Wow Them

I once worked with an editor who, when he was impressed by a house, would exclaim, "Wowser!" The word seems appropriate for the kitchens and baths in custom homes today. According to a 2006 survey by the American Institute of Architects, wet rooms are increasingly being designed with more space for pantries; separate or dual vanities; and such niceties as steam showers and heated floors and tow...

April 01, 2007


I once worked with an editor who, when he was impressed by a house, would exclaim, "Wowser!" The word seems appropriate for the kitchens and baths in custom homes today. According to a 2006 survey by the American Institute of Architects, wet rooms are increasingly being designed with more space for pantries; separate or dual vanities; and such niceties as steam showers and heated floors and towel bars.

There's a "wowser" of a master bathroom in this issue of Custom Builder (see "High Expectations" on page 18). The shower has no less than 13 shower heads, and the stall and tub surround look like stone but are actually made of carved concrete. Other creative bathroom designs are spotlighted in "Shower Power" on page 13, such as the cylindrical exercise room shower with its tower of sprays, jets, dual heads and adjoining sauna. Bathrooms like these are a long way from the porcelain conveniences familiar to most baby boomers.

Not surprisingly, the AIA survey indicates a growing number of separate cooking facilities in the home, including outdoor kitchens. Also growing in popularity are natural stone countertops, island work areas and natural wood cabinets. One clever innovation is the refrigerator drawer, which sits below the countertop and looks from the outside like a cabinet. Offered in two-drawer configurations, these units can be installed where they're most needed — for instance, next to the salad-prep area or by the back door for soft drinks.

One could argue that custom-home buyers want what they want whether it's trendy or not. But that doesn't mean builders can afford to ignore the latest kitchen and bath trends, nor should they overlook trends that are on the way out. Two examples of the latter, cited by CNNMoney.com, are bowl-type, above-the-counter bathroom sinks and kitchen cabinets with glass doors. The sinks are getting a bad rap because they tend to require more maintenance, and water often splashes out of the bowl. Glass-fronted cabinets look beautiful in magazine photos, with their contents perfectly aligned, but honestly, who has the time to keep their cabinets so tidy? And unless the glass is cleaned regularly, grease will accumulate on the surface.

That's why it pays to stay on top of things that might ultimately disappoint clients.

630/288-8194, susan.bady@reedbusiness.com

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