By Sharon Naylor
Bathrooms have become the new stars of home design. No longer just a place to shower, apply makeup and shave, the bathroom is the new oasis of the home, a place to relax and unwind. That is why spending on bathroom remodels is now almost on par with spending on kitchen remodels. Hamish Kofoed, design manager at Mico Designs Ltd., says, “Bathroom design trends for 2014 revolve around the bathroom as a sanctuary, with lush elegant lighting, rich stone and tile work, and luxuriantly deep freestanding tubs. It’s all about luxury, color and a return to quality.”
“Freestanding tubs are the new must-have in the bathroom,” Kofoed says. “There’s great design flexibility in this area; anything goes, like modern fixtures with vintage claw-foot tubs.” And freestanding tubs serve as beautiful focal points that some designers say act as ‘art’ in the room. If a freestanding tub simply won’t work in your space, Kofoed suggests “a tiled or marble-frame (tub) semi-recessed into the floor to help free up visual space in the bathroom.”
Here are some of the top new trends in bathtub design for 2014:
* Soaking tubs. Not everyone wants or uses powerful massage jets positioned all around a tub’s interior. New shower designs with multiple jets offer that indulgence. A simple soaking experience can be far more relaxing. One notable exception to this is the new class of gentle BubbleMassage air baths, in which thousands of warm-air-filled bubbles massage and support the entire body.
* Longer tubs. Tall people who have attempted to bathe in standard-sized tubs often find their soak to be less than pleasing because they have to bend their knees in order to recline into the water. Longer tubs allow for full stretch-out space for taller people — or room for two.
* Smaller tubs. For a second (or third) bathroom, such as one designated for kids, smaller drop-in tubs add value to a home. This smaller tub might also be the perfect spot to bathe your dog, so as not to damage your master bathroom spotlight tub.
* Black tubs. Bathtubs in sleek black stole the show at the annual Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas. While many modern tub designs are in neutral tones, black tubs are in hot demand, especially when paired with new collections of black fixtures such as matte black chrome-plated faucets and handles.
* Whites and neutral colors. As light colors, they give a rich, warm look to a room and, in a monochromatic color scheme, make a space look larger, reflect light and add to a bathroom’s appearance of being clean and hygienic. Pantone’s annual home design color trend reports feature inspiring shades of the season’s stylish blush tones, ranges of whites and modern grays, as well as new brights to consider.
* Fluid curves. Modern faucets and handles are more rounded for a softer look than standard tub hardware of past eras. Faucets and handles, matching soap dishes, and nearby robe hooks and towel racks are artistic, spa-like and modern.
* Glass tile. Matt Muenster, a licensed contractor and host of the DIY Network’s “Bath Crashers” and “BATHtastic!,” says, “Recycled-glass tile gives this bathroom an underwater appearance” and reflects light for a brighter, airier appearance.
* Radiant heat. The flooring around the tub and shower area can be designed with in-floor heating that warms the bathroom floor so that you never step out of a warm tub onto freezing tile. Radiant heat is cost-effective and, when professionally installed, completely safe. A fireplace in the bathroom across from the tub could be another source of warmth and relaxation during a soak.
* Water-saving taps. In an effort to conserve water and spend less on utilities, homeowners are choosing water-saving faucets in tubs, as well as in showers.
* Clutter-free ledges. The ledges of today’s inset tubs are kept almost item-free, rather than lined with candles, soap dispensers and other items. To upgrade your existing bathroom right now at no expense, rid your tub’s ledges of all those bottles, soaps, bath salts containers and shaving items to achieve a chic, clean, modern spa-like simplicity.