Royal flush: 5 luxury bathroom items to boost your home value

August 4, 2011

While $250,000 could land a vacation home in some markets, these days, you could also spend that amount on the most amazing bathroom money can buy. Think of the re-sale value that could add to a home!

It’s long been standard real estate advice that updating kitchens and bathrooms increases the value of a home.  G. Stacy Sirmans, a real estate professor and department chair at Florida State University who co-authored a report on “The Value of Housing Characteristics” for the National Association of Realtors in 2003, says this is still true today, but that what now constitutes and “upgrade” on an upscale house is like describing bathrooms on steroids.

“You can find bathrooms now that have these big semicircular showers without a door, where you just walk in,” Sirmans says. “You’ll see separate tubs, fireplaces, TVs. You have all sorts of things in bathrooms these days.”

Here, we spotlight some of the most luxurious features of 21st Century uber-bathrooms. Judge for yourself whether they should make your home improvement A-list.

1. Fully automated toilet

Cost: The Kohler NUMI costs up to $4,800, the Toto Neorest 600 up to $3,800.

How it works: The NUMI’s touch-screen remote controls every variable you can imagine, and a few you didn’t. “It can spray you, dry you, heat you, light you — and play music for you,” says Blanche Garcia, owner of B. garcia designs in Montclair, New Jersey

Feel-good factor: The NUMI allows you to select a low-flush setting, meaning it’s eco-friendly if not wallet friendly.

Lavish add on: Renova makes luxury three-ply toilet tissue in seven colors (including black) that retails for 5.81 Euros per six-roll pack. That comes to about $8.30 plus shipping with current exchange rates, but hey: What’s another $9 when you’ve already dropped $4,800?

2. Walk-in steam shower with multiple showerheads

Cost: By Garcia’s calculations, a tricked-out shower with up to 20 jets, 2 rain heads and vapor sealing for the steam shower apparatus could run up to $18,000.

How it works: It’s a shower of power capable of massage, mimicking a forest rain or giving you a steam room blast. Many designs also include seating for two.

Feel-good factor: Might not save on your water bill, but could cut your private spa bills significantly.

Lavish add-on: A 370-watt Amba towel warmer with 13 cross bars will set you back almost $2,000. But on the next snowy morning when you grab a towel heated to a toasty 160 degrees, it’ll feel worth every penny.

3. High-end consumer electronics

Cost: Depends on how ambitious you are. A pair of Kohler SoundTile speakers lists for about $350; a 60-by-60 inch Samsung ultra-thin mirror TV with polished, non-framed edges costs roughly $6,300 at, and comes with a waterproof remote.

How it works: Imagine the comforts of your shower radio, but with massive attitude and all the tech savvy of a starship. “The latest technologies include iPod docks, sound systems and TVs integrated into the vanity mirrors,” says Tim Singer, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. “They are a selling point, though they don’t carry a sale by themselves.”

Feel-good factor: Custom-made mirror TVs use LED technology that meets EnergyStar standards; tax credits for EnergyStar appliances can total $500, says Howard Hammer, principal and CPA at Fiske & Co. in South Florida.

Lavish add-on: The mammoth Aquos 70-inch mirror TV has a 6,000,000:1 contrast ratio — and a base price of $10,000 at The$600  extended warranty costs more than some TVs.

4. Radiant heat floors

Cost: Hydronic radiant heating systems typically cost $6-$12 per square foot to install, according to Anderson Radiant Heating in Campbell, California.

How it works: Hydronic systems use hot water from a boiler or water heater that circulates through polyethylene tubing installed into the floor.

Feel-good factor: Radiant heating systems can cost 25-50 percent less to run than conventional forced-air systems, especially if you use a timed thermostat.

Lavish add-on: Assuming your mega-bathroom’s big enough, turn the heat up with a 5-by-8 foot Finlandia sauna for about $8,100 at Just make sure to get help carrying it up the stairs: It weighs 1,500 pounds.

5. Luxury bathtubs

Cost: A top-line tub, including a rain head and installation, typically ranges from $5,000 to $15,000, Garcia says.

How it works: In the best models, look for a combination of artistry and spa appeal. It’s not just a place to sit, but also an elegant basin to get massaged in best Jacuzzi style.

Feel-good factor: Like other items that tilt your bathroom in the direction of a spa, a fabulous tub will make it feel less utilitarian, and more like living space.

Lavish add-on: Italy’s Water Games Technologies makes a bathtub that looks and performs more like a Ferrari. The Red Diamond, at $47,000, has dual HDTV screens (in case you don’t like what your partner’s watching), a champagne holder encrusted with Swarovski crystals and a console framed in 42 grams of 18-karat gold. For about double the investment, you can fill the tub a la Johnny Depp with 100 magnum bottles of Dom Perignon, 2002 vintage.



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