As the stresses of your hectic life and economic doom and gloom trigger the nesting instinct, include the bathroom in your plans to style an at-home oasis of calm. More and more, bathrooms are being designed as a place of solace -- a spa-like environment where you can retreat from the world. “Bathroom trends for 2009 are all about evoking that Zen feeling with eco-friendly products and green-inspired materials, as well as that cosy and luxurious feeling of a boutique hotel experience,” says interior designer Dvira Ovadia of Toronto. “Bathrooms are now looked upon as a space to escape to and seek peace and relaxation.”
And the good news is, a survey conducted for RE/MAX Ontario-Atlantic found that bathroom renovations generate a 56% return on investment. That doesn’t mean you have to go all out and do a complete teardown. Even simple upgrades can make a world of aesthetic difference.
Here are some of the latest trends that may inspire you to update your bathroom.
Consider an upgrade from the common pedestal or sunken vanity sink to a vessel sink. Vessel sinks are essentially freestanding bowls, but the shapes and composition vary, from glass and bronze to marble and stone. “Vessel sinks have grown in popularity lately because of the diversity of style they offer. They can be modern, traditional, elegant or cutting-edge,” says Donna Church, manager of marketing and communications for Kohler Canada. “They’re also great options for smaller lavatories or guest bathrooms, where the sink is mostly used just for washing hands.”
Interesting faucet finishes
Polished chrome used to be a bathroom standard when it came to faucets, but companies are now offering a wider range of finishes, including oil-rubbed bronze, satin chrome, pewter, polished brass and even black.
And remember, sinks, fixtures and other pieces in the bathroom don’t always have to coordinate perfectly, says Donna. “Mixing and matching various materials and colours, for example a glass sink, chrome fixtures and a white toilet and tub, makes for a striking combination.
The retro look
Clawfoot tub? Check. Classic floor tile? Check. If you live in a house with a rather retro-looking bathroom, you can likely get away with minimal renovations as retro looks are coming back.
“Many homeowners choose to keep a few original pieces in an older bathroom, like black and white floor tile or an antique clawfoot tub, says Donna. “Instead, they’ll choose to spend money updating the toilet to a water-conserving model or replace an old sink that has seen its day.”
Dvira recommends Duravit, Bain Ultra and Kohler when browsing for clawfoot or freestanding tubs.
With water conservation and overall environmental awareness at the top of consumer consciousness, eco-friendly toilets and showerheads have come a long way in terms of design.
"Companies are becoming a lot more conscious about water conservation," says Dvira. "Toto is one of the popular leaders on the market for their innovative ways and advanced engineering to help improve the environment and minimize consumer cost with daily use.”
Low-flow toilets can save at least six litres of water per flush, benefiting the environment and your wallet. When replacing your current toilet with a low-flow model, be sure to check with your municipality; many offer rebates and cash incentives.
“If budget-conscious homeowners aren’t ready to replace the toilet, a good first step is to replace the showerhead to a model with a low-flow aerator,” says Donna. “This can cut water usage by up to 30%.”
A fresh and invigorating colour palette
A simple coat of paint can breathe new life into your space. “Colour palettes for washrooms are fresh and invigorating. Think soft shades of aqua, sage and lemongrass combined with the stark white of the porcelain fixtures,” says Dvira, who recommends adding warm tones through a bamboo or walnut - or chocolate-brown-colour vanity.
Multimedia and bubbles
If you’re truly going to make your bathroom a comfortable retreat, add multimedia to the room.
“Complete home theatre systems with plasma TVs and surround sound are not uncommon for tech-savvy families,” says Donna. “Some people like to tuck a DVD player and small flat screen in a vanity and pull it out while getting ready in the morning or soaking in the tub.”
For a purely audio experience, hook up a slick-looking loudspeaker dock for your iPod and relax to your favourite tunes.