There are a huge number of homes in the Portland metro region built in the 1990s. Whole neighborhoods in all quadrants with similar structure and design flaws. I use the term "flaw" lightly. What I really mean is they have some less than desirable features that have fallen out of favor with homeowners and the design community. If you haven't read the previous post on current design trends for bathrooms, take a quick read here.

This article looks at examples of bathrooms brought our of the 1990s. While most of these examples are full-blown remodel projects, there are some simple ways to update your dated bathroom (look for the Quick Fixes throughout this article for simple solutions).

Separate the toilet from the shower. The trend of pairing the toilet and shower in the same room has been happening for some time now. I guess home designers figured that one person could either be showering or using the toilet while the other person could be brushing their teeth. In today's society, I think this level of privacy has gone out the window. Most homeowners these days would rather separate the toilet in it's own water closet and then open up the bathroom by not having any walls separate the various other areas.

Quick Fix: If you can put move the toilet in such a way as to create a separate water closet, consider removing all the walls in the bathroom. This will open up the entire room to make the space feel larger.


Get rid of that acrylic insert shower. Because of the rapid pace of building in the 1990s, builders found it easier and cheaper to use acrylic inserts for showers. While initially this seems to have made sense, some 20 years later they all need to go. Fraught with leaking issues and general unattractiveness, the best option is to move to a custom tile shower. This also gives you some great design options with multiple shower heads, niches for storage, built-in benches and beautiful tile work. Before and After pictures below of what's possible.

Quick Fix: Even if you can't afford the expense of a custom tile shower, consider a new acrylic insert. The ones available today are so much more attractive and durable. And, who needs two benches anyway. Just go for a more spacious shower and all will be good.

fall08_winter09 066.jpg

Jetted tubs no more. Talk about the epitome of out-dated design, these large built-in jetted tubs are one serious dinosaur! Nearly every bathroom I evaluate built in this time period has a large jetted tub with an airport runway size tub deck. And, when asked about use frequency, most clients say they have either never used the tub or used less than 10 times in 10 years. Plus, they're just not attractive and serve almost no design purpose. So, why take up all this space with something that's never used. Time to get rid of the built-in tub for a more attractive freestanding version.

But, you say, they are expensive. Well, I counsel my clients to spend based on use. If you are an infrequent user, then let's find a well-priced (nice looking) tub. If you're a frequent user then let's get you a nice, durable tub that can withstand frequent cleanings, etc. I use this same principle with furniture, by the way. When all is said and done, a freestanding tub makes a real style statement. 

BEFORE: The built-in tub took up so much room

BEFORE: The built-in tub took up so much room

AFTER: A free standing tub gave us real design options and opened up the room.

AFTER: A free standing tub gave us real design options and opened up the room.

I hope these ideas have prompted you to look at your current out-of-date bathroom and dream of the possibilities. And, if you're ever looking for some professional design insight, you know where to reach the JBi team.

1 Comment