson. “A bathroom can be used by many people, but is still a very personal space.”


         The first step to a super bathroom design is to make sure it remains squeaky clean. Cabinets and countertops with clean lines are easier to wipe down and disinfect. Creating customized shelf or drawer storage for everything from medicines to Dopp kits means there’s a place for everything, so everything is put back in its place.

         Marble countertops are a popular choice, but Gibson says engineered stone or quartz surfaces are waterproof and stain-, heat- and scratch-resistant, and can be manufactured to mimic stone. Because a quartz countertop lacks surface holes, it does not support bacterial growth or require sealing.


         Comfort and accessibility — while also being connected to the greater world outside — is the environment people desire most in their bathrooms.

         “In a bathroom, people want to access nature through natural light and plants,” Gibson said. “People also want to tap into the world at large through technology.”

         A homeowner can aspire to build a top-of-the-line “smart” bathroom, one in which the lighting, shower settings, heating/cooling and audio/visual systems are automated and can be activated by a keypad or through voice-controlled technology. Also, water-saving features are hitting the mainstream in bathroom design. Using a high-efficiency toilet and water-saving fixtures saves dollars and makes sense for conservation.

         Gibson says designers shouldn’t make light of a bathroom’s illumination, either. “A single fixture mounted above the mirror creates harsh shadows on the face. To be seen in the best light, people should have a mirror or medicine cabinet with lights on either side,” he said. “The ultimate in connectivity is to be able to shave in great light, while watching the morning news.”


         In a bathroom, universal design features wider doorways, nonslip flooring, multilevel countertop surfaces and readily accessible switches and home controls. Universal design concepts are simple modifications that inherently make a space more livable and accessible for everyone, including those with physical limitations.

         “More designers are thinking about universal design as a concept so people can age-in-place,” Gibson said. “The key is to make bathroom accommodations accessible without making the space look institutional.”

         Large, zero-threshold showers — designed with built-in shower seats — are easy for everyone to use, including persons in wheelchairs. Shower doors are built wider, with grab bars that are cleverly disguised as towel bars, Gibson says.


         Bathrooms also can be a place to help heal the body and promote wellness. A free-standing tub with a whirlpool setting provides a therapeutic soak in bathrooms where there is also a separate zero-threshold shower option.

         While the construction of a home’s entryway powder room was popularized during the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, today, Gibson is spreading a newer way to combat the coronavirus. Due to homeowners’ requests, Gibson is designing home foyer sanitizing stations that include a free-standing sink and storage for shoes and packages.

         “People walk into the home and there’s a place for everyone to take off their shoes and wash their hands before entering into the living space,” he said. “While this sanitizing station isn’t a full bathroom, it is a watershed movement in design, which has come from people’s need to be conscious of cultivating clean hand-washing habits.”

         Keep it Clean

         — To find a certified kitchen professional, go to the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s website: www.nkba.org and click the “Find a Member” link.

         — Adam Gibson Design, AdamGibson.com

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