“A clean look and lifestyle is trendy,” says James Lin, president – Bath Division for Fairmont Designs in Buena Park, CA. “In the higher-end market you can see casual traditional pieces instead of ornate traditional pieces.” He notes that ornate designs are still needed in some markets, but not across the board, adding that transitional styles still lead the trends, even though contemporary styles are getting more popular.
Wistrom sees the same trends. “There has been a definitive shift toward sleek, simple transitional looks in all areas of the home, and we have certainly seen our contemporary offering being used steadily for bathroom remodels. The sleek surfaces are easy to clean and the edgy colors, glosses and textures easily make a statement in the bathroom.”
Mark Cross, v.p. of sales and marketing for the Corsi Group, a holding company for Greenfield Cabinetry and Corsi Cabinet Company in Indianapolis, IN, adds, “Clean lines with simplistic sophistication has been the trend we have seen through our dealers nationally.”
Liu has also seen a big shift from ultra modern styles to a more transitional look.
Jeff Ptacek, CKD, product manager for StarMark Cabinetry in Sioux Falls, SD, says that simple doors, which tend to be less expensive and easier to clean, are in high demand, along with furniture-style vanities.
People like the comfort of standing in front of a taller vanity, says Korsten, which lends itself to furniture-styled cabinetry, many times with open shelves in the lower area. He also agrees that in vanities, as with many other areas of the home, cleaner, simpler lines dominate.
Wilcox adds that, from a style standpoint, Sagehill/Sunny Wood sees two strong trends. One is a rustic look, featuring both light and dark finishes, with rough-hewn looking boards, natural edges and bolder hardware proportions. The second is what he calls “eco-hip” or “euro-casual.” This style is very clean, but features more of a natural-type wood finish, minimal or integrated pulls, and can have metal legs as accents. “Woods such as walnut, cherry and maple are used here due to their excellent grain and color,” he says.
When it comes to finishes, manufacturers say that darker tones lead the way, but there has also been a rise in white, natural and other finishes. Wistrom says they are also seeing a lot of exotic veneers being used for vanities, along with high-gloss acrylics and textured foils.
Wilcox says that finishes seem to be following a more casual or natural approach, too. “Less glazing, lower sheen, and a more subdued overall look seem to be the trend for new product finishes,” he says.
Liu notes that white finishes are on the rise, much to his surprise. Design Element Bath Furniture had discontinued most of its white vanities since they weren’t selling, but in 2011 the company came out with some London vanities in white, and they began selling very well. He says that oak and cherry have a market too, but nothing compares to Espresso, which he thinks makes up more than 60% of bathroom vanities in the market.
Lin agrees that dark colors still dominate the market, but white and natural finishes are on the rise. Ptacek adds that grays and a driftwood style of color are also coming back strong.
Bells and Whistles
The overall style of a piece is just the beginning, however. Liu says, “People who used to purchase vanities just for the look started to realize they also need this thing to be practical, too.” They need counter space and storage, and they desire features such as soft-close, as well.
“For a higher-end bath vanity, people expect features like soft-close drawers and dovetail construction,” says Naomi Neilson Howard, CEO and founder of Native Trails in San Luis Obispo, CA. “That said, people are often pleasantly surprised to see soft-close drawers in our rustic themed Chardonnay and Cabernet vanities made of reclaimed winemaking materials. It’s like an unexpected bonus – to fall in love with a vanity’s looks and then find out that it’s sustainably built and has soft-close drawers.” Additionally, she says requests for more drawer space have inspired the company’s Monaco design.
Storage is extremely important in the bath, and Korsten says that deeper storage drawers are preferred, while roll-out trays find their way into tall utility-height storage units. “Convenience and organization are as important in the bath as anywhere else in the home,” he states.