If you have postponed renovating your bathroom, no matter what the reasons, congratulations! Your timing couldn’t be better to take advantage of important shifts in how decorators view today’s indoor spaces.
Especially over the last decade, massive changes in the outside world of work, learning, communication and social behaviors have encouraged families and individuals to make their homes places of rest and quiet. The picture of home as sanctuary has reflected in every aspect of interior décor, as “fun” ideas have given way to quiet colors, natural textures, simple multiuse furnishings and spatial efficiency. Doing more with less has affected living space in myriad ways.
For several years, strictly subdued color-schemes—all-white, all gray, monotone—have let designers and residents give serious thought to changes in interior space that can best respond to new demands from the outside world. The first sign of a shift in thinking was the beaming of Ultra Violet, an electric purple chosen by Pantone as the Color of 2018, through the crack in the all-white door. This intense, energetic hue served more as a clarion than as a coverall, stimulating those living in severely quiet personal landscapes to begin rethinking the place of color in their lives. The color-palettes Pantone offers for home furnishings in 2019 are filled with deep, strong, lush colors, taken from nature and historic crafts. Their use in formerly quiet environments will require deliberation and choice. Hues like “plum,” “apricot brandy,” “caviar,” “mallard,” and “camel” signal a whole new approach to creating a restful, restorative sanctuary.
For those not yet ready to wrestle the entire rainbow, this year offers an exceptional number of choices in black, as a counterpoint to white or gray. Black choices can range from counters, sinks and splash-backs to shower-stall frames, trim paint, tile, wallpaper and, this year’s special favorite, faucets and other fixtures. Set a new course for your white bathroom with black tub and sink fixtures and matte or glossy black woodwork.
Use towel racks as the try-out stage for the colors that will soon be taking a stronger role in décor. Pantone palettes for interior paints, furnishings, equipment and decorative items offer a wide range of choices, from super-pale “milky” pastels to the intense tones of delicious fruits and vegetables. Strong, deep colors drawn from historical tradition introduce the dignity of the manor into even modest homes. Fascination with British Royal doings has even led to a line of paints based on the fashion and decorative favorites of the world’s most recent Princess. Those taking a step back from the excitement of royal weddings and baby showers will recognize many newly popular colors as not just the province of royalty. Perhaps unintentionally, the new color palette signifies another important shift—a color-range both new and experienced consumers will recognize as particularly suitable to the coloring of brunettes. If you’ve been holding back on color-decisions, Brown Eyes, your time is now!
Make bathroom counters a central category in your new color-choices. Here the range of colors has been growing steadily, as new sources of natural and engineered stone develop. A highly popular choice for renovation this year is black counters in a still-white room. This can lay the way for a patterned floor, walls or textiles, also in black and white, adding just enough but not too much energy to a small bathroom and crisp coherence to a large one. A carefully regulated black and white scheme lets you add or omit other color choices, as you wish. Perhaps less used but equally powerful is the choice of white counters against black back-splashes and cabinets. The higher reflectivity of white counters adds a dividend of light to clean spatial definition.
In a room with limited furnishings, one way to increase visual interest is through shape. Three types of shapes dominate new and updated bathrooms, all of them free-standing. The first is the tub—a bathtub that stands on its own away from the wall is definitely back in style. New tubs are more bowl-shaped than their Victorian ancestors, with round, oval and fan-shapes available; and they lack the feet of the old four-footers. Although they are often white, most are manufactured from engineered stone and can therefore display all the colors and qualities that make engineered stone counters so handsome and easy to maintain. They share the exemplary durability of their counter cousins, making an engineered stone tub a lifetime pleasure.
Thus separated from permanent bondage to the tub, free-standing shower stalls and enclosures add further structure to the room. Even a small bathroom may have room for a shower and tub enclosure, leaving room at the sink and vanity for another family member. Metal frames in brass or gold-tone filigree and black-outlined window-frames make strong design statements, adding both color and spatial definition to the room. Shower fixtures in black, brass and gold finishes add sparkle as well.
