Home & Design September 26, 2017

Hot Trends for the Master Bath

Cool tips from the experts

Have you looked at your master bath lately? I mean, really looked? Are those the same tired tiles you’ve had for 20 years, with an ’80s-tinged oak trim on the vanity and lighting that was fine when you moved in but now it’s getting harder to put on your makeup without looking like a clown in search of Ringling Brothers? Clearly, it’s time to take matters in hand and … Update! Renovate! Luxuriate!

The bathroom is often the Clydesdale of the home. The soul of your master bath may yearn to be a thoroughbred, but you depend on it to plod along—reliably—year after year, being perfectly functional. In fact, the bathroom is the most challenging room in the entire house, says designer Lee Ann Ferris of Sun Valley Kitchen & Bath.

“Per square foot, the bathroom has the most number of mechanical features in the house,” Ferris explained. “Plumbing, electrical, tile—there’s a lot going on in a small space. And you have to constantly consider water—pressure, the height of your fixtures, tiles, grout—to ensure that the water you don’t see won’t leak! So many things must interact correctly.”


Trending are the use of imaginative wall and floor tiles and freestanding tubs. (Bath by M Design and Interiors)

So, what’s hot and what’s not? All of the designers we talked with agreed that sleek, clean and contemporary is the look that is trending today. “No matter what the style—whether it’s mountain, contemporary or traditional—the look is uncluttered with clean lines,” said Ferris. “Monochromatic white lends itself to the clean line. We’re not employing a lot of color but you can use texture and different materials to achieve an elevated look.”

Jennifer Hoey Smith, of Jennifer Hoey Interior Design, said imaginative use of wall and floor tiles and freestanding baths are trends she’s seeing. Erika Blank, Heidi Stearns and Anne Mulick, the design team from The Picket Fence, said that the top three trends they’re seeing are wood vanities and tiles, wall-mounted faucets, and variations in the use of tile.

“The use of wood and natural materials is a good way to bring in warmth and texture to sleek, smooth surfaces,” said Blank. “ln wood, it’s all about the grain.” And there is now a porcelain flooring tile that looks so much like wood you don’t have to use the real thing.

And speaking of tile: matchy-matchy is out. So, don’t even think about using the same tile in different sizes. “People are mixing it up now,” said Blank. “When you add more intricate patterns, you’ll run into more labor cost for the tile setter, but in the long run you’ll get a much more exciting result than if you’d opted for something ‘easier.’”

Some of the new applications are hexagonal tiles on the floor and walls, and all-white textural tiles. “We’re seeing a skinny herringbone pattern of subway tile on the floor or backsplash, often in black or a dark charcoal,” said Mulick. “We’re also using bigger tiles. We do a lot of 12-by-24-inch rectangles. I love to use bigger tiles in smaller spaces to create a slab effect.” Stearns suggested bringing the tile up the wall for a wainscoting. “It’s an elegant touch that always looks classic and tasteful.”

Megan Dawson, Laura Morawitz and Jill Wenglikowski of M Design and Interiors are hot on mosaic tiles because they create a no-slip surface, an added bonus. “We’re finding mosaic tiles irresistible right now,” enthused Wenglikowski. “And marble mosaics are good in steam showers, which are fantastic in a dry climate such as Sun Valley.”

When contemplating a master bath design, think about using wall-mounted faucets, stand-alone tubs or suspended vanity cabinetry. Suspended cabinetry is mounted on the wall and is regular vanity height but floats above the floor, creating a cantilevered look.

“The most important factors to consider when designing a master bath are storage, the elements desired in a shower, how the space will be used and the level of privacy required,” added Hoey Smith.

The biggest difference in master baths these days is the technology that’s available. It’s amazing! Imagine brushing your teeth and watching the morning news … in your mirror! Or having a heated floor and heated seat in your shower, or hearing music through your fan because it’s connected to the Bluetooth in your iPhone!

Ferris, of Sun Valley Kitchen & Bath, is a fan of the Schluter system, an electric floor warming system that allows you to warm the floor of your shower without running water pipes underneath— a luxurious touch for chilly fall mornings.

“Bathrooms should have layers of light,” said Blank. “It’s all about LED right now,” added Ferris. “LED lights can last for 32 years and are now very close to incandescent bulbs in terms of color and natural light.” Hoey Smith said that, rather than sticking with typical vanity lights, clients are now choosing fixtures that are more decorative.

The secret to a well-designed bath, say our experts, is to understand the value of details: hardware that makes a statement, use of texture and materials, custom mirrors that fit the space, clean lines, and technology that integrates all the functions of the room.

The form of a thoroughbred meets the functions of a workhorse!

This article appears in the Fall 2017 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.