Following are some of the key design trends in bathrooms today. Many of these trends are visible in both the U. S. and Canadian bathroom projects, but some specific regional trends are highlighted in later sections.
Space Use Trends
• Open spaces. Most bathrooms of the past were minimal in size and looked upon as very private and somewhat hidden spaces. Although some homeowners and builders are downsizing the bathroom in the current economy, consumers still desire space, and there are many ways in which designers can incorporate a feeling of openness. Designers can expand the bathroom space both visually and physically by carefully selecting the appropriate size and style of fixtures, using mirrors and large windows, and incorporating higher ceilings.
• Outdoor access. Today’s consumers have a love for nature, the outdoors, sunshine, and fresh air, so this feeling can be created in the bathroom by physically opening the space to the outside through access to a private deck or patio and incorporating large windows.
• Suites. A popular idea is merging the bedroom and the bathroom or providing access through a dressing area to create the bathroom suite. Bathroom designs are moving away from the bathroom as a confined area into one that is a fluid living space.
• Dressing. Dressing areas and closets are moving into the bathroom (see Figure 1.17) from the actual bedroom space. The closet may include hanging and drawer space, as well as a cedar – lined compartment. You will find additional information on closet design in chapter 9, "More than a Bathroom."
• Two users. Designing a bathroom with two simultaneous users in mind is essential for many households. The double lavatory has been used for some time as a means of eliminating the morning wait, and it is in even higher demand today. Compartmentalized areas (see Figure 1.18) have also helped provide privacy for one individual while another is using the space.
Color and Theme Trends
• Nature. The natural look with colors and textures to match the surrounding outdoor environment is gaining favor among designers and consumers. The nature-inspired designs might include natural stone or warm woods for a soft natural beauty. Nature is also brought indoors through the use of large windows (see Figure 1.19).
• Neutral colors dominate. Whites and off-whites, beiges, and browns are the most common used colors in bathrooms.
• Abundance of light. Designers are not only incorporating light for general and task purposes, but are using it to add interest in other places. Products in today’s market allow designers to illuminate almost everything in the bathroom including, toilets, faucets, showers, and mirrors, as well as shower, wall, and floor tiles.
• Green bathrooms. The "green bathroom" is not only an eco-friendly theme but also a color theme that has recently grown in popularity. Green color palettes are used by an increasing number of designers. Blues (see Figure 1.20) and warm gray neutrals are also popular colors in Canada as well as the United States, creating a relaxing and spa-like environment. Gray is the new black!
• Utility-chic. Some designers see a continuation of what they call "utility-chic," a mix of wood and stainless steel, exposed light bulbs, and art that references old signage.
• Art. Once absent from most bathrooms, artwork and art objects are finding their way into the bath, helping to create a certain theme or adding to the feeling of relaxation in the room, especially for the spa experience.
• Traditional styling. Traditional styling is clearly dominating U. S. bathroom projects (see Figure 1.21).
Contemporary. Also popular is contemporary styling with its clean lines (see Figure 1.22). Designers emphasize this theme through floating (wall-hung) vanities and toilets, clean lines, and contemporary materials like glass. Even traditional designs are including contemporary elements like the vessel bowl lavatory and stone.
Shaker styling. A style incorporated by about one-third of the designers is the Shaker style.
• Zen – or spa-like theme. Designers are creating individualist and personalized spaces in bathrooms that recreate the spa or Zen-like feel. Fireplaces, music, sleek designs, and comfort-fit fixtures all help provide the homeowner with a spa-like experience at home. Glass tiles, clean lines, and floating vanities add to the feel.
• Japanese and Asian influence. Although Asian influences have been a part of home design schemes for some time, some designers see the Japanese influence as a major design statement in U. S. bathrooms and no longer just incorporated into a few accessories (see Figure 1.23). The feel is subtle and achieved with clean lines, open spaces and neutral colors with a bold splash of color for an accent. Japanese furniture may be used as a vanity to add to the theme.