Wed. Dec 2nd, 2020

While the modern styles of the last decade evolved into a more contemporary look for homes overall, the pendulum is still swinging. Right now, design is at a bit of a crossroads. While clean, modern lines and the color white have been the dominating look for bathrooms in recent years, what’s old is becoming new again, with retro and vintage elements starting to emerge.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that bathroom design is a major commitment. Whether a space needs a gut renovation, soft refresh or could benefit from a weekend project, the question is how to design something that won’t feel dated in five, perhaps even ten years from now. I spoke with several top interior designers to get their take on bathroom design trends for 2020.

Sustainable Bathrooms

Sustainability has become a major priority in the design industry, with manufacturers trying to develop eco-friendly building materials and furniture. The Mendocino Tub by Native Trails is a perfect example of this. “We know that sustainability shouldn’t compromise style,” says Naomi Neilson, Founder and CEO of Native Trails. “Our latest artisan-made product release, a gorgeous freestanding bathtub, is a great example of that.”

The Mendocino tub is handmade from groundbreaking NativeStone, which is an eco-friendly blend of natural jute fiber and cement. It has a real modern-yet-earthy, rustic-yet-sleek look. 

Creating A Spa At Home

And what better place to have a soaking tub than in a large master suite? Master suites with spa-like bathrooms have been a trend for years and are here to stay. This also exemplifies how wellness has become a greater cultural trend, according to Vian Abreu, Senior Interior Designer at Interior Marketing Group. The most common trend we’ve seen in bathroom design for 2020 is towards creating a spa-like experience with a strong emphasis on wellness and relaxation,” she says.

Some examples of spa features for the home are heated floors, steam showers, aromatherapy with HVAC scenting, and heated or cooled vanity drawers for towels or skincare, as well as built-in speakers. 

Retro Vintage Styles

While many are choosing to incorporate new technology into bathroom design, others are opting for a more vintage aesthetic. Peter Bowles, who is the Founder and Managing Director of Original BTC believes this is because social media has put a great emphasis on creating one of a kind spaces. “In order to achieve this, bathroom design is taking a nostalgic turn, recalling vintage styles that echo the flair and functionality of the 1930s and 1960s,” he says.

“This is certainly true for lighting, as well as other areas, such as bath furniture and tile work. Our Art Deco-inspired Pillar Offset Wall Light is an excellent example of this, available in a weathered brass finish with fluted glass for added vintage glamour.”

Outlined segments and mosaics are another way to incorporate vintage accents into a bathroom. “Creating inlaid mosaic mats out of tile or installing wallpaper in panels, for example, will be much more common this year than in the past,” says Gideon Mendelson, who is the founder of the Mendelson Group.

“Outlines catch your attention and then organize your experience in the room. It is a more obscure approach to graphic design within a space,” he says.

Marble Is Evolving

It’s easy to lose your marbles when renovating a bathroom, but know without a doubt that it will remain one of the most popular types of natural stone for many years to come. However, interior designer Sara Beverin of Interior Marketing Group notes that this trend is starting to pivot. “We’ve seen the typical Carrara and Calcutta marbles used a lot, but going forward I think more risks will be taken with more unique and bold marbles which can stand alone as artwork in the space.”

Wallpaper Is Here To Stay

Wallpaper has had a major resurgence in recent years and it won’t be peeling away any time soon, especially in bathrooms. It’s also an indication of the pendulum swinging towards more traditional styles. “Matching wallpaper with textiles is one of those techniques, and in a bathroom, it is a method we use to incorporate pattern without overwhelming the space with contrast and changes of scale,” says Mendelson.  

Wallpaper also allows people to experiment with an aesthetic they may be unsure about integrating into larger spaces, says Jennifer Matthews, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Tempaper. “Bathrooms are becoming a place for people to experiment with bold colors and patterns, especially on the walls!”

Tempaper, a brand of peel-and-stick wallpaper, has been lauded by renters and DIY enthusiasts alike because it adheres to the wall without any damage and doesn’t require professional installation. Tempaper has collaborations with some of the biggest names in design including The Novogratz, Cynthia Rowley, and Bobby Berk. 

Custom Lighting

Big design can come in small packages especially with the trend of compact lighting fixtures in bathrooms to supplement large overhead or vanity lighting. “Some of the most daring and fresh ideas in architecture and design today seem to be getting smaller and smaller, especially in the lighting market,” says John Yriberri of Modular Lighting Instruments.  

While vanity and overhead lighting aren’t going away any time soon, smaller fixtures have become an ideal way to add additional light to darker bathrooms. “New technology has made it possible to have more discreet designs that are equally powerful and more efficient. A compact luminaire has become more popular, especially in small bathrooms or powder rooms, because it’s less intrusive and enhances the harmony of a design. [They can] create more layered lighting schemes without looking too busy,” he explains.

Decor From Other Rooms Brought Into The Bathroom

While it’s a tissue box holder, vanity tray or storage shelving, for years, decorative accents in bathrooms have looked very specific to the room itself.

However, Mendelson says we shouldn’t be limited. “We’re starting to see bathrooms designed to incorporate more decorative items that give the space an aesthetic purpose, outside of the purely functional,” he says. “Benches, lanterns, ornamental mirrors, statement wall coverings, and vases all accomplish this elevated aesthetic and we will see more of this in 2020.” 

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