Housing trends today are decidedly toward luxury and comfort, and nowhere in contemporary homes is this more evident than in the master bedroom and bathroom. A trend is a long-term direction in the housing and interiors industries, as opposed to a fad, which burns itself out after about two seasons. This trend, which began about seven years ago, is now firmly established and fueled with a wealth of new product innovations that bespeak elegance and luxury. This trend will continue for many years to come. Key words include: useful, beautiful, and meaningful furnishings and design.
Bedrooms are places appropriate for lavish use of fabric: custom
bedspreads and ensembles, matching window treatments, cushions or
upholstery, and layered table skirts. They also are backgrounds
for serene living where today’s active homeowner comes to
de-stress and reconnect with the personal elements and experiences
that revitalize. These may include a little extra sleep time in
a perfectly lovely setting or some media time for unwinding or reading
in a quiet and handsome setting.
Another trend is the spa-like bath experience, custom detailed for
home. The master bedroom connects to an upscale bathroom in new
homes, and in remodels walls are being removed to create, for example,
one larger luxury master bathroom from a modest-sized existing master
and a family bath. Once the walls are down, the architect or home
designer creates a custom space that provides innovative features.
The goals of new and renovation design far outreach yesteryear’s
Spartan bath and grooming cubicles. It is a rejuvenating place where
small indulgences lift loads of care off the shoulders of its owners.
It is a place . . . a room . . . a destination.
WHAT’S NEW ABOUT THE NEW BATH
Never before have so many trends been directed toward the bathroom.
Here are some of the newest trends for bringing products that feed
the soul into the most private of rooms:
• To begin, cabinets are being replaced with fabulous alternatives
from antique furniture fitted with plumbing for the sink to jet-age
futuristic new cabinets. Where the vintage look is achieved, art
and accessories such as fine china figurines and carefully sealed
artwork lend a homey feel to the bath.
Counter heights are now adjustable, custom fitting the user for
his or her comfort and convenience—taller or shorter than
“standard” heights. This trend may be termed “Free
Style” and represent a turn away from matched and fitted looks.
Curved legs and fine furniture looks for cabinetry are key elements.
Another view of Free Style includes freestanding vanity sinks and
standalone sculpted tubs set apart from any supporting elements.
New tubs have become modern from a comfort and ergonomic viewpoint.
• Basins also have become a key artistic element. No longer
interested in plain white porcelain sinks, color can be a bold blast
of intensity for a small accent. Rainbows of hues in the bath include
glass sinks in a range of spectacular, fire-bright colors to faucets
and decorative hardware on cabinetry.
Sinks often are standalone items above the custom base cabinetry
or furniture piece. Basins may be tinted glass, hand-wrought brass,
ceramic, crystal or fine hard wood atop counter surfaces sized to
match the scale of the basin. Spigots are imaginative, crafted from
sand-cast metals. Many are wall-mounted, jutting from mirror or
textured wall treatment such as tile or stone. These spigots cascade
water into the bowl in a stylish, waterfall fashion.
• Adornments is another trend. We see botanical artistry at
the end of faucet handles. High-end bath sinks may be adorned, for
example, with diamonds and black Tahitian pearls set in 18-karkat
Washable suede as a finish material on drawer hardware indicates
a trend toward things that feel comforting to the touch. It is a
trend away from coldness and another indication of the need to feed
the soul in our efforts to find relaxation and rejuvenation.
• Nature’s Beauty is a major trend in bed and bath settings.
Leaf imprints, bamboo designs, imperfect or imprecise natural textures,
wildlife scenes, rain patterns, vines and vineyards, cattails and
woodland motifs are applied to tubs, sinks and hardware.
• Sleek design from the Mid-Century Modern masters is yet
another major direction in bed and bath design where “less
is more” is the credo. Accents of minimalist and meticulously
crafted design in faucets, for example, are often enhanced by their
versatility, allowing consumers to choose the placement of the handles
for convenience and custom-fit.
A FLOOD OF POSSIBILITIES
As more consumers realize that their bathrooms are outdated or in
a state of ill repair, more are looking to update in small yet significant
ways. Some simple but noticeable updates include new showerheads.
Consider Victorian-styled ceiling mounted showerheads in finishes
such as oil-rub bronze and antique copper to contemporary sleek
designs. When advising clients on updating showers, here are a few
• Choose a showerhead that fits personal tastes, not just
in styling, but in the way the water feels on the skin. Overhead
“sunflower” showerheads offer a possibility of a downpour
or a “rain pan” that drenches yet sooths. If replumbing,
consider a ceiling-mounted showerhead. A showerhead with massage
settings give added pressure in sore or tight places where it’s
The right shower arm slows the positioning of the showerhead to
achieve the desired flow pattern and coverage. The larger showerheads
work best if directly overhead, while smaller diameter showerheads
will project their pattern out into the shower stall. Perhaps adding
an adjustable arm extension will do the trick.
Wall-mounted body sprays give extra waterpower and are often used
to complement showerheads for a true spa-like experience.
• Another shower update is to install a thermostatic valve,
allowing the setting of water temperature at the handle so each
time the water is started, it will return to that preferred temperature
regardless of the change in water pressure at the faucet or elsewhere
in the house, or changes in the temperature of water entering the
• Many major remodeling projects create entirely new bathrooms.
One example is removing bathtubs in favor of walk-in, sometimes
door-less, showers that are so large that the shower walls don’t
require wiping down. Seats and multiple showerheads, sometimes called
“water walls” are becoming more common. Other luxury
features include a variey of real and faux-stone and tile materials,
making the aesthetics a remarkable experience. Open walls may be
exposed to one-way glass for a garden view, to a gas fireplace,
or to other artistic elements.
• Music may be piped in, soothing or invigorating. The news
on radio or television is possible in sealed units. However, more
people seem to want shower areas to be a get-away experience rather
than a connecting to real world experience.
Homeowners today are giving as much thought and financial allotment
to the bath as any room in the home, especially in light of a master-suite
connection. Kohler research shows homeowners spend as much as seven
years of the average life span to scub, relax and soak in the bathroom.
No wonder it has become a focus of décor and planning, a
true companion to today’s beautiful bedrooms.
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of
design at Brigham Young University. She has authored several books
including Win- dow Treatments, Understanding Fabrics and Interiors:
An Introduction, 3rd Ed. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies
& Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education