Adding unique and functional features to your bathroom can take the space from drab to dramatic. With so many upgrades and high-end products available today, even small bathrooms can include special accents and luxurious amenities. Read on to explore some of the most popular specialty features to consider for your next bathroom project.
One of the hottest trends in bathrooms is the addition of a steam shower. These shower enclosures include a steam generator that releases steam within the space. Steam showers provide all the benefits of a sauna, helping you relax muscles, alleviate pain, clear nasal and lung congestion, and more.
Steam showers are most common in master bathrooms but can work in larger secondary bathrooms as well. Freestanding steam shower units are available, but most models require custom installation. Things to keep in mind when planning for a steam shower include:
- Steam Generator – These units heat the water to create steam. They require special electrical and plumbing installation.
- Waterproofing – Steam showers require waterproof flooring, walls, and ceiling to prevent moisture damage.
- Ventilation – Proper ventilation is a must to prevent a steam shower from fogging up. Include an exhaust fan specifically rated for steam showers.
- Door – A special steam-proof door is required. Safety glass doors must have a metal frame. Pay close attention to the swing direction so the door does not interfere with showering.
- Seating – Given their sauna-like environment, most steam showers include built-in seating. This may be a bench, corner nook, or tiles that form a sitting ledge.
- Lighting & Accessories – Look for steam-rated lighting and accessories to fully outfit the space. Dimmer switches allow bright task lighting when cleaning as well as soft ambiance when relaxing.
With their spa-like benefits and sleek style, steam showers undoubtedly make bathing a luxury. Just be sure to work with experienced professionals to properly install and ventilate the space.
Turn your bathroom into a warm sanctuary with heated floors. Radiant floor heating systems include electric wires or hot water pipes embedded within the floor. They maintain a comfortable floor surface temperature throughout the room.
Heated bathroom floors are not only luxurious but offer many benefits:
- Keeps bare feet toasty, reducing the need for slippers.
- Helps dry damp floors, reducing the chance of slips or falls.
- Warms your body from the ground up as soon as you step out of the shower.
- Saves energy since you only heat people, not empty air. The floors quickly respond to a thermostat so they don’t run when not needed.
- Consistent heating without hot spots or drafts.
The two main types of in-floor heating options include:
Electric Radiant Heat
- Best for tile, stone, and concrete floors.
- Thin electric cables embedded in thinset beneath the flooring.
- Element runs at relatively low temperatures to prevent damage to flooring.
- Allows for zoned heating – only heat areas as needed.
- Fast to install and relatively inexpensive.
Hydronic Radiant Heat
- Ideal for tile, concrete, and wood floors.
- PEX piping holds hot water to release gentle heat.
- Needs a dedicated boiler with pump and thermostat.
- Zoned heating possible.
- Installation more involved than electric and higher cost, but very efficient.
Take your bathroom comfort to the next level with heated floors. Just be sure to consult with a radiant heating specialist for proper system design and installation.
For the ultimate experience in relaxation and hydrotherapy, consider adding an airjet tub. These tubs inject air bubbles through jets to send pulsing streams of air bubbles around your body. The effervescent massage helps unwind muscles, alleviate aches and pains, and promote deep relaxation.
Here are some features to look for with an airjet tub:
- Powerful jets – Look for tubs with a high number of air jets placed at strategic locations to target the back, neck, shoulders and feet. The more jets, the more intense the massage.
- Adjustable flow – Flow control lets you adjust the power from a light, calming bubble bath to a powerful deep tissue massage.
- Chromatherapy lighting – Many air tubs include underwater colored mood lighting for added ambiance and relaxation.
- Quick fill – Look for fast-fill submersible pumps and drain systems to allow you to enjoy the tub more frequently without the wait.
- Ergonomic shape – Curved lines, lumbar support, and armrests allow you to relax in total comfort.
- Water purification – An ozonator treats the bath water, keeping it free of bacteria without harsh chemicals.
While air tubs don’t offer full-body soaking depth, the rejuvenating massage of air jets makes them a popular splurge. Just be sure your bathroom has adequate space and electrical service to accommodate the tub.
Who doesn’t love wrapping up in a fluffy warm towel after a shower or bath? Towel warmers offer this little luxury and make your bathroom more inviting. These units come in electric and hydronic (hot water) models. They keep towels – and even robes and slippers – toasty warm and ready for use.
Reasons to consider installing towel warmers in your bathroom include:
- Stepping out of the shower into a warm towel is therapeutic, especially in colder climates. It helps prevent chills.
- Heated towels retain moisture better for more effective drying.
- Warm towels placed over stiff or sore muscles help ease aches and pains.
- By warming damp towels from the previous use, towel warmers prevent musty odors.
- Heated towel racks double as decorative focal points in the bathroom. Freestanding cabinet units with no exposed pipes or wires have an especially clean look.
