Designingbathroom (ARA) – In bath design, function has always come before form. But today's homeowners expect their hardworking bathrooms to go beyond hygienic and practical functions. For some, a bathroom should be wired to 21st-century technology for ready access to information and entertainment. For others, the dream bath is a home spa for a welcome spiritual and physical retreat. Other homeowners want their bathroom to do double duty as a personal gym or dressing area.

The good news about designing a bathroom: anything is possible. Whether you're building from the ground up or renovating your existing space, you have lots of products and storage options at your fingertips. You can also find practical conveniences that give a stylish, new twist to form and function.

Functional Faucets Go High-Tech

More manufacturers are incorporating the latest gadgetry into faucets to make them even handier – and smarter. JADO recently introduced a collection of lavatory, tub and shower faucets designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, who is making a splash in the United States with his minimalist building designs. Nouvel incorporated electronics into the faucets for temperature control and touch-sensitive operation. The chrome-finished faucets have thermostatic valves that deliver the water at just the right temperature, and you can program them to save your favorite volume and temperature settings.

Small Conveniences, Big Luxury

Manufacturers are also working at warp speed to create new bathroom luxuries and conveniences. Recent tubs, for example, tend to be larger and deeper. Some tubs help keep themselves clean and/or are bacteria resistant so you can spend more time enjoying them and less time cleaning them. Others offer heated walls and ergonomic backrests. Even the traditional bubble bath has gotten more sophisticated with manufacturers providing built-in aromatherapy, chromatherapy or hydrotherapy features. In the shower, you'll find products with multiple heads at multiple heights in multiple positions, body sprays, preset individual temperature controls, built-in seats, and steam and tanning units. Even floors and towel bars may be heated.

Stylish Storage Solutions

Homeowners who want to relax in peace – away from everyday gadgetry – can find low-tech yet high-impact designs. When it comes to storage solutions, new designs feature moveable parts to make the most of any space. For example, Porcher added a mirrored storage cabinet and vanity to its L'Expression Suite of Zen-inspired products and furniture. Like a revolving door, the suite's Totem Mirror System turns on a pivot to give you a full-length mirror on one side and storage compartments on the other. There's a central drawer for cosmetics (or whatever you like to keep handy and hidden), adjustable glass shelves, a side hook to hang a bathrobe, and a bottom drawer that opens to more storage. A wood-finished, matching vanity offers storage beneath the sink basin, along with a chrome towel bar.

No matter how functional you want your bathroom – from high-tech to low-maintenance and relaxing to fully-wired – there's a design to fit your needs and style.


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