As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” This long-ago sentiment still holds true today as home design moves toward a renewed appreciation of simple elegance and a sophisticated style that celebrates uncluttered spaces.
As a product of our economic times, we are seeing a shift away from the luxury-centered design that has dominated our industry in the past. Instead, we are rediscovering the appealing beauty of simplicity. The “must-have mentality” that drove consumers to crave the latest gadgets is being replaced by a desire for timeless products that are built to last. The lines are classic and flowing, the colors soft and subdued – particularly in the decorative plumbing and hardware arena.
Never was this design trend more evident than at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show held earlier this year in New York City. More than 350 home design companies unveiled products that celebrated sophistication and understated elegance. There was an emphasis on transparent and ethereal surfaces like glass, along with shimmering finishes that reflect light and have interesting textures. Clean lines and gentle classic curves were celebrated, along with soft, iridescent colors and a vision of creating a personal wellness center to counterbalance the hectic lifestyles we all seem to have.
Fixtures Go Classic
Tubs and showers, while becoming more streamlined and intimate, are still the undeniable focal points of the bathroom. Classic, one-piece freestanding tubs are favored over more complicated designs. Karen Edwards, noted author and designer, is a particular fan of the sculptural quality of stand-alone tubs, calling them “the hallmarks of an elegantly designed bath.”
As a design journalist and founder of her own design studio, Edwards has a keen appreciation of the pivotal importance of tub placement. She advises clients to make decisions carefully, such as positioning a tub in front of a window for architectural emphasis or arranging two tubs side-by-side.
“I recommend installations where the tub is framed within views of the bedroom, so that even when you don’t have the time for a long soak, its very presence at the end of your sight line is calming,” she says.
The trend of the bathroom as a sanctuary continues to gain momentum. Even boutique hotels are challenging traditional layouts by including tubs in the bedroom or on the outdoor terrace, according to Fran Aukland, communications manager for the London-based Victoria + Albert.
“Current economic conditions have meant that consumers are not just looking for a ‘now’ bath, but they are looking for a bath to last them a lifetime,” she says.
When it comes to showers, Edwards has noticed a trend in clients wanting to scale down their oversized showers into a more personal space. Even more modestly sized walk-in showers can still create a sense of retreat with the use of beautiful stone or recycled tile, rainfall showerheads and shower systems with multiple or hand-held sprayers.
Color trends are all about subtlety as understated and muted hues take center stage. Experts are predicting peaceful neutrals and soft pastels will be strong in the coming year. According to Laurie Pressman, Pantone v.p. of fashion, home and interiors, all shades of white will be a “core staple shade for 2013.” She also predicts a strong demand for “sheen” materials that have a worn, eroded or rusted look.
“The trend for custom finishes in hardware is like any other – it always inspires a counter-trend. I really like the shine of old-fashioned chrome,” Edwards says. “It has so much more to do with the simplified shape of faucets today. Rounded or squared, it’s as if we’re trying to take even the most traditional forms back to the pipe.”
As consumers look for quality kitchen and bath products, the face of showroom selling is dramatically changing. Leading showrooms are creating environments where customers can truly experience the products they are considering buying. And why not? They are making an investment in their future.