Designers are increasingly turning to timber and stone to introduce warmth, ambience and texture to bathrooms. Apaiser’s composite stone freestanding bath, $5595, is manufactured from recycled marble, while timber basins such as Paco Jaanson’s ‘Aeri’, from $770, offer an earthy aesthetic.
For flooring and walls, 2012 brings us a host of natural and natural-look options, including Earp Bros’ timber-effect porcelain floorboards, from $95/m. “People are replacing standard glazed tiles with velvety limestone panels that add a little sensuality,” says Bryce Mortensen of Just Bathroomware. We also love Academy Tiles’ Mutina ‘Folded’ porelain tiles, $144.80/sqm, which mimic the look of folded pieces of paper.
Choosing pieces that would look at home in your lounge is the number one way to give your bathroom an inviting look. A vanity or washstand that resembles an occasional table or bench is a simple way to try this trend – we like Hansgrohe’s ‘Axor Bouroullec’ oak wash table, $4950. Adding accessories is a great way to up the comfort factor: “Bathroom rugs are becoming popular, used to add colour and warmth in the same way a throw does in the living room,” says Bryce Mortensen of Just Bathroomware. If introducing textiles, ensure your space has good ventilation.
The ‘bathroom that doesn’t resemble a bathroom’ look goes hand in hand with another trend: having a wet zone in place of a shower cubicle. Doing away with constrictive glass walls and having a simple walk-in wet area opens up the room and gives you more space – plus, there are fewer surfaces to clean.
“Minimalism will always have its place in the bathroom, but as it evolves, tones and textures are softening,” says Mark Bickerstaffe of Kohler. Designers are also forgoing sharp lines and geometric angles in favour of organic shapes with rounded edges. “All forms are very simple and streamlined,” says Ari Zorlu, director of Paco Jaanson, whose ‘Oh My God’ range of basin mixers are moulded into fluid forms, evocative of the water that spouts from them.
Round basins are also enjoying a revival, available in a range of shapes and sizes. Candana’s ‘Latis’ basin, $1947, is rectangular in shape but has smooth, curved edges. Opt for above-counter options to best display these sculptural designs.
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The spa experience
Draw inspiration from blissful hotel spas to bring your bathroom into the now. The Sofitel Queenstown in New Zealand, for example – winner of the world’s best hotel spa – features Kohler’s ultra-deep ‘Sok’ bath, which retails for a cool $13,999. If the budget doesn’t stretchquite that far, Caroma’s new ‘Vitality’ baths, from $1300, feature a reclined back, shapely headrest and spa jet option.
Other innovations that may be coming to a bath near you include in-built LED lighting and even music. Kohler’s ‘Vibracoustic’ bath (not yet available in Australia) coordinates vibration, light and music to suit your mood. “It’s about using waves of sound, positioned at different points on a bath, to relax the body,” says Mark Bickerstaffe.
A black and white colour palette is versatile and visually appealing. “The monochrome look adds a splash of boldness to the bathroom and works particularly well for accessories,” says Belinda Geels of Reece. Black and white basins, taps, showerheads and even baths have all hit the market and look set to stay for years to come. Keep the look fresh by experimenting with finish – matt black taps look fabulous paired with a glossy white basin.
A glamorous pendant light is a brilliant way to give your bathroom the look of luxe. Forgo harsh downlights and fluorescent heat lamps in favour of the soft glow filtered through a metal or wicker pendant, or the shimmer of a chandelier. “Doing away with general lighting helps to remove a clinical atmosphere,” says Bryce Mortensen of Just Bathroomware. Remember that all electrical work should be performed by a licenced electrician.
Brave new design
Multi-faceted design is a key trend right now: “Mixing shapes creates more interesting finishes and textures,” says Belinda Geels of Reece. Geometric or three-dimensional wall tiles, such as Earp Bros’ glazed-ceramic ‘Ona’ tiles, $99/sqm, create a dramatic backdrop for angular fittings. In smaller spaces, try juxtaposing a square toilet with a round basin.
“Edwardian and Victorian styles are currently in demand,” says Belinda Geels. Look for claw-foot baths, classic tapware in antique finishes and gilt-framed mirrors. “A few classic design elements can transform an otherwise ordinary bathroom,” says Dr Nicholas Matten of Hansgrohe.
A retro revival is also in the works. “What began with the rediscovery of the lava lamp has found its way to the bathroom,” says Nicholas. “From neon colours to jazzy patterns, designers are bringing vivacious imitations from the 1950s to 1970s into the mix.” Patricia Urquiola’s ‘Axor Urquiola’ collection is a case in point, as is Candana’s ‘Soft Skin’ collection in bold yellow.