Most resolutions and goals have gone south since the new year was ushered in. Who could ever have predicted such a global detour?
One thing is certain: Demands on the home have spiked during the pandemic. And more than 100 million Americans have been working remotely, according to Gallup.
While many activities are on hold -- travel, concerts, sporting events -- the more time we're spending at home, the more inspired we are to make changes. We're dreaming more about those spa baths and vacation-inspired outdoor spaces. Remodeling most definitely is on the table for a growing number of Americans. It's all about making spaces more beautiful and more efficient.
According to a survey of nearly 1,000 U.S. homeowners by Houzz, nearly 4 in 5 (79%) are considering major home remodeling and design projects -- and the bath is close to the top of the list.
Along with the pivoting, there's an unexpected twist -- one that surprisingly has to do with cancel culture. In the real estate world, a major conversation affecting the parlance of residential listings is percolating. The "master bedroom" and "master bath" are being canceled. It's about the adjective "master," which is being called out for racial or sexual connotations. So now real estate professionals are struggling with substitutes like "primary" bath. Nothing has stuck, so far.
One thing that won't change is the continuing desire for bath customization, no matter what the size of the room. Many homeowners, especially those who are remodeling, are moving away from cookie-cutter styles. They're opting to show off their personalities with choices of bath fixtures, surfaces, cabinetry, hardware and lighting.
Showers are more bespoke -- tapping into personalizing experiences with multifunction sprays and rain faucets. There are more choices for faucet handles. Brizo's new Kintsu collection even offers custom inlays to match any material, in addition to standard teak, concrete and mother of pearl.
Wellness and smart tech continue to drive some bath selections. The desire for a chill-out ambience is piquing interest in soaking tubs. A new showerhead from Moen offers four different aromatherapy experiences: Tropical Day, Zen Time, Energetic Morning and Sweet Morning. It works much like your Nespresso maker -- pop in a pretty colored capsule and voila! INLY, a French company, makes the recyclable aluminum fragrance capsules, filled with essential oils that offer a range of scent combinations, like lemongrass, neroli and vanilla; lavender, vanilla and tea time; lemon, pine and citrus; and berry, geranium and vanilla.
Freestanding or soaking tubs still dominate the bath landscape. And they continue to evolve. Even classic white is getting a fresh look. Kallista's new Argile collection (pronounced ar-zjeel; it means "clay" in French) adds a raised textural pattern to its sculptural bathtub and vessel sink. The cast stone material has a matte finish called Honed White.
Besides stone, concrete, quartz and resin, metals are making a statement, and these allow a range of alluring shapes. Thompson Traders' new Quintana collection, designed by Kara Cox, mixes lustrous silver and brushed gold.
While integrated sinks are a standard in modern design, vessel sinks are attracting a new audience. Bowls have been extended into more shallow basins, ovals or rectangular, with squared or rounded edges. These are especially suited to the European style of floating cabinetry.
Round shapes -- the bigger the better -- also are emerging as a new favorite in mirror design. Many bath mirrors have integrated LED lighting, some of which can change colors.
Floating vanities or counters have gained traction, not only for the aesthetic but for the practicality in tight or narrow spaces, as well as easier cleaning. They also may include towel bars or racks, but any of these add-ons are done in minimal style that keeps the look light.
Washstands draw interest, especially with more industrial style in stainless steel or blackened steel frames. In Europe, some are finished in powder-coated aluminum in soft blue-green or terra cotta. The sink-on-stand takes on a more glamorous look in polished brass with marble.
Still, there are plenty of options for vanity furniture. Retailers like Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn sell vanities as well as faucets and accessories in a wide range of modern and traditional styles. Materials include painted, stained or natural wood to special finishes like textured shagreen (at RH, with white marble top, brass pulls, and brass sabots on feet). These pieces are well-crafted; the cabinet for Ambella Home's Labyrinth vanity easily could stand in an elegant living room.
