The makings of a beautiful bathroom

By experimenting with tile, a bathroom remodel can go from sterile to stunning.

Tiles from Architectural Ceramics in Vienna / Photo by Mike Ramm

When we wake up, the first place we go is the bathroom. We spend our mornings in this space, contemplating and getting ready for the day. Before we turn in for the night, the last place we step foot in is again the bathroom, wiping away the day’s stresses and prepping for the new one ahead.

The bathroom is a private sanctuary that should be outfitted as a personal respite that encourages peace and serenity—but that doesn’t call for sterile.

Today’s bathroom trends are as varied as those who inhabit them. Clean marbled tiles are popular, but so are vibrant colored pieces and tiles with a textile feel, streamlined monotone palettes and mixtures of coordinating colors and metals. According to bathroom design experts, there aren’t any true wrong ways of designing a bathroom except for one: Alcove tubs are behemoths of the past.

Tiles from The Tile Shop in Springfield / Photo by Mike Ramm

There are, however, some things to keep in mind before heading into your bathroom renovation. First, understand why you are renovating. Are you looking to sell your home in the future? If so, all of the designers we spoke with suggest going for a clean, subdued look with popular tiles such as natural stone, Carrara and limestone marbles and slate and incorporating shades of the on-trend greige, a mix of gray and beige colors. Bringing in personality to the space can be done with a mixture of tiles, not only to get some depth into the design but also as a way to mix luxury products with affordable pieces. For example, Ruthanne Cecchini, showroom manager at Renaissance Tile & Bath in Alexandria, suggests using more of your budget on a luxury accent tile then using the still-popular subway tile or 4-by-12-inch tile on the walls.

If you are looking to revamp your space for yourself, the sky, and your budget, is the limit. Ingrid Cunningham, lead designer at Architectural Ceramics, suggests choosing two areas to splurge on then scaling back on the other items. For instance, you can choose an on-trend freestanding tub and maybe a tiled accent wall for the focal point, then save your money on the other items for the bathroom. Cunningham likens this to having to have a bit of tunnel vision when redoing your space. Pinpoint the area that is seen the most, maybe the eye line when you first walk in or, if you have an open plan where you can see into your bathroom from your bedroom, the spot that is noticed most. Put your money into that section of the bathroom so you always enjoy it. If you put all your money into luxurious tiles and niches in the shower wall, only when you take a shower will you experience your favorite part.

Tiles from The Tile Shop in Springfield / Photo by Mike Ramm

So what is most popular today, and where are the trends moving? The Tile Shop’s Jim Pipitone says his clients are looking to the Carrara marbles with a gray hue and are looking for larger tile sizes for a couple of reasons: They are low-maintenance, and they are a transitional option that allows one to cut costs while still getting a luxury look. A popular way of doing this is to mix in different tile shapes, like the popular hexagons and penny tiles, which can be used as accents or as a design in flooring.

Renaissance’s Cecchini says the traditional look is still popular in the higher-end homes, but those clients still go the high-low route with mixing. The pieces they are bringing into their homes are glass accents for trim or shower niches and water jet mosaics, and some are even splurging on therapy tubs that are heated, jetted and those with chromatherapy. Trends Cecchini says she sees making headway in bathrooms are a revival of brass fixtures and green marble tiles.

(September 2017)