From meeting practical needs to catering to the personal taste and style of the homeowner, bath hardware and accessories can be the key to creating fully coordinated, highly functional bathroom spaces. While these add-ons don’t necessarily take center stage, they are crucial to pulling together the look, feel and utility of the room. That’s according to manufacturers recently surveyed by KBDN.
One key trend impacting the bath accessories market is that designers and consumers are looking toward smarter use of limited space – which often takes the form of multifunctional accessories. According to James Hamilton, product manager at Brasstech, Inc. in Santa Ana, CA, “Adding functionality in any space of the bathroom will add value for the homeowner. For example, adding a glass shelf to a toilet tissue holder adds utility to what has traditionally been a very basic item in a bathroom. Now the homeowners have a place to set their cell phone or keys in a space that previously did not provide any storage space.”
Doug Mockett, CEO of Manhattan Beach, CA-based Doug Mockett & Co. adds that bathrooms are increasingly expanding into personal living spaces, creating a need for innovative hardware. “With convenience and style leading the way, bath design is taking a whole new approach,” he says. “One new aspect in particular is the idea of finding clever ways of integrating additional power options throughout and streamlining them into the overall design.”
A consistent design that takes the overall bath into account is also crucial, manufacturers agree. Kevin McJoynt, v.p./marketing for Danze in Woodbridge, IL, notes, “Carrying the styling/décor through the entire bath is still an important factor when designing a room. Accessories should always get their cue from the faucets, shower components and other elements dictating the room’s décor. Matching the finish and detailing through to the accessories makes a room look finished and professional.”
In recent years, there’s been a big turn from the ornate, traditional style toward a more contemporary style with clean lines, a trend that continues, manufacturers say. Larry Jacobs, president of Ashley Harris Marketing, marketing agency for Strom Plumbing by Sign of the Crab in Rancho Cordova, CA, says, “I don’t know if it’s the desire for the clean lines or just the efficiency of the cost of the clean lines. They don’t want a lot of the gingerbread kind of stuff. We’re just seeing [design get] as simple as possible.”
Noah Taft, senior v.p., marketing & sales for California Faucets in Huntington Beach, CA, agrees that there is movement toward understated design. “There seems to be less of the flaunting ‘look at me’ design that characterized some design prior to the recession. I think people are yearning for much-needed stability right now, and high-quality materials like solid brass, and clean lines, speak to this,” he says.
Hamilton says that contemporary styles have been the most popular for accessories over the last few years. This includes clean lines, round or square in shape, but also a balance so the design isn’t too minimalist, he notes. “To some degree, the bath hardware and accessories have to complement the style of the bath in which they are being utilized,” he states. “Crystal handles are starting to return to bath faucets. Black and/or white finishes mixed with chrome are being used more and more in bath and shower hardware. These design and styling cues require organizations to be flexible to provide products that can easily fit the décor of that bathroom.”
Fancier traditional styles aren’t completely gone, however. McJoynt says that while minimalism leads the way, more ornate, traditional styling is still desired by some homeowners.
Though some new finishes are easing their way into the market, there hasn’t been significant change overall, manufacturers say. Polished finishes still lead the way, with some demand for stainless and brushed finishes as well.