Larger showers replace bathtubs

Spacious showers with niches and benches are replacing traditional bathtubs. Contributed by FrontDoor Communities That oversized spa tub that`s been gathering dust in a corner of the master bath may be going the way of dial-up. For years, the amenity has gotten more attention as a romantic upgrade than a practical fixture. Though upscale homes with gigantic master baths may still accommodate a soaking tub for the wow factor, most homebuyers now are opting for something they can use every day: a roomy, glam shower, complete with multiple water outlets, a bench and niches for soap and shampoo, all surrounded by a seamless wall of glass. At first, the concept of replacing traditional bathtubs with oversized showers seemed best suited to townhouses and intown projects where space was a premium, said Lisa Murphy, vice president of strategy and product development for The Providence Group that is currently building about 20 communities around the metro area. [We first saw it last year in California, so we brought it back and tried it out here," she said. [Originally, we were thinking a large, cool shower would work in a more urban environment for someone who wasn`t a traditional suburban buyer. We also knew that, a lot of times in townhouses, bathtubs get compromised; you can barely get in or out of them. Instead, we decided to take the space and make it spectacular, with different tiles, rainheads and hand-helds that make it a focal point. It`s very sexy." The idea has caught on at Providence`s East of Main development in downtown Alpharetta and the Townes at Chastain in Sandy Springs. More than half of buyers there opt for the big shower. [They`re OK with there being a tub somewhere in the house, just not in the master bath," said Murphy. Mike Langella, president of FrontDoor Communities, said having a supersized shower makes more sense than a bathtub in its single-family and townhouses for several reasons. [The reality is people are taking more showers than baths these days," he said. [There are more plumbing fixtures that generate interest, so buyers now see companies like Moen and Kohler creating a pretty unbelievable experience in your shower. Also, taking the bathtub component out of the master provides a lot more space, so we can add more features such as vanities and cabinetry that make the bathroom a great place to hang out." FrontDoor showers are a bit bigger than the standard, starting around 4-feet-by-5 feet and expanding per floorplan. Among the upgrades offered are rainheads, hand-held sprays and poles with multiple jets. [My personal first upgrade would be to add a hand shower to the mix," said Langella. [There are also rainhead fixtures that can extend outward and others that come out of the ceiling. You can also add all kinds of showerheads with massaging features." But bathtubs do still serve a purpose, Langella pointed out, particularly for young homeowners with children and seniors who want the relaxing benefits of a good soak. [The need for a tub relates more to having children and grandchildren," he said. [Even when we take the tub out of the owner`s suite and upgrade the shower with size and features, we still make sure there`s a tub somewhere in the residence, but it`s more for utilitarian purpose than anything else."

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