Bathroom design has grown more popular in recent years. Rather than just a room for hygiene, it has become a space for relaxation, beauty and luxury -- an oasis in the home.
According to the 2014 National Kitchen & Bath Association Design Trends Survey, contemporary, spa-like bathrooms will be popular, compared to more traditional tastes a few years ago.
The survey found that popular colors include beige, bone, white fixtures and gray, which is expected to experience a surge in popularity this year. Soaking tubs, heated floors, shower lighting and steam showers were also popular items on the "must-have" list, according to the survey by the association, which has 60,000 members and was founded in 1963.
Traditional bathroom trends are less popular now, according to area designers.
Louise Pascal, of True North Cabinets in New Canaan, said showers are more popular than tubs, and Jacuzzis aren't as big as they used to be.
"There are less shower curbs, and new tubs (that are stand-alone) take up less space compared to the traditional tub deck," she said.
Shelley Morris, of Shelley Morris Interior Design LTD in New Canaan, agrees showers are getting more focus in the bathroom. Being that people tend to take showers more, they want to invest in them, she said.
"The shower has taken over where the bath left off," she said. "People would rather enjoy their shower time than think in terms of doing a tub with a Jacuzzi. Showers are getting larger, with more options for steam, jets, massage, hand-held shower heads, benches. There is a lot more emphasis on the shower. People are spending time in the shower."
Lisa Elwell, owner of Lisa Elwell Design in Darien, said the key to great bathroom design is creating a clean, cohesive space that is functional and spacious. Storage tends to be important in achieving a neat look.
Most bathrooms don't benefit from a chunky vanity, she said.
"It's good to have built-in storage. You can recess it into the wall and free up space to leave a floating sink to get a much airier feel."
Morris has noticed other bathroom trends locals desire -- ideas that make the bathroom into another comfortable area for relaxation.
"People are using very luxurious materials and are looking for a spa-like interior," she said.
Trends are "warm floors and radiant heat," she said.
"Some clients are looking into running wood floors into their bathroom because it's warm underfoot. There's more of a trend toward European sensibility -- bathrooms can be spa-like, relaxing and Zen-feeling," Morris said.
Pascal receives similar requests.
"We see a sleek, spa-like look with open shelving and storage that's easily accessible," she said. "There are a variety of looks, but most clients still like a spa-like feel, with white and calming colors in the bathroom."
Elwell notes that even for someone who is hesitant with change, a spa-like bathroom can ease a person into putting modern touches into their home.
"Bathrooms can be very minimalist and modern. They are the easiest place to introduce that trend into the home for the first time," she said. "It's a small space and not overwhelming. It's also a familiar look because of (bathrooms in) hotels and restaurants."
The ultimate luxury trend, according to Morris, is the his-and-her bathroom, which allows couples to have their space and keep their "getting-ready" sessions separate.
"Among my clients, if they have the space, a lot of master bedroom suites have a his-and-her bathroom. You've got your space and privacy. That's a nice, practical side to that," she said. "Some men get up, get dressed, shower and don't interfere with whoever's sleeping. Women tend to complain about their husband being (messy) or wish their bathrooms could look like they do like in magazines."
His-and-her bathrooms "let each person set up the room the way they like. It actually helps in the marital field," Morris said.
As far as materials go, warmer metals are gaining popularity, as people are trying to switch things up from the more-typical silver metal look.
"Warmer metals are making a comeback," Morris said. "More people now, if they're doing warmer tones, they're looking for more patinas, and antiqued warm metal. Bronze, darker finishes. I don't think silver tone is out, but people are more accepting of mixing it up."
Elwell agrees on mixing metals, and she said stone, clean and monochromatic looks are most popular with her clients.
"Colors like whites and camel, grays and blacks. It feels stark, but that's why un-lacquered brass (fixtures) work really well; it warms up the cool tones," she said. "When you walk into a bathroom and everything is the same, it's predictable. Now it's becoming more unique to mix metals; it's more interesting."
Belinda Stasiukiewicz is a freelance writer.