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The Future of Bathroom Design and Decor

After a year like 2020, we’ve all gained a new appreciation for home and all its four walls hold — and that includes the bathroom. In a pandemic-era poll conducted by Realtor.com, a significant number of renters and homeowners said that finding additional bathrooms or updating their current bathroom style would be among their top home priorities moving forward. 

This is not too surprising! After all, the bathroom is quietly one of the most important rooms in any home. It’s where we brush our teeth to get ready for the day, and wind down at the end of the night. At its best, the bathroom acts like an oasis, giving you separation from the stresses of the world. In fact, the 2020 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study found that nearly half of homeowners (41 percent) report that they use their bathroom to rest and relax.

As our needs and preferences change over time, our bathrooms will naturally evolve to keep up. So, what does the future hold for all things bathroom design and decor? Let’s shine a spotlight on the changes and trends that experts are watching in the bathroom in the months and years to come:

A Mix of Style Inspiration

Spending more time at home in 2020, many people looked at their most-used spaces with fresh eyes. Just as more and more people are putting their personal stamps on rooms like the kitchen or living room, many experts anticipate that the bathroom is increasingly going to become a way of reflecting each homeowner’s unique and personal style in the years ahead. 

According to the 2020 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, nearly nine in ten bathroom renovators change the style of their primary bathroom — and 69 percent say that “an old and outdated look” is their single biggest bathroom pet peeve. 

So, what styles are on the come-up? The Houzz study ultimately found that “modern” is currently the most in-demand style, with 20 percent of renovators opting for this aesthetic — closely followed by “transitional and contemporary,” at 18 percent each. This lines up with a search trends analysis brought to our attention by Apartment Therapy, which determined that internet searches for Scandinavian-style bathrooms surged by 340 percent last year; searches also climbed year-over-year for vintage-style, terrazzo, and minimalist bathrooms. 

Smart Technology In Every Nook and Cranny

Smart home technology is increasingly in-demand — particularly among the younger generations of homebuyers driving the market. The bathroom is not immune from the smart home boom, with many people looking to add technology to make this space cleaner, more efficient, and more convenient. 

According to data from Houzz, four in five renovating homeowners choose to replace the lighting in their primary bathrooms, with many opting for dimmable lighting that promotes relaxation (33 percent), mood lighting (7 percent), and backlit LED mirrors (20 percent). As Forbes notes, these lights are becoming more and more sophisticated in and of themselves, boasting features such as “dimmer switches, motion sensors or connected controls.”

Additionally, almost half of all faucets and one-in-three toilets installed in 2020 included high-tech features, according to Houzz; these include everything from self-cleaning features to heated seats to self-closing lids and touch-free flushing, per data from the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). Searches for bidets surged in 2020, according to Apartment Therapy, and Houzz notes that nearly one in five renovators upgrading a toilet adds a bidet seat. Other high-tech bathroom features include “smart controls for floors and showers, water conservation and leak detector sensors with mobile alerts,” as Forbes notes.

Earthy, Natural Hues and Materials

When it comes to design and decor, the watchword right now is relaxation — and that goes for the bathroom, as well. Designers are increasingly focused on crafting spaces that help promote a relaxing and restorative connection with the natural world, blurring the lines between rustic and sophisticated, homey and natural. 

As Better Homes & Gardens notes, this means adopting more natural and “authentic” materials in the bathroom, including ceramic and porcelain tiles “that mimic natural hardwood finishes and high-contrast marbles.” The Spruce also notes that bamboo flooring is growing in popularity, with stone finishes — including vessel sinks — becoming increasingly popular as well. Forbes suggests a renewed interest in patterns and textures inspired by tropical scenes, along with natural elements such as bark, stone, and grass. 

All of these natural elements are supplemented by a focus on neutral and earthy colors including beige, tan, brown, and mushroom shades, according to.Better Homes & Gardens This lines up with what consumers have been searching for online, with sage, pistachio, taupe, and emerald ringing in as some of the most-searched bathroom colors of the year, per data reported by Apartment Therapy. 

The Bathtub Is Booming

Showers are incredibly popular, and they’re only getting bigger, according to data from Houzz. But that doesn’t mean we should count out the bathtub quite yet! According to that same report, more people renovating their homes say that soaking in the tub helps them relax, as compared with taking a long shower (55 percent to 54 percent). Meanwhile, according to Forbes, searches for deep soaking tubs on Pinterest have increased by 145 percent, with searchers favoring “sleek, modern styling” for this bathroom feature.

As a result, many designers are expecting tubs to become smaller and more functional, giving homeowners the relaxation zone they need while taking up less space. Indeed, Houzz found that freestanding, flat-bottom tubs are more popular than clawfoot tubs. As Better Homes & Gardens notes, these simple tub styles “work well in any style of bath,” while helping to conserve water. 

Spa-Like Features and Amenities

We all got very used to relaxing and unwinding at home in 2020 — and design authorities expect that homeowners will continue looking for new ways to add spa-like finishes and amenities to the bathroom, especially the primary bathroom, in the years ahead. 

This might mean everything from spa-inspired flourishes like “muted lighting… and lots of soft textures,” as The Spruce notes, to luxurious features like heated floors and warming towel holders. Citing data from Pinterest, Forbes expects that elements that support bathing rituals such as “music systems, planters, bath trays, candle holders and niches or shelves to hold them will make their way into tub enclosures” moving forward. 

Over the last few years, consumer spending on “cosmetics, perfume and bath preparation products” has grown considerably, according to Statista — suggesting that people are ready to feel pampered at home, with bath bombs, bubbles, lotions, and more taking up space on bathroom shelves. And the bathroom is also a prime location for adding lush, green, health-fortifying houseplants. According to data from the National Gardening Association, houseplant sales have also increased significantly in the last few years, and the rush for greenery doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to slowing down.

When Home Means More, You Need a Team With More to Offer

Is your home working for you? For many of us, the way we think about our homes has changed — and that might mean you’re ready to make a move to find one that better fits where you are now. 

Home is about so much more than just four walls. Buying or selling a home is a big deal, and with everything we experienced in 2020, our homes have never been more important. That’s why your local Baird & Warner agent is with you at every step of the way, with the tools and support you need to make your real estate journey easier — including in-house connections with local experts in mortgage and title.

So whether you’re looking for your starter home or you’re ready to move on from one, your Baird & Warner agent can help you through every part of the buying and selling process.