Enter the age of electronic showers. New advances now regulate water temperature, eliminating scalding and allowing the shower user to pre-set temperature preferences. With a push of a button, the shower delivers a post-workout cooling shower or bursts of massaging warm water, or both in a timed sequence.
Kohler offers its brand of performance showering through a variety of custom showerheads, hand showers and body sprays—all regulated by the company's digital thermostatic valve system. Low-flow showerheads help conserve water, but have the reputation of putting out skimpy sprays.
Hansgrohe offers a shower system in which the drops of water are infused with air. The company says this system creates softer water droplets that coat the skin, instead of bouncing off. An added bonus is that the system plumps up the water while still operating at a low-flow rate of 1.6 gallons per minute.
Chromatherapy is another hot topic in showering. Based on the premise that color can affect well-being, some tubs and showers now use lights to project a series of colors in a sequence moving from soothing to invigorating. Another new shower trend is based on ancient practices. Steam showers, enclosed in a glass "cabinet," envelop the bather in steam that users say can soothe tense muscles, ease joint pain, open pores and promote relaxation. A steam shower often includes a built-in seat.
A Fix On Fixtures
If your image of a shower is one showerhead stuck on the wall, today's showers may look entirely foreign to you. Multiple showerheads and body sprays create even coverage from head to toe. Oversized showerheads—some up to a foot or more across—mimic the effect of a gentle rain shower. You'll see towers of showerheads and body sprays, all of which can be adjusted to the perfect height for each person using the shower.
Misting sprays are perfect for children and handheld showers make rinsing easier. Some suppliers even offer toe testers, which allow you to feel the water temperature with your foot before stepping all the way in. The controls for all these sprays and showerheads may be operated by a high-tech touch pad or by traditional faucet handles. The choice is yours—and the variety of finishes for this hardware is almost limitless.
Out and Around
It's no surprise that all this new shower power isn't confined to dinky shower stalls. Larger spaces make showering more luxurious. Increased space often means that traditional shower doors or curtains are no longer necessary. Some of today's shower spaces are defined by walls, others have glass enclosures. You can choose a framed enclosure or one without a metal frame. For more texture and character, some homeowners opt for etched or patterned glass.
Others leave the glass clear to allow the tile in the shower surround to take center stage. Adding a seat in the shower amps up the comfort—as do towel-warming racks or drawers positioned nearby. If space allows, you can add privacy to your master bath by creating twin his and hers vanity and water closet areas, connected by a large, walk-through shower. With all the high-tech gadgetry in the shower, more people are employing natural materials for counterbalance. Softer finishes on metals, tiles and stones in organic colors and earthy hues and textures all tone down the clinical feel.