Eight Residential Bathroom Design Trends For 2021

Real Estate

Last year’s dramatic events, especially the Covid-19 pandemic, will continue to exert their influence on our homes in this new year. So will the urge to invite technology in to add convenience and escapism to our lives.

Here are eight design trends that industry leaders are seeing for the new year. They may show up in primary bathroom suites, powder rooms or the bathroom addition you created for your new work-from-home suite.

Pinterest

The popular social media site and inspiration app uses the search terms Pinterest visitors enter and save (“pin”) to determine upcoming design-related trends. These were among the top bathroom pins its team is seeing:

1. Bathing rituals are taking on new importance. This year, we’ll see people carving out time for an extra special soaking experience, user data indicates, the company’s trend report notes. It’s likely that the surplus of stress everyone has experienced throughout the pandemic has driven this trend, and elements that support rituals like music systems, planters, bath trays, candle holders and niches or shelves to hold them will make their way into tub enclosures.

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2. On a related note, searches for deep soaking tubs on Pinterest increased by 145%, with sleek, modern styling being the strong preference. (Other trend sources agree with modern as the dominant bathroom style for the year.)

Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery

The large luxury retailer publishes an annual lookbook highly regarded by industry pros, especially interior and bathroom designers. This is what Ferguson is seeing come into its showrooms from the premium brands it carries:

3. One of the major inspirations for 2021 is tropical getaways. With millions of Americans canceling travel plans during the pandemic, it’s not surprising that some escapism would trend this year. Tropical looks feature shapes, patterns and materials – from wave prints to exotic woods to woven inserts – inspired by balmy isles.

4. Nature and texture also provide inspiration for current looks. These include bark, stone, grass and other elements that let you get as close to the great outdoors as possible while still being in your bathroom.

National Kitchen & Bath Association

NKBA’s members include designers [myself included], manufacturers, retailers, distributors and allied professionals in this massive category. The association surveys its members annually for its trend reports. Here’s what those pros are seeing for 2021:

5. Lighting is getting more sophisticated, moving far beyond the basic bath bar or sconces. As primary bathrooms become even more important for relaxation and escape from daily stress, designers are using multiple lighting sources in mirrors, showers and vanities. These will be operated with the addition of dimmer switches, motion sensors or connected controls.

6. Technology is also making its way into primary bathrooms in other ways, especially smart controls for floors and showers, water conservation and leak detector sensors with mobile alerts.

Houzz

Like Pinterest, Houzz is a large, popular destination for users seeking inspiration and organization for their projects. As its name implies, this site and app focuses on home-related projects, and its trend reports are compiled from user searches. This is what the company is seeing for the new year:

7. As NKBA members noted, technology is trending. Houzz users are adding toilets with bidet seats, heating elements and self-cleaning features. Might the great toilet paper shortage of the first Covid wave be a factor? It’s hard to say, but those who had a bidet were in better shape at that time than those who didn’t.

8. The biggest change trending on the site is increased shower sizes; these are growing faster than bathroom sizes overall, and they’re getting high-end controls in the process.

One “bonus” trend worth noting for 2021 is about language, not design, and started showing up late last year. The well-established “master bath” descriptor is shifting to “main bathroom” or “primary bathroom,” driven by last year’s racial justice conversations.

Many design industry professionals began discussing issues they could address themselves, had conversations with colleagues from diverse communities, and started reviewing their practices for opportunities to be more inclusive. This was a pretty simple one to make, and is catching on widely.

A quick Google search yields 1.2 billion results for “main bathroom” with top results from HGTV.com, Houzz, Pinterest and other major sites. Primary bathroom turned up 158 million results, including articles about real estate listing services dropping the term “master.”

It’s likely to be consigned to the dustbin of history by the end of the decade, and that seems to be perfectly fine with many design industry trend setters and trend watchers.

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