A smaller free-standing choice may not dominate bathroom space but can have a definitely style-setting impact on the room. Free-standing vanities are rapidly replacing built-ins, in styles that run from colonial dry sink cabinets to modern Scandinavian cupboards. Some support sinks while others stand adjacent, holding linens and hand-soaps. Whether décor is based on a free-standing or floating vanity, once choice has vanished: removing your old pedestal sink is the first step to take to modernize the shapes of your renovated bathroom.
One of the quickest choices to update your bathroom can come from a rapidly-growing fund of patterns. Not surprisingly, given the established popularity of soothing white and gray color-schemes, the first signs of new curiosity about pattern appeared in black and white. Textiles, furnishings, wallpaper, shower curtains and other bathroom essentials are currently available in a wide range of geometric, abstracts and nature-based designs to enliven the quiet of all-white or all-gray walls and floors. Patterns range from bold checkerboards to line-drawings featuring grids and filigrees to no-holds-barred sweeps and swoops. Lots of verticals include stripes, streaks and the grasses, stems and trunks of nature’s bounty. Digital advances turn flowers into tapestries and make it possible to create exciting visual textures from pictures of simple objects.
As pattern has made its way into quiet rooms, color follows. The thought of introducing some of 2019’s intense hues into bathrooms becomes more plausible when it becomes clear that–with the exception of some oversized, near-grandiose florals—most patterns remain nonrepresentational. Interlocked grids of sandy gold on a ground of mallard blue bring welcome, warming tones to a cool gray room without overwhelming it. A cappuccino-colored wall whose stripes are formed by sketches of wild grasses and flowers coordinates with the free-standing wood vanity and bamboo flooring to create a feel of summer at the cabin. Patterns can be bolder—punch up an existing black-and-white bath with blasts of burgundy, Bordeaux or cayenne-colored towels and floor mats—but they can also be kept under control to keep your bathroom feeling like a relaxing sanctuary.
One of the most beautiful ways to incorporate new avenues in both pattern and color is in your choice of stone counters, sinks, back-splashes and wall panels. Whether you choose natural quartzite, natural granite or engineered quartz, replacing synthetic surfaces with the colors, textures and patterns of nature keeps your bathroom décor in perfect balance between excitement and relaxation. From black and gray through brown, blue, green and gold tones, stone colors soothe without overwhelming. Speckling, streaking and blending bring life and visual texture to natural tones. Veining can be dramatic or elusive, leading the eye along dreamlike paths and letting the weary mind relax. Stone provides a foundation for coordinating or contrasting colors, and a single slab offers many possible compatible color options.
A variety of finishes enable stone surfaces to provide additional visual interest in the reflection of light. Highly polished surfaces sparkle and gleam, enhancing the brilliance of highly-polished brass and gold-tone finishes on fixtures and reflecting the glow of lighting. High polish makes a refreshing declaration of spic-n-span. Honed, lower-luster and leathered finishes glow rather than blaze. Light reflection is more subtle but can be warming and also more restful. For a more relaxed feeling, look at these newer treatments of stone surfaces.
Relax. The above advice is not aimed at your wallet—it’s focused on your mind. After a decade of whites and neutrals, caution and place-holding, you may find yourself mentally out of shape in the face of an onslaught of new décor ideas. Your best defense against doing more than you can live with or retreating in confusion is a little practice in luxury thinking. A veritable tsunami of visual adventure is on its way. Take a deep breath and remember that good planning is long-term. Where your money and your energy need to go are toward learning as much as you can about talent and quality. Take time to locate a decorator who has lots of experience to share and previous results you like. Interview contractors with care and follow up on recommendations. Those exciting colors, patterns and materials will still be there once your research is done, and you’ll be ready to make long-term, high-quality choices that give you pleasure for years. Money well spent—choose luxury, and enjoy your beautiful, excitng new décor!