Today’s bathrooms are making their own statement, and they are doing it boldly.
Story by Carol McGarvey
Featured in July/August 2022
It seems safe to say that the room in the house that has changed the most in the past couple decades is the bathroom. No longer hidden away and completely utilitarian, it has taken a huge step forward to become an integral part of the home. Among the options are powder rooms, half-baths, three-quarter baths, and one-for-every-bedroom baths in extra-large new construction.
Today’s bathroom has become a place to make a real design statement. First, it has increased immeasurably in size, far above the classic 8×5-foot rendition of many older homes in central Iowa.
Also, in previous times the bathroom in the house—and there perhaps was only one or two—stood alone at the end of the hallway. Now it’s often part of the “primary suite” that includes the primary bedroom, the primary bath, and a full sized dressing room/closet, which is all part of the master wing of many newly constructed homes.
So, what’s new in bathrooms? A black-and-white setup holds a classic and clean-style appeal. For interest, choose an intricate floor tile. If you need a pop of color, use bright towels and accessories. If there’s room for double vanities, go for it. Everyone enjoys personal space and storage for sure.
If all-white or black and white aren’t your color choices, you can feel safe with blue and green. Blue always gives calm tones and a watery look.
Owners of older homes are often removing built-in tubs and replacing them with walk-in showers, usually with a bench for sitting and a wall niche for the shampoo bottle and soap. Some who have the space are opting for a free-standing soaking tub, which almost appears as a piece of sculpture. Or, if room is not cramped, they choose both.
The bathroom is a space for interesting finishes. You can choose from classic subway tile, penny tile, or marble or quartz for countertops. In new or remodeled space, you might prefer to add heated flooring.
To create a spa experience, consider installing a rain shower head.
Choose an historical feel sparingly, depending on the amount of space you are dealing with. You might, for example, choose a vanity with the feel of furniture that would fit in another room. Let that piece take center stage.
A TOUCH OF BLING
One trend that is fun involves lighting. Even if the style of your home is minimalist, the bathroom is a spot where you can use a bit of bling, perhaps a crystal chandelier. A chandelier might seem incongruous, but in many spots it works beautifully.
If you have a small bath, be creative with fun patterns and colors. Use a vanity fashioned from a dresser and choose a chair with upholstery. Add some full-length niches for displaying accessories or toiletries. Have fun with oversize tiles in the shower or tub area.
Some designers are using arty window treatments and saturated paints and vintage runner rugs. It’s all a matter of personal style.
To soften the look, how about adding some plants to the bathroom? Steam will help them grow, to be sure. Ferns, spider plants, and pothos plants are good choices.
When remodeling or building new construction, you will be asked about vanity and toilet heights. What’s your choice?
For years vanities were 32 inches tall, which reflected the notion that with one bathroom in a home, parents and children would use the same vanity and sink. Therefore, it was important for children to have a shorter reach.
Now, with more bathroom choices, the parental bathroom can have a counter-height or comfort-height vanity at 36 inches tall. Not having to bend over as far can become important as parents get older. Plus, if you are adding vessel sinks to, say, a powder room vanity, the vessel adds 5 or 6 inches to the height.
When it comes to toilet heights, that’s an interesting story. It used to be that handicap toilets or tall toilets were usually reserved for those who needed an extra boost with aging or medical issues. When the industry decided to refer to them as comfort-height fixtures, it became okay for many others to choose them as standard.
Designing your bathroom is really just a matter of your choice and meeting your family’s needs. •