Whether working on a complete bath remodel or a simple "refreshening" job, bath accessories and hardware provide a great way to update the feel of the space and create a more fashionable and coordinated look.
Equally important, bath accessories can provide greater ease of use, increased storage and enhanced safety.
One of the greatest selling points of bath accessories and hardware is that they can help consumers achieve a more updated look – even if they're not yet ready to invest in a full remodel.
"We call it ‘remodeling-lite,' says Tim Bitterman, group marketing manager for Creative Specialties International, a division of Moen, in North Olmsted, OH. He says homeowners are looking for their accessories to do it all – offer storage, style and even safety features.
Homeowners are also becoming more practical, he adds. "It is less about showing off and more about sensible styles, problem-solving products and thoughtful design," Bitterman offers.
The Perfect Match
Manufacturers agree that demand for coordinating hardware is growing in the bath and throughout the home. Many homeowners are also looking to ‘re-invent' their rooms with small renovation projects that will create a more satisfying space and unify the design.
"Investing in small changes that make a big impact, such as tying together a bathroom with coordinated hardware, from the towel bar to the to the cabinet hardware, is a perfect place to start," says Jessica Wolma, director of marketing for Amerock, in Atlanta, GA. "These types of projects are expected to continue fueling the need for a wide variety of finishes and styles to more easily coordinate across multiple categories."
Given the choice, "homeowners will select bath accessories that match the finish and design of the faucets and other fittings to coordinate the appearance of the room," says Ed Detgen, v.p./marketing for Danze, in Woodridge, IL. "Unique finishes have emerged in hardware and accessories and often lead the way for faucets and other room elements to follow."
Simplicity is key for most, according to Stacey Singer, sales & marketing director for Alno, in Sylmar, CA. "The trend seems to be streamlined toward effortlessness in appearance and sophisticated sleek in style," she says. "Contemporary and transitional styles are hot."
The ever-growing array of finish choices provides designers with great latitude in creating baths for every style and taste. But while finish choices abound, classic chrome is still king according to research from Moen, which shows chrome representing 47 percent of the total bath market today. Stainless steel and brushed nickel come in second at 37 percent, and oil-rubbed/Old World bronze come in third at seven percent – a number that has actually doubled in the past few years.
As the finish and style coordination of bath hardware continues to influence product design, Wolma says the availability of finishes, styles and sizes across current and existing collections of hardware is expected to increase even more. "Design trends continue to evolve," she says. "As bath cabinets continue to increase in size, so does the demand for larger knobs and pulls."
In addition, Wolma says consumers are looking for the latest in unique finishes that include color layering, providing a rich textured element to decorative hardware.
Charles Fishman, president and owner of Cool Lines USA, in Pompano Beach, FL, says his company is starting to see manufacturers applying finishes on modern-style faucets and accessories that were exclusive only to traditional designs just a year or two ago, such as some satin and oil-rubbed bronzes and brass.
"A contemporary product in a bronze finish is definitely a trend for 2011 and beyond," Singer says.
Danze has introduced a Tumbled Bronze finish that Detgen says is very unique in the market. "This finish option is softer than a distressed bronze and looks as if it has texture," he explains.