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Your Home | Kitchens & Baths

Seven stylish bathroom trends

Luxurious tubs, cozy accents, and varied but complementary materials and color add style to the most private rooms in the house.

To see the cutting edge in bathroom design — and everything else — grab your phone and open Instagram. Justina Blakeney’s Bohemian brand Jungalow has more than a million followers who can see beyond white subway tile to Moroccan- and Mexican-inspired designs. Says Alena Capra, a certified kitchen and bath designer, “With so much inspiration available on social media, people are becoming more daring in their choices.” Capra, also an ambassador for the tile and stone industry trade show Coverings, points to terrazzo, gauged (as in very thin) porcelain panels that resemble stone slabs, and water-jet mosaic backsplashes (made of tile that has been precisely cut using a water jet) as growing trends.

As for hardware, “Matte black and brasses are what’s hot, both on their own and together, in what we call a split-finish scheme,” says Mindy Sevinor, showroom brand manager at Designer Bath and Salem Plumbing Supply in Beverly and Watertown. She has been seeing split-finish combinations paired with wood vanities.

Read on for a look at seven fresh styles that design-conscious homeowners are going for.

1. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

Emily O’Brien Photography
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Fans of Bohemian design may not know exactly what to call it, but they know what they like. “Sometimes we hear the word ‘Bohemian,’ ” says designer Sybil Urmston. “But clients are more apt to say, ‘I like a lot of color and I want it to feel comfortable.’ ” Sybil and Farley Urmston are the sisters-in-law behind SirTank Design in Jamaica Plain. They reimagined an auxiliary master bathroom in a nearby home by transforming it into a Bohemian-style kids’ bath. JP-based Bailey Davol / Studio Build took the space down to the studs and relocated the door to open into the hall. Large-format glossy blue ceramic tiles encase the tub, a less expensive solution than the clay tiles initially considered. Bolstering the boho vibe are concrete floor tiles in a Moroccan-inspired silhouette, and the walls, painted Farrow & Ball Pelt. Urmston says, “The husband’s initial reaction to purple walls was ‘no way,’ but we urged them to give it a try, and they all loved it.”

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Trend tip: Color is the key ingredient in Bohemian decor. Says Urmston, “It’s a look rich in color and pattern, artful, warm, and inviting.”

2. SPA TREATMENT

Sean Litchfield

Now and forever, the bathroom is a sanctuary. “A lot of clients consider the bathroom a retreat,” says Ricardo Bilonick, associate at LDa Architecture & Interiors in Cambridge. “It’s a personal, restorative space where one starts and ends the day.” The owners of this North End town house hired the firm to add a new bathroom to each floor. In their spa-inspired master bath, light from the clerestory window washes down the 15-foot wall faced with Scandinavian-influenced textural tiles in two shades of gray. The pale oak towel rack, wood bench, and teak tray reflect a Japanese aesthetic. The freestanding resin tub is the centerpiece of the space, which feels airy despite its urban scale. “As you navigate the house, you discover these wonderful moments,” Bilonick says. “This is the last — and most special — stop of the journey.”

Trend tip: A strip of angled mirror runs from the ceiling to the windowsill to create the illusion of corner windows.

3. UP THE WALL

Josh Kuchinsky

Fully tiled feature walls awash with color are the latest thing in bathrooms, most often as a backdrop for the vanity. In designing this Back Bay bathroom for a longtime client who’s never been afraid of color, Boyd A. Rourke of New Bedford-based Brinc Design created an accent wall of multicolored glass mosaic tile. It stretches up to the ceiling, which is painted Benjamin Moore Evening Blue, a bold, saturated shade that reminds the homeowner of his frequent trips to Greece. “Proportionally, it’s a tall, narrow bathroom on the top floor of a brownstone with a mansard roof,” Rourke says. “The blue helps bring the ceiling down to create a sense of scale.” Tall mirrors help, too.

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Trend tip: Rourke finds it easier to work with rich colors when similar shades appear in adjacent rooms. “Transition is important,” he says.

4. EASTERN ACCENT

Tamara Flanagan Photography

The rich colors and patterns of the Middle East and Mediterranean can transform utilitarian baths into refuges. In this serene master bath overlooking an inlet in Duxbury, designer Angela Raciti expanded the footprint of the existing bathroom, which the homeowners had dreamed of renovating for almost 20 years. A soaking tub with a view of the bay was the starting point, and Raciti, whose office is nearby, introduced traditional New England elements such as shiplap walls and an aged iron lantern. Oriental rugs have been cropping up in elegant urban bathrooms, but Raciti opted to layer a shaggy Moroccan rug over the Carrara marble hexagonal-tile floor. “Bathrooms are sterile environments with hard finishes,” she says. “It’s nice to have something cozy when stepping out of the tub.”

Trend tip: A rug helps ground a space. Here, it helps define the tub as the focal point.

5. BACK IN BLACK

Sabrina Cole Quinn Photography

Matte-black fixtures are an unexpected yet welcome feature in up-to-date baths. “I like the black with natural materials like cement tiles,” says Newton-based designer Aimee Anderson. “It doesn’t compete like a shiny chrome.” In this guest bathroom in a Charlestown Navy Yard condo, Anderson blended the raw, industrial look her clients requested with a contemporary urban sensibility suitable for design-minded empty nesters. Starting with houndstooth-patterned floor tile by Popham Design, she added matte-black metal accents to create a funky, distinctive feel. The first examples of matte-black faucets Anderson recalls noticing were from the Jason Wu for Brizo line, which she used here; other manufacturers are now producing fixtures in similar finishes. Brushed-brass details on the Park Studio sconces tie in with the artwork, but the strong black lines steal the show. “The black pieces are minimal but not stark,” Anderson says. “They add character.”

Trend tip: Matte-black fixtures work best in schemes that are neither very traditional nor overly sleek.

6. IN THE RIGHT VEIN

Jessica Delaney

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Designer Sarah Scales took care in planning the vividly veined stone wall in this South End home’s master bath. Inspired by the chic European hotels that Scales’s clients, a globe-trotting couple from the United Kingdom, frequent on business trips, the dramatic wall anchors the room. Rather than using a single slab, the Milton-based designer chose 12-by-24-inch honed-marble tiles for a heightened — and customizable — effect. “I spent a lot of time laying out the pattern to get the veining right,” she says. Using such dark stone, called Midnight Glacier, in a windowless room might give some people pause, but the homeowners loved the dark, moody feel. “They were all about the stone’s cool, sexy patterning,” Scales says.

Trend tip: While dark stone lines the feature wall and shower, Scales employed a white and pale gray palette for the floors, walls, and vanity, introducing both brightness and contrast.

7. VANITY FLAIR

sean litchfield

Color was an important element in this kids’ bath in a New Hampshire lake house, but so was the directive that it not be too important. The brief was “fresh, clean, and a little eclectic,” says Stephanie Rossi of Boston-based Spazio Rosso Interior Design. On the Corian-topped wooden vanity, Rossi used Benjamin Moore Luminous Days, a sunshine yellow. It picks up a shade in the hand- painted Mexican tiles lining the shower, which were the starting point for the project. “Oftentimes, vanities and other millwork are considered to be part of the architecture and painted as such — that is to say, white,” Rossi says. She proposes going bold with colors, including rich eggplant and bright turquoise. “If a client is hesitant, I’ll suggest a subtler iteration,” she says. “They’re generally amenable.” 

Trend tip: A wall-hung vanity with crisp, clean lines provides a contained pop of color that doesn’t distract.

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