Until few years ago, the standard American bathroom was a closet-sized room, in which a porcelain bathtub, toilet, and sink were anchored into a floor and wall tiled in pea green and pink, or perhaps lavender and pink, but always some particularly odious color – and pink. Storage space inside this crazy-colored cubicle consisted of room to hang one’s bathrobe on a nail behind the door. It was definitely not the sort of place in which one cared to linger.
That’s not true any longer. Today, the colors of bathrooms are easier on the eves and the whole notion of what a bathroom is has changed For starters, it’s much bigger. Along with the change in attitude and size has come a flood of new designs and gadgets, some quite expensive, some money-savers, that make the word “bathroom” and outdated term. On these and the following pages is a survey of what’s new and unusual for the bath.
There has been a resurgence of interest in the steambath – this time for home use. Several manufacturers have devised ways in which to convert a standard shower into a combination shower/steam-bath. The steaming apparatus is small e-nough to fit between studs inside a wall or above in the ceiling and can be connected to a quarter-inch water line. Specially sealed doors replace standard sliding glass panels, then a timer switch and steam outlet head are added to the system. The Haden Company carries a line called Steamachine with models starting at $500. Thermasol produces several models beginning at about $795 for a complete package. They can be purchased through Triangle Supply and Summers Southland Supply in Dallas.
The Dynavit Exerciser is like the old stationary bicycle exercise machine most health spas use. But not exactly like it, because this one has a built-in computer which measures your heart rate, performing many of the same functions of an EKG machine. By punching buttons to indicate your age, weight and sex, and by hooking a solid state sensor to your ear-lobe (to monitor your heart beat), the machine will guide you toward the best car-diorespiratory fitness level for your body. Space-age technology has also reduced the size of the bicycle from cumbersome to compact (about 14 inches by 29 inches by a maximum 50 inches high), so it fits nicely into all but the smallest bath-room/health center. It’s about $1700 at the Haden Company, 2707 Satsuma.
In case you’re more interested in saving money than in spending it, Kohler has designed some fixtures and hardware which cut down on water usage and water heating costs. The Water-Guard toilet flushes with 3 1/2 gallons of water instead of the standard 5 1/2 gallons. Kohler’s Automatic Flow Control showerhead cuts water flow from the conventional six or eight gallons per minute, to three gallons per minute. Special sink faucets reduce water use as much as 25 percent. Kohler estimates that such fixtures could save a-bout 36,500 gallons of water and $160 in bills per year for an average family of four. If you’re not in the market for new fixtures, Omni Products (distributed by Malone and Assoc. in Arlington, Metro 261-4170) makes adaptors for existing faucets and showerheads for as little as $4 each. They can cut water and heating costs as much as 20 percent.
Phylrich has designed a towel rack that not only looks good (it comes in nickel, brass, silver, gold or chrome), but dries the towels as well. The racks resemble pipes and work on the same principle. Hot water flows through them, warming towels before a rub down, then drying them after use. A set is $880 at William Weston Company, 3009 North Fitzhugh, or Pierce, Inc. in Snider Plaza.
If a sauna is your idea of complete relaxation, you’ll be glad to know that installation of private ones is becoming less and less expensive. The cost of equipment and installation averages about $1250, but if you’re not claustrophobic, it’s possible to convert a closet into a sauna for as little as $500. The Haden Company sells Finnish Helo Saunas for all size enclosures, including one small enough for a closet remodelling.
If you find it difficult to wake up in the morning and always seem to be late for work, try this solution: a special timer/ temperature control device that connects to your bathtub. It can, when properly set, automatically turn on the water in your tub at a prescribed temperature, turn it off when full, and simultaneously buzz you to awaken you and let you know your bath is drawn. You save minutes for extra sleep and need never again awaken to the shock of bath water that is either too hot or cold. The device is called a “Pleasure Bath” and can be purchased from the Haden Company for about $350.
Jacuzzi has traditionally been synono-mous with whirlpool. It is probably still the authentic water therapy – meaning that the motor pumps an equal mixture of air and water into the tub, whereas other models usually just aerate the water with air blowers. This difference accounts for the difference in cost. Jacuzzi pumps begin at $750. other models are as low as $250. The Haden Company is the exclusive distributor of Jacuzzi in Texas. Their almost-completed showroom will feature Jacuzzi’s latest model, the tub for two. Its base price is $1800.
The Hydrospa, like the Jacuzzi bath, is fiberglass and can be used indoors in the bathroom or outdoors by a pool as well. What distinguishes the Hydrospa from any model in the Jacuzzi line is that the tub’s bottom surface has been molded in a patented design to allow the user a variety of sitting or reclining positions while being pummeled by all those little air bubbles. Prices start at $1,912. The Hydrospa is distributed by Viking Sauna of Central Texas in Austin, (512)459-3327.
There is one danger connected with owning a Kohler Environment. It’s sort of like the womb – no one wants to leave it. It costs about $10,000, but that’s a relatively cheap price to pay for one’s own private paradise. Kohler has designed a modular unit in which one can experience weather extremities of sun, wind, rain, even jungle steam, with the flip of a control switch. The interior is solid teak. Steam away the grit, grime, aches and pains of a grueling tennis match, get the all-over tan you’ve always wanted but were afraid to try in the backyard, then cool off afterwards under a gentle shower of rain. No need for towels. You can dry off with the aid of’ ’Chinook Winds.’’ As you dry, the winds return your body temperature to a level compatible with the air outside the unit. That’s so you won’t get a chill. Options like AM/FM stereo radio and eight-track tape player are also available. The Environment can be purchased through any Kohler area distributor.
Most bathroom fixtures are sold only to Master Plumbers through plumbing supply houses. One just can’t walk into a showroom and buy a new toilet, sink, and shower. But the larger supply houses have showrooms which are open to the public. Anyone is welcome to browse, ask questions, or get prices. Universal Supply (three locations), Cronk Supply, and Triangle Supply, all have showrooms in Dallas that carry Kohler products. The public can buy as well as browse at the showrooms of William Weston Company and Pierce, Inc., where there’s a much larger selection of hardware and a smaller, more specialized selection of fixtures. The Haden Company, which also sells directly to the public, carries only special accessories like saunas, whirlpools, steam-baths, and exercise equipment.