Pendant lighting has become a popular decorating tool in the bath. Just as it's utilized over an island in the kitchen, pendants now are suspended over vanity countertops. They're often hung in multiples, sometimes in different sizes, at staggered heights and asymmetrically. The style is not limited to modern.
In a traditional bath designed for the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago's Lake Forest Showhouse and Gardens, designer Joey Licht suspended a luxe Baccarat crystal pendant to one side of the gray bath cabinet, which was trimmed in gold, to blend with gold plumbing fixtures from Phylrich.
Gold is having a moment -- in faucets, hardware, lighting, towel bars, accessories, even tubs. Touches of gold sparkle in wallcoverings and porcelain tiles.
At the same time, a more relaxed, eclectic approach is affecting the use of metals -- just as in kitchen design. In some instances, manufacturers are mixing up silver with gold, gold with matte black.
Surface materials and finishes also are being mixed, coordinating different stones and tiles. Layering is an especially effective way to create interest. Matte and glossy are coming together, much like a tabletop trend in porcelain dinnerware. As matte black has moved from faucet to sink and tub design, that combination is especially striking.
Choosing a magenta tub requires a fearless decorating attitude. But color and pattern have other avenues -- walls (wallcovering and tile) and floors.
Pattern in the bath couldn't be more intentional, sometimes at the core. Feature walls are gaining traction, largely driven by the diversity of porcelain tile. Italian ceramics trends for 2020 underscore patterns as well as color and surface effects. Many of today's graphic patterns are inspired by terrazzo, rare marbles and semiprecious stones with distinctive markings, striations or exaggerated veining, flora and bold geometrics.
Beyond strong aesthetics, smart tech also is finding its way to the bath, especially because millennials are seeking high-tech function. Faucets that respond to voice or the swipe of a hand, and the touchless approach like that in airports are even more appealing now because of the pandemic. Antibacterial and self-cleaning ceramics are upgrades to toilets, as well as those that combine bidet functions. Imagine: No more toilet paper angst.
Whether you prefer a refreshing rain shower or a long soak in a tub, the bath has become more of a sanctuary than ever before. So it's no surprise that some are splurging on the extras that make it special.
-- Ambella Home, 877-242-3939, www.ambellahome.com
-- Antoniolupi, 312-329-1550, www.antoniolupi.it
-- Brizo, 877-345-2749, www.brizo.com
-- Delta Faucets, 800-345-3358, www.deltafaucet.com
-- Duravit, 888-387-2848, www.duravit.us
-- EveKare, 224-294-0400, www.evekare.com
-- Fantini USA, 212-308-8833, www.fantiniusa.com
-- Kallista, 888-452-5547, www.kallista.com
-- Pottery Barn, 888-779-5176, www.potterybarn.com
-- RH, 800-762-1005, www.rh.com
-- Scavolini, 212-219-0910, www.scavoliniusa.com
-- ThermaSol, 800-776-0711, www.thermasol.com
-- Thompson Traders, 336-272-3003, www.thompsontraders.com
Creativity in All Corners
At the 2018 installment of Eurocucina, the kitchen and bath show held every other year during Salone del Mobile in Milan, the Italian brand Scavolini debuted an interesting concept for the bath. The idea: a reinterpretation of gymnastics wall bars. The ladderlike wood wall-mounted system incorporates components of bath furnishings -- lights, shelves, storage and mirrors, as well as a framework dedicated to physical exercise.
It seems smart, especially now.
Besides looking at lifestyle for cues, there's also a bit of fun in function for the bath.
In recent years we've seen a lot of options in showerheads and sprays that change up the force of water from drops to gentle rain. Finishes have ranged from chrome to stainless and burnished brass as well as black matte. But last year Delta teased with a new model: one with pattern, which they debuted in a camo version.
In January, at KBIS (Kitchen and Bath Industry Show) in Las Vegas (one of the last trade events that didn't get canceled), Delta wowed with a delightful display of colorful patterned showerheads -- a new way to add personality to the bath.