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IF THE LAST 18 months taught us anything it is that bathrooms are sacred, perhaps the only place where privacy is nonnegotiable. And what is the most common peeve that leads homeowners to renovate this sanctuary? Old and outdated décor, said 69% of the respondents in the 2021 U.S. Bathroom Trends Study, recently conducted by home-renovation and -design site Houzz.
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New York architect and interior designer Adam Rolston of INC Architecture & Design has noticed a bathroom boom too. “Recently, we’ve definitely seen around a 10-15% increase in bathroom size,” he said. Palatial or not, bathroom décor is echoing elegant living spaces with statement chandeliers and whimsical plumbing fixtures, elements that add personality. Designers “mix nostalgia with forward thinking,” said Mr. Rolston, who juxtaposed neoclassical fluted millwork against sleek stacked vertical tiles in the Brooklyn bathroom shown above. This historical mashup creates tension that will make you pay attention, unlike played-out subway tile and bland Shaker cabinets.
To help you keep your own temple up-to-date, here are five trends to which designers are gravitating, plus those they’re kicking to the curb.
IN: Asymmetrical Mirrors
A frame that mixes rounded and sharp corners offers “a kinder, gentler modernism” than your standard, rigid geometry, said Mr. Rolston. Dallas interior designer Ginger Curtis points out that an asymmetric looking glass works best if hung on plain walls that won’t compete for attention. “It’s like a piece of artwork and a functional tool,” she said.
OUT: The standard rectangular mirror on the wall above a vanity.
IN: Vertical Tile
A grid of slim rectangles on end is like a meditation: pure, and a call to a higher power—or at least a ceiling. Vertical lines “stretch” the walls, creating an illusion of height, said Lisbon, Portugal, interior designer Laurence Beysecker, who recently installed vertical jade tiles above a terrazzo floor.
OUT: Subway tiles. “When you see something so many times, you stop seeing it,” Mr. Rolston said.
IN: Fluted Vanities
Fluting—a groovy, ancient architectural detail associated with Greek columns—“creates depth, shade and shadow, much like in classical woodwork,” said Mr. Rolston, who let the pattern star on this fumed, white-oak cabinet “in a distinctly modern manner…unwrapped onto a flat panel.” You get “the visual impact without the historical baggage,” he added. London interior designer Olivia Emery transformed a client’s tight washroom into “something quite feminine but with a sophisticated edge” by applying dusty pink, inch-wide fluting on the vanity front and all the way down a panel along the side of the tub. “It made the whole thing feel a bit more contemporary,” she said.
OUT: Hard-edge modern is passe, “as is anything historic, like Shaker-style cabinets,” said Mr. Rolston.
IN: Colored Faucets
Skittles for your bathroom have arrived. Fantini’s Balocchi model (left) blobbifies ye olde cross-handle faucet and updates it in colors like bright red. Waterworks teamed with New York firm ASH NYC to produce a line that sneaks glee into a traditional design with porcelain faucet handles of blue, green, red or yellow. Bursts of color in an all-white bathroom add visual delight, said San Francisco interior designer Noz Nozawa. In a powder room, Los Angeles designer Caitlin Murray used a bright red, lever-controlled Vola sink faucet to echo a similar hue in a floral wallpaper. “With all the hand washing today, you’d be lucky to have a faucet that makes you smile,” Ms. Nozawa added.
OUT: Oil-rubbed bronze fixtures that once exuded old-world charm now just appear old.
IN: Art and Fancy Lights
“If a chandelier can go over a dining table, it can go in your bathroom,” contends Ghislaine Viñas. The New York interior designer added personality to a utilitarian space by installing a brass brutalist chandelier in architect Chet Callahan’s Los Angeles bathroom. In the same room, she uncorked “art’s energy” by hanging a witty Hernan Bas painting against purist white walls, avoiding the “tiled mausoleum” atmosphere she believes afflicts so many bathrooms.
OUT: Harsh downlight that creates ghoulish shadows, especially on the face.
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