Trend Watch: Luxurious Bathrooms Don’t Always Need a Fancy Tub

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

fancy showerHome owners may be starting to rethink what all makes up a luxurious, spa-like bathroom. Whirlpool tubs for several years have been on the wish-lists of many home buyers, but now some buyers are starting to show a change in preferences, swapping larger showers or extra storage space for that oversized bathtub or whirlpool, some designers say.

Many home owners may have once been swayed into adding an oversized bathtub in their master suite for resale value, but now some real estate agents and designers say that as long as you have at least one bathtub in the home, a missing massive tub in the master suite won’t likely dampen your chances at resale.

Home owners had complained that the oversized tub was taking up too much space and becoming a “dust magnet” that hardly got used, noted an article earlier this year by the Charlotte Observer, Goodbye Whirlpool Tub; Hello Luxury Shower.

In that article, Patricia Dunlop, a spokeswoman for the American Society of Interior Designers, said that many home owners are now opting for an extra vanity, shower and storage space in lieu of the whirlpool tub. Plus, home owners are instead wanting to spend money on upgrading to a larger shower with extra amenities, such as multiple shower heads, benches, or even steam showers.

It’s a trend that AVID Ratings Co., which conducts annual surveys on must-have home features, has been picking up on. In 2010, AVID Ratings reported that while whirlpool tubs were still desirable to many home buyers, they “clearly went down a notch” while oversized showers were moving up in popularity.

What are you seeing in your market? Are oversized tubs in the bathroom still a high priority for your buyers?

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. I love a good soak in a big tub, but lets be honest who has time for that. The shower however is used every single day. I did however just take on a client who must have a tub in the master of her next home.

  2. Personally, I would rather have a jetted bath tub than a hot tub. But, I can see where a luxury shower would be great too. However, in case the next buyer has a child, I think there should be a tub in another bathroom somewhere in the house.

  3. Anything OVERSIZED is going out of style from fast food to homes!

    A reasonable sized soaking tub (3′ x 5′ is OK when you add a sitting edge) and who wants to clean the mega shower?! A reasonable sized cultured marble shower (no tile cleaning chores) can be 4′ x 4′. Going a little bigger is OK, but I believe MEGA is wasted space and unnecessary additional cleaning. I would like to see an upgrade away from tile to cultured marble or solid surface for easy cleaning.

    A preferred amenity in the master bathroom is two separate sink counters each at least 4′ wide with drawers on both sides of the sink and a walk-in closet the size of a small bedroom is a better use of space.

  4. i prefer a shower over a tub any day. but , it all depends on what sells a house.

  5. Good article. Many home builders and homeowners are afraid that they’ll lose “number value” when removing a tub for a large shower (3/4 bath vs. full bath in some areas).

    However, a practical, high-quality shower is many times preferable to today’s buyers and can leave space for other features. It’s more of a matter of taste to most buyers, not numbers.

  6. We had to have a Whirlpool tub when we remodeled four years ago. Number times we’ve used the tub…3. I wish we had gone for extra storage or a sauna. The other thing is that this isn’t green. Imagine all the water that is used when you use a Whirlpool. We were under a drought the last 2 years and you couldn’t water your lawn on certain days, but you could soak in tub of 20 gallons of water. We felt so guilty we didn’t use it again.

  7. Norma Newport

    Would like to see more bathroom upgrades and kitchen upgrades ASAP.

  8. I have a property owner who traded the fancy “whirpool tub” and a linen closed for a 2nd floor laundry. I’ve been says few a few years that these big tubs are a waste of time and money. I don’t know anyone who has time to sit and wrinkle in a big tub. A hot tub is a different story though!!

  9. I supposed to have a remodeling of my bathroom this week and really don’t know where to start. Good thing I have found this site. Very useful indeed. Thanks for the tips.

  10. I cannot vouch for this but a Japanese client of mine told me that in her culture a bathtub in the master bathroom is absolutely critical. She gave up her hotel suite for a regular room when she found that the suite did not have the master tub.

  11. I fairly recently setup our steam shower unit, best thing I have got a hold of in a while, kids and relatives like
    it so much, cannot see everybody moving back to normal showers
    ever again

  12. Lots of features and functions on these steam showers, I like the radio
    idea and also the lighting

  13. So true. More and more people are being wowed by spectacular showers.

  14. gone through the info inside of this website lots, planning to take the
    leap shortly and acquire a steam shower cabin, in all likelihood immediately
    after the holidays

  15. we just recently set up a steam shower unit, the best item we have purchased in a while, kids and relatives like it so much, simply cannot see everyone moving back
    to common showers anymore

    my homepage; steam and shower (Aubrey)

  16. Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Many
    thanks for supplying this info.

  17. Great article. You nailed it! When I began my venture in real estate sales in the Fredericksburg VA area in 2005, it seemed that every buyer was looking for the soaker tub in the master bathroom. The trend has changed. A very large walk-in shower with open glass seems to out weigh the classic garden soakers. Several buyers have opted to add the soaker in the mid bath and utilize the space for the huge shower. Adding the rain spray head and sit down bench seemed to be a plus.