KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO
Shower heads in various finishes, on display at the Ron Morizzo Kitchens & Baths showroom in Cutchogue.
People across the North Fork are throwing away their big bathtubs and sinking their home improvement dollars into elaborate custom showers.
Two Cutchogue-based kitchen and bathroom specialists said this week that the new trend is the result primarily of two factors: the time it takes to have a drawn-out bath and the difficulty older residents have in navigating slippery tubs.
“People are looking for bigger shower stalls, diverter valves with handheld showers, free-form showers,” said Ron Morizzo, who owns Ron Morizzo Kitchens and Baths in Cutchogue. “People are looking for that spa feeling without leaving home. Lately a lot of people are taking whirlpool tubs out and doing a five-foot shower instead of the tub.”
Mr. Morizzo said he cautions most of his clients that, for resale value, there should be at least one tub in the house. But many of his clients are older residents, some of who own condominium units that came with a small, cheap shower stall and a tub they never used.
“People who have babies, people who have grandchildren will wish they had a tub,” he said. “But a lot of people, they never use it. It’s harder for older people to get into tubs.”
Ed Nicholson, owner of North Fork Kitchens and Baths, has seen the same trend.
“I don’t think you get the call for the Jacuzzi tub anymore. Function is important, more than the flair. I think people are more practical in the way they spend money,” he said. “Who has time to sit and soak in the tub?”
Mr. Nicholson specializes in a country colonial style, with wainscotting on the bottom half of the bathroom walls, a chair rail and muted country colors above.
“People are looking for something that’s more calm and soothing, compared to a contemporary bathroom,” he said.
Mr. Nicholson said that he’s also had some recent requests for steam generators from people who want the feel of a sauna in their showers.
North Fork Kitchens and Baths makes custom benches and custom tile floors for shower stalls, which are commercially available in an ever-increasing number of shapes and designs.
“You can buy a base and drop it in, or do all custom tile, but cost-wise, it’s about the same,” he said.
Mr. Nicholson also likes to work with accent tiles in showers, and often works with his customers on their design requests.
“I like to do a marble saddle on top of a half wall, a marble bench in the shower and tie that in with the vanity top, all in light colors,” he said.
Mr. Morizzo’s specialty is what he calls a “country beachy” feel. He said that he is also getting a lot of requests for glass tile, or tile made of mixed glass and stones, and half-inch or one-inch strips of mosaic designed to look like weathered beach glass.
“Right now I’m selling a tremendous amount of quartz,” he said, which can be used for everything from shower stools to vanity tops. “It’s non-porous. It doesn’t stain and it never has to be sealed. It holds up a lot better than granite and it’s maintenance-free,” he explained.
Mr. Morizzo also likes to work with porcelain tile that is designed to look like wood. In fact, he recently completed a project in which the bathroom floor was designed to look like the deck of a boat, but had the non-porous, easy-cleaning characteristics of tile.
“It’s pricey, but it makes a difference. In general, people are looking for things that are maintenance-free,” he said. “Especially the second homeowners, who are out here to relax and have fun.”
Mr. Morizzo has an ample selection of styles on display at his showroom on Route 48, while Mr. Nicholson often brings a flash drive full of images to consultations with clients. Both serve clients throughout the North Fork and the East End.
“Kitchens and baths require a lot of planning. They are a showpiece for a house,” said Mr. Nicholson. “I take pride in the ability to see the completed product. The details are the most challenging.”