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Makeup closets and more: NKBA webinar discusses luxury bath trends


Christopher Grubb luxury bathroom NKBA

This bathroom design from Christopher Grubb is his first traditional design in a long time.

Hackettstown, N.J. – The bathrooms we grew up in may have been seen as a pit stop, not a place to linger in, but that is no longer the case as bathrooms have evolved to become a place where one can unwind and restore, especially at the luxury level.  

As part of the recent National Kitchen & Bath Association’s Luxury Bath Summit, designers Christopher Grubb of Arch-Design Interiors and Shea Pumarejo of Younique Designs, speaking with moderator Susan Brinson of House of Brinson, shared what they see as trending in the bathroom — and what’s out — in one webinar .  

Everyone has their own definition of luxury. Some of Pumarejo’s clients are very fashion forward and want the feeling of opulence and great finishes, while others are “more about the experience,” she said. 

In addition, “can they really afford it — and if not, how do we adjust the budget?” Grubb said. “If it’s a tight budget, I don’t bring up radiant flooring.” Grubb asks clients what monetary budget limit scares them, and from there he knows how much he can spend. People buy clothes all the time, but not plumbing fixtures, so the cost of luxury items may be shocking to some clients, he said.  

“A lot of my luxury clients are travelers and they stay in luxury hotels,” Pumarejo said. They see and experience lighted mirrors and curbless showers in these places and want them in their own homes. 

Shea Pumarejo bathroom

A bathroom design from Pumarejo

Pumarejo recalled hitting the steam room first at her gym because of its smell of eucalyptus. So for an older client, she recommended incorporating a steam room to both alleviate allergies and bring in aromatherapy. “You can have that experience at home.” 

“This is a very intimate space we’re designing,” she said. “We’re asking them very personal questions” – a process that may take several hours and include such questions as: “Tell me how you shave your legs in the shower. Do we need to put in a shaving niche or a seat?” 

Storage and organization are essential, and must-have items are as simple as slide-out drawers under sinks, said Grubb, who’s also doing more built-in hampers. One of his projects now includes a makeup closet, so the countertops can be kept clear. Another client wanted a slide-out ironing board to touch up his shirts, he added. One thing he hates: Garbage cans. “I don’t want to see them.” 

“Things that we get out and use every single day need to be accessible,” added Pumarejo, including pullouts with outlets in drawers. While Grubb said he doesn’t install medicine cabinets anymore, Pumarejo said she includes updated versions that are within the cabinetry. And she loves doing full-length mirrors on piano hinges with storage hidden behind it.  

Lighting also needs to be considered. “It’s shocking that people don’t think about dimmers” in the bath, said Grubb. And the color temperature of the light is key – particularly if the bathroom does not get natural light, said Pumarejo. “That’s a challenge.” 

Both use aging-in-place elements in their designs when appropriate, such as curbless showers, steam showers, motion sensors, even refrigeration in panels and drawers for water or medicine. 

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