World News-Smaller tubs, bigger windows: Tracking the trends for your bathroom

World News-Smaller tubs, bigger windows: Tracking the trends for your bathroom

BArich Taiwan-Years ago, home design professionals borrowed the spa concept from swank hotels and resorts to give the bathroom a soothing ambience, even if its occupants couldn’t steal away.

Now, another metamorphosis is underway.Here’s what else our trends spotters are saying, along with what’s now passe:

· Bring in natural light. Big windows allow more light and even fresh air when space permits, said developer Jean Francois Roy, whose new luxe AquaVita Florida condominiums make that a priority. But place them strategically when possible, near a vanity where someone applies makeup, said Florida-based Cheryl Kees Clendenon, owner of In Detail Interiors.

· Integrate room functions. Barriers between different spaces in the master bedroom are disappearing (again) with bedrooms often open to bathrooms and walk-in closets for another take on the loft look, said Stephanie Pierce, senior design studio manager at manufacturer MasterBrand Cabinets.

· Don’t toss the bathwater, yet. Big whirlpools that require being encased along perimeter walls are fading from popularity since many homeowners find them a maintenance headache, noisemaker and space guzzler. But not everyone wants only a shower if there is adequate square footage. The free-standing tub, often curved, has taken off when there’s sufficient space all around, though it’s impractical for some seniors. Another possibility, said Cho — deep soak tubs for total immersion.

· Expand the shower but not too much. The notion of two-person showers generated buzz years ago, but the reality is that many simply want a large enough shower for one — and not too large, DiCarlo said. She finds that larger than 4 feet by 5 feet eliminates the warm, nestling feeling of a shower. The panoply of jets and sprays has also been scaled back with emphasis on a big rain head for a more functional luxuriating experience, Barnard said. Cho prefers hand-held shower heads, sometimes on a bar. She also likes to include a built-in bench and a niche for bathing products. And shower door hardware is being scaled back or removed, with some only installing a single fixed panel, Clendenon said. “It cuts cleaning, though it also cuts warmth, and you can’t do a steam shower with it.”

· Float the vanity. Creating a sleeker look, which also makes any size room look larger and pares maintenance, has spurred the popularity of wall-mounted, floating vanities rather than floor-to-counter cabinetry. This style offers another plus: For baby boomers beginning to think about aging in place, it permits greater accessibility with room underneath to accommodate a wheelchair, said Barnard. She favors wood or faux wood materials in a light maple, birch, alder or white oak. Caveat: A floating vanity requires good bracing; otherwise, countertops may sag, Clendenon said.

· Introduce color and texture, but judiciously. While white still ranks as the No. 1 palette choice, including for tile grout, more designers are suggesting variations in creams and grays. The exception — a new trend — is a touch of bolder color for a personalized touch.

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