Form and function matter! At least they continue to matter to the design-conscious consumer looking to customize the bath space. In that most intimate of spaces, it's no surprise that savvy shoppers are searching for vanities that will make a powerful design statements. And, they're not letting go of the idea that they, too, can get organized. The key continues to be incorporating the right storage options behind the vanity style, no matter what the look is, according to manufacturers recently surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.
Indeed, manufacturers see consumers increasingly taking advantage of the many options available, customizing their vanities and storage spaces to ideally suit their tastes and needs. Additionally, they are increasingly moving toward personalized furniture-style pieces for the vanity and other storage cabinet, with popular styles running the gamut from traditional to transitional to contemporary.
Most manufacturers agree that the biggest trend in the bath vanity is the free-standing furniture style. Sandra Luttchens, CKD, director of design and training for Omega Cabinetry in Waterloo, IA, agrees that there is "a definite trend toward furniture styling," adding that those pieces are "unfitted and more formal pieces."
Sarah Reep, ASID, CKD, CMG and director of design for KraftMaid Cabinetry,
in Middlefield, OH, explains that the vanity can look like fine furniture and even be coordinated with the furniture in the bedroom.
Apart from the master bath, the free-standing, furniture look continues to be popular in the powder room, as well. "People are interested in more fashion options for this part of the home," comments Reep.
Luttchens sees the bath vanity as a "dynamic element of a powder room." She adds: "With the multitude of furniture-inspired vanities, it is easy to create very sophisticated small spaces."
FLAIR AND PRACTICALITY
"There seems to be a race between the kitchen and bath for which room the consumer will be more willing to go to the edge of their fashion envelope on," believes Steve Stark, CKD, v.p./sales and marketing for Prestige Cabinets, Inc., in Independence, KS.
"I think," Stark adds, "the bath wins by a few lengths."
Others in the industry are likely to agree. Tristan McManaman, marketing director for Walker Zanger, in Sacramento, CA, explains that the nationwide trend toward creating spa-like sanctuaries in the home bath continues. "Many," he adds, "are furnishing their home-spa- and boutique-hotel-inspired baths to include more exotic materials, design-driven fixtures and real furniture." And the vanity is, of course, at the center of this movement.
Although many manufacturers note that consumers tend to purchase traditional designs, they also note that those traditional designs are being updated. "The consumers are looking for design first and foremost," says McManaman. He adds, "Customers are looking for strong design statements that reflect personal style and taste and luxurious natural materials."
Additionally, he says he's seeing more demand for modern styles, but maintains that traditional styles still edge them out, despite the growing movement for an updated traditional look. Phil Lee, director of sales and marketing for RonBow Materials Corp. in Haywards, CA, splits the difference, reporting that "traditional styles with a modern look" are a definite trend.
Luttchens, on the other hand, has been noticing more demand for art and drama. She's been seeing an increase in requests for contemporary, Arts and Crafts, and Island/Caribbean styling for vanities. Other manufacturers report a trend toward an Oriental, or Asian-influenced, look. Lee specifically mentions demand for "Asian, Indian and even Middle Eastern fashions."
Laurie Galbraith, design & training manager for HomeCrest Cabinetry in Goshen, IN, says that "period and Old World styles are still popular, but a new wave of modern and Asian themes is evolving."