bathroom trends

Bathrooms always have been the place where we prepare to face the day in the morning, but they’ve increasingly evolved into restorative spaces where we retreat to unwind and recharge.

In 2014, homeowners want to steam, soak and wash their cares away in open, spa-like spaces with clean, minimalist lines, according to the 2014 National Kitchen and Bath Association trend report. This year, they’ll spend $5,000 to more than $30,000 to upgrade and update fixtures and color schemes.

While bold, bright colors are trending for other rooms, homeowners are asking for sleek, contemporary bathroom designs that sport sensory-soothing gray and white color schemes. Consumers also are attracted to Asian-inspired designs featuring warm neutrals like beige and stone with light finished wood and bamboo, according to Houzz.com, a home design website. What follows is a look at several 2014 bathroom trends.

Serenity, Safety, Style
While a long soak in a bubble bath is a time-honored tradition for de-stressing, it’s rapidly being replaced by steamy showers in huge, well-lit glass showers.

“Most people want the biggest shower they can get,” said Andrea Eskola, an interior designer at Kitchen and Bath Concepts in Little Rock, AR. “They usually want some type of bench where they can sit down if need be. Most want two separate showerheads, one stationary and one that’s handheld and near the bench. That’s helpful for women shaving their legs or for when you’re cleaning the shower.”

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Sensory-soothing white color schemes are gaining ground in bathrooms.

No-threshold or curbless showers—level with the floor—are a clear choice for most homeowners. “Curbless showers look very elegant,” said contractor Pat Barnett, president of Ageless Spaces in Austin, TX. “And safety-wise, they’re great. You don’t have a barrier when getting in and out.”

Tubs aren’t washed out in today’s bathrooms, although many homeowners are replacing standard alcove tubs with freestanding ones. Homeowners prefer sleek, curved tubs with sculptural appeal well as the traditional clawfoot models.

Steam Cleaning
A glass-enclosed shower easily can double as a wet sauna by extending the walls to the ceiling and installing a steam showerhead.

“They are amazing,” Jameson said. “Set yourself down on the bench, push a button and the whole shower steams up. It clears your pores, and it’s also a green way to bathe because it doesn’t use much water. For people who can’t afford a separate spa in their house, a steam shower is a nice option.”

A natural follow-up to a steam shower is drying with a warm towel. Jameson said warming drawers for towels are becoming a hot feature in spa-like spaces, along with scented candles and hidden roll-out shelves for toiletries.

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Curved tubs are important to homeowners.

Universal Appeal
While homeowners desire luxurious retreats, form follows function when they choose colors, materials and features for bathroom overhauls, the National Kitchen and Bath Association report shows. Baby Boomer homeowners, in particular, favor curbless showers and open floor plans that allow them to “age in place,” or stay in their homes for the duration of their lives, Jameson said. Universal design also has ageless appeal, as younger homeowners discover its emphasis on accessibility translates to added resale value.

Universal design features also include nonslip floors, grab bars and a variety of lighting sources.

“Everyone wants more lights,” Barnett said.

Indeed, a recent Houzz.com survey found that 48 percent of bathroom remodeling projects call for a new window and 41 percent for a lighted vanity. At least 12 percent will include a skylight, and 7 percent will feature LED lights in the showerhead.

With all that light, it’s impossible to overlook clunky safety features like grab bars. Or is it?

“The grab bars we use don’t look like something in a hospital or nursing home,” Eskola said.

Modern safety bars often are curved and are crafted of warm wood and burnished metals. Clear and opaque acrylic bars are available in a rainbow of colors; some even glow in the dark.

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Quartz countertops like these are growing in popularity.

Easy Maintenance
Jameson and Eskola said homeowners universally ask for features that meld style with easy maintenance.

“People want things that aren’t going to cause them more work,” Jameson said.

Consider countertops. For years, granite has been the most requested countertop material, but its porousness made it high-maintenance (think fingerprints on a shiny black surface) and, depending on the quality, it could crack or chip. This year, homeowners prefer quartz because it’s sturdy, it doesn’t stain and it has a lustrous sheen that’s easily wiped clean.

High-maintenance features defeat the spa-like atmosphere that homeowners want in their upscale bathrooms, Eskola said. And nothing kills the retreat vibe more than having to scrub mildewed tile grout.

“For showers, the larger the tile, the better,” she said. “Most people like big tiles because there’s less grout to deal with.”

Light, Bright and Neutral
In 2014, beige and bone color schemes are No. 1 with homeowners, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association. But white and gray are gaining ground.

“The good thing about gray is that it’s neutral but a way to add color to a room without being committed to one palette,” Jameson said. “It’s easy to accessorize, and you don’t get stuck with a color that’ll be dated in 10 years.”

Photos courtesy of Cambria, Paul Knutson Residential Design/Tony Thies and Kitchen Design Gallery/Bob Greenspan

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