NKBA Reports: The Wellness Wave Is Reshaping the Bathroom

In recent years, tours through the bathroom exhibitors at the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show are akin to checking into a spa. Residential steam showers now come with aromatherapy, chromotherapy, and audiotherapy enhancements (see Brizo’s Mystix Steam System), while bathtubs are full-on meditative moments, as with Kohler’s Japanese soaking-tub-inspired Stillness Experience bath—complete with atmospheric fog and lighting controls.

Naturally, as these enhanced bathroom fixtures hit the market, it’s easier than ever to achieve a spa-like experience at home. And clients show no signs of dampening their requests for mindful amenities and serene retreats. (In a recent interview with AD PRO, AD100 designer Neal Beckstedt even admitted to having a spa consultant on speed dial!) In the NKBA’s forthcoming 2024 Bath Trend Report, the wellness wave is well documented. Among its range of bathroom forecasts, the report offers a look at the influence the well-minded client requests will have on the bathroom’s form and function in the year ahead.

A bathroom design by Jaque Bethke calms with a warm, neutral palette.

Photo: Phil Johnson c/o NKBA

Based on a survey of more than 500 trade professionals (55% of whom are interior designers), the findings in NKBA’s report suggests that the bathrooms of tomorrow aren’t just utilitarian spaces. Three out of five respondents said that the bathroom should have a “relaxed/retreat-like” or “spa-like” feel. Further, 52% of respondents believe that homeowners want bathrooms to be a “place of healthy living and wellness.”

Perhaps most interesting is the wellness wave’s reorienting of the bathroom floorplan. The NKBA report suggests a shift away from alcove tubs toward distinct moments for the shower (increasingly sleek and multifunctional) and a freestanding tub. More than half of respondents said removing tubs as a means to increase shower size would be a popular bathroom renovation trend in the years ahead. Yet, for those spacious bathrooms, 70% view the bathtub as a means to “create a design focal point” in the bathroom.

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