Today’s bathrooms are about more than just function – or fashion. Rather, these spaces can be a diversion from the everyday grind, a refuge of luxury for the hassled homeowner and an emotional haven where they can enjoy a peaceful, soothing environment while preparing for the rigors of the day.
And while today’s consumers continue to show a healthy respect for a still-troubled economy, the emotional connection to the bath still drives interest in products that help to beautify and organize the bath.
Baths tend to be trending larger in size, but even smaller bath spaces are being designed with greater care to detail and an eye toward personalized style – a trend in which the vanity plays a key role.
When it comes to vanities, transitional style with clean lines and easy-to-maintain tops are in high demand, while furniture styling is also a hot trend. The eco-friendly trend is having some impact, though cost-conscious consumers seem to be more concerned about value, according to many manufacturers.
Additionally, there remains a growing demand for bath vanities that make a personal statement while also providing flexible storage for a wide range of bath products.
“We believe that homeowners want to create unique bathrooms that are individualized to their tastes,” says Rod Brewer, v.p. of marketing and product development for Mid Continent Cabinetry in Eagan, MN. “They don’t want ‘off the shelf solutions’ that are ‘one style fits all.’ They want choice and flexibility.”
Ideally, bath vanities need to offer a blend of style, practicality and quality, regardless of the price point, according to top manufacturers recently surveyed by KBDN.
When it comes to style trends, the furniture look continues to make a strong statement in bathrooms across North America. Part of the look’s popularity, manufacturers agree, is that these pieces enhance the beauty of the bathroom without sacrificing functionality.
“We are seeing more people request stand-alone vanities that look more like furniture than the typical vanity cabinet,” says Jeff Ptacek, product manager for Fieldstone/StarMark Cabinetry in Sioux Falls, SD. Ptacek explains that today’s popular furniture-style vanities sport “various styled legs supporting the cabinetry portion,” and notes that this adds to the sense of elegance in the bath.
Angela O’Neill agrees that the trend toward furniture styling is huge. Director of marketing and advertising for Wellborn Cabinets, in Ashland, AL, O’Neill has also seen a shift in the placement of these vanities. “The furniture vanity was more commonly found in the guest or powder bath, but master baths featuring vanities have recently become more customary,” she explains.
In addition to furniture styling, other hot buzzwords for vanities include transitional, clean and casual. But clean and casual can come in a wide variety of incarnations, manufacturers agree.
According to Steve Wilcox, director of product development and marketing for Sunny Wood/Sagehill Designs in Cerritos, CA, “In general, we continue to see an overall casualness of consumer lifestyles and interior design trends. But this casualness can be interpreted in traditional, transitional and contemporary styles. The overall style trends present themselves as a mixture of pure styles, or updates in scale, proportion and finish that are both friendly and approachable by the consumer.”
Wilcox concurs that casual is a key trend, and adds that the focus is on “less ornate detailing” and “cleaner or a simpler design emphasis.” These styles, he says, “could be described as American Casual or Casual Contemporary.”
“The most desired vanity design is a clean, transitional, Shaker-style vanity with less detail, more defined lines and light colors to make a fresh, clean look,” asserts O’Neill.
“Unique veneers are also gaining popularity,” explains Ptacek, citing such exotic veneers such as “bamboo, rosewood or versions of other species like burled or birds eye maple.”