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Bathroom design tips for your Luxury Vacation Home in Costa Rica

The design of an ocean view vacation home has many elements that need to be approached differently than when designing a non-view centric design.  When you have a piece of land with a significant and beautiful view, the entire home becomes all about the view.

This becomes even more important when talking about a luxury vacation home, since the objective should be to make all the rooms open up and bring in those beautiful views.  The problem that we often see is that somehow, many architects and homeowners decide to forget or overlook the bathroom.  Why should the bathroom be a space of secondary importance?
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Luxury Vacation Home Bathrooms – A place for relaxation

The bathroom is likely the first room that you will visit after you wake up in the morning.  Why should this room not be a spectacular place like others in the home?  Imagine taking an invigorating shower in the morning with a view out to the jungle, or even better, out to the ocean?

Especially in our northwest pacific coast in Guanacaste, where most beaches have a western facing ocean, the morning sun comes from the opposite side and what you have is a stunning view with clear blue skies and dark blue ocean in front !  What better place to have a relaxing morning shower and charge your batteries for a great day ?

The bathrooms in a Luxury Vacation Home should not become a secondary space.  We should allow the design of a luxury home to incorporate the bathrooms as yet another room that wants to enjoy the views, and bring in natural light and airy feeling and if possible, the indoor-outdoor experience into the bathroom as well.

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Master bath at Cielo Mar Residence

Luxury Vacation Home Bathroom Features

There is so many different features that one can design into a bathroom nowadays that the sky is quite the limit.  One could go feature-rich and incorporate aromatherapy, chromotherapy, sauna, steam bath, you name it.  Our advice is, in the case of a vacation home, less is definitely more.  Keep it simple, and stick to the basics.  Remember that independently of how good the fixtures and systems the you invest in, at some point they will fail and will need maintenance and/or replacement.  When this happens, it defeats the purpose of your home in paradise, since the last thing you probably want is repairmen around the house.

Showers – the center of the bathroom, the daily driver.

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Open-view master bath shower at Vistamar17 Residence

Now that we set aside the niceties and tech stuff, then think about how you can take the bathroom basics and take those up a notch.  Master bathroom indoor-outdoor showers are definitely something to consider, especially if you have a property with enough privacy to allow you enjoying nature in the morning.

Rainshowers, handheld showerheads, massage showers, there are lots of options to choose from.  Whatever your preference, we usually recommend at least to consider at least two, usually a combination of a large rainshower in the middle of the shower, with a handshower mounted on a slide bar and with a large enough hose to allow you to move around the space.  A good handshower can replace your standard wall-mounted showerhead, and can provide good enough pressure for washing your hair (especially for women), and you can switch to the rainshower for a fuller, more relaxing experience.

Feature showers with multiple heads provide a lot of flexibility and a definite upscale bathroom experience.  You need to keep in mind that most of these multiple-head shower systems, especially those that operate multiple heads at the same time, have substantially higher water flow demands.  This means that the pipes that feed that particular location need to be bigger (1-inch pipes usually) and the overall water flow demand will also be increased.  Sometimes, depending on how extensive the system ends up being, it may be smarter to go with a separate pump system only for that one bath, instead of upgrading the pump system for the entire home.

Another appealing design feature, if you have the space, is to simply design an open shower.  No shower door, no glass partition, just simply enough space to allow to keep splashing under control.  If you decide to go the open shower route, just be aware of the proper choices in fixtures.  This works better with a rainshower, since this provides lower pressure, higher water flow, with vertical-only water direction.

Careful choice of showerhead is important, you want to select a head that provides a larger, heavier droplet.  Typically the cheaper options in fixtures may give you what appears to be a rainshower head, but that is simply a typical pressure-based head, only placed vertically, and this is definitely not what you want in an open shower !

The final element that we sometimes incorporate is the outdoor shower.  This is an especially attractive feature especially for north-american or european owners.  What better way to experience the clean air and tropical jungle than by enjoying an outdoor shower?  This is quite popular at least for the master bath, by allowing the space to have an indoor and an outdoor shower.

Bathtubs – should you have one?

Bathtubs are always a question that comes up in the pre design meeting of any new project.  Owners often debate if to have one or not to have one.  There is no firm answer here either, as many people feel that they may never use it, but always think that people expect to have one.  Since usually everybody keeps resale value in the back of their minds, usually the final decision is to have one, at least in the master bathroom.

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Master Bath in Cielo Mar Residence

The definite trend we see is that whirlpool baths are not being used anymore.  Stand-alone tubs are definitely the way to go, since they can be used as a centerpiece in the middle of the room, focused on the view.  You can consider several options for the tub filler, either a floor-mounted unit, a wall-mounted unit (in case you can place the tub against a wall) or even ceiling-mounted fixtures.

Toilets – Should we think about that too ?

You might think, “a toilet is a toilet, there is not much to think about there.”  Well…… yes, .. and no.  If you want to keep a high-end look to your bathroom, we recommend considering a wall-mounted toilet.  A few details give these an edge above the more mundane toilets that we all know.

Darling New wall-hung toilet and bidet by Duravit

If you choose to use a wall-hung toilet, the key is to first select a good in-wall tank, such as a one from brands Grohe, Geberit or Kohler.  This will give you trouble-free operation for years to come.  You can then select from a variety of wall-hung toilets from brands such as Duravit, Villeroy & Boch, Kohler or Toto, any of which should provide a high-end look and experience.
One of the advantages of a wall-hung toilet is the cleanliness that it provides by keeping the toilet off the  floor, and  allowing to easily clean under the toilet.

When you think about a toilet usually you don’t care much about the look or features, but the main focus is that you don’t want one that clogs.  It’s not necessarily that you need to oversize your plumbing, but you need to choose a toilet model that provides good, oversize internal siphon that can allow for good flow.  The other important key is that your plumbing system is designed with proper vent pipes from every plumbing piece to the outside.  Without the proper vent piping, it will not matter how good of a toilet you choose, it will not flush freely.

Designing your Luxury Home in Costa Rica

At Sarco Architects Costa Rica, we pay close attention to this and many other details when designing your Luxury Vacation Home in Costa Rica.  Allow us to help you create your dream vacation home in Costa Rica, by starting off with the right steps such as our Needs, Options & Site Review service, which  Sarco Architects Costa Rica has designed to guide you properly along the first steps to a successful project.  Also, feel free to download “The Guide to Building your Home in Costa Rica”, also available on the Sarco Architects Costa Rica website.


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