Lake Norman resident Starr Miller considered getting rid of the whirlpool tub in her master bathroom when she realized her housekeeper was in it more than she was.
"She has to climb in it and clean it every week. It's a total dust magnet," said Miller, who works as an interior designer in Davidson. "Every time I walk by it all I think is, 'That's 42 square feet of wasted space.'"
Miller is not alone.
Patricia Dunlop, a spokeswoman for the American Society of Interior Designers, said many people are opting to replace their oversize tubs and Jacuzzis for extra vanity, shower and storage space.
"We all have more products and appliances in the bathroom than we used to," said Dunlop. "We want the space to be calm and relaxing, so having the ability to put those items away and keep the space clear and serene is important."
And while most interior designers and real estate agents agree it's still important to have at least one tub in the house for bathing children, animals and other needs, oversize tubs are now seen as a frivolous use of space.
Dunlop cited one study that found the average whirlpool tub is used only seven times during its lifetime as reasoning for the shift in home design priorities.
Residents would rather invest in shower amenities that will create a spa experience, such as multiple shower heads, benches, steam showers and jets, said Miller.
Huntersville resident Deborah Maher said remodeling the master bathroom was her first priority when she moved into her home in Birkdale.
While the bathroom had an elegant whirlpool tub with stone work all around, it also had a vanity with only one drawer and a tiny shower.
Maher decided she was through with large tubs after living at her previous residence in Cornelius, she said.
"All I ever did was dust it and put decorations around the edges," she said. "I never used the thing."
So Maher worked with Miller to redesign her bathroom. With the help of sub-contractors, they removed the tub, expanded the shower by 2 square feet and added plenty of cabinet space for the couple's bathroom supplies.
Maher said she's most pleased with the shower, which now features a bench, a rain shower head, a handheld shower head and a built-in shelf.
Miller said she has many clients like Maher who are opting for larger showers over whirlpool tubs. Still, Miller said homeowners should be cognizant of how the remodeling will affect resale value.
"It's more about how you do it than whether you do it," she said. "If you take it out and do something fabulous with the rest of the bathroom, you can come out even or above. If you take it out and don't do anything, I would suspect you're taking value out of your home."
Kathy Byrnes, a Realtor with Re/Max Executive at the Lake, said most real estate agents still consider a bathroom to be a full bath even if there is no tub. What really decides the classification is whether there's a shower in the room, she said.