Last year, we published a post on the biggest bathroom design and remodeling trends of 2015 – and we’re happy to say, a lot of our ideas and predictions were spot on! While Pantone’s Color of the Year failed to really make its way into bathrooms, and freestanding bathtubs didn’t quite blow up like we thought they would, we were pretty on-target with our predictions for the popularity of open-space design, heated flooring, implementing natural elements into a bathroom, LED lights gaining momentum, and the fusion of technology and bathroom furniture.
So here we are. It’s 2016, and we have a whole new batch of predictions to help guide YOU in your bathroom design decisions. Want to have the coolest bathroom on the block, completely du jour but simultaneously timeless? Well read on, friends, and let’s make 2016 an awesome year for bathroom design!
1. This Year’s Color Palette Prediction
2014 and 2015 both saw neutral colors (like blacks and grays) enjoy a steady rise in popularity. 2016 is shaping up to be similar – but we predict that the popularity of blacks and grays will wane a little, as we have already noticed enthusiasm for those colors beginning to slow. Instead, we think natural wood finishes will be 2016’s big winner in terms of overall growth.
“Naked” vanities and linen cabinets, which mostly gathered dust in furniture warehouses everywhere in 2014, began to pick up in 2015 and so far, in 2016, this trend is showing no sign of stopping. We find that the “naked” finish pairs particularly well with our transitional vanities, as the style nicely complements the natural, more craftsman-like appearance of finished wood.
But what about the non-cabinetry elements of your bathroom? Well, Pantone says that this year’s Color of the Year is actually a two-fer: “Rose-Quartz” and “Serenity” – that’s soft pink and soft blue. While we don’t think we’ll be seeing many pink toilets and sinks this year (last year’s color, Marsala, barely made a splash in anyone’s bathroom), Serenity is a fitting pick for bathrooms. Bathrooms already lend themselves well to water themes, and the soft, aquatic blue of Serenity nicely emphasizes this cool and calm element. Pairing a color like Serenity with delicate grays and cream colors, with perhaps a sharp black element thrown in here and there for panache, will create a classic,
sophisticated, and soothing atmosphere. Or, try pairing Serenity with white, mint green, and navy blue elements for an aesthetic that really pops!
2. Wood-n’t You Like a More Natural Look?
We touched on it a little above, but real wood (and wood finish) elements look like they’re poised to overthrow the glassy, chrome, marble-tiled bathrooms of the past few years. Well, overthrow may be too strong a word, but 2016 is definitely shaping up to be a big year for wood in modern bathroom design!
And it goes further than just cabinets and vanities, mind you. While we’re unlikely to see bamboo toilets gain a lot of traction anytime soon, wood floors are starting to pop up like daisies in forward-thinking, eco-conscious bathrooms all over the world. Bamboo is particularly popular, and has even been gaining popularity as a shower floor material (there’s something about slatted bamboo that just feels awesome on your feet). Duckboard flooring, seen often in the boat-building industry, is rising in prominence in modern bathrooms as well.
Wooden walls are also showing up in more modern bathrooms, and even wooden sinks are gaining ground. Wood, once a HUGE no-no in bathroom design, is surely winning us over and we think it will have a huge impact on design in 2016.
3. Stone Cold Stunning
Just like wood, stone is now a hugely desirable element in bathroom design, after years of being pushed to the fringes of niche bathroom style. In 2015, we predicted that stone would pick up steam, and now in 2016, we’re predicting that momentum will keep on chugging right into the beginning of next year. Sleek, cold, “Y2K” modern designs are on their way out and warm, inviting, natural looks are on their way in. What better way to complement your sustainably-sourced wooden bathroom cabinetry than with a glorious stone vessel sink or tub?
Don’t expect stone to make a big show as a popular flooring selection this year, but it will definitely make its presence known as an accent piece: think countertops, wall art, drawer handles, towel hangers, soap trays, and more.
Stone is also considered a super-luxe design element, as it’s far pricier than typical porcelain for countertops, sinks, etc. So if you think some carved stone is right for your bathroom, make sure your wallet is prepared for the cost. Rest assured though, not much outlasts stone – a granite or even travertine countertop will outlive and outperform any porcelain piece your bathroom may currently have.
4. Sustainable Design Wins Again
We mentioned this last year as well, and we’re very pleased to see that interest in sustainable, water-efficient design in modern bathrooms continues to grow. Frankly, water efficiency is sexy, and it is becoming a major concern for remodelers and new home owners. Not only does it help protect the environment, but it can seriously lower your water and energy bills as well.
Be on the lookout for hybrid low flow toilets, showerheads, and faucets – as the technology improves, these fixtures get more and more efficient. The days of a water-guzzling bathroom are over!
