Baby Boomer Baths Focus on Comfort and
By John Filippelli
When it comes to remodeling a Baby Boomer bath, it appears that
comfort is king. In fact, many designers believe it is this focus
on comfort that is shaping the style and amenity trends most
desired by this market segment, with natural materials, cleaner
lines and convenience factors high priorities.
Combine that with the fact that Baby Boomers perhaps more than
any other age demographic have sufficient disposable income to
invest handsomely in their baths, and the result is bath suites
that are rich in comfort and style.
“They want a sanctuary and are spending more money to get it,”
explains David Frym, owner of Northbay Kitchen and Bath in
According to Linda Burkhardt, owner of Kitchens & Baths,
Linda Burkhardt, in Montauk, NY, when it comes to Boomer style
“There’s a move from traditional ‘shabby chic’ to a more
Frym agrees, citing heated flooring and steam units as popular
choices among Boomers. “People want to spoil themselves in the
bath. They want a little bit more high-tech in it.”
As a result, according to Michael Mixa, president/owner of the
Allentown, PA-based Kitchens by Wieland, the master bath is
evolving in some surprising ways. “Before, people were
retro-fitting what they had in the bath. Now, they are expanding
the room and adding electronics and TV, as well as storage and
exercise equipment. Basically, [the master suite] is turning into a
multi-purpose room rather than just a bathroom.”
To create a warm haven
feeling, designers are finding natural materials and cleaner lines
to be popular additions in the master bath.
Explains Tim Aden, CMKBD, of Sawhill Custom Kitchens and Design,
Inc., in Minneapolis, MN, “As far as materials, it seems that
people are looking for something new and different. We’re seeing a
lot of concrete, quartz and granite for countertops and sinks.”
Mixa offers, “Boomers are going away from the solid surface [in
lieu of natural materials]. We’re putting in a lot of mud bases. I
just think they like the touch and feel of it. They don’t like the
plastic feel anymore.”
And, Aden notes that for Boomers, some old trends are coming
back into vogue. “Oak in our industry has been out for years, but
now people view it as different, especially quartersawn white oak.
People like it because is has a very straight grain, and it can
have a contemporary look to it,” he notes.
Mixa agrees, noting that, “We’re seeing more of the straight
maple lines and oak and even alder, so it’s used more for a flat
door than a raised panel. Quartersawn is definitely coming back,
and so is bird’s eye.”
“[The reason for this is] there is more of an open feel to the
bathroom with furniture pieces being used or table-type units being
used for the vanity as opposed to regular cabinetry,” adds
According to Burkhardt, storage is a main consideration when
designing a Baby Boomer bath.
“One of the things I’m seeing is people are giving up their
spare bedroom to make the master suite more luxurious,” Frym
For instance, he notes, clients are combining a spare bedroom
with the bathroom to make a bigger walk-in closet and dressing
“Mostly, what I’m seeing is the elimination of the master bath,
instead turning it into a combo bath/dressing area and eliminating
the room closet to that bedroom. We’re really seeing walls being
taken down,” Mixa concurs.
“They want their closets designed and it ends up being a
dressing room,” Mixa continues.
Says Frym: “Boomers are even thinking about a center snack area
in the bath and installing their own linen area. They want their
master suite dressed up. They’re asking for more space for
themselves, and we’re seeing lots of his-and-hers spaces in the
bathroom. They want comfort, but they want it to look sharp,
Mixa adds, “We’ll do a bar refrigerator [if they want it] as
well. Food and beverage are starting to enter into the design of
the master bath.”
Frym further notes that his firm is doing a lot of secondary
storage areas in the bath, such as those for make-up.
“There are a lot of his-and-hers applications in the master
bath, Mixa notes. “The idea is so you can close the door [between
the two areas] and not bother the other person.”
With the growing interest in
bath remodel projects comes new and interesting product
applications, according to Aden. “We’ve been seeing a move toward
larger showers in the baths, even requesting that it doesn’t have a
door on it so it’s easier to clean,” he says.
He adds, “People still like whirlpools if they have the room for
them, but since most of our projects are remodels, and we’re
working with smaller spaces, people would rather have the
According to Frym, the same holds true for his firm. “We’ve been
doing a lot of heavy glass applications. It’s almost a standard
that a master bath will have frameless, heavy glass shower doors
that have been designed in a kiln,” he states.
Adds Mixa: “With the designs being so wide open, we find
ourselves doing a lot of glass, such as the 3/8″ glass showers. I
think we’re going to get into some of the sand-blasting where
you’re seeing leaves and flowers on the glass to make it look
Frym also points out that the glass applications are featuring
different textures, such as floating glass countertops.
While limestone and travertine remain hot, Frym notes that
stainless steel in the bath is gaining in popularity, as well.
And with this, Mixa notes, other high-tech elements are being
added to create a modern look. “The designs are really getting into
high-tech lighting,” he says.
Frym agrees: “We’re putting in incandescent recess lighting and
low-voltage lighting. And in air tubs, we’re putting in
chromatherapy, which is full-spectrum lighting with all different
colors in it.”
Frym sees fashion playing a key role: “When it comes to the
faucetry and shower system, that is picked by aesthetics.”
But, according to Burkhardt, function matters too. “I
consciously look for user-friendly aspects in all the products I
choose,” she offers.
Regardless of the style or the convenience a space may afford,
Mixa concludes that above all, Baby Boomers really just want to
feel at ease in their bathroom “Overall, Boomers want comfort,”
Mixa believes. “The space is [the one place in the home that they
can escape to], and they want it to look and feel good. Basically,
they just want to come home after a long day and be able to enjoy