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Question: Our house has three bathrooms. The master has a tub. The other two do not. We’re ...

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

planning to remodel the master this year and can’t decide whether to keep the tub. Would it be a mistake to remove it and not have one in the house at all?

If you’re thinking in terms of resale value, then a real estate agent would have a more experienced answer than I. But I’m happy to offer a few thoughts.

If you’re planning to live in your home ten years or more (no specific reason for choosing “ten”), then I’d remodel the master bath in the way that you will most enjoy. If you use a tub, or like a jetted massage, then keep or replace the one you have. Otherwise, use the space for more storage or a larger shower.

If you’re planning to sell your home in the next year or two, there’s a good case for not remodeling at all. That is, save the expense and inconvenience and let the new homeowners remodel in the way they want. (Young buyers will most likely opt for a luxury shower to a tub.) However, the notable cost of remodeling may affect the price they offer. This leads back to wondering if you should remodel to get a higher offer.

Since each house and each situation is different, I can only pose these questions. In the end, you want the value of your time and investment to exceed the eventual selling price. If you’re not sure what to do, you could just take the middle ground and make some easy, cosmetic changes to make the appearance of the space more attractive to potential buyers.

At the heart of the matter, what is the general feeling about bathtubs these days? Just a few years ago, it was widely advised to have at least one tub in a home. But thoughts have changed and other options seem to be just as valid. In smaller spaces, tubs take up a lot of space that could otherwise go towards more elbow room, storage, or an enlarged shower.

Some homeowners are opting for luxurious and user-friendly showers such as curbless entries where you can walk (or wheel) right in without stepping over a barrier. This is a nice Aging-in-Place technique as well. Larger showers also allow for a good-sized bench (typically 18 inches high and 15 inches deep spanning the length or width of the shower). This bench is not only functional but another Aging-in-Place advantage. In my last two bathroom remodels, clients have asked for steam showers. So, while bathtubs are, without a doubt, a relaxing way to pamper yourself, large steam showers with a bench can also do the trick.

My case for a shower-only house is meant for those who don’t really want a tub but feel they should have one because, historically, this has been the common belief. However, if you like a tub, there’s no reason to change your mind. In fact, there are interesting trends for tub lovers. The free-standing tub is popular again and in many styles. There are updated claw-foot tubs that look great with farmhouse or otherwise casual-style homes. Others are sleek, sculptured and architectural and suitable for modern homes. The free-standing approach, of course, only works if you have the room. Will such a significant feature as a stand-alone tub eventually become outdated? My answer to this is the same as when clients ask me about any feature, trend or style becoming outdated. Good design will forever be good design.

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