Aside from the water issue, sustainable design has also made its way into the way we design our products in this industry. Consumer behaviors and trends tell us that, sometimes, whether or not a wooden cabinet was “responsibly sourced” or “made from reclaimed or recycled materials” can be the deciding factor in a sale. This make-or-break quality points to a growing sea-change in consumer mentality toward the furniture and appliances they put in their home: it’s obvious that eco-conscious bathroom furniture and décor will continue to gain ground. That’s why formaldehyde-free vanities, and vanities made from more and more responsibly sourced materials, are becoming more present in our own catalogs.
5. Creative Tile Patterns Make Your Bathroom Yours
Chevron patterns, Herringbone patterns, Mosaic patterns, oh my! More than any time in the past 10 years, we’re seeing a huge shift in designer thinking regarding tile patterns in the bathroom towards the “weird.” And by weird, I mean simply things that are not streamlined, straight, unassuming, subdued – in a word, boring. Simple square-pattern bathroom tile – on the wall as well as the floor – is blasé. We predicted that such simple geometry would be popular in 2015, and we’re thankful to say that this year we’re predicting the opposite. 2016 is the year of creative tiling!
Chevron and herringbone patterns are old-fashioned, but their eye-catching aesthetic and their limitless potential for customization makes them good as new again. Mosaic patterns may be time-consuming to design and implement, but the effects are undeniably gorgeous and multi-faceted. So this year, maybe take a chance and experiment a little with your tile, and create a custom bathroom perfectly suited to your unique taste and personality!
6. Make Your Bathroom Well-Rounded with Circular Mirrors
Just as it is with tile, bathroom mirrors in 2016 will also look to the past. Round mirrors, a classic piece of bathroom design, fell heavily out of favor in the 2000’s, but it seems like the style is poised to make a comeback.
“What’s old is new again” aside, nothing revives a dated space quite like mixing more retro elements with cutting edge modern design. Round mirrors create an impressive, just-different-enough focal point in a bathroom that it stands out and gives personality to the bathroom without overwhelming it in nostalgia. Circles are more dynamic and visually interesting than rectangles, and can be used creatively to great effect as a vehicle to transport someone’s view from one stylistic element to the next. Houzz writers suggest pairing them with hanging pendant lights, an intriguing idea that we think has a lot of potential. If that’s not your style, go with classic wall sconces on either side of the mirror. Check out our eclectic collection here!
7. Get Some Space(-Saving Design)
Last year, we predicted that “Open Space” was going to be big. And it may not be “big” as of now, but the style definitely increased in popularity over the last 365 days. This year, however, we feel that “Saving Space” is going to be more impactful than “Open Space” on modern bathroom design standards.
Small spaces beget creative layouts, and bathrooms really haven’t increased in size at all on average. In fact, average bathroom sizes have decreased in the last decade, due to more new renters than new homeowners, and more new apartment complexes being built than new houses, which generally afford more space for a large bathroom. And while “open space” may be good for studios and small apartments, “saving space” is probably even better.
This year we expect to see a lot of emphasis on creative solutions to storing all our toiletries, linens, and more in the bathroom, without making the room feel cluttered and encroaching. Some techniques to help save space include stand-alone tubs inside an open shower, and open storage cabinets paired with wall-mounted vanities and other wall-mounted features (more on that in a minute) to bring things off the floor and create more separation between our eye-level line of sight and our stuff..
8. Unique Bathroom Vanities Continue to Rule
No surprise, especially coming from the blog of an online store that primarily sells bathroom vanities, right? But once again we predict that unique, interesting, and fun vanities will continue to be more popular than drab and boring rectangular, bloated, built-in, aesthetically dull vanities. More and more, year over year, we’re seeing consumers recognize that the vanity is an easily-redone and cost-effective part of the bathroom that can have a tremendous impact on the personality of the room.
The right vanity gives your bathroom a unique touch and, like a delightful Persian rug, can really tie the whole room together. Some of our favorites from our own catalog include The Scorpio, The Modus, The Aquila, and The Ursa Minor.
9. Get Ready for a Shower Double-Header
Being water efficient is an important trend in bathrooms, and admittedly, this prediction doesn’t mesh well with that idea. But the signs are there, the trend is set, and two-person open standing showers with a showerhead on each end are getting more and more popular. This momentum doesn’t look like it’s going to stop in 2016.
The benefits of a dual showerhead system are obvious: two people can use the shower simultaneously and efficiently, without having to do the awkward “shower shuffle,” switching places every time one person is ready to rinse. In some ways, skipping the shower shuffle can actually help save water in the long run. Pair a dual showerhead system with low-flow showerheads, and you can have a double duty system in place, without using any more water than you already are!
And that luxury… oh my goodness, once you have two showerheads in the bathroom, you won’t go back. Check out our showerheads here!
