The answer to the question seems obvious to Tim Politz.

“It’s a room people spend more time in than almost any other room of their house,” Politz says. “So why not make it as nice as other parts of the house?”

The room is the bathroom, and Politz – who designs and installs custom bathrooms throughout East Dallas, Lakewood, Lake Highlands and Preston Hollow – isn’t the only one who feels that way.

Bathrooms, traditionally little more than an afterthought, have increasingly become much more than a place to stick a toilet, sink and shower.

Homeowners, whether buying, building or renovating, are increasingly seeing the bathroom as part of the entire house, and configuring it accordingly.

“I think people are more sensitive about the use of space in their homes, and value the space they have much more than they used to,” says Nestor Infanzon, AIA, a White Rock Lake-area architect. “Even if they only have one bathroom, they want to use that space more efficiently and to make it as comfortable as possible.”

And it’s not necessarily expensive to do that. Costs can run as high as $25,000 for a complete redo, say designers and contractors, but generally are less than $10,000 and can sometimes be as little as one-half of that. These changes include:

  • Bigger, roomier showers. Traditionally, showers are three feet wide. Redesigned showers often are four to five feet wide, with a bench – or even two benches, rectangular or triangular – and sometimes a whirlpool in the extra space (although double tubs and shower stalls still get a lot of attention). Politz reports that hand-held nozzles, in addition to overhead nozzles, are becoming more common.
  • User-friendly sinks and cabinets. The traditional mirrored cabinet is gone, replaced by drawers. Pedestal sinks, which remain popular, come in different sizes and often are scaled to fit the size of that bathroom. And if the room and budget are large enough, people are opting for two sinks. Fixtures tend to be of the nickel and antique pewter variety.
  • Stone and stone-like countertops. Forget about white ceramic tile. The gray, marble look is becoming increasingly popular, even when the surface isn’t made of marble. Not only are stone surfaces more affordable than ever, but a host of attractive stone-like surfaces (made from ceramics) are even less expensive.
  • Improved lighting and color schemes. “Since so many people want to make the bathroom more personal, they are much more concerned with light and color,” Infanzon says. “They are looking at both more ergonomically.”

That attitude translates into softer lighting and colors, a more contemporary look instead of the harsh glare and whites common in classic bathroom design. In fact, Infanzon says it’s even possible to light a bathroom for its uses – one approach for the sink, another for the shower.

“What it comes down to in the end, as always,” Infanzon says, “is the individual, the house and the budget. But there are also more opportunities in the bathroom than ever before.”