On the heels of a long stretch where renovation and remodeling projects took a back seat to conservative spending and personal restraint, consumers are beginning to spend once again. Bathrooms especially, being of smaller size and usually a smaller budget, are the focus of much of this new spending.
While plumbing and fixtures are seen as the jewels that adorn the space, it is often the vanity that acts as the focal point. Current tastes dictate vanities that are more streamlined, with the beauty of the piece emulated in the wood grains and finishes rather than ornamentation.
“It appears that great opulence is not the fashion for the North American consumer,” stresses Steve Wilcox, product designer and spokesperson for Sagehill Designs, in Cerritos, CA. “The styling and design of interiors in general reflects this more conservative approach.”
Consumers are moving away from ornate traditional units at higher price points to a cleaner, more casual look with great functionality at good values, agree George Tsai, chairman, and James Lin, president, Bath Division, Fairmont Designs, in Buena Park, CA.
Wilcox notes that because consumers are becoming more informed, responsible and thoughtful of the products they buy, bathroom designs are now more restrained in scope and budget.
“Consumers who are shopping for products need the perfect balance of style, quality and value to be enticed to make the purchase,” he says.
Smooth and Simple
The trend toward cleaner, smoother lines in the bath reflects what is being seen throughout the home with regard to cabinetry, reports Scott Korsten, marketing director, Showplace Wood Products, in Harrisburg, SD. “I can only guess it has something to do with homeowners making changes that they feel simplify their lives,” he says.
“The master bath, in particular, is their oasis from the world around them that at many times feels out of control and uncertain. So, making the room feel comfortable is a priority,” he stresses.
Jacob Goren, president, Empire Industries, in Paterson, NJ, agrees that vanities are becoming much more contemporary, with very, very clean lines – smooth and simple. “All of the antiquing and handcarving is gone,” he reports.
“Many styles now are hybrids, choosing the best design elements of several styles,” says Wilcox. “If I had to give them names it would be ‘Casual Traditional’ and ‘Casual Contemporary.’ These have an element of the traditional or contemporary, but they are dressed down and more approachable. Rigid period styles are less meaningful at the moment, with perhaps the exception of a Craftsman or Arts and Crafts style.”
Many bath vanities are designed to look like standalone pieces of furniture, which aligns with the trend of the bath having the feel of a living space, according to Rod Brewer, v.p., marketing and product development, Mid Continent Cabinetry, in Eagan, MN.
“This type of bath vanity looks like it was a piece of furniture taken from another room in the house,” explains Naomi Neilson Howard, founder and CEO, Native Trails, in San Luis Obispo, CA. “For instance, the antique white, distressed finish and country charm look of Native Trails’ Savannah looks like it could belong in a living room or study.”
Dura Supreme is seeing a strong trend in furniture-styled vanities that use turned posts to create a freestanding look, according to Karen Wistrom, ASID, v.p. of marketing, Dura Supreme, in Howard Lake, MN.
Goren’s take on the popularity of vanity legs is a more contemporary one. While he notes that legs are still very popular, he cites his company’s line that features legs with stainless steel on the underside as the style that has really taken off.
“Stainless steel legs paired with a simple lined vanity in matte or gloss” has enjoyed significant success, says Goren. “Gloss is definitely coming back; we saw this starting to come back three or four years ago.”
The Full Spectrum