Such surfacing innovation requires the design professional to redefine the term “authentic” – it is no longer a concept or term reserved only for natural materials; authentic can refer to an exceptional man-made product. New laminates and better substrates mean that our cabinet faces may be something other than a fine natural veneer.
Learn about new reconstituted or textured wood grain laminate panels for cabinet fronts. Realize that wallpaper (it is not paper any longer, in many cases!) can be a viable wall surface in a bathroom. Larger patterns, more color, more texture – perhaps a glint of glimmer or metallic accents – are popular in many surfaces appropriate for spa-like master bathrooms.
SAFETY & COMFORT
Another hot trend is that safety and comfort are no longer unglamorous concepts. The best products are becoming safer to use, intuitive to manage, easy to clean and more attractive to look at.
Indeed, technology that enhances the comfort, safety and cleanliness of the space is highly valued by today’s “risk-adverse” consumers.
There are ventilation systems on the market that offer humidity-sensing operational advantages, and ventilation systems that are part of a light fixture or can be part of a whole-house ventilation system. Also available are ventilation systems that have a motion sensor with a delayed timer that activates the fan when a person enters the bathroom, and automatically shuts off the fan 20 minutes after the occupant has left. The built-in humidity sensor overrides the delayed timer until humidity returns to preset levels.
For example, the Broan-NuTone EnergyStar-qualified humidity sensing recessed fan/light is a recessed light with a quiet, concealed fan in a SensAire technology, which is a humidity sensor that automatically turns on when moisture is detected.
There are also more options for shower curbs, benches and doors. One great idea that has found its way to the U.S. is the shower screen in place of a sliding or swinging door.
There continues to be a steady stream of artful and practical problem-solving bathroom products and materials, and designers must keep a lookout for new and different ideas that make sense. A good way to embark on such a “what’s new” investigation is to set aside a specific time period weekly to visit the Web sites of manufacturers represented by the firm, as well as a bit of time to search generic product categories.
Perhaps it’s an outlet that also has a USB port…LED lights with a warm, candle-like glow…a shower door that disappears into the wall, or shower controls accessible from both inside and outside the shower. By staying abreast of the latest bath innovations, you will have more design options for creating functional bathrooms that provide an equally wonderful bathing experience.
Ellen Cheever, CMKBD, ASID, CAPS is a well-known author, designer, speaker and marketing specialist. A member of the NKBA Hall of Fame, Cheever gained prominence in the industry early on as the author of two design education textbooks. She manages an award-winning design firm, Ellen Cheever & Associates, and has been part of the management team of several major cabinet companies.