It’s no longer just about taking care of business: The bathroom is having a major design moment.
“With much of our focus now on wellness, eating healthy, and meditation, the bathroom is becoming more of a sanctuary,” says designer Tina Ramchandani. For proof, she points to her clients, who are increasingly installing free-standing and soaking tubs. “Taking baths is becoming more popular—instead of quick showers—and I’m seeing more and more renovations including bathtubs in homes.”
Experts predict homeowners will experiment with color, texture, and materials as they rethink their bathroom’s aesthetic. Expect to see a mix of transitional and contemporary styles with some unexpected twists, and a whole lotta technology to make your morning self-care routine a little more streamlined.
Excited yet? Read on to discover more about the beautiful things happening in bathrooms in 2018.
We love this trend so much that we’ve already devoted time to uncovering ways you can use it all over your home. If your opinion isn’t yet cemented (yep, we went there), then the bathroom’s a perfect place to sample the concrete craze. From polished counter tops to soaking tubs, this easy-to-mold composite is durable and sophisticated, and pairs well with marble and wood.
“Concrete has become one of my favorite building materials—it reflects a larger trend toward organic and naturally inspired materials,” says Denver-based real estate and architectural property expert Peter Blank.
“The imperfections create depth and character to surfaces” adds Blank, who used concrete extensively in the recent renovation of his own home. “And it can be warm or cool and mixed easily with organic materials like seashells, quartz, and stone.”
2. Funky wallpaper
No, not the goofy floral kind you had in your bedroom in the ’70s and ’80s. Today’s wallpaper is cool, inviting, and visually intricate. It’s making a big comeback in living spaces and bedrooms this year, so why not the bathroom, too?
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about this trend re-emerging,” says Christina Harmon, a Washington, DC–based designer and owner of luxury home goods site Epitome Home. “I love a bold-print floral wallpaper in a bathroom, or a cutie pie Dalmatian print with gold metallic accents.”
If that’s a bit extra for your taste, consider a more durable, practical alternative: ceramic tile that’s manufactured to look like wallpaper, like that of French company Novoceram.
“These tiles can offer a pop of color along with a lot of style and personality,” says Leigh Meadows-McAlpin of Charleston, SC, design firm Dwelling.
3. Heavy hardware
What’s old is new again: After decades of downplaying bathroom plumbing (looking at you, minimalist chrome fixtures), we’re going back to ornate hardware that takes center stage in this most important of rooms.
“I love high-quality, traditional hardware in a bathroom,” Harmon says. “Think separate taps for hot and cold water, a detachable shower head in polished copper, or a bathtub faucet that feels high-quality and heavy when you run your end-of-day soak.”
4. Trough or bucket sinks
Like it or not, farmhouse chic is still the darling of interior design—and it’s no longer limited to the kitchen. Expect to see lots of trough or bucket sinks in bathrooms this year.
“Traditionally, these sinks are seen in the glossy white finish. But you can even get the farmhouse look as a cosinkpper, a modern nickel or chrome, or even a black composite granite,” says Kayla Hein, creative director at Modern Castle.
Another plus? Trough sinks are fairly durable—meaning they’re great for high-traffic bathrooms.
5. Brass or black fixtures
We hope you’re nostalgic for the ’80s, because brass is back in a big way—and designers say it’s better than ever.
“Put it everywhere,” says Chicago designer Rae Duncan. “Statement brass faucets and major lighting fixtures bring a touch of the past to a bath while still keeping it warm and contemporary.”
If brass ain’t your bag, consider black fixtures instead of the predictable chrome or nickel.
“These fixtures provide a simple, beautiful option that can be used in a wide variety of home decor styles,” says designer René Dekker. What’s more: “They need far less cleaning than their metallic brethren, because they don’t show water spots in the same way.”
6. Mind-blowing technology
As smart technology continues wiggling its way into the American home, the bathroom is not being forgotten. Think digital shower controls and bath fillers, faucets that sync with your smartphone, and $7,500 smart toilets with heated seats and deodorizers (among other choice features).
Manufacturer Kohler leads the pack after unveiling a series of uber-cool smart bathroom products at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year. Chief among them is the Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror, which pairs with your Amazon Alexa device and allows you to control lighting, listen to the news, or choose some jams to rock out to in the shower.
We also dig Kohler’s PerfectFill bath feature, which allows you to program your preferred bath stats so your soak fills automatically. And then there’s the Numi toilet, a holy grail of smart bathroom technology that warms your tush, plays music, and automatically flushes when you rise.
“You can have exactly what you want, whenever you want, at just the right temperature, all by the touch of a button,” Duncan says.
7. A fresh take on tile
See ya, subway tile! The ubiquitous trend will take a back seat to larger formats, unique patterns, and bold color in 2018, experts say.
Alena Capra, interior designer and spokesperson for Coverings, the largest tile and stone trade show in North America, predicts more homeowners will gravitate toward larger tiles on both floors and walls.
“It imitates the look of a luxurious marble slab, but with a more budget-friendly price,” she says.
Homeowners are embracing texture, too. Capra’s clients are increasingly requesting metallic tile finishes to complement (also on-trend) matte faucets and fixtures. And she’s noticed an uptick in owners playing with patterns to create a more intricate look.
“Geometric tile patterns are taking center stage as a focal point in kitchens and bathrooms,” agrees designer Stacy Garcia. “We’re seeing a shift toward simplistic yet bold patterns that stand the test of time.”
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with color in your powder room.
“People want more than just white marble and beige travertine now,” Duncan says. “And with so many artisans popping up online, it’s never been easier to have a bathroom that is truly one of a kind.”