As with kitchens, designing a new master bathroom — or renovating one that's seen a few years of service — can be among the most challenging and expensive of home projects. Which is why homeowners are often inclined to embrace master bath trends more slowly than they might follow hot home design movements in other parts of the house. The goal is to find a balance that will make a bathroom feel up to date, but also timeless. Here are four current style swings that seem to have staying power.
Quartz is king
There was a time when everybody aspired to one of two natural stones for bathroom countertops. It was either marble, for its beauty, or granite — no ugly duckling itself — for its superior durability. That time, however, has passed, and countertops are now trending toward quartz. An "engineered" stone that is still mostly natural quartz, ground up and fused with a polymer resin, the slabs can be made to resemble marble or granite, but with a durable, non-porous surface that outmatches both. While not exactly an economy material, quartz is somewhat less expensive than the other two. And — no small factor in the trend-making — it maintains its beauty and durability without the maintenance marble and granite require.
Float like a vanity
What's the thing everybody wants more of? Space, or at least the impression of space, in the bathroom. And wall-mounted floating vanities are growing in popularity because they can deliver it. For the most part, the impression is created because the flooring beneath the vanity can extend all the way to the wall, and the wall itself is more visible. But a floating vanity's typically clean, simple lines, which work well with a modern interior, also add to the feeling of airiness. Storage can be an issue, so other bathroom stowage options may be necessary. Still, there will be room enough beneath the vanity to tuck away a bathroom scale without putting it so far out of reach you are tempted to ignore it.
Power to the shower
Rub-a-dub-dub, what's happened to the tub? It is still around, especially in homes likely to have small children. And sculptural bathtubs are certainly having a moment as stand-alone works of art, ranging from Victorian-inspired slipper tubs to deep soaking Japanese-style models. But more and more, the preference is for showers, often large, open showers with built-in benches, zero-threshold entry, and spa-like features such as steam. Want frameless glass, or glass framed by marble columns, or Mediterranean-inspired tiles, or fixtures for two? They are all out there, helping turn showers into personal spas and personal statements.
Tech takes over
Anyone who sees the master bath as the last refuge from an increasingly technological world may need to open their eyes a bit wider. LED lights, with their long life and significant energy savings, have been making their presence felt in the bathroom for some time. But now they are being joined by a host of high-tech gadgets that can do everything from fill the tub to a pre-set level, so it doesn't overflow while you are looking through your vanity for your favorite bath bomb, to automatically raise and lower the toilet lid for you. Among other things, they can let you watch the morning news on a screen in the shower, or, as part of a recent line of "smart" products from the kitchen and bath products maker Kohler, have a conversation with your bathroom mirror.