10. Heated Flooring
Heated floors, like dual showerheads, are a tremendous luxury that – once you implement them – you can’t imagine life without. We exaggerate. Sort of.
Nothing beats a heated floor when you visit the bathroom early in the morning or late at night. When you expect cold tile or linoleum to greet your sensitive toes, but instead feel the warm embrace of a heated floor – it’s a magical thing! And heated floors aremore and more commonly adopted in new bathroom remodels. Is 2016 the year YOU get a heated floor? We think it just might be! And if price is an issue, you may be pleased to hear that the materials needed are actually pretty affordable.
11. Handmade, Hand-Picked Bath Accents
We’re seeing this mostly with tiles, but 2016 is so far wholly embracing the artisanal craftsmanship and quaint genuineness of hand-made bath accents. Mass-produced cookie cutter tiles, faucets, sinks, mirror frames, and linens are starting to lose some of their appeal, and consumers are more and more turning toward unique, custom, tailor-made bath items. Whether it’s on Etsy or at your local craftsman’s retail location, the right handmade item might be the missing link to your perfect bathroom design.
The allure of these handmade items probably stems from the same culture that embraces locally sourced food, furniture, and clothing, and this culture seems only to be picking up steam. Pair a few high-quality but commercially manufactured items like vanities, mirrors, and showers or tubs with some cool handmade trinkets for the ultimate blend of form and function.
12. Bidet By Day
Bidets never took off in the U.S.A. quite like they did elsewhere in the world, which is sort of a shame if you’ve ever tried a bidet for yourself. They are frankly great at what they do, and are often less gross than the good ol’ paper method.
In recent years though, more and more toilet manufacturers have been combining bidets and toilets into one super-powered bath waste disposal and hygiene unit. Pretty awesome, right? This is the kind of functional inventiveness we like to see in this industry. These bidet/toilets have been slowly catching on in America. According to Houzz data with the help of the NAKB, it seems that 5% of renovated master baths now include bidets in some form or another. We think 2016 will see them finally achieve some semblance of “normalcy” in private U.S. homes!
13. Trick Out Your Shower
Showers are getting more and more high-tech, and as the number of features rises, so too does demand.
Steam showers are continuing their march into Beatles-level popularity, as we’ve seen sales and interest in shower panels with steam settings steadily rise every year since 2011, when we seriously started looking at these things. And shower panels have so many options now, giving you the power to control water patterns, water volume, and even play music in addition to letting you fiddle with – you know – the temperature. Just take a look at some of our shower panels – count the knobs and buttons and dials.
These showers may have a lot of options, but they’re effortlessly intuitive. You can have one installed and enjoyed a nice, hot, totally customized shower in no time, and for relatively little money.
14. Floating Vanities and Open Storage
Floating vanities and open-shelving are going to be more popular than ever in 2016. We’ve been predicting the immense popularity of floating vanities for a few years now, and this is the year we think we’re going to make it official on our blog. Wall-mounted vanities are extremely convenient, space-saving, and forward-thinking features in a bathroom that are timelessly styled with function at the forefront of the design process. They look cool, they clear up space where there would usually be feet or flat panels with no practical use, and they can draw the eye of any guest with their unique stylistic sensibilities. What’s not to love?
With open storage, letting all your toiletries hang out can be proof of how organized and stylish you are (or, it could backfire… make sure you’re committed to keeping things clean before going this route!). Open shelving gives your bathroom almost a spa-like sense of cleanliness and calm. It also let’s you run a little wild in the creativity department, using some open spaces as decoration opportunities: some pressed and folded towels here, a little bonsai tree there…
Basically, more “open” designs let the room breathe a little more, eliminate claustrophobia, and make the space overall seem more welcoming and fun. If you’ve been on the fence about this style, 2016 is the year to try it!
Like last year, 2016 seems to be all about clean and breathable design. However, unlike last year, we predict designers will start to do away with the overly-simple and streamlined, pseudo-industrial style of the previous two years and will instead opt for warmer, more natural elements in their bathrooms. Tiling will become more eclectic, colors will remain neutral but sway more toward the natural, round shapes will start replacing squares in certain places, and technology will continue to fuse with our bath fixtures to give us more luxury while also being more resource-efficient.
So what do you think? Let us know! Happy designing, and we hope 2016 is a fruitful and wonderful year for you all.
Mike is the acting Digital Content Manager at Trade Winds Imports. He has been writing about home improvement, remodeling, and design for over 9 years and has been featured in such publications as theSpruce, ApartmentTherapy, Freshome, Huffington Post, and Forbes. When he’s not busy writing, developing websites, or working on his own house, he’s spending time outside with his wife, 2 year old daughter, and newborn son. If you have any questions or comments regarding the content on this site, please email Mike!