Innovative solutions for creating healthy, efficient, eco-friendly homes

Luxury Bathroom Products Alexander City AL

Today's luxury bathrooms include all the aesthetic elements present in the rest of the home. Their utilitarian purpose has been overshadowed in recent years by a growing range of upscale design options.

Perceptive Designs
(256) 355-3411
716 Bank St. N.E.
Decatur, AL
 
Home Depot
(256) 881-8270
10012 Memorial Pkwy Sw
Huntsville, AL
 
Everlast Cool Roofing
(256) 238-8020
3004 Alexandria Rd
Anniston, AL
 
Casey Michael
(256) 586-3122
1316 Shoal Creek Rd
Arab, AL
 
Tub & Tile Solutions
(205) 987-7477
Po Box 26307
Birmingham, AL
 
Home Depot
(256) 832-2279
350 Crystal Waterway Dr
Anniston, AL
 
Trax Fence Company
(205) 657-0379
14239 Southland Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL
 
Blue Deese Construction
(334) 793-3365
3030 E Cottonwood Rd
Dothan, AL
 
If It's Wood Cabinets Granite & Tile LLC
(256) 536-2019
227 Bailes St Nw
Huntsville, AL
 
Bath Innovations of Alabama
(334) 271-2723
1616 Upper Wetumpka Rd.
Montgomery, AL
 

Luxury Bathrooms

Provided By:

Today's luxury bathrooms include all the aesthetic elements present in the rest of the home. Their utilitarian purpose has been overshadowed in recent years by a growing range of upscale design options, from the sybaritic pleasures promised by mood-elevating chromatherapy baths to artistic touches like vessel sinks made from wood or stone, to showers that create a soothing rain-like experience or envelop you in therapeutic steam.

Add functional elements such as towel-warming drawers and electric radiant floor heating systems, and more whimsical improvements like futuristic toilets and entertainment systems incorporated directly into bathroom fixtures, and the luxury bathroom becomes a private retreat where "you can go to rejuvenate yourself in the morning and wash away [your cares] in the evening," says David O'Neil, president of Renaissance Tile & Bath, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. "These are no longer spaces we just move through, but spaces we live in."

The iSteamShower washes away the stress, thanks to its 3,000-watt steam
generator and auto-water massaging functions.
? Photos Courtesy Novak and Company

Three Key Elements
Creating a luxury bathroom involves three key elements, explains O'Neil: the visual, which includes luxury finishes on the walls, flooring and fixtures; the tactile, such as heated floors, towel warmers and steam units; and the emotional, including the use of lighting and sound to create the right atmosphere.
With the trend moving toward homes with "a bathroom for every bedroom," each bath can have its own identity, notes Gray Uhl, director of design for American Standard in Piscataway, N.J. Examples include "a retreat for the master bath, a family-oriented bath for the kids and a welcoming experience for the guest bath." Here are some options available to homeowners who want to take their baths to the next level of comfort.

Showers and Tubs
Form and function are given equal attention in today's luxury bathrooms, and nowhere is this more evident than in the design of showers and tubs. But it's important to begin by separating these into two distinct units. Then it's all about size and features.

Generally, tubs are for relaxation and soaking, while showers are designed for a quicker cleansing experience. Still, in a luxury bathroom, it's "all about the spa experience," says nationally known lifestyle designer Barclay Butera. "While you may not have time to soak [in a tub], walk-in showers can still create the spa feel and work [better] with your schedule."

Spa-like water delivery options include multiple body jets, which are small showerheads that can be adjusted so they spray the body from different angles; overhead showering panels such as Kohler's WaterTile Ambient Rain system, which uses no less than 54 spray nozzles to create a rain-like shower experience; and thermostatically controlled shower valves such as American Standard's Ceratherm thermostat, which enables homeowners to set the desired temperature of the water when showering by using a single handle.

Another option is Jacuzzi's Ristorre Shower Collection, which is available in four shower tower styles that can be installed using existing plumbing lines and drains. The showers feature rain showerheads and multifunction hand showers, all encased in curving waves of glass and chrome designed to make an artistic statement in the bathroom.

Luxury upgrades to an existing bath could include vanities with storage, vessel sinks and towel warming drawers. ? Photos Courtesy Eden Bath Thu, 18 Oct 2007 00:00:00 By Smart-Homeowner Staff Green on a Budget http://www.smart-homeowner.com/node/8338
Back in 2005, an international competition was held to find a home design that best followed the principles set out by the cradle to cradle philosophy, as envisioned by architect William McDonough and German chemist Michael Braungart. The purpose of the C2C Home Design and Construction Competition was to encourage the design and building of sustainable homes that use resources efficiently, eliminate waste and employ modern systems that mimic natural systems.

The winner of the competition, a design for a modernistic home that uses spinach to produce solar energy, was spotlighted in an earlier issue of this magazine (see "Spinach Power" in July/August 2005), and it was deemed so innovative that drawings of the home were displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Fast-forward a few years, and the first competition-related home has been built. But it's not the award-winning design, which will require several hundred thousand dollars to build. Instead, the first cradle to cradle-inspired home incorporates sustainable elements while dealing with real-world costs.

Tough Decisions
Purists have expressed dismay that the first home to result from the highly publicized C2C competition is so -- vanilla. Located in a low-income section of Roanoke, the home has no far-out modern design features, not even a two-story living room. To keep costs down, architects Stephen Feather and Richard Rife had to make some tough decisions and compromises on what was already a modest home. For instance, some key alternative energy and sustainable design features were cut from the final plans.

Those decisions subjected the designers to less-than-enthusiastic blog-blasts. "Why was this model chosen for construction over one of the winners?" asked one blogger. "Is this the best representative of innovation in sustainable systems, technologies, design and living? We had hoped the design would be more aesthetically inspiring."

