With each era, new design trends emerge that incorporate the lifestyles and technologies of the time. In this new millennium, we see many factors influencing bathroom design, one of which is the changing demographics of North America. There are two major trends emerging in the popu­lation: an increasingly more diverse population and a larger number of older people. Another long-term trend affecting bath design is changing household composition, namely a large number of multigenerational households.

U. S. Population Growth

The general population of the United States continues to increase and according to the 2010 Census it now exceeds 300 million. The population increase from 2000 to 2010 was the third largest in U. S. history, adding 27.3 million people—a 9.7 percent increase. Historically, the highest increase in population was during the "baby boom" years of the 1950s when the population in­creased 19 percent, adding 17.5 million people.

FIGURE 1.16 The vessel sink with a wall – mounted faucet adds to the contemporary look of floating, straight-lined cabinets.

Courtesy of Duravit


Household Growth

Although the general population has increased, household growth has slowed, averaging only 1.12 million households during the 2000s, a full 17 percent below the 1990s according to the 2010 U. S. Census. The portion of young adults age 20 to 24 heading independent households has also dropped by 2.6 percent and for those ages 25 to 29 by 2.8 percent since 2007. This trend could be very different over the next 15 years, however, as immigration continues and a large percentage of the echo-boom generation (born 1986 to 2005), numbering around 80.8 million, approach young adulthood. Even with immigration at only half that rate, their numbers will grow to 86.5 million by 2020, and added to the echo boomers will produce a higher demand for apart­ments and smaller "starter homes" during the next 15 years.

The future of household formation is uncertain. On one hand, the recent drop in home prices and a favorable rental market may encourage more employed individuals to form households of their own. In addition, those doubling up to save expenses are typically in a temporary situation and will eventually seek their own place. On the other hand, the rate of household formation among young adults may continue to decline due to sustained unemployment, home foreclosures, delayed mar­riage and childbearing, the increased importance of higher education, and the rising cost of going away to college. These young adults will continue to double up or live with their parents.

Not only have the economic and housing situations in 2010 decreased household growth, they have also led to lower mobility. Between 2005 and 2008, overall mobility fell about 12.6 percent with the deepest decline among homeowners. This trend may continue as financially stressed households find it easier to stay in their current residence rather than experience a financial loss.