With the increasing stress caused by today’s fast-paced lifestyles, it’s not surprising that homeowners place a pampering bathroom space high on their priority list when searching for the perfect home. The bathroom has evolved from a purely functional space not much larger than a closet (and usually shared by the whole family) into a spacious, spa-like retreat where homeowners can relax and rejuvenate.
In response to this ever-growing trend, home designers are incorporating larger, more luxurious bathrooms into their plans. Just 25 – 30 years ago a typical bathroom encompassed 40 square feet and contained a single sink, tub/shower combo, and a toilet. These days, master baths are averaging 100 square feet – often much larger – and house his-and-hers vanities, a whirlpool or soaking tub, separate stall shower, and often have the toilet secluded in its own private room within the bathroom. Many homeowners are electing to make their bathroom even larger by incorporating a sitting area, exercise room, private gardens accessible from the bath and yoga/meditation areas to further customize the space.
Furnishings and décor have also changed over the years. What used to be a purely utilitarian room with simple – if any - decoration has evolved. Master bathrooms today are decorated as lavishly as the rest of the home, often incorporating custom millwork, a fireplace, vaulted or tray ceilings, high-end decorative lighting, and upscale accessories such as oriental rugs and custom window treatments. Items that used to be considered luxuries (saunas, steam showers, whirlpool tubs, heated floors, towel warmers) are becoming commonplace items in homes in all price ranges.
Homeowners are increasingly trying to replicate the feeling of rejuvenation that comes from a day spent at the spa in their own homes on a daily basis. Large soaking tubs with whirlpool or bubble jets and oversized showers with massaging body sprays are available in a multitude of styles and price ranges, making them accessible to nearly everyone. Research has proven that hydrotherapy can relieve symptoms of many conditions such as arthritis, asthma, joint and muscle pain, and has been show to improve circulation, so there are health and wellness benefits obtained by including these features in a home.
Product manufacturers continue to offer an almost overwhelming number of choices in fixtures and fittings for the bath, reflecting the desire of homeowners to have a truly personalized space. Whether you prefer a vintage-inspired room complete with claw-footed tub or a minimalist modern space, you will be able to find fixtures and accessories that will allow you to realize your vision. Design and décor in the bath is very personalized, with as many options as there are homeowners. Though the space is truly a blank canvas to furnish at will there are a few overall themes that remain popular.
Natural design is inspired in part by a growing ecological consciousness among many homeowners. Texture derived from natural elements is the main distinguishing feature of these designs, which often incorporate fixtures crafted from natural materials. Wood sinks and tubs are very popular, as are tubs carved from a single slab of stone. Unusual flooring materials such as natural cork are often used in the design as well. The green theme can carry through to the accessories with organic cotton towels, bath mats, and bath products. Incorporating water-saving plumbing fixtures is a smart way to go green no matter what your decorating style may be.
The Asian influence in bathroom design continues to be popular in large part because the Asian design philosophy of serenity and balance melds so well with the desire for relaxation and rejuvenation. Asian design is usually somewhat minimalist and without extraneous ornamentation which helps to create a Zen-like, restful ambiance. Japanese style soaking tubs, which are very deep and allow the bather to sit upright rather than in a reclined position, are gaining in popularity, as are Asian touches such as traditional bamboo faucets and shoji screens.
Sleek and Shapely
Slick, shiny, and sculptural are the characteristics that best describe this decorating trend. Glass mosaic tiles in all colors continue to be popular on both walls and floors, and often these rooms will have a large, glass-enclosed shower stall as their focal point. Minimalist cabinetry with a sleek lacquered finish is a natural choice for this style, as are unique, minimalist faucets in a bright chrome finish. Art-glass basins and overtly geometric fixtures are another popular component often found within this style.
Luxe and Lavish
This style is all about luxury. Marble or granite is the countertop and flooring material of choice, and often these rooms will be dressed to the nines with silk draperies, oriental rugs, and fancy chandeliers. The tub is usually the focal point of the room and may feature a fireplace or be surrounded by columns to make it extra special. Gold faucets are making a comeback, but in a softer, brushed finish – not the shiny brass of old. Sparkle is always welcome in this style as well, with an increasing number of faucets, tiles, and wall coverings available that incorporate cut crystals or glass.
The bathroom color of choice for years has been white, but its popularity may finally be waning. More homeowners are going to the opposite end of the spectrum and incorporating black fixtures in their bath, but all the colors in between are fair game. Soothing blues and greens are perennial favorites, but brighter hues such as pinks, reds, and oranges are gaining headway. If you don’t want to commit to a bold color on the fixtures – which are expensive to replace should you tire of the color – choose brighter hues for the walls, towels and accessories instead. Consider a taupe or cream instead of stark white for your fixtures; it is neutral enough to work with any accent color you choose but more up to date than the traditional white.