KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Apr 02 2010

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The death of "supersize"

And the bathroom of today: a smaller, more accessible soaking tub, with high-quality fixtures and cabinetry, as well as water-efficient faucets and showerheads.

I have a shameful admission I’d like to get off my chest: In the past, I’ve designed some really gigantic homes. One was more than 11,000 sq. ft. Another was a mere 7,000 sq. ft. but had a huge home theater in the basement with tiered seating and eight leather recliners. The crowning glory was the foyer. The ceiling was so high that I had to install a motor to raise and lower the chandelier (5 ft. in diameter) just to change the light bulbs.

I guess we’ve all done it. A job is a job, after all. How many of you reading this have designed bathrooms big enough to house a small family? There was indeed a good amount of money to be made working on such large scaled projects. But the days of the “big house” have ended. And even though the money was good, I’m really glad they’re over. The amount of waste and carbon emissions that was generated was staggering.

Now that the housing boom has gone bust, people by the millions are losing not only their homes, but their jobs as well. Energy costs have gone through the roof, and the entire country has experienced a significant shift in our collective attitude about what “more” means—it takes on a whole new meaning. Today, “more” means: more energy efficiency, more quality and more value. So how do you survive in this difficult business climate?

What works for me is sustainable design. I didn’t start doing green kitchens and bathrooms just because I was looking for a different type of niche to fill in a very competitive market. Green design has been close to my heart for many years, and it’s my passion. But I managed to make it work for me in a downturn market. Setting myself apart from the competition by focusing on green design is keeping my business not only afloat, but extremely viable.

Let’s compare the bathroom of 10 years ago vs. the bathroom of today, and how you can leverage good design with high quality and sustainability, and still make a good profit.


The bathroom circa 1995

Here’s what doesn’t work: the large bathtub, which can weigh more than 500 pounds when filled, is dangerous on many levels. If it’s a whirlpool, the interior jets can collect mold and mildew, which gets re-circulated every time it’s in use. The newer generation of tubs has air jets that force the water through small holes, eliminating any re-circulating issues. To promote wellness, you can also add oils and aromatherapy, something you couldn’t do with a pump-type whirlpool. The idea of having to walk up stone steps and climb into a deep tub is nothing short of dangerous, and having windows so close to the tub gives me the willies. What happens if you slip and hit the glass, never mind the stone steps! Also, a smaller soaker tub that’s lower to the floor and doesn’t hold as much water can still give you the “spa” feeling without wasting precious water. Using sink faucets and showerheads that carry the WaterSense label means that the fixture doesn’t feel like it’s a lower flow, even though it is. HET toilets, or high-efficiency toilets, use 1.28 gallons of water per flush (gpf), instead of the 1.6 gallons used in most toilets. Or a dual-flush model, which has two flushes, is even a better bet.

small bath 2

And the bathroom of today: a smaller, more accessible soaking tub with high-quality fixtures and cabinetry, as well as water-efficient faucets and showerheads.

Smaller can be beautiful, greener and very profitable!—Patricia Gaylor

This entry was posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Bath Design, Green, Products. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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