- Warmers keep towels neatly folded and off the floor, enhancing the room’s tidy appearance.
For the ultimate luxury, look for units with towel warming drawers to keep multiple fresh towels or blankets heated and ready for comfort.
A longstanding bathroom essential in many parts of Europe and Asia, bidets are catching on in North America for their freshness and hygiene. These fixtures supply a stream of water for cleansing after using the toilet. They offer an invigorating and soothing experience while promoting good hygiene.
Bidets are available in a few different styles:
- Standalone bidets – These separate porcelain fixtures are stationed right next to the toilet. They look much like a toilet but at a lower height.
- Bidet toilets – Also called washlets, these high-tech toilets have bidet cleansing functions built right into the fixture. These combine the toilet and bidet into one piece.
- Add-on bidet seats – As a lower cost alternative, these seats attach to your existing toilet. This allows you to add bidet cleansing without replacing the entire toilet.
- Handheld bidet sprayers – A handheld water wand with sprayer head attaches next to or on the existing toilet.
Using a bidet takes just a minute or two. The cleansing water may be warmed for comfort. Look for adjustable stream options from aerated to more focused. Once done, pat dry or air dry. Bidets save on toilet paper use as just a little is needed for drying. For freshness and improved hygiene, a bidet can be a beneficial bathroom addition.
Today’s smart toilets bring the latest technology into the most private room. They come packed with features like automatic lid openers, toilet and bidet cleansing options, heated seats, built-in nightlights, hands-free flushing, odor control, music, and more. These intelligent thrones make going to the bathroom a state-of-the-art experience.
Here are some of the high-tech features available in smart toilets:
- Automatic open/close lid – Motion sensor opens the lid as you approach so you never touch the toilet. Lid quietly closes when you leave.
- Touchless flushing – Flushes automatically or with the wave of your hand. Some use “magic eye” sensor to detect when you leave and flush.
- Heated seat – Enjoy a warm seat in any weather. Some include temperature control settings.
- Bidet cleansing – Adjustable warm water stream with settings from soft aerated flow to more focused jet. Air dryer in some models.
- Music & ambient sounds – Concealed speaker can play music, nature sounds or white noise for privacy. Volume adjustable.
- Night light – Soft blue night light illuminates the bowl or floor space for those middle-of-the-night visits.
- Odor elimination – Hi-tech filtration system absorbs bathroom odors. Some toilets refresh the air with deodorizer.
With their advanced operation and luxury features, smart toilets truly elevate the bathroom experience. Just be prepared for the substantial price tag that comes with such lavish convenience.
Few things are as annoying in the humid bathroom environment as fogged up mirrors. It interferes with grooming and getting ready. Fog-free mirrors stay crystal clear, no matter how many hot showers you take.
There are a few different technologies that prevent mirror fog:
- Thin heating wires behind the glass warm the mirror surface just enough to inhibit condensation.
- Can be the whole mirror or demisted zones around the perimeter.
- Needs an electrical connection but wires blend in at the edges.
- Nanocoating applied to the mirror bonds with the glass.
- Repels and spreads out water droplets evenly, stopping fog.
- Usually guaranteed for 10 years.
- No special installation needs – can be retrofitted.
- The back of the mirror includes a moisture-wicking material.
- Draws condensation evenly off the glass into the backing.
- Available as mirror film or integrated into mirror frame
No more wiping and waiting for the mirror to clear! Fog-free mirrors allow you to get ready at your own pace and keep your focus where it should be.
For home spa benefits, consider installing a compact infrared sauna in your bathroom. Infrared light waves penetrate the skin to heat the body directly, raising core body temperature. A rise in temperature induces sweating to aid detoxification.
Infrared saunas offer many science-based benefits:
- Helps relieve muscle and joint pain. The warmth relaxes muscles while sweating reduces inflammation.
- Detoxifies the body by mobilizing toxins which are released through sweat.
- Improves circulation to those hard-to-reach extremities like hands and feet.
- Eases arthritis discomfort and stiffness.
- Boosts immunity and fights illness by flushing bacteria from the system.
- Improves skin tone, texture, and appearance by flushing impurities and dead skin cells.
- Aids weight loss and calorie burn by elevating heart rate similar to moderate exercise.
Look for infrared sauna models designed for home use with LED lighting, music capabilities, and safety features. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and after use. With regular short sessions, infrared saunas can enhance your health as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Bluetooth Sound Systems
Set the mood in your bathroom with an integrated Bluetooth sound system. Stream music, news, podcasts, nature sounds or white noise directly through built-in ceiling or wall-mounted speakers. A sound system adds functional ambiance to your daily routine.
Things to look for when installing a bathroom Bluetooth sound system:
- Waterproof speakers – Choose marine-grade outdoor speakers made to withstand steam and humidity.
