It’s likely the first place you head in the morning and your last stop before bed. The bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the house, but it’s not always thought of that way. “Of all the spaces in your home, aside from maybe the kitchen, it has to be the most functional space,” says Jered Snelson, founder of Clearwater-based Urban Project Management. “For the most part, any of them we go into are not thought of that way. It’s, let’s throw a cabinet in here. Let’s throw a countertop in here. Let’s make sure they have a toilet, and that’s it.” To find out what we should know about designing bathrooms that work, we talked to Snelson and Ralph Mills, creative director of Tampa’s Artisan Design. Here’s what’s trending in bathrooms across Tampa Bay.
YOURS & MINE
This year, many couples have been spending more time together in close proximity than ever before, and that has led them to reevaluate the way their bathroom is laid out. To help separate the space a bit, Mills suggests adding pier-style cabinets that sit on top of the vanity and project out into the room, which provide both additional storage and divide the counter top neatly in two. “It kind of says, this is my space and this is your space,” he says. Snelson asks clients specific questions about their bathroom habits to create a design that works for them. Do you want a private space from your partner? Are you comfortable sharing a space? How much storage space do you need? “We’re taking spaces and really laying them out and seeing how the customer wants to use them,” he explains.
Even in the contemporary and transitional-style bathrooms, Bay-area residents are starting to stray from the stark white cabinets, counter tops and floors that have dominated the last decade. Mills is seeing more lightly stained driftwood and tiles for floors and showers in colors like honey onyx and is incorporating light taupes and off-whites. Snelson has embraced these tones with light brown, natural-oiled wood floors (he likes walnut, or white oak for a simpler look). “Everything’s been white for so long, I would [predict] that we’re going to get more into color cabinets,” he adds. “I’ve seen it a lot recently. People will order cabinets in blue or green or some off color just because they don’t want to have that basic white look.”
The demand for standalone bathtubs has skyrocketed over the last five years (Mills estimates his team puts one in seven out of 10 bathroom projects). But one newer request both Mills and Snelson are receiving is for a dedicated wet area within the bathroom, with a shower and tub beside each other and enclosed by glass, often with a shared drain. “It looks very grand,” Snelson says. “When you walk into the bathroom, you’re like, wow, this is massive and beautiful. It feels like the room is twice as big as it is.” Showers have also gotten a high-tech upgrade, with integrated Bluetooth speakers and digital thermostats that make sure every shower head pumps water at the same temperature every time. “You can really have a ball with the design of a shower nowadays,” Snelson adds.
Architectural, above-counter vessel sinks had their moment, Mills says. But, “they eat up a lot of usable counter space,” he adds. Homeowners have returned to undermount sinks in contemporary, square shapes. Snelson says he’s seen all varieties of sink materials, from porcelain to copper to granite. Dull-finished brass and gold fixtures are having a moment, but mixing metals within the bathroom is now encouraged. Like in the kitchen, durable, germ-resistant quartz in light tones is the top choice for counter tops (Snelson also likes Carrara marble, with its veiny gray tones.) Above the vanity, Mills’s customers are requesting mirrors with soft, flattering lighting behind them or surrounding them.
Some homeowners are willing to push the boundaries with their bathroom hues. “Every once in a while you’ll get bathrooms that are shocking tones like a wasabi green or a pink,” Mills says. “There are [unique] color tones that are very viable in the marketplace.” Snelson says he’s recently begun to embrace more color, too. While he tends to go for shades like an almost-gray sage green or pale crystal blue, he says even he was pleased with the results of a recent yellow bathroom his team completed. Still, he suggests caution with color. “I tell clients, if there’s somewhere you want to have color, it’s either going to be paint or accessories,” Snelson says. “You don’t want to buy a red sink or toilet and be stuck with it.