Bath Fits

Kohler's 4-foot Greek tub offers homeowners the luxury of a bathtub in a small space.
Kohler's 4-foot Greek tub offers homeowners the luxury of a bathtub in a small space.

New-construction and remodeling clients are willing to sacrifice square footage in individual bathrooms for the chance to increase the total number of bathrooms in their homes. Kohler designer Diana Schrage says it is possible to fulfill the homeowners' desire to have a bath with every bedroom. “It really does not take that much square footage to create a bath. Especially if they only have a private toilet and sink and they share a tub or shower,” she says. In the past, Schrage notes, guest rooms had large square footage with walk-in closets. These closets are an ideal place to add a small bath. “Homeowners are asking if they really need a closet of that size. They are trying to figure out how best to utilize that square footage,” Schrage says.

Gray Uhl, a spokesman for American Standard, says the key in remodeling is making more efficient use of the existing space. “It's using creativity and tucking little bathrooms into existing corners or closets, or by taking out the end of a hallway,” Uhl says. Within that space, remodelers can install a small shower, a round-front toilet, and a small pedestal or a wall-mounted sink to create the perception of a larger space.

Porcher's Carene corner pedestal sink bowl is 12Ω inches deep from back to front.
Porcher's Carene corner pedestal sink bowl is 12Ω inches deep from back to front.

Kevin McJoynt, director of marketing for Gerber, says homeowners are also willing to invest in these additional bathrooms. “People feel they have more to spend, and they want something different,” he says.

Mini Me The combination of builders looking to distinguish themselves from their competitors and customers looking for styles that suit their lives is driving the market for bathroom fixtures such as Gerber's Pee-Wee children's toilet.

“Builders are increasingly building homes that feature specialized products for the kids. In an age where ‘nothing's too good for my child,' a customized kid's bath is poised to be the next must-have specialty room in new homes,” says Kevin McJoynt, director of marketing for Gerber.

American Standard's Baby Devoro round-front toilet is 10 inches high and uses siphon flush action.
American Standard's Baby Devoro round-front toilet is 10 inches high and uses siphon flush action.

Just as today's larger kitchens are driving the drawer-appliances trend, the desire to create zones in these rooms is driving the trend for small appliances and sinks. “The whole family is involved, so they need prep areas, beverage areas, etc. They are forming several centers in the kitchen instead of just one triangle for one cook,” says Lori Dolnick, a spokeswoman for Miele.

The rim height of Gerber's two-piece PeeWee toilet is 10 inches, similar to the height of child-sized toilets from other manufacturers. However, the side-to-side measurement is smaller. The PeeWee uses a standard rough-in, so as children grow, homeowners can replace it with a regular toilet.
The rim height of Gerber's two-piece PeeWee toilet is 10 inches, similar to the height of child-sized toilets from other manufacturers. However, the side-to-side measurement is smaller. The PeeWee uses a standard rough-in, so as children grow, homeowners can replace it with a regular toilet.

Jeremy Turner, appliance manager at Callier & Thompson in St. Louis says modular steamers, two-burner cooktops, and fryers are popular as supplemental pieces to the main kitchen range. Miele's CombiSets allow homeowners to create custom configurations of specialty cookers and gas or electric units. Dolnick says the company's Slimline dishwasher and CombiSets are also being used in small apartments or suites for aging parents.

“People are not thinking about resale value, they are thinking about their lifestyle now,” Dolnick says. “They are splurging on certain items —there is no pattern.”

Kohler's Pro Cook cooking vessel is a 15-inch sink/pot combination — a heating element and a drain in a multi-chambered cooking pot that uses water to cook. “It's been available for several years and continues to reinvent itself as people put it in proximity to large commercial stoves or in diminutive spaces,” says Kohler designer Diana Schrage. Gray Uhl of American Standard says that homeowners are also adding one or two small kitchen sinks to supplement the main sink. These are also useful in media room bars and in home offices.

Effective Use of Small Products

  • Kohler's Diana Schrage says the clean surface of an undermount bath sink visually expands a space. Another option is to use a glass bowl sink such as those in Kohler's Vessel line. “The sink itself is large, but because it is glass mounted on a bracket, it's visually open,” she says. Remodelers can also opt for a small pedestal sink as long as it has a minimal presence.
  • Gray Uhl of American Standard says that a corner wall-hung or pedestal sink can easily be tucked into an existing room. “You can install a diagonal wall in a bedroom to create a bath and put the sink in the corner,” he says.
  • Miele is bringing small European appliances to the U.S. market including the four-burner KM360 cooktop (above) and the 18-inch wide Touchtronic Slimline dishwasher.
    Miele is bringing small European appliances to the U.S. market including the four-burner KM360 cooktop (above) and the 18-inch wide Touchtronic Slimline dishwasher.
  • Uhl points out that a clear glass shower enclosure helps expand the look of a small bathroom. “A shower curtain or frosted glass cuts off your view and removes that whole volume from the visual,” he says.
  • Homeowners do not have to give up a bathtub just because they are working with a limited space. Schrage suggests products such as Kohler's four-foot Greek tub for such small areas.
  • Do not use heavy-looking widespread or center-set faucets. For a clean look, Schrage recommends a single-handle or a wall-mounted fitting.
  • Uhl says that storage is critical in a small bath. He suggests using scaled-back shelves or wall-hung shelving.
  • Schrage recommends deep medicine cabinets. “If the bath backs up to a bedroom closet, extend into that closet with a recessed cabinet. An 8-inch deep cabinet has space inside for electrical outlets, so there is less clutter on the countertop,” she says. Recessed cabinets with built-in lighting eliminate the need for sconces that might project into the room.