Smart Design With Suzette: What’s Trending In Baths

Bathroom with a barrier free shower with a linear drain. Courtesy photo


Los Alamos
In renovating my master bathroom, I’ve been looking into the latest trends and weighing the old with the new. One thing is for sure, linear drains are hot – here is why.

Previously, shower floors were fairly predictable – a round drain, centered, underfoot and highly visible. That’s changed over the past few years as sleek linear drains have quickly caught the attention of designers and homeowners thanks to their modern, streamlined appearance and installation flexibility.

Typically installed against the side or back wall of the shower, linear drains offer a sleek appearance while remaining out the way. They have a minimalist feel, and from a design standpoint, that’s really appealing to people. With a linear drain, the shower floor only needs to slope in one direction, rather than the four-way slope of a traditional center drain, easing installation.

More importantly, while center-drain shower floors can only use tiles of 4 inches or less, the single pitch of a linear drain accommodates any tile size.

Linear shower drain. Courtesy photo

This is fantastic news for designers and homeowners by being able to take advantage of the growing preference for large format tiles. It also means installers can use the same tiles, no matter the size from bathroom floor to shower floor, key to creating a cohesive look in open concept bathrooms. In some cases, there are installations where you don’t even need an enclosure. It’s a nice clean look without a shower curb.

Infinity drain. Courtesy photo

Linear drains are ideal for creating curbless and barrier free showers because they provide a single plane and make it easier to manage water. People want a bathroom that they’re able to walk into with no threshold. What’s more, it doesn’t have to look and feel that is associated with being accessible.

Linear drains also offer an array of looks and sizes. Visible metallic grates come in a variety of styles, from simple oval openings, to rectangles, to waves.

Growing in popularity are tile-in styles, in which the tile from the shower floor can be inset into the frame of the drain, leaving just a narrow opening around the edges. This creates the illusion of water disappearing into the floor.

Underneath the surface, the plumbing for a linear drain for new construction is usually the same as a traditional drain. In remodeling applications, some reconfiguring of the water line may be required, depending on its existing location, the layout of the subfloor and the location of the new drain. For high capacity showers, such as those with multiple showerheads, consider coupling together two shorter drains to accommodate the heavier flow.

Seamless shower floor. Courtesy photo

In addition, collaborating with the builder, the general contractor and the plumbing contractor is very important. Builders and remodelers should discuss with the plumber and tile installer whether the system is designed to be barrier-free and the waterproofing system the installer will use, because these decisions may impact the height of the subfloor and other elements of the installation.

Installers also should consult with manufacturers for advice on the mechanics of the drain components, as there are some differences than traditional drains and from brand to brand.

With attention to detail and collaboration among trades, linear drains offer an easy way to embrace current trends, creating a minimalist look idea for consumers preference for open floor plans, clean lines and large format tiles.

Feel free to contact Los Alamos Interior Designer Suzette Fox to help with your home. For more information, ‘like’ her on Facebook at and go to her website

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