Building Your Luxury Shower

In years gone by, a shower was merely a spot in the bathroom to get clean quickly and little thought was given to its functionality, let alone making it into a luxurious retreat. Nowadays, the plastic curtain surrounded shower is long gone, replaced by spacious showers with frosted doors, complete with multiple shower heads and body spray as well as massaging units that make you want to bask in the shower for hours (that may be why some are equipped with a shower seat). And while the basic tub and shower may be appropriate for the guest bathroom, many homeowners are now demanding a luxury shower in the master bath, oftentimes built with custom natural materials like marble, slate, or granite with electronic controls that allow them to make their showering experience something to look forward to each morning or night. Let's have a look at what you need to build your own luxury shower.

Thermostatic Shower Valves
One of the fundamental (and most important) parts of your custom shower is the shower valves that you use. A thermostatic temperature control shower valve allows you to provide not only the optimal temperature level (that you decide upon and preset according to your own determinations) but also helps you to avoid dangerous scalds. Water routed through to the valve is automatically dispensed at your desired temperature. Our thermostatic shower valve recommendation: the Kohler Hi-Flow Thermostatic valve (separate temperature and volume controls) engineered to maintain selected temperature between 70 and 110 degrees using a dial on the temperature handle and includes an automatic shut off in the event that the supply of cold water is interrupted. Three other thermostatic shower valves that we like are from Moen - the Posi-Temp (built in with many of Moen's shower systems), the Moentrol valve (allows for memory of the temperature selected and control of volume), and the Exact-Temp (dial up control much like your home thermostat) thermostatic shower valve.

Hand Held Showers
No shower experience is complete without the addition of a hand held shower. You can simply just do so much more with a hand held shower that you will wonder how you ever made it without one. Hand held showers are great for bathing small children or family pets, rinsing your hair, or even cleaning the shower, not to mention the ease of use of a hand held shower for those who live in your home that might suffer from limited mobility (like the elderly or handicapped). Our top pick: Kohler's Ultra Low Flow body sprays which use less water but provide an optimal shower that includes different spray patterns and massage features, all operated from an electronically controlled panel to select the action of the water (cascade, oscillating, pulsating, wide soft, slow pulse, or soft aerated). An adjustable slide bar allows for easy height adjustment for different household members.

Shower Sprays and Shower Heads
A custom shower can have a combination of shower sprays and shower heads. The shower head is usually in a fixed position on the ceiling or on the wall. The shower body spray can be on the wall or ceiling and be in groups of two or even more outlets. Our two favorites shower heads are from Moen: the Moen Revolution which features a massaging shower head that spins and swirls the water for coverage of the full body and the Moen Freedom Dial which offers setting from gentle rain to deep, intense massage. For a combination body spray and shower head, we also like the Free Hander by Grohe, which features two shower heads on a pivoting arm that convert to body sprays when positioned down while rotating a full 360 degrees.

Shower Towers
Another option for your luxury shower is a shower tower. A shower tower is a combination of valves, handheld sprays, body sprays, and jets that use a single water connection line (making them easy to install). Our favorite is the Aqua Tower by Grohe, which features a shower head, four body sprays, hand shower, thermostatic valve and handy accessory tray in one unit that is easy to install and that has separate volume controls for the body sprays and hand shower.