Designers looking to “wow” their clients by recommending the latest gadgets for their bath remodel may actually be better off going back to basics. That’s the sentiment shared by designers recently interviewed by Kitchen & Bath Design News, who note that consumers’ desire to retreat from the daily grind has led to a client more interested in Zen than Wii.
“Theme-wise, bathrooms are all over the map,” notes Sarah Michalowski, CKD, for Minneapolis, MN-based Sawhill Kitchens & Design. “However, one uniting factor seems to be [establishing] a natural, soothing environment that can be created in any style.”
Nancy Henry, kitchen designer and interior designer for Glenview, IL-based DDK Kitchen Design Group agrees: “I think the consumer who has come home from a long day in the working environment wants to be surrounded by products that are beautiful, products that help them relax. ”
“The bath needs to be that place of renewal, regeneration and retreat,” adds Jeani Lee, CKD, CBD, CAPS, of Ames, IA-based Kitchen, Bath & Home. “The right pieces, colors, textures and lighting can help to create an environment that gives you those feelings.”
Living in an era of uncertainty is inspiring people to re-evaluate and simplify their lives and their homes, according to Lynn Monson, CKD, CBD, ASID, CID and owner of
Monson Interior Design and DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in St. Louis Park, MN. “As a result, we get back to the basics by recognizing and embracing what is personally important and letting the rest of it go,” he states.
Streamlined designs appear to aid in the decluttering of the mind and spirit, today’s kitchen and bath designers contend.
Doryn Wallach, principal of Doryn Wallach Kitchen and Bath in Greenwich, CT and New York, NY believes: “My clients want a space that is practical, but also fresh and clean-lined, so it doesn’t look like their grandparents’ home.”
Henry notes that she sees a lot of clients who lean toward transitional designs. “Many of our clients desire a clean, simple design – one they feel they will not tire of.”
Today’s consumers are less concerned about having the ‘marble look’ that was once expected in the master bathroom, according to Dennis Duffy, principal of Duffy Design Group in Boston, MA. Instead, they are gravitating toward styles that are more in keeping with the architecture of the rest of the home, and are drawn to more neutral, soothing colors.
One of the keys to capturing an earthy, natural palette is through the use of materials that offer a feeling of natural warmth, says Henry. For that reason, clients want natural products, especially natural stone tops, stone flooring, and stone tub and shower surrounds, she comments.
“We are using more solid and fine-grained stone in natural colors,” Monson reports. “We often contrast this in at least one area, such as in a mosaic tile border or floor pattern.”
“Rich, warm woods, in contemporary and traditional designs, are also dominant in baths,” adds Henry. “Paints and glazes are popular for those who want a lighter fare.”
Shiny finishes are also giving way to matte finishes, such as honed granite countertops, according to Monson. Seamless materials are popular, he adds, such as with thin-slab granite tub surrounds and shower surrounds.”
Gregory Thomas, AIA for Austin, TX-based CG&S Design-Build adds: “We are doing more quartz countertops and tub decks because they are impervious to stains and there are so many appealing color options.”
While the use of natural materials is a significant trend, Duffy adds that man-made materials are popular because they stain less and are more user friendly. He recently used glass stone in a master bath project. “Any of the eco-resins are great, such as glass stone, IceStone or Paperstone,” he offers.