Today’s designs offer endless possibilities

by Martie Emory


A decidedly different place from the one where you washed behind your ears as a kid, today’s bathrooms are designed to calm, soothe and pamper. To that end, options for color, lighting, flooring and fixtures are more varied than ever, all geared to make your daily life a little less stressful — at least on the home front.


So whether you’re considering a total revamp of an older bathroom or you simply want to liven up what you already have with a few easy accents, don’t underestimate the power of the professional touch. An expert in bathroom design can help you achieve the results you want.


Hot trends

According to June DeLugas, interior designer and owner of June DeLugas Interiors Inc. in Clemmons, the trend today is actually an anti-trend.


“Traditional styles are in now more than ever,” she says, adding that natural materials like wood and glass are the most popular as sustainable products continue to dominate design.


“The anti-trend features white fixtures that are sleek and shiny and reflect good taste,” DeLugas notes.


According to Sherri Sarine of SSI Design Group Inc. in Greensboro, today’s master bathrooms also are larger and more lavish, with walk-in showers and his-and-hers vanities.


“Homes built in the early 1980s typically had one sink for the master bathroom and they were darker, smaller, utilitarian spaces,” she says.


At SSI Design Group, marble and granite countertops are client favorites. They’re also popular for clients of Schneider Stone Inc. in Greensboro.


“Granite has become more popular than ever,” says Amy Cronin, Schneider Stone’s interior designer. “I like to think of some granite as pieces of art, as every slab varies in color and intricacy.”


Keeping tubs and showers separate also is widely popular, as is combining materials like glass and chrome to achieve a stylish look. The same goes for blending hand-painted sinks with sparkling glass tile.


“People are mixing a lot of textures now, so you’re seeing a lot of stone mixed with glass,” says Amy Linville, president and owner of McCullough Tile & Stone in Winston-Salem.


“It’s no longer just porcelain and ceramic,” she adds. “People are finding that soothing element to add a spa-like feel to their bathrooms.”


For a spa-like retreat, opt for soothing ocean colors and mirrored tiles to add both light and space, or vault the ceiling to create a more expansive feel. Another favorite trend in today’s marketplace is a multi-jet shower system.


Cool hues

But before you launch an official remodeling project, consider which colors actually soothe you. What could you wake up to and feel refreshed and inspired? Linville is seeing softer greens and blues, while DeLugas suggests a neutral palette to offer flexibility in design. Keeping with neutral tones also is a plus if you’re planning to sell in the near future, as are timeless chrome fixtures that won’t date your bathroom decor down the road.


“Handpainted walls are an excellent way to personalize and warm up the space, and they’re more environmentally friendly than wallpaper,” says DeLugas, who has an artist on staff for such projects.


For something more on the artistic side, Faux Bella Inc. in Jamestown specializes in stencils, modelios, crystals and foils as artistic accents, as well as Venetian plasters and frescos.


“Intermingling foils and metallics with glazes and plasters can make for a beautiful combination,” says owner Aanessa Reeves, adding that her clients are on a mission to reflect their personalities when they remodel a bathroom using faux finishing.


Warm accents

Tile often is a key ingredient to making a statement in the bathroom, with a collage of colors, textures and patterns available to set the tone for the entire space. Chilly tile on bare feet no longer is a concern as electric warming has gained in popularity, both to eliminate a cold floor first thing in the morning and as an additional heat source.


“Consumers also are adding pebbles to the shower, adding a kind of massaging-type floor,” Linville says.


They’re also adding tile to more than just the shower.


“We’re seeing people put tile halfway up the walls,” she says. “It’s such easy maintenance that they’re going back to it. You don’t have to paint or anything. Just wipe it down and keep going.”


Lighting cannot be overlooked as another key element, particularly if you have recessed lighting. If you can look in the mirror but still not see yourself clearly, then you can easily install another type of lighting at your vanity area to combat shadows.


When it comes to relaxing, it might be time to think a little outside the tub. Larger spaces are seeing the addition of a chaise lounger for reading or at-home pedicures. Armoires also are making their way into spacious bath areas to provide extra storage and offer a cozier feel.


With the right mix of details and design, your newly remodeled bathroom can make you feel like you’re rising in a Four Star hotel every morning. Now that’s relaxing.


Martie Emory is a freelance writer based in Greensboro.

Wide open spaces

If you’re feeling cramped in your current bathroom, try these tips to make your small bath area appear larger and more open: