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If you’re redoing your bathroom, read this first

More attention is being paid to these “private” rooms

Person using pencil to draw sketch of bathroom renovation. Credit: Getty Images / Feverpitched

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The October 2021-released Houzz bathroom trends’ study of close to 3,000 U.S. homeowners determined that two in five homeowners (41%) report using their renovated bathroom for rest and relaxtion, with dimmable lighting and greenery as two avenues for achieving a serene space.

While bathrooms, especially the master and the powder room, may have been purely practical spaces in the past, they are being transformed into rooms where functionality, aesthetics, and ambiance combine. In fact, the Houzz study found that American homeowners in 2020 and 2021 increasingly hired bathroom remodelers, bathroom designers, and interior designers.

Brooke Turner, interior designer for Signature Home Kitchen & Bath in Charlotte, North Carolina, says, “So many people are renovating their bathrooms right now. When Covid hit, people realized their spaces might not have been working for them or that they needed updating to become more beautiful and retreat-like.”

Turner learned quickly just how distinct a client desires an overall bathroom look through the selection of main elements, such as tile, toilet, and sink.

“Those beginning stages are when you see the personality coming out. If they want all white and simple, then I know which direction to take them, but if they are looking for something more unique, for the countertop, for example, I begin to get a sense they might want some different elements.”

Gathering information, like who is going to be using the bathroom, helps Turner think about whether the bathroom needs to be impervious and solely functional, or if it can also be a retreat space. She says, “Any female who is in the bathroom an hour or so a day wants to treat the bathroom like a bedroom … comfortable, inviting, relaxing. A bathroom is often where you start and end your day, so you need to feel good in it.”

And, Turner notes, a bathroom budget always depends on possible resale value.

Vintage vibes accent modern fixtures

On left, gold faucet with running water above sink. On right, gold geometric rectangular mirror above white table with picture frames on top.
Credit: Delta / Kate and Laurel

Gold accents are sure to take your old bathroom from dull to elegant.

Of décor and accent trends, Turner says that fixtures that are modern with a nod to vintage are currently popular. “Textured woods that are stained are bringing a natural contrast to black and gold or champagne gold and black fixtures. This combination of fixture finishes can also give bathrooms an art deco look,” she says.

Lissa Fraser Kerr, of Jane Lockhart Interior Design in Toronto, says, “We're seeing bathroom cabinetry mimic kitchen cabinets to provide continuity in a home. Wood tones are definitely back after years of all-white bathrooms. And ‘honey bronze’ knobs and pulls in a project look perfect against walnut cabinets. This transitional style strikes a nice balance between traditional and modern.”

Regarding the overall look, Turner notes that playing with shapes is popular. One idea she suggests is to hang a skinny, tall mirror with a beveled or thin metal edge over a rectangular floating sink.

Turner adds, “I like to source as many local vendors as possible to find boutique-style distinction so that [the space] is tailored to the client and is not so much a cookie-cutter look. Whatever I can do and find to add more character is the goal, instead of achieving a run-of-the-mill look that so many might have.”

Give lighting the chance to offer wow power

On left, gold anchor shaped chandelier. On right, gold chandelier in living room.
Credit: West Elm / ARTERIORS

Fun new lighting can be a conversation starter to new guests.

Lately, Turner is seeing clients often spending more on lighting for a bathroom than on plumbing. The more creative or modern, the better.

“In today’s bathrooms, lighting is definitely the diamond earrings on the black dress,”she says. “Lighting gives personality to these often overlooked rooms. In fact, lighting is becoming more of the ‘wow’ factor in the bathroom. It doesn’t mean the whole bathroom has to follow the same look as the chosen lighting, but the lighting is what homeowners are often using to define the space.”

While homeowners building new or renovating older bathroom spaces might select a somewhat daring fixture for the master bathroom or even the well-used family bathroom, they are sometimes willing to go “all out” on a powder room.

“Clients often want to have more fun … do exciting things in a powder room that they might not be willing to do in any other bathrooms or anywhere else in the house,” says Turner.

Following the same trendy gold theme, lighting makers and suppliers offer plenty of designs, from a burnished vintage gold finish to shinier contemporary finishes. Ferguson even offers a dramatic Corbett Lighting candelabra that resembles gold taffeta.

Don’t be afraid of wallpaper

On left, cork wallpaper behind chair. On right, blue and white print wallpaper on wall in bedroom.
Credit: West Elm / Annie Selke

Play around with fun prints and textures when it comes to your walls.

Turner points to young homeowners as especially interested in trying cork-type as well as old-fashioned fabric wallpapers in small and large bathrooms.

“There are amazing designs available,” she says. “Everything from abstracts to Grandmacore … florals in a watercolor softness. Wallpaper is not scary to use. It adds that art element to a bathroom in place of a picture or painting.”

Don’t overlook the impact of color

On left, navy blue vanity set in bathroom. On right, drawer on vanity set opened with toiletries inside.
Credit: Sterling Rivers

Not only does this stunning vanity set come in three different finishes, it also offers great storage space as well.

For those homeowners who want to move away from safe neutrals, designers are touting bold color choices for bathrooms. For instance, Sherwin Williams’ 2022 Color of the Year is “Evergreen Fog,” a mid-to-dark-tone gray green.

Turner says, “And, we are even painting ceilings in dark colors [like] black, navy, green, [which] gives the illusion of taller ceilings.”

Paint suppliers make it easy to add and coordinate colors by offering color palette samples. Melissa Wood and her husband, Kevin, who owns Wood’s Mercantile in Clarksville, Georgia, tapped Benjamin Moore’s Affinity Collection's 144 paint colors to bring about pops of various hues in their eclectic farmhouse.

The Houzz study also recognized an uptick in homeowners opting for colored vanities over just the popular white products. Blue vanities, especially, are showing up in some bathrooms.

Get the Sterling Rivers Atencio 42-inch Single Bathroom Vanity Set at Perigold for $840

Control and contain your clutter

On left, mounted storage option on wall. On left, circular storage option on wall.
Credit: West Elm

Get creative with your shelving.

Remodeling a bathroom and choosing decorative elements that stand out is an opportunity to get a handle on disorganization. Controlling clutter and chaos can be achieved beautifully, insists Turner.

Besides shelving and drawers in vanities, built-in cabinets, and open wall shelving, storage niches are being built into tiled shower walls.

Turner explains, “A bathroom is a contained space, so it ultimately needs to be practical, with plenty of storage, so that it works well for the individual or a family and doesn’t become cluttered. Otherwise, the personality of the room is lost.”

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