Have you noticed?

June 21, 2021

For those of us who spent the past year almost entirely at home with our families, there was one place that unfailingly proved to be a refuge: the bathroom.

Understandably, priorities have changed when it comes to bathroom trends, particularly in a world where health and well-being are top of mind. Previously, the ultimate goal was a “pretty” bathroom, but clients now expect a thoughtful execution high on functionality. Beauty will always be a goal in luxury bathroom design, but ensuring that does not compromise other aspects of function is key.

A long soak in the tub, a pampering session at the vanity, or an invigorating steam shower offered the ultimate escape in a year of going nowhere.

From at-home spas to automated everything, here are this year’s luxury bathroom trends. Read more, ‘The 4 Big Bathroom Trends To Keep on Your Radar.’

To treat a bathroom as merely a functional room is to miss out on the opportunity of creating a spa-like space for relaxation. Consider it as an extra living area with homely additions like fabric window dressings and an inviting lounge chair. This bathroom by Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus for Lisbon hotel Santa Clara 1728 features a bespoke bath carved from Lioz stone. Photo: Elle Decor UK

Bold Statements

All of our experts agree that the bathroom is a place to go bold this year. Materials and material mixes add visual stimulation to space. Larger-scale patterns on wallpaper, many with outdoor themes of florals and fauna, add to the sense of escapism. Show them off with a coloured floor for a fresh new take or ground yourself in graphics with a glint of a metallic. That boldness also extends to natural materials, as people become more daring in their choices of stone. Marble, quartzite, and limestone are more popular than ever. Carrara is timeless, but more dramatic marbles are outshining their predecessors.

Designers say they are very much drawn to the less expected stones. Breccia marbles, crosscut and linear travertines, seductive onyx, and dramatic fossil stones.

They are seeking book-match veining and mixing colours in both soothing and energizing ways, placing them in conversation with each other. Carpenter adds that statement lighting fixtures—bold sconces, larger-scale chandeliers, glass globes that evoke bubbles, and tubular lighting fixtures—are also popular design statements, as are oversized mirrors with frames worthy of art. Read more, Bathroom Revived: The Budget Edition.’

Bath Jewellery

People are exhibiting an affinity and appreciation for good hardware, according to high-end designers. While bronze has been falling out of favour for a while when it comes to fixtures and hardware, matte black and polished gold epitomize luxury.  ‘Bath ‘jewellery—the knobs, pulls, and door handles are key. It’s all in the details. Read more, Bathrooms of the Future: Why Wellness and Eco Credentials Count.’

Designers are increasingly seeing requests for an oasis within the home, a place to relax and renew as well as to indulge the senses.Photo:

Spa Sanctuary

Since the thought of spending time in a communal steam room is far less appealing than it was a year ago, many people are incorporating spa-like amenities into their bathrooms. Designers are increasingly seeing requests for an oasis within the home, a place to relax and renew as well as to indulge the senses. The desire for steam showers, saunas both regular and infrared, is on the rise, with fewer jetted tubs but deeper soaking tubs. Read more, ‘Bathrooms of the Future: Why Wellness and Eco Credentials Count.’

People want the ‘oooohhhh’ factor – visually beckoning, enticingly tactile, a virtual laboratory of aromatherapy creating an invigorating space for our mornings and an oasis of calm in our evenings.

Natural Connection

In line with the interiors trend toward nature, people are looking to their bathrooms to connect with the outdoors. There’s a trend that encompasses larger spaces bringing the outdoors in, with expansive windows, often floor to ceiling. The oversized scale gives the feeling of luxury and an unhurried vibe as people commune with nature. Larger, open showers allow for a sense of timelessness to wash the world away.

Designers expect this trend to play out in an urban context. New-build modern homes are being designed so the shower and vanity share a glass wall with an outdoor Zen garden on the other side.

Owing to their practical and clean nature, bathrooms can often be devoid of pattern. While walls are the obvious place to introduce an element of surface design, the floor is more peripheral – which means you can go to town on a brave and striking treatment that might not work on a vertical plane. Photo: Elle Decor UK

Smart, Touchless, and Customizable

Now that we’re all more conscious of the surfaces we touch, it’s no surprise that automation has made its way into the bathroom via lighting, faucets, and toilet seats. Manual seat lids are becoming a thing of the past. Heated seats, and bidets are also in high demand, as are water filters, air purifiers, and heated floors. The feeling of warmth that hits your feet first thing in the morning is the ultimate indulgence.

Refined, Unseen Luxury

While there’s always room to make big statements with materials and colour, for the less glamorous aspects of a bathroom—like waste bins and towel storage—discretion is key. The luxury of refined placement, or what is not seen, is becoming increasingly popular. It keeps spaces looking tidy.

You might like to add a hole in your washbasin unit to act as a concealed rubbish chute.

The luxury of refined placement, or what is not seen, is becoming increasingly popular. It keeps spaces looking tidy. Photo:

This is an edited extract from an article that first appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

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