But stay with us. Vanilla, even low-cost vanilla, is an important element of this C2C competition home. Part of its premise is to demonstrate that sustainable design and cradle to cradle-inspired features aren't limited to homes selling for $300,000 and up. This recently completed home will likely sell for about $100,000.

Even at that price, the home is still priced slightly higher than many of its neighbors. The three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,653-square-foot house is located in an area of Roanoke where surrounding homes range in price from as low as $40,000 to $70,000 to $85,000, with a few priced in the $90,000s.

"There has been a fair amount of frustration that what we're moving forward with is not a winning design," says Gregg Lewis, executive director of C2C Home and a board member of C2C Home Inc. (C2C Home was formed after the competition by principals of Roanoke-based SmithLewis Architecture, as well as planners and consultants for the competition, to bring green, affordable housing to the marketplace. McDonough helped judge the competition but is not affiliated with C2C Home.) "For this particular house, we have not achieved cradle to cradle [standards], nor was it our expectation that we would achieve cradle to cradle," Lewis explains. "What we've got is a great green house with a lot of features that move us toward cradle to cradle."

Had it been built on the site, the competition's winning project would have looked like a piece of modern art displayed among traditional watercolor prints. As it is, the newly completed property is the first new home built in this historic neighborhood in decades, and it blends in smoothly with the surrounding homes, many of which are 100 years old. In fact, the city passed new, stricter historic overlay design requirements after entries were submitted that made the selection process even tougher, Lewis says.

"We're showing [that green, energy-efficient building] is possible at different price points," Feather says. "It doesn't have to be all or nothing. It doesn't have to be a $600,000 house. It can be very affordable, built multiple times. Before we walk, we have to crawl."

Affordable Living
The buyers of this home will have to meet an income standard at or below 80 percent of the median income for the area. That means a family of three buying the home can earn no more than $41,750, says Gilian Corral, director of neighborhood services for nonprofit builder Blue Ridge Housing Development Corp., which renovates vacant homes and builds new homes, including the cradle to cradle-inspired home, for lower-income families. The owners can sell the home only to someone else who meets those same income guidelines, or must repay some of the subsidies built into the purchase price.

To create an affordable home, some sustainable design basics had to go. Solar panels, for instance, would have added about $20,000 to the initial cost of the home, and a geothermal system would have added another $25,000, compared to a conventional energy-efficient heat pump. Both were in the original plans but weren't practical options for a $100,000 home.

C2C and the architects also cut 200 square feet from the design, reduced the two-story living room to a single story and eliminated Universal Design elements intended to help the homeowners age in place.
"We can build bigger houses," Feather says. "We can apply more sustainable design features. But we had to start somewhere. We wanted to get something built to show to the public. As we make people more aware of it, they're obviously going to be willing to make these things part of their homes. It's gaining momentum. The more people who want these elements, the more of a market there will be to manufacture them. Then the pricing may go down. It's supply and demand."

In fact, plans are underway to build a market-rate home using more ideas generated by the C2C Home competition elsewhere in the city soon, as well as to eventually build the competition's winning design.

Green and Efficient Features
Even with the deletions, the new home offers many features that are either specific to the cradle to cradle design philosophy or fit the overall concept. For example, the home was built using modular construction, which uses resources more efficiently and reduces waste. "The home was manufactured in a facility with a controlled environment," Feather says. "Scrap wood did not litter and contaminate the site." (C2C hopes to use modular construction to build more homes with cradle to cradle features, Lewis says, because modular building lends itself well to the philosophy.)

The foundation includes Hycrete, the first cradle to cradle-certified product. Hycrete extends the life of pre-cast concrete by 10 times or more compared to conventional concrete.

The home's interior features energy-saving, cradle to cradle-certified MechoShade systems, which provide optimum solar protection, increase natural light and save money on energy costs. Speaking of costs, utility bills are expected to be lower than those for surrounding homes. The hope is that the buyer will allow C2C to look at energy and water bills after a year to determine the extent of the savings.
The home is framed with sustainably harvested, formaldehyde-free wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. It also features Interface carpeting, which is made from recycled materials, including old carpet. "They take old carpet, grind it up and incorporate it into the new carpet," Feather explains. The carpet is laid in tiles so worn or stained sections can be easily replaced.

Other features include Hardiplank fiber cement siding on the home's exterior, and interior paint that is either low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds) or VOC-free. Marmoleum natural linoleum flooring was used in the kitchen and baths.

The home's metal roof will have a BASF cool-roof coating that increases energy efficiency. Shower heads, faucets and toilets are designed to use less water. A rain barrel outside will provide water for the lawn.

Building a home with these components was challenging but doable, says Robert Jarrett, sales manager of modular home company Southern Heritage Homes Inc. of Rocky Mount, Va., chosen because it builds custom modular homes. "All of the framing lumber [used in the home] suddenly becomes different from what's widely available in the market because you can't use formaldehyde," Jarrett says. "The insulation changed from fiberglass to something more user-friendly - cotton. I had never seen [cotton used in a modular home]."

Despite the difficulties involved, Blue Ridge Housing and Southern Heritage, as well as other companies involved in the project, are open to building green again. "We are very new to this process of green building," Corral says, who notes that by being involved in this project, "we're getting our feet wet. The features that are green - such as the metal roof - are also good for historic preservation. We'll be seeing when we can use these types of materials in our regular construction."
And that, ultimately, is the goal for everyone involved with the project.

Freelance writer Karen Haywood Queen covers such topics as home design, landscaping, technology and building. She's based in Williamsburg, Va.

Click here to read article from Smart-Homeowner.com