Electronics is helping to change the way Americans think about the household bathroom. Literally a "water closet" when it was first brought indoors, today's upscale master bath might well be outfitted with a stereo, videocassette recorder and whirlpool tub. And for the truly hedonistic (and rich), the bathroom can become a do-it-yourself desert, rain forest, steam bath or beach.
Kohler, the old-line Wisconsin bath fixture maker, was first to tap the fancy bath market with its Environment Masterbath, a system that offers synthesized sun, wind, steam, sauna and rain in a single programmable enclosure. The price of the 7-by-8-foot basic unit is $15,580 and $21,780 if a whirlpool built-for-two is included.
For more simple tastes and checkbooks, Kohler has recently introduced the "Autofill" bathtub, a whirlpool tub that allows its owners to pre-program, much like an automatic coffee maker, when they want their bath drawn, the precise amount of water and the water temperature. Prices range from $3,874 to $4,745, not including faucet sets, which can add $200 to $800.