5 hot trends in bathroom design

Tubs are out, showers are in.Local designers told us the latest.

After a summer of tending to the lawn and garden, it’s time to turn the focus back indoors. Kitchens may steal the spotlight when it comes to adding value to your home, but an up-to-date, well-appointed bathroom is an excellent asset, too. We talked with local designers to get the scoop on what’s in and what’s out in bathroom design.

1. Spa away from spa: One of the biggest trends in bathrooms is adding a spa-like atmosphere to the room. Rather than just a place to shower and brush your teeth, “the emphasis is definitely on luxury and comfort,” said Diana Begley, an interior designer with Home Comfort Gallery in Troy. “People want to feel like they’re going to a spa.”

In keeping with the clean, Zen atmosphere of the spa, most new designs are “fresh, not as overdone as they were for a while,” said Sharon Bledsoe of Sharon Bledsoe Designs in Pleasant Hill. “The layout is really important for (the room) to be convenient and function well.”

Bledsoe has also noticed a trend toward spa-like luxury items such as in-floor heating and heated towel bars.

2. Out with the tub: Jacuzzi tubs with jets and candleholders? They’re actually becoming passe. “The huge trend is big, airy showers,” said Begley. “Bathtubs are out; showers are in. Homeowners are tearing out the tub and are using shower walls with several shower jets.”

In keeping with the spa trend, many of these showers are walk-in rooms that feature seating and soothing jets of water. “There are several jets in several different directions,” said Begley. “Some in back, some on the ceiling, some in front. The whole shower is now all tile.”

Most shower systems are customizable, with lighting and seating options and even slip-resistant floors. This trend is also a good solution for those with lower mobility, who have trouble climbing into deep bathtubs.

3. Going green: Saving on gas and electric is a must, both for energy bills and the planet. But in a bathroom design, saving on water can just as important for cost- and environmentally conscious consumers.

“We’re paying a little more attention to energy efficiency,” Bledsoe said. “With energy efficient showers, sinks and toilets.”

While low-flow showerheads have never shaken their bad reputation, the latest energy efficient faucets deliver “showers that feel like regular showers,” Bledsoe said. Depending on the fixtures you choose, installing “green” faucets can be a relatively inexpensive fix that will pay for itself over time.

4. Customize it: Long popular in kitchen settings, custom cabinets are making their way into bathroom designs. Since the latest trends emphasize a clean, uncluttered look, custom cabinets can be a good starting point.

The price range and look of custom cabinets will vary based on your needs, but they’re a wise use of space in what’s typically one of the smallest rooms in a home.

“In the bathroom, where storage tends to be at a premium, you can get the most out of your cabinetry (with custom cabinets),” said Debbie Basnett of Vintage Scout Interiors in Centerville. “You can make a drawer taller, include electric in your cabinet, there are a lot of benefits to going custom.”

5. Eurotrip: If you’ve spent any time combing for bathroom design ideas, you’ve almost certainly noticed a certain European flair. Fixtures from Europe are growing in popularity, as well as granite and marble countertops. But many are turning toward an even more unique look.

“We’re definitely seeing more exposed plumbing in showers and stand-alone tubs,” Basnett said. “It’s a European, utilitarian look, where the pipes from the controls to the shower are exposed and not buried in the walls. With the stand-alone tub, these fixtures will come out of the floor and into the tub, not necessarily be attached to the tub.”

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