Renovating Bathrooms, Shower Bench leads 2020 Fashion Trends

Bathrooms can make-or-break a house for sale. The style, condition and number of the bathrooms is a common focal point for home buyers and ranks second behind kitchen remodeling as the most common home-renovation project upon which Eastview Homes gets asked to quote. We’re often too busy to take-on single room renovations like washrooms or basements, but the bathroom renovations we do execute as part of larger and more complicated home additions are, we hope, very fashionable and beneficial. Throughout our long and storied career renovating houses we’ve watched the humble water closet transform from being a functional room for the whole family to a fantastic retreat for each individual family member and one furnished with their own personal amenities.

walk-in shower with bench for accessibility in bathroom renovation in Burlington Ontario
Keith demonstrates how to use the shower bench in bathroom renovation in Burlington

Consider that in the late nineteen sixties it was common for residential homes in Oakville and Burlington to have just one full bathroom (with a tub). Today it’s rare to find a house that doesn’t have at least two full bathrooms. Not only has the number of restrooms changed, but also the style of these rooms has evolved dramatically in the last half century.

What was the big bathroom renovation trend of the nineteen fifties? Answer: Adding a permanent wall-mounted shower head (remember the mobile shower heads that attached to the bathtub faucets? Are you old enough to remember those?) and tiling the bathtub splash walls and adding new styles of bathtubs were 1950’s era bathroom fashion trends in Canada. Who can remember anything before that? We’d have to take a trip to Addison’s on Wabash in Toronto to see older styles of bathroom fixtures. Anyone working in the trades for more than a few years knows what styles were popular in the sixties and seventies because they’ve probably had the experience of demolishing the out-of-date bathrooms today.

Matt demolishes the bathroom to make way for a more modern washroom in a second story home addition.

Let’s Recap Forty Years of Canadian Bathroom Building Trends

Here at Eastview Homes we can tell when the bathroom was last renovated simply by walking into the space and looking around for less than a minute. A quick glance at the layout, fixtures, tile and flooring tells us everything we need to know.

Nineteen sixties’ era bathroom re-modelers had a penchant for pink and brown ceramic tile. Mint green and cream checkerboard designs and blue pattern tile were also popular colors and styles. The late sixties also brought some psychedelia and bright hues as new synthetic dyes became more readily available. We know this because we consistently get asked to remove these obscenities!

Nineteen seventies’ bathrooms saw a switch to more earthy colors, and new materials like laminate counter tops and vinyl flooring. Wall-to-wall shag carpeting was popular in new houses at the time and by the end of the decade some had even crept into the bathroom. Could you imagine? Some late seventies bathrooms had early model hot tubs but these have likely broken and been replaced by now.

Nineteen eighties’ bathrooms started to take on spa-like properties and evolved into more of a personal retreat. Marble counter-tops got wider to support more toiletry devices like shavers and electric toothbrush rigs. New homes in upscale developments suddenly featured built-in corner whirlpool tubs as a selling item. This was an era of conspicuous consumption, and over-the-top glamour in the shadow of rising home prices. The median home price in Oakville and Burlington almost doubled in that decade from about $60,000 in the early eighties to $120,000 in 1990.

Nineteen nineties bathrooms saw the return of soft surfaces and colours; peach and teal bathroom tiles, hunter green patterns and ‘cream on mauve’ colour schemes were popular themes. Martha Stewart liked anything jade in the 1990’s and that affected bathrooms more than we’d like to admit here in Canada too. Many bathrooms in homes built in this era have two-tone colour combinations. The nineties also brought more cabinetry into bathrooms, but the tub shower combination remained the most popular choice as people still like the idea of taking baths. A large double-sink with folding mirror vanities surrounded by small light bulbs similar to Hollywood-style dressing room make-up tables became almost standard lighting fixtures in 1990s era Canadian bathrooms.

Bone white tile is used as trim on wood floors transitioning to sterile bathroom environments

Today there are even more trends too numerous to list, but our logic dictates that bathrooms should be clean safe, sterile rooms and so white tiling and white marble or stone counter tops with clean lines and an efficient use of space will always be fashionable because they are so functional in a modern society which embraces efficiency.

Home buyers like new, modern fixtures and designs. A bathroom shower can incorporate many different accessories, all of which can make your showering experience easier and more enjoyable . Introducing the shower bench. A walk-in shower now comes complete with a shaving bench, or sitting bench depending on your bathing rituals. Shower benches are here to stay. For a whole lot of reasons having a bench in the shower is a practical evolution for both sexes. Men and women can both benefit from the design trend, but ladies in particular appreciate having some structure upon which to sit or balance as they shave their legs.

2020 Bathrooms Styles have Walk-in Showers with Shower Benches

The shower bench idea has caught fire with home owners and home renovators across Canada. This is the kind of easy-to-do idea that shows home designers are making considerations for comfort (for both sexes), and its the kind of thing home buyers remember. While the Shower Chairs marketplace is still considered a sub category of Bath Safety at Home Depot, behold their online catalog now has 329 results!

Why have shower benches become so popular in modern bathrooms?

Accessibility is probably the number one reason. It’s far easier and more efficient to sit or use the bench to balance and shave your legs . Elder people afraid of falling sometimes prefer to sit and shower. A person suffering from an injury can use the shower without having to stand. Someone who is in a wheelchair can use the bench to transition from their wheelchair into the shower safely, making the bench an important accessibility design feature. Fold up shower benches of which you can see examples above, are an effortless way to have the perks of a bench without having to remodel. Most fold up benches can be installed into an existing shower.

Relaxation is another one of the obvious reasons to have a bench in a shower. This gives the homeowner the ability to sit down in the shower and perhaps admire the view outside a nearby window, as is the case in our featured image. This makes the shower area more of a spa, and these days having a spa-like bath facility is a common trend in the ‘master bathroom’.

More shelving is the shower, and the bench is often a much handier shelf for healthy people temporarily blinded by shampoo and conditioner.

Hidden storage areas under the shower bench can often be accessed from the back. This gives the homeowner an opportunity to create a highly secure place inside the home that is perfect for depositing and sealing away something precious.

Designers can combine the bathtub and shower by using benches that become an extension of the tub decking. The bench flows into the shower and in really clever designs it allows the homeowner to keep bathroom supplies underneath the bench.

New materials make bathrooms look better

A walk-in shower with shower bench ready to be grouted and tiled in bathroom renovation project in Burlington.

As a tile backing board, Eastview Homes uses Durock Cement Board in our bathroom renovations as this product has better long-term performance than paper-faced gypsum core products and because it will not mildew or physically break down in the continued presence of moisture or leaks.

Also cement board provides a stronger bond and support with tiles than typical gypsum board. Cement board is not waterproof. It absorbs moisture well but it has excellent drying properties. In areas continually exposed to water spray (i.e. showers) a waterproofing material is usually recommended behind the boards (i.e. plastic barrier) or as a trowel-applied product to the face of the boards behind the finish system (i.e. liquid membrane). This convenient building material improves the integrity, durability and the finished look of tile flooring and counter tops.