- Multi-zone control – For larger bathrooms, install speakers in separate zones – one near the shower or bath and another by the vanity.
- Volume control – Wall-mounted touch controls or apps on your device allow easy adjustments.
- Bluetooth connectivity – Easily pair your smartphone or tablet from anywhere in the bathroom to stream audio.
- Hands-free calling – Some systems let you take calls through the speakers for added convenience.
- Radio tuner – Many sound systems also include an AM/FM radio tuner.
- Inputs – Choose a system with auxiliary ports to connect a CD player or TV. Some include a USB port to charge devices.
With superior sound, a high-quality bathroom audio system can start your day right or help you unwind at night. Just take care to install speakers away from direct water contact.
The flowing sound and motion of waterfall faucets immediately captivates. These stylish fixtures add a relaxing waterfall element to hand washing. Water gently cascades over the front lip of the faucet into the sink below.
Besides their soothing ambiance, waterfall faucets also offer functional advantages:
- The sloped spout provides more space below compared to traditional faucets. This allows you to get hands further under the stream of water.
- Unlike faucets with an aerator, waterfall faucets have an open straight pour. This feels luxurious on hands and minimizes splashing.
- Without nooks and crevices, waterfall faucets stay free of mineral buildup and are easy to wipe clean.
- The fluid look of waterfall faucets fits with modern and contemporary bathroom aesthetics.
Just take care to choose a waterfall faucet with convenient controls. Many feature a pull-down sprayer behind the spout for rinsing or cleaning. For soothing sights and sounds when washing up, install waterfall faucets above bathroom sinks or freestanding tubs.
Skylights & Sun Tunnels
There’s no better natural light than sunshine streaming in from above. In a windowless bathroom, skylights or sun tunnels can flood the space with natural illumination. This instantly makes the room feel more open and inviting.
Here’s an overview of bathroom lighting options that harness natural daylight:
- Glass windows installed in the ceiling or sloped ceiling line.
- Available in sleek, flat profiles for minimal protrusion into the room.
- Operable models provide ventilation. Some have remote controls.
- Tubular daylighting devices pipe in softer light from roof level.
- Also called tubular skylights.
- Consist of a dome on the roof that captures light through a reflective tube leading to a diffuser in the ceiling.
- Affordable way to pipe natural light into inner bathrooms.
- Various tube lengths and diameters available.
For optimum ambiance, combine skylights or sun tunnels with linked electric lighting on dimmers. This balances natural light with task lighting as needed. The energy and mood-boosting benefits of natural light make skylights and sun tunnels smart additions to interior bathrooms.
For a quick dry after bathing, body dryers shoot warm air like a giant hairdryer to remove moisture from skin and damp swimwear. These vertical drying systems mount on the wall by the shower or changing area.
Body dryers offer speed and convenience after towel drying:
- Cuts down total drying time after showering or swimming.
- Warms your body with heated air, preventing chills.
- Dries hard-to-reach spots like your back. No towel rubbing needed.
- Great for drying bathing suits to prevent mildew smells in bags.
- Keeps bathrooms tidier by reducing wet towels on the floor or furniture.
- Touchless on/off controls promote hygiene in public or shared home bathrooms.
- Sized compactly to fit most bathrooms. Recesses into the wall when not in use.
For maximum energy efficiency, look for models with built-in heat pump technology. Get the perks of quick whole-body drying with the addition of a body dryer.
Heated Bathroom Floors
There’s nothing like stepping out of the shower or tub onto toasty warm floors. Heated bathroom floors lend a luxurious comfort to any bath space. They maintain a steady pleasant underfoot temperature that warms from bone down.
Two main technologies exist for in-floor bathroom heating:
Electric radiant floor heat
- Best suited to tile, concrete and laminate floors
- Embedded electric heating cables under flooring
- Controlled via thermostat and timer
- Relatively quick installation
Hydronic radiant floor heat
- Ideal for tile, concrete and wood floors
- Tubing or pipes of heated water below floor
- Needs boiler, manifolds and temperature controls
- More complex professional installation
Heated bathroom floors offer multiple benefits:
- Keeps bare feet comfortable and dry
- Adds therapeutic warmth for aches and pains
- Consistent heating without hot spots or drafts
- Energy efficient – only heats occupied floor space
- Extends time between towel dryings after bathing
For cozy comfort underfoot, heated bathroom floors are the ultimate luxury. Just ensure proper design and installation for best performance and efficiency.
Entertain yourself during long soaks in the tub or keep up with the news while getting ready by installing a TV in your bathroom. Waterproof bathroom TVs are designed for steamy environments. Many models come encased in a protective water-tight housing that allows touch controls right through the cover.
When planning placement for a bathroom television, consider these tips:
- Mount it at eye-level for comfortable viewing from the tub, toilet or vanity area.
- If placing it near the tub, keep electrical components well away from potential water splashing.