If you are about to undertake a makeover project, you should pause to take some lessons from the deluxe property sector where interiors fads start. The latest bathroom trend is the super-deep freestanding tub, positioned by the floor-to-ceiling window, allowing you to wash and admire the view. In the bath at the master en suite in the penthouse show flat at Parliament House, a Telford Homes scheme in central London, you can gaze out at the river.
Piers Clanford, the managing director of Berkeley Homes, says: “Buyers are no longer satisfied with chic integrated kitchens. Expect to see an extension of that sumptuous design continuing into the bathroom.”
The bathroom is becoming a second sitting room, a place to relax while not in the bath or shower. This has led to an increase in popularity of furniture, such as an armchair or sofa, in the bathroom and furniture-style pieces, such as vanity units, where the sink sits on top of a cabinet, and traditional wash stands. Leanne Martin, of Sottini, the bathroom company, says: “People want elegant pieces that create the feeling of space or have good storage.” Justin Van Breda has a new collection of vanity units for CP Hart that brings the decadence of the art deco era to the modern bathroom.
Joanna Thornhill, a stylist and author of Home for Now, says: “The trend for copper and brass looks like it’s here to stay and are becoming a popular choice for bathroom fittings, such as taps and shower heads. Dulled matt finishes and Victorian styling add character and vintage charm, whether your property is period or not.”
Conventional wisdom has it that you should paint a dark room in a light colour. However, experts say that doing the opposite may produce better results. Thornhill says: “Dark interiors is a massive trend right now and it’s moving to the bathroom, with homeowners opting for wraparound dark looks, bought in through wall and floor tiles for a rich, immersive feel. These inky tones can work well in such a space, offering a warm, cosy vibe, and can also be a good option for windowless bathrooms.”
Two key tile trends
Will we ever tire of the Metro tile? As long as the industrial/factory look remains popular, it seems unlikely. However, there are other styles that are attracting attention. Ellie Tennant, the stylist and author of Chic Boutiquers at Home, says: “One trend in tiles is for small, tessellating diamonds or parquet-effect rectangles in natural stone finishes — the Shelter Island collection at Fired Earth is a good example. Tiles decorated with informal, fluid, painterly geometric shapes, in subtle barely-there colours that can be arranged to create bespoke patterns, are popular too, such as the new Similarity range from Smink Things.”
Feng shui came on to the scene in the 1990s and it sparked a craze for Eastern-inspired decor. This look is resurfacing and the emphasis is on making bathing into a ritual. It ties in with the trend for “slow living” — a less-is-more approach to life. Forget televisions above the bath and waterproof devices, bathrooms should be places where we can escape.
Tennant says: “For many of us, the bathroom is now a spiritual place where we can enjoy the mindful ceremony of bathing and ‘switch off’. A simple, pared-back aesthetic dominates at the moment and I think wooden Japanese-style bathroom design and accessories will be fashionable over the next few years.”
She says that the Hinoki bath bowls, stools and ladles, which are made of cypress wood with copper banding, by Notting Hill-based shop Native & Co, embody this natural, back-to-basics look.
Marble really does rock at the moment. It is an ultra-glamorous product — traditionally seen as a symbol of wealth — that has become more affordable in recent years. This has pushed up demand and it is now widely available on the high street. Marble is perfect for the bathroom because it is clean-looking and has a timeless, classic look.
The combination of white marble and brass taps is a contemporary look for wall tiles, basins and flooring, according to Tennant. Carrara is an affordable marble, available from Topps Tiles from £64.50 per sq m.
Tennant says she has seen coloured marble in dark green, pink and black “creeping in” and thinks that it will become more popular. For inspiration, take a look at the work by Max Lamb; the designer has created a bathroom suite made with synthetic marble — it’s black with colourful speckles — and gold fittings. It is set against a midnight blue backdrop.
If you can’t afford marble, or feel that it is not practical for your home (it can scratch easily), then fake it. Thornhill says: “With huge improvements in high-definition printing in the past few years, imitation tiles — designed to look like stone or even wood — are becoming almost indiscernible from the real thing, even incorporating 3D surface textures and ‘natural’ variation and imperfections in their surface design.”
There are more advantages: “Usually made from practical porcelain, they allow you to achieve looks which might otherwise be impractical, such as using rustic wood-style porcelain tiles inside a shower cubicle where real wood would clearly not be an option,” Thornhill says.