Homes are getting smaller and people are downsizing… are you kidding? The latest fad in home design: homes with a gazillion bathrooms. The Los Angeles Times reports California Real Estate brokers who cater to the rich say their clients are now asking for homes with at least two bathrooms for every bedroom.
Here in Texas, we have long Tex-ified bathrooms. Every grade school child learns all about the Alamo and knows the master bath must be a MASTER SPA with spacious counters, bubbling tubs, floor lamps, dressing areas, seating, rainwater showers, wine and coffee bars. The home Braden Power built at 3816 Turtle Creek, now owned by Lee Bailey, has a sitting room off the Neiman’s-sized closet which is off the master bathroom, which is essentially the entire second floor. I’ll pit Lee’s bath against a Cali bath any day! Then there is the home of Lisa Blue, widow of Fred Baron. Her Master bath was so overwhelming I think I may have lost some brain cells when I saw it, but I do recall the guest powder baths that were his and her’s and ginormous.
Don’t tell me anyone in California has better baths than us: they have water restrictions up in Carmel, which puts a huge damper on fixture choice: no waterfall showers up there.
Here’s what the Times says:
“The bathroom has become the dressing room,” said Bob Ray Offenhauser, a Studio City-based residential architect who routinely encloses the shower and toilet in their own rooms within a room. “They really don’t look much like bathrooms anymore.”
Offenhauser’s arithmetic is to figure two bathrooms for the Master bedroom and one for each bedroom, a couple of powder rooms scattered about and of course a bathroom for the swimming pool with exterior door. He says he then prepares himself for the client to ask for more!Dallas builder Mickey Munir of Sharif & Munir once told me that you absolutely had to have a spacious, elegant bathroom in the guest suite because so many of his clients put in-laws in there.
It’s the commodes that seem to be reproducing now like bunny rabbits whose employers won’t cover birth control.Pickfair, the Beverly Hills estate of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, had 30 bathrooms added in a recent remodel. In LA,. the record seems to be 41 bathrooms in an 18,400-square-foot Mediterranean-style Bel-Air home– $40 million. Over on Park Lane in Preston Hollow, the 23,151 square foot home of Kelcy Warren has 10 full baths and six powders, yet only six bedrooms! The 16,600 square foot Bradbury, CA. home of Texas Ranger Adrian Beltre and his wife, Sandra is still on the market for $19.5. It has 16 bathrooms!
“We use them all,” Sandra Beltre told the Times. Must be an Activia family. Sandra worked with the architect on the custom-built home, and says she is glad she insisted on adding more bathrooms than originally planned.
In the Beltre’s main house, in Cali, all the bedrooms have en suite bathrooms. That means the bathroom is large, and spacious, and located WITHIN the bedroom, sometimes with a closet. None of this inconvenience of walking down the hall to a COMMON bathroom where you might have to carry your Clorox wipes. There are bathrooms off the children’s playroom, the kitchen, the game room and the gym in the Beltre home. Their guesthouse has two. The pool cabana has his-and-her bathrooms, there is one conveniently located in the gardens of the 4-acre property (nice!), and another in the 2,500-square-foot batting cage area. No need for bladder control in this family!
No doubt we have moved way beyond the one-bathroom-in-the-hall days, which are as antiquated as ice cube trays. I recall when my parents built their home with a Master Bath: it had double sinks in a cultured vanity top, a commode across from a shower. This was 1960 something. My Aunt Marion, who had great taste and lived it up, put in pink marble in her bathroom and a pink tub, this before Mark Kay even knew she’d be buying a stucco pink mansion on Douglas Avenue. But there were no jets or bidets or waterfall showers. We kids had to slum it, sharing one bath in the hallway and rinsing “things” out of the tub if the previous bather was a slob. This is the hardship story I will tell my grandchildren:
“I shared a bathroom with your great-aunt! And we had no Clorox wipes!”
Building many bathrooms provides convenience and privacy for homeowners and guests. For example, I would not live in a house that did not have a bathroom very close to the garage door entrance to the home. That should be a cardinal rule of architectural design. And of course, the powder room was invented to keep your own bathroom pristine and keep guests from sneaking a peek into the medicine cabinet, something I actually miss.
This California agent has a phrase that hits close to my heart: “You almost cannot have too many bathrooms.”
And once upon a time, a half-bath was all you needed for guests. But agents say buyers of multimillion-dollar homes want three to five powder rooms — one directly off the study, another off the library and two for the media room. Well yes, all that coca cola has caffeine and, well, you know. And if you have staff quarters you must have en suite bathrooms or they will simply not tolerate it and find an employer with better baths.
“Buyers can be as picky about bathrooms as they are about kitchens.”
Viking or not, who cooks? We’d rather bathe in luxury, a trickle down effect from hotels. Todays’ home bathrooms are reminiscent of those in very fancy hotels, says Lynwen Hughes-Boatman of Deasy/Penner & Partners, who is listing the Beltres’ Cali house.
Another Cali agent says a buyer asked to see only homes with at least 15 bathrooms because of his frequent entertaining. They are strange out there: another agent says one wealthy couple sat on every single toilet to “see how it felt.” His clients want huge steam showers, tubs in the center of the room. Maybe that’s the Vegas touch.
There is a home in Rockwall with a tub right in the Master bedroom!
You know once the rich start doing it, it trickles down to us peons, pun intended. Not only has home square footage increased over the last ten years, then decreased a smidgen with the recession, even we commoners have more bathrooms in our average homes and McMansions. The number of new homes with three or more bathrooms increased to 26% in 2010, in 1987 the number was up only 15%. And the number of homes with two and one-half bathrooms more than doubled, this according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.
Let’s face it: a home with one bath can be as charming as Prince William but it will be a blue light special or a tear down. And now buyers are beginning to feel that way about two bathroom homes on the second home or buy-up. Dallas Realtors tell me it’s at least three and a half or bust.
And here’s yet one more thing we can blame on Baby Boomers: we are going for exactly what we want. The Times quotes Diana Schrage, senior interior designer at the Kohler Design Center in Kohler, Wis, where they make Kohler and Kallista, as in Newt Gingrich’s wife, as saying it’s because of our changing attitudes towards health and wellness. We want a spa experience nighly at home as our bodies get older and more creaky. Bubble massages and different water experiences soak away those aches and pains: just please, no weed in the bathtub!