August 25, 2017
The bathroom makes a splash
By Kathleen Freimond
Thanks to innovative new products and materials, one of the smallest rooms in the home is fast becoming one of the most sophisticated.
Long considered more utilitarian than elegant, stylish new bathroom fixtures are providing interior designers with the choices they need to combine function with fabulous form. That’s good news for homeowners who increasingly aspire to bathrooms that are light and bright, with a spa-like ambience.
A recent poll by CIBC found that 48 per cent of Canadian homeowners are planning a renovation this year and, of those, 31 per cent anticipate doing bathroom renovations. Those renovations will likely follow these key trends.
This ensuite, designed by Linda Gallo and Kari Henshaw of Insight Design Group for the Bellevue residential development in West Vancouver, has all the luxury touches to evoke a spa-like ambience. The frameless glass shower enclosure has a flush transition contributing to the feeling of spaciousness. The free standing tub, another trend in retreat-style bathrooms, has a wall-mounted signature marble slab to add to its presence in the space. This ensuite also features a floating vanity with double sinks and an elegant linen closet.
Kendall Ansell added a skylight to this small (five by six feet) powder room to make the space feel more open and airy. A custom vanity, low-maintenance quartz countertop and large format floor tiles enhance the spa-like ambience. Ansell says she wouldn’t typically use fine artwork in a bathroom for fear of damaging it. “If you do want to add a painting to your bathroom you’ll want to m ake sure it’s a sealed painting or print on canvas that won’t be affected by the steam.”
designer tip: Nancy Vornbrock
The wall-mounted faucet in Vibrant French Gold is from Kohler’s Purist line and highlights the trend of coloured fixtures in the bathroom. The faucet choice was inspired by the porcelain floor tile with its gold and grey veining, says Nancy Vornbrock of Troico Home Solutions & Manufacturing. To mount the faucet the mirror was custom-measured and the holes were made by the fabricator prior to installation. The Chelsea Gray wall colour by Benjamin Moore delivers on the client’s desire for a powder room with a wow factor.
The unique mirrors in this ensuite by Gillian Segal steal the show. The two mirrors (only one is seen here) are different curvilinear shapes and provide a contrast to the straight lines typically found in bathrooms. “Everything is straight or square: the millwork, the shape of the rooms themselves and in this ensuite we used square sinks, too. These curved organic lines add warmth,” says Segal. Lock & Mortice Build Co. custom made the mirror frames that were stained onsite to match the furniture style vanities. The jute chandelier, reflected in the mirror, adds a relaxed feel to the room.
The glass-tile backsplash and navy vanity are a focal point in this ensuite designed by Sarah Gallop. She chose the dramatic Estrella glass mosaic tiles by Artistic Tile (from Ames Bros.) in colours of white, light blue and shades of grey to introduce a dramatic feature to complement the custom vanity. A white marble countertop and floor, large format matte tiles in the shower and Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl wall colour complete the space.
Nancy Vornbrock at Troico Home Solutions & Manufacturing highlights graphic tile as a top trend, especially on floors. For instance, hexagonal tiles, once only seen in traditional homes in marble finishes, are now available in porcelain and ceramic in various sizes and colours. “I love the look of a 14-by-16-inch dark grey or matte hexagon tile on the floor,” she says. Cement (encaustic) floor tiles are another red-hot trend, says Kendall Ansell of Kendall Ansell Interiors. “We love this look too, but caution that cement tiles require more maintenance than porcelain tiles to keep them looking pristine,” she says.
In any case, if you choose a dramatic floor tile, Vornbrock recommends keeping the rest of the bathroom décor minimal to let the floor be the wow factor.
And it’s not just flooring that’s getting a style upgrade: Homeowners are also looking for distinctive custom finishes on their plumbing fixtures, and faucets and towel bars in different metal finishes are making their way into the mainstream. “We are seeing lots of matte black, brushed brass and rose gold emerging,” says Sarah Gallop of Sarah Gallop Design.
Durability and low maintenance are also on clients’ must-have lists, says Gillian Segal of Gillian Segal Design. “Natural stone is beautiful, but lots of clients have concerns about marble being stained or etched by things like toothpaste,” she says. Instead, homeowners can substitute with a marble look or stain-resistant quartz countertop slabs, such as those made by Caesarstone.
Bathrooms are also getting smarter with temperature control faucets, towel warming drawers, mirrors featuring integrated TVs and even electronic shower systems like Kohler’s DTV (Digital Thermostatic Valve), which is customizable with a simple touchscreen interface to control temperature, timing, sound and light.
Most of all, people are seeking a relaxed experience, especially in ensuite bathrooms, and that is leading to a trend in “big experience” showers, Gallop says. “The days of the three-by-three-foot shower with one showerhead are gone. We are seeing showers getting bigger—some the size of a small room—with benches, steam, light and colour therapy, music, rain-shower heads and body sprays. Bathrooms are becoming a retreat space for homeowners,” she adds.
The construction of the shower is changing too, and the big trend there is flush or curbless transitions. They enable accessibility, which is a consideration for baby boomers who choose to age in place, notes Linda Gallo of Insight Design Group. They also look luxurious, opening up the space and making the room appear larger. Another way to make the room feel more spacious is to install wall-mounted fixtures, which support another top trend, Gallo notes: “Floating vanities and wall-mounted toilets make it easier to keep the space clean—and it looks clean.”
With such a wide and varied choice for people building new homes or renovating, there’s really no need to be stuck with yesteryear’s boring bathroom.