No longer merely functional and hardworking spaces where we was and go, bathrooms have changed dramatically in recent years. They are increasingly becoming places where we satisfy our senses and spend more time in stylish comfort, girding our clean, fragrant and relaxed selves from busy lives waiting outside. Our designers do some crystal-gazing into the future for bathroom design trends.
Carole Tretheway, interior designer, Carole Tretheway Design; Owen Barnes, principal designer, Bubbles Bathrooms; Estelle Cameron, creative director, designtank; Carmel Wylie, interior designer, GIA Bathroom & Kitchen Renovations.
A definite emerging preference, says Owen Barnes from Bubbles Bathrooms, is for large-format tiling. He puts this down to the ease of cleaning areas with less grout. "You could say its a grout-motivated trend - our clients are practical", he says. "We installed a bathroom recently using 1500 x 700mm sheet tiles." Estelle Cameron from designtank agrees that people are loving large format, with 450 x 450mm and 600 x 600mm sizes common.
A word of advice from Tretheway: "Large-format tiles and slabs, especially in heavy materials, require a strong substrate. Reinforcing this may add costs to your renovation," she says.
Carmel Wylie from GIA Bathroom & Kitchen Renovations supports the trend for large-format surfaces, like big slabs of marble and natural stone. "Super White and New York marbles are making a strong stand", she says.
Super White is a natural stone, variously described as quartzite, calcite/dolomitic marble, with attractive grey and white veining. It wears well, making it great for bathrooms. New York marble is a soft grey-white marble, sometimes with purplish veining, which can be backlit for dramatic effect.
A place to linger longer
Our designers have noted a big change over recent years in how clients view their bathrooms. Carole Trethaeay of Carole Tretheway Designs says, "people no longer regard them as just spaces for washing and showering routines. They are looking to them for pleasurable experiences, for de-stressing and detoxing, and spending more time." Designing the bathroom as an antidote to stressful lifestyles is a trend that's set to continue.
Tretheway is excited about attitudes she is finding among her clients. "There's a real 'anything goes' freedom about choices they're making", she says. "They're choosing what they like, rather than sticking to safe options. They want tranquillity and a space that reflects their personality, while choosing quality materials and fittings with longevity and practicality".
Small is still beautiful
On the other hand, our designers say that smaller tiles, like mosaics, octagonal, penny and subway, will continue to appear. While there's a falling off of the popularity of subway tiles - Cameron says they're still being asked for but not as often as before - they are being used in smaller areas, such as around a vanity or one shower wall. Barnes says, "We try to restrict smaller tiles to easier-to-clean, less wet areas. When we do use them, we use epoxy grout, which reduces mould and stains.
New ways to lay
Standard running bond or 'brick' layouts are moving over for other less conventional laying styles, bringing an experimental twist to bathrooms. How tiles are arranged affects the visual size and shape of the room and we are seeing herringbone and diamond, as well as random checkerboard, straight-lay grids, vertical brick and diagonal formats.
A melange of small patterned tiles in co-ordinating colours laid randomly makes a feature of the floor in this bathroom, enabling simplicity in the rest of the finishes. "Grey, charcoal or black and white in 200 x 200mm tiles with white walls draw attention to the floor," says Cameron. Many of Tretheway's clients love the look of highly patterned Moroccan-style tiles laid in this random way.
Barnes' clients also show a preference for a more casual tile layout. "Instead of batch lots of tiles exactly the same, we like to mix them up so there are subtle colour variations between tiles", he says.
Tretheway has worked on several projects using the French-style 'Versailles' pattern, where four different tile sizes are laid in a staggered formation. "Its becoming popular as its a timeless and elegant pattern that appears random", she says, "but is beautifully balanced. It is mostly used with stone tiles like travertine". She cautions that this is definitely a job for a skilled tiler.
Flexibility is the key to lighting in today's bathrooms, says Wylie. "I believe the trend of having a space that can be bright and cheery in the daytime, and then adapted to create a calming retreat at the start and end of the day, will see lots of versatile lighting solutions." These will include sensor lights and LED strips under joinery, dimmable lights, coloured mood lighting, niche lights and super-efficient task and feature lighting.
Plants for pleasure
The mega-trend for inviting nature in with house plants, from mini succulents families, orchids, terrariums and plants under glass cloches, to showy palms and figs, has also hit bathrooms. Matched to your décor, natural greenery is a contrast to cool tiles and ceramic fixtures and brings an exotic spa ambience to our sanctuaries.
Wow with wallpaper
Wallpaper has never been more on-trend, and Tretheway says her clients are loving the vast choice in wallpapers for bathrooms and how wallpaper brings instant character into a bathroom. "Wallpapers in a damp atmosphere are no problem now, with many washable, vinyl-coated or full vinyl types available. Take normal precautions to control steam and dap, and of course have it professionally applied".
Ahead of the curve
Wylie believes "we are going back to more organic shapes, with curves overtaking squares. Fine, thin edges on ceramicware is another trend in baths and vanity basins." Although sharp, square bath shapes are making an appearance, Barnes thinks this fashion is short-lived, as baths with angles aren't as body friendly as those with rounded contours.
He also suggests that the recent trend for metallic finishes on baths may not prevail, as unless it is a superior product, the damp environment of the bathroom makes it difficult to maintain and can produce corrosion issues over time.
Available space and style agenda dictate choices between freestanding or fitted baths. Both have their disciples – some love the clean sculptural lines of a freestanding bath, while others opt for a neat, easy-to-clean built-in. Our designers agree that freestanding baths will still be overwhelmingly popular.
Barnes offers a new 'in-between' bath style, the semi-freestanding bath. "We are installing lots of these – you get the best of both worlds, easier cleaning, but it still enhances the smooth lines of the bath."
A bath in the bedroom? Both Wylie and Tretheway see it as a coming trend. "After many years designing the master bedroom and the ensuite as separate spaces, clients are becoming comfortable with the idea of amalgamating the two rooms into more of a 'suite', with the bath moving into the bedroom space," says Tretheway. Wylie also predicts more baths sitting out of the bathroom. "It adds a 'luxury hotel' look to the bedroom."
The future for colour
There's lots of discussion about whether grey has given up the ghost, but it seems it's a preferred palette for today's bathrooms. Barnes says strong greys and greige, as well as black and white, are fashionable with his clients. Cameron says low-tone grey-blues are all the go ("although I'll occasionally find someone brave who'll do a colour!") with monochrome black and white, charcoal and concrete tones with crisp white, and the darker colour on the floor. She's getting lots of enquiries for floors and walls in a warm stone look, and believes grey/white marble has had its day.
Greens are creeping into bathrooms, where they enhance natural timber textures and organic materials. However, they're not the avocado greens of yesteryear, but subtle restful shades like Dulux 'Army Fatigues'. Wylie predicts a rise in botanic greens that are soft and very close to greens in nature – sage, grass, leaf, forest, moss, olive. "These work so well in bathroom spaces; we are seeing them in tiles, towels, plants and even tapware," she says. Timber-look tiles are a growing trend for bringing texture and an organic feel to complement these new greens.
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Bathrooms are one of the most essential rooms in any home and with an on-trend transformation you can simply add considerable value to your property. The team at Watchorn Constructions specialise in bathroom transformations and would be delighted to provide you with a no obligation quote. Give Chris of Watchorn Constructions a call on 0419 552 108.