From pretty powder rooms to luxurious, massive, spa-like ensuites, today's bathrooms are sophisticated showcases where great design meets technological innovation. Here's the best of the best in bathroom trends.
Bigger is better
When will the bathroom stop growing? Not in the foreseeable future, say design experts. Architects and home builders are allocating more space than ever before to master ensuites, and bathroom manufacturers keep figuring out tantalizing ways to fill it. Freestanding tubs – if you have the space – and luxurious walk-in showers (sometimes more than one) are just two of the space-hungry features making these massive, spalike rooms a destination in the home.
Porcelain tiles (for walls or floors) that look like wood offer a great way to capture both the warmth of the original and the trendy look of “green design” in a water-resistant material appropriate for a wet environment. Some tiles can also be used outdoors: imagine a walk-out from a master-ensuite retreat to a private walled courtyard garden – without changing the flooring material.
Flushed with pride
It's easier than ever to switch to a low-litres-per-flush toilet that, over the course of a year, can save thousands of litres of water in your household. Consider a dual-flush toilet for added choice.
Patterned after perfection
The return of wallpaper to home decor has meant an explosion of bold, colourful, graphically strong patterns (not Laura Ashley mini-florals à la 1980 but rather oversized, stylized graphic designs). The look is especially appropriate in the powder room, where it's fun to go for drama, or in the vanity area of the master ensuite.
Warming to the idea
Electric towel warmers are nothing new, but this luxe touch is becoming more sophisticated. One company, Jacuzzi, has the ultimate unit that can be installed in most standard cabinet drawers and features a two-hour automatic shut-off. The Home Spa Towel Warming Drawer also speaks to the trend of stashing everything out of sight – no more bulky wall-hung towel warming bars visually cluttering the bathroom.
The walk-in shower is an essential element in today's spa bathroom. In addition to extensive choices, such as steam, multiple programmable jets and seemingly endless rain-style shower heads, now aromatherapy and chromotherapy showers are available for those wanting to experience the healing power of the shower.
Design experts say that personalizing the bathroom is the biggest trend in bathrooms today. That means more choice in colour of cabinetry, finishes and even fixtures. (Even coloured sinks are selling again, making it a focal point.) But besides what you see, customized, personalized bathing is possible too, including showers that can be programmed to digitally manage temperature, water configuration and duration and tubs that can be ordered with jets placed where you want them.
Barrier free and beautiful
An aging population and enlightened sensibility are leading some manufacturers to introduce designs that are both attractive and accessible for people of all abilities. This is one sector of the market that will only expand in the next 10 to 20 years to accommodate the needs of the aging boomers.
Take another look at laminates. Today's counter patterns are subtler and replicate the look of fine stone (such as granite) more realistically than ever before. Also available are ogee edges – much more upscale looking than the blunt or rounded edge of most laminate counters.
A bidet-integrated toilet (complete with a preset function for water temperature) and a heated seat at the touch of a button give a space-age feel to today's technologically advanced toilets.