For a new-bathroom feel without the hassle of a full remodel, Jasmine Morvay, an interior designer in Ottawa, Ontario, has a few ideas: Install a glass door or change the shower curtain, paint wall tiles, paint cabinets, replace mirrors, replace light fixtures, and add plants. One of her favorite ideas by far, though, is replacing the shower head. Switch out that one fixture, and taking a shower goes from a need to a want.
Because bacteria and mold can grow in shower heads, installing a new one eliminates that issue for the time being, says Morvay, one of the National Kitchen & Bath Association's "Thirty Under 30" honorees. (And if you don't replace it, you should soak it in vinegar every few months to kill the bacteria.)
As to what clients want out of a shower head, Ty Pennington, author of "Life to the Extreme: How a Chaotic Kid Became America's Favorite Carpenter," is blunt. "They definitely want the rain experience or anything that is a big faucet overhead that feels like a luxury experience, not a public shower," he says. It should feel like "jets hitting every part of your body."
To bring the spa home, here are a few finds from bath experts.
In California, where "we can't even purchase shower heads that don't reduce water flow," interior designer Kelly Finley recommends the Delta In2ition 2-in-1 Combo Showerhead ($60.99 to $74.99, bedbathandbeyond.com). "It feels like you're getting a lot more water than you are," she says. It includes four spray functions, so "you can change the speed of the spray, the type of the spray." If you rent, consider asking your landlord if you can change the shower heads, Finley suggests.
When her clients want to upgrade to "something new, today," Jessy Johnson of Michigan's Mary Lynn Creations recommends Kohler's HydroRail Shower Column in Polished Chrome ($330.19, homedepot.com). "It's easy to swap out with existing plumbing," she says, and adds style. For a modern rain head and hand shower that coordinate, Johnson likes Kohler's Moxie shower head, which comes with a wireless speaker ($155.99, wayfair.com), and the company's Flipside hand shower ($131.20, us.kohler.com).
Moen's Magnetix has "the appeal of a fixed shower head, but it rests there on a magnet," says Melissa Haas, project designer at Case Design Remodeling in Charlotte, North Carolina ($59.99 to $69.99, bedbathandbeyond.com). "You can pull off the shower head and use it as a hand shower, whether you're cleaning the tile, rinsing your feet off or cleaning the dog." Haas adds that "it's really popular in a hall bathroom or a kids' bath setup, where you don't need this luxury-spa setup - you just need an all-in-one sort of thing." It comes in chrome and brushed nickel.
A homeowner can install the Retro-Fit Diverter Shower System with SpeedClean Technology without removing any tiles or touching the existing plumbing inside the wall, Morvay says ($498.99, allmodern.com). "It just involves replacing the existing shower arm." The system includes not one, but two handheld shower heads and the ability to switch between the two. It comes in a burnished chrome finish.
Arguably, Pennington is the expert in making over homes fast, as HGTV's longtime host of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." He likes the Dornbracht brand for high-end replacement shower heads and Kohler for a more accessible price point: "Their Purist line comes in a great chrome and satin nickel," he says. The K-966-CP Purist 2.5 GPM Multifunction Wall-Mount Shower Head has a wide spray, massage spray and gentle spray and also comes in brushed bronze and brushed nickel ($91.76 to $132.82, wayfair.com).