Others are finding that providing a range of options across style categories is playing it safe. “Contemporary versus traditional styling is a very personal decision, and we see them both in demand,” says Jennifer Lee, director of marketing/fixtures for Woodridge, IL-based Danze.
Still others see the continuing dominance, or possibly even a return to dominance, of traditional styling.
“While there are always new trends coming in and going out, what remains is still predominantly traditional storage in the bath, in terms of both style and design,” says Karen Wistrom, ASID, v.p./marketing for Howard Lake, MN-based Dura Supreme.
“We like to provide our customers with options,” adds Wilcox. “We offer a variety of features that allows the dealer to ‘customize’ our products after the sale, such as dual-height legs or interchangeable door panels for wood or glass, for example.”
Luttchens-Van Allen believes the economy has tempered individual themes from rivaling more traditional styles. “We’re seeing a variety of cabinetry – from minimalist modern to nostalgic traditional to Arts & Crafts. People are choosing to remodel their bathrooms in this economy, and are looking for styles that complement their homes’ existing décor,” she says.
Furniture, Form & Function
When asked if the market is demanding more furniture-styled vanities and storage cabinets from manufacturers, Stookey’s response is the norm: “Definitely.”
Lee notes: “Furniture-style cabinetry is definitely among the most popular we’re seeing in the market. It provides a very finished, warm look to the room. In many cases this style of cabinetry adds extra storage to the room. More and more homeowners seek out free-standing furniture-grade vanities instead of built-in cabinetry that appears to be their kitchen cabinet extension. Well-designed bath furniture provides character and style to the room, and smart solutions to accommodate storage needs.”
‘Bath furniture,’ as it is coming to be frequently called, brings the idea of the bath as a room to be furnished like any other in the home, and new styles reflect that sentiment, according to manufacturers.
The number of products available in this segment has been growing for some time. “It’s quite easy to find pre-designed furniture styles that complement a home’s interior details and provide concealed storage, as well,” notes Luttchens-Van Allen.
“This is definitely the trend that has gained the most steam in the last 18 months,” says Wistrom. “It’s not a fad; furniture details like turned columns, legs, feet and others are here to stay.”
“Feet and leg treatments are more commonplace, with open-shelving, reminiscent of bookcases or end tables in other spaces around the home,” adds Ptacek.
“Open shelving continues to grow in popularity and, if done well, can add a wonderful sense of décor to the room. It provides a natural space to display items and add a finishing touch,” says Lee. “However, it can’t be at the expense of having enough closed storage options within the pieces. Homeowners still demand a lot of storage in order to maintain a clutter-free environment.”
Which may explain why manufacturers such as Lin typically think of this type of storage as more appropriate for powder rooms, rather than master baths. “It is really only good in certain segments and types of infrequently used baths,” he adds.
Luttchens-Van Allen agrees: “Open shelving is more often seen in guest or half baths rather than master or children’s baths. High use bathrooms are better served with closed storage to keep the space looking neat and tidy; open, more decorative details are often found in lower traffic bathrooms. The exception to this is sleek, contemporary styling, which still lends itself to open shelves for exposed, color coordinated towel storage and minimalist decor.”
The compromise is a mix of open and closed storage to give the display space a transitional touch while preserving the privacy of one’s toiletries.
“Many homeowners like the look and décor options that open storage provide, but they still need the functionality of closed storage for a clutter-free environment,” Lee notes.