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Bye, bye, bathtub? Why we might be saying farewell to bathtubs

Real estate agents and architects are seeing a no-tub trend, especially among empty-nesters and adults without young kids.
/ Source: TODAY

Is the bathtub on its way to becoming a thing of the past?

Once a fixture of most bathrooms and the picture of relaxation after a long day, tubs are becoming more endangered in a fast-paced world with no time for long soaks.

Bathtubs are losing ground to showers when homeowners decide to renovate the bathroom.
Bathtubs are losing ground to showers when homeowners decide to renovate the bathroom. Getty Images

A growing group of homeowners lean more toward standalone showers, especially if they are empty-nesters or don't have young children.

TODAY contributor Elizabeth Mayhew took the latest look at the no-tub trend in a story for The Washington Post in which real estate agents and architects gave differing views on whether tubs are a necessity, a luxury, or not wanted at all by homeowners.

"Many of my clients are past toddler-time (except for grandchildren) and will put in a tub/shower combo only if there is a logical place like an extra guest suite," New York-based architect John Allee said.

It also could be a generational change, where baths get phased out after childhood and don't come back.

"If you are not a habitual bather, the next time you’ll take a bath after you’re six years old is maybe when you’re 85," an interior designer in New York City told The New York Times last year.

Those who do decide to stick with the tub often upgrade with a free-standing or clawfoot tub.

A 2017 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study found that of the 1,200 U.S. homeowners interviewed who were renovating their master bathrooms, 37 percent chose to upgrade the bathtub.

The study also found that 27 percent of homeowners decided to remove the master bathtub, almost always to make room for a bigger shower with walk-in capability and fixtures like a rain-shower head. A large majority (78 percent) of the people who removed the bathtub did so despite not having another bathtub in their home.

However, there are still plenty of people who want a tub even if it doesn't get used frequently, Washington-based real estate agent Michael Rankin told The Washington Post.

"Everyone is too busy, and time is short, but when you finally have a quiet moment — and that may only be every month or two — people still desire a bath,'' he said.