“It’s a time when people (in Boulder County) have reined in the ‘over-the-topness’,” said Anne Postle, founder and president of Osmosis Art and Architecture, Inc. in Niwot. “Most of our clients are building very reasonable bathrooms even at the high end of the market.”
In today’s market of aging Baby Boomers and empty nesters, function is more important than flash. “Our clients are interested in things like energy efficiency, multigenerational housing and making sure every detail of a home works for them,” Postle said. “We’re not talking about over-the-top luxury.”
For example, clients want “appliance garages” in their bathrooms similar to what many luxury homes already have in their kitchens. An appliance garage is a cabinet with electrical outlets where you can conceal your hair dryer, electric toothbrush and other electric appliances that you use every day while keeping them easily accessible by lifting a door that resembles a garage door.
“Laundry has become really important in master bathroom suites,” Postle said. Today’s homebuyers — especially empty nesters — are asking that the washer and dryer be put in the master closet, where the laundry is generated.
“Accessibility is huge. People are thinking more about how long they are going to live in this house,” she said. They want wider doors to accommodate future access for walkers or wheelchairs, walk-in showers that don’t have steps, and locations for grab bars, which now come in a variety of decorative finishes.
Postle’s company designs custom and builder homes ranging in size from 1,300 to 6,000 square feet. It won a gold award for “one-of-a-kind home” in 2012 in the country’s largest competition for home sales and marketing professionals. The winning property was Panorama Point, a residence in Louisville that Postle describes as a clean, contemporary home warmed by rich stone and perched on a steep slope with views from nearly every part of the home. In Panorama Point’s master bathroom, Postle incorporated a stained-glass window by the tub that provides the bather with a spectacular view of the mountain peaks.
The desire for comfort and convenience does not mean that local clients have surrendered what many homeowners would consider luxuries.
Coffee and beverage bars often are expected, and many clients want a gym as part of the master suite. Double-sided fireplaces that open onto the master bedroom and bathroom are standard.
Other luxury standards include bubbling bathtubs that can be programmed to the desired temperature and water level, showers with multiple showerheads or cascading waterfalls that are also programmable, heated towel racks, radiant-heated floors, his-and-hers dressing rooms and walk-in closets.
These are the norm in luxury homes, said Joel Ripmaster, broker/owner at Colorado Landmark Realtors, a luxury real-estate brokerage with offices in Boulder and Niwot. “The bathrooms can be very opulent,” Ripmaster said.
Moving into the toilet room, the most critical but least talked about part of the master bathroom, one might be surprised by what they find.
Bidets, which have long been a standard in Europe and parts of Asia, are becoming more common here. The toilet itself has evolved into a smart machine that does everything from flush waste to wash and blow-dry your privates.
“Some of the projects we’ve done have had some wild stuff in the bathroom,” said Scott Reardon of Reardon Custom Homes of Boulder, who builds high-end properties.
Asked about “over-the-top” bathroom features, Reardon described the toilet in a 5,000-sqare-foot $6.5 million house he built in Sunshine Canyon, west of Boulder. “One thing that was kind of creepy but cool was this electric toilet. Let’s just say that thing did more things than you’d ever want.”
Luxury toilets no longer are for nature calls only; they are designed to impress, help the environment and add more interest to bathroom interiors. Electronic toilets combine Western-style toilet features such as flushing with the cleansing features of bidets. Standard features are flushing, washing with a nozzle that comes out from underneath the toilet and squirts water, seat warming, and deodorization.
Some of the combination toilet/bidets, including the one in the house in Sunshine Canyon, have automatic lids that raise when someone enters the room and lower when he or she leaves. More advanced versions also offer massage options, water jet adjustments, automatic flushing, room heating and air conditioning, an adjustable blow drier, and a wireless control panel attached to the seat or mounted on a nearby wall.
But a fancy toilet does not equal over-the-top luxury, said James Simpson, the listing agent for the home in Sunshine Canyon. Simpson works for the local office of Sotheby’s International Realty, which lists the crème de la crème properties.
“It’s nice, but I don’t know if it’s over the top,” Simpson said of the Sunshine Canyon master bathroom. “This is really not a town for over-the-top” bathrooms. For that, one must look to cities such as Los Angeles.”