The wet room, like the one featured below from HGTV's Dream Home 2019, is a home design trend that is becoming very popular with interior designers and builders. As a homeowner and a Realtor who advises clients on home improvement projects, I couldn't resist asking: what do homeowners and home buyers think of this trend? 

Wet room - HGTV Dream Home 2019We've all seen our fair share of master bathrooms with a lot of space dedicated to a large garden tub. Many of these master bathrooms also have a very limited footprint for the shower. If the large tub area is the only area to reclaim space for a luxurious shower, this seems like a wonderful combination: I can have a large space for the shower, and not forego the bathtub altogether. But I wondered if potential home buyers would agree, so I presented some options to an active local Facebook group - a group of all moms - and I was very specific about tailoring the feedback to fit my needs, so I posed the following question:

As a HOME BUYER, which of the following statements most accurately describes your thoughts about the master bathroom like the one shown here, with the bathtub within the large shower area? Let's assume:

  • that this is the only way to include a larger shower AND a bathtub in the master bathroom
  • there is already a standard sized bathtub in another bathroom (for the kids)
  • the homeowner plans on selling their home within the next 5 years (so appealing to buyers is equally important to the homeowners as "what they like")

Results are as follows:

  • 45% - "I would love this!"
  • 25% - "It's OK - not something that would sway me in the home buying decision one way or the other
  • 23% - "Not a huge fan. I would rather have the large shower area without a bathtub in the master bathroom."
  • 4% - "Not a huge fan. I would rather have this whole area for a bath tub, even if it means having a very small separate shower area."  
  • 3% - I like it, but I don't think it would increase the overall value of the home to me." 

For someone considering a remodel, I think this is good news. What it tells me is that almost half love it or like it, and another 25% are neutral. But even the 23% who were "lukewarm" on the design chimed in on the fact that they like the large shower, but could forego the bathtub. That's good to know and is consistent with my experience that there are many buyers who are ready to ditch the bathtub altogether. That being said, you will leave some buyers out in the cold if you don't include the tub. So if it appeals to you, it can be a good design solution as these numbers show the trend has strong appeal for about 50% of buyers, and is only a hard "no" for a very small percentage. Only 4% would prefer the smaller shower and separate large tub.

So what were the specific pros and cons? The biggest argument against it is the fact that many people do not use their bathtub currently, so they would see the bathtub getting wet from the shower as just another thing that would require cleaning - even if they weren't using it. These people likely fall into the category that would have rather had the large shower without the bathtub.

Take a look at different reactions to the design in these comments, starting with the topic of cleaning:

  • "We stayed in a hotel like this. It seemed colder while in the shower since it's such a large area to warm up. And all I could think about was having to clean it! The tub is getting "used" daily while you are showering, which just seems like more work to clean."
  • "It looks great but the tub and everything around it would always be getting splashed on." 

Cold

  • "My kids are the only ones who take a bath so unless we loved EVERYTHING else about the house, this would turn me off. It's a huge shower area and I would rather get rid of the tub." 
  • "Maybe it's just me but I feel this would affect the sale of your home negatively."
  • "I would cross this house off my list."

Lukewarm

  • "I know not everybody likes a soaker tub, but it's a nice stress reliever for me. I like them separate. I don't want to have to clean a tub every time someone showers, and on occasion, my husband might need to jump in the shower while I'm soaking."
  • "It's super pretty. I'm just not a tub person and would never use it."
  • "We considered doing something similar in our last house and decided against it. We did a large shower with multiple shower heads instead. We loved it. 
  • "We've debated about going to a full shower here, but I still love my baths. With our current tub/shower combo, I don't take baths except for days that I clean the tub. Due to space constraints, I'm not sure what we'll end up doing. This idea is interesting, but it would be a lot of cleaning. Not ideal."
  • "My husband is a custom home builder ($1M-$2M estate homes), and this is our business. I personally love this, however, I often have to pull myself in and not design to my personal taste. I want to do something similar in my personal home, but I decided not to because my husband keeps repeating the resale value thing." 

Hot

  • "This is HUGELY popular...I've seen it with Chip and Joanna, the Property Brothers, and other high end designers."
  • "Wet rooms are a hot trend in Interior Design. It makes it easier to transition from one area to another." 
  • "I think the wet rooms are getting more and more popular."
  • "Having a wet area would be nice. Sometimes I like to soak in a tub then shower to wash my hair and shave my legs."
  • "It is a neat idea. Imagine not having to wipe up the floor every time after baths! And if the kids took their baths in there, they could splash away to their heart's content!"
  • "As a mom, I LOVE this! My child seems to think our bathtub is a splash around pool, so I wouldn't have to worry about the rest of the bathroom floors being ruined from the excessive amounts of water my child "accidentally" splashed on the floor at bath time every night. This is beautiful!"

It's important to remember that there will always be homeowners who are resistant to change. Since this layout is relatively new, it's possible that some people who don't currently use the bathtub when it's completely separate from the shower may eventually find that they do use it when combined in a wet room design. If there is room for a generous shower area and a bathtub, that's great. But I think a lot of people can relate to this comment: "I like the division (having separate shower and bathtub) but maybe it's just because it's what I'm used to. But I agree that if it was this set-up or NO tub in the master at all, I'd take this set-up for sure."