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Your Home | Kitchens & Baths

Five trends in bathroom renovations for 2019: Enough with the white, already

Organic materials and patterned floors are among the most requested looks for homeowners updating a bath this year.

Tamara Flanagan

A Wood Look Underfoot

To fulfill her client’s request that their Hopkinton master bath be light and bright as well as cozy, Hopkinton-based designer Mary Maloney suggested they start with wood-effect floor tiles. “The honed surface has textural grooves and there’s radiant heat underneath, so it feels good on your feet,” Maloney says. The porcelain planks are laid in a herringbone pattern for interest; they lend a Parisian apartment vibe, which Maloney intensified with warm gold faucets and hardware. “We’re seeing a lot more demand for wood-effect tile; it makes sense in the bath,” Maloney says, “We think it’s a trend that’s here to stay.”


Black Is Back

Tamara Flanagan

Matte black (and brass) fittings have all but supplanted nickel and chrome. Now black marble is competing against Carrara. “I have a mad love with Nero Marquina marble,” says Boston designer Misty Gray, who used the stone in her own bathroom as well as in this Cambridge one. “The client wanted moody and sophisticated,” Gray says. “This is classic with an edge.” Stone can take more work, but don’t let that deter you. “People are scared of certain materials being impractical, but you just need to live with them differently,” Gray says. “You see black marble in old Back Bay buildings and it still looks beautiful.”

Pattern Made Easy

Sabrina Cole Quinn

Patterned floors in punchy colors have grown increasingly popular. Artisan-made encaustic cement tiles, long popular in Europe, have organic appeal but cost more and require upkeep. “Cement is porous, so it patinas over time,” says Rachel Dunham, an Arlington-based designer. If embracing imperfection isn’t your thing, you can seal the tiles annually. Or, purchase similarly patterned pieces (minus the handmade feel) in porcelain, which is what Dunham did for this Arlington master bath. “I love the earthiness of cement tile — I have it in my own bath — but a lot of people want a bathroom to be pristine.”


Beyond Basic White

Jared Kuzia

Tasked with personalizing the builder finishes in the kids’ bath of her clients’ new Wellesley home, Cambridge-based designer Emily Pinney swapped plain floor tiles for geometric-patterned ones and painted the double vanities a soothing shade of blue. “People like a fresh, clean bath,” Pinney says. “But you don’t want everything to be white.” While the floor tile makes the main statement, Pinney stuck to an all-purpose black and white palette for it, opting for color where it can be changed easily. “Cabinetry,” she notes, “can always be repainted.”

Ways to Warm Up

Sarah Winchester

Meg McSherry’s clients wanted a master bath with clean lines in their West Newton addition. Her number one priority was to ensure that clean didn’t translate as cold. “Bathrooms are innately cold, so I push for warmth with raw, organic materials,” the Newton-based designer says. McSherry’s instinct was to choose a wood vanity — “the grain adds a warm, natural element” — and then balance it with cooler mixed metals, matte hive-style tiles, and pale gray walls to infuse a contemporary feel. “I’m so over everything being white and also tired of gray everything,” McSherry says. “When you use wood, you build character.”


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Marni Elyse Katz is a frequent contributor to Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.