Ah, the bathroom. It’s often one of the smallest rooms in the house, and yet it serves so many purposes. Not only is it a place to wash up, but it can also be your own personal spa—and in a crowded home during a pandemic, a sanctuary.
If you’re in the mood to spruce up your beloved bathroom but don’t want to rip the room down to the studs, you could opt for a mini-to-medium update. By simply adding some zhuzh to a design you already love, your entire bathroom can feel like it got a face-lift.
Check out the latest bathroom design trends, and see how you can give your bathroom some extra love this spring.
1. Hooks instead of towel bars
“It may seem like a small thing in terms of bathroom hardware, but we have seen a move away from towel bars and more interest in hooks,” says Montana Labelle, designer at Montanalabelle.com. “People are looking for a more casual and easy-to-use space, and hooks lend themselves perfectly to that.”
Another reason people may be hooked on hooks? There are tons of unique hooks in all shapes and sizes out there, from vintage to metal to modern.
2. Whimsical wallpaper
One way to completely change your bathroom is to add some whimsy to the walls.
“The cold industrial look seems to be moving out and warm, fun, whimsical wallpaper is a must for bathrooms,” says Lj Savarie at Savarie Interiors in Winnetka, IL.
Wallpaper lends a particular pop to powder rooms.
“They have become the jewel box of the home and where most clients feel like they can take a risk,” adds Savarie.
And the good news is, if you get tired of the wallpaper in a few years, it’s a relatively small investment and easy to change out.
3. Bringing the outdoors in
Incorporating nature into your interior design has been a trend for a while now. But how does one do that in the bathroom, where things get steamy on the regular?
Well, bringing the outdoors in isn’t just about greenery; it’s also about using natural materials.
“This could include slate, marble, limestone, travertine, granite, and sandstone,” says Heather Brannan, a designer with Callen Construction in Muskego, WI.
Another key approach for getting in tune with nature entails embracing natural light.
“For instance, creating a skylight or incorporating transom windows would allow light to generously flow through the space,” says Brannan.
If these options are not viable or too expensive, a dimmer switch can help replicate the effects of natural light.
Natural elements like wood cabinets, slate showers, bamboo mats, and a custom accent door can also bring softness in the bathroom.
4. Heated floors
Heated flooring used to be a luxury, but it’s now a more popular trend—and not just in the master bath. Electric radiant floor heating systems are generally very efficient and use as much energy—or less—than other heating systems, says Grace Tsao Mase, a Yale-trained architect and founder of BEYREP, which pairs homeowners and home improvement pros.
During cooler days and middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom, you’ll feel extra comfortable and rejuvenated when you set your foot on the warm toasty floor. The heated floor is great when you get out of the shower or tub, too.
“Bonus, you can control the radiant floor heating system from your mobile device,” says Mase.
5. Backlit mirrors and medicine cabinets
The backlit mirror and medicine cabinet trend is an easy upgrade that elevates any bathroom.
“Plus, it modernizes your bathroom by embracing technology,” says Andra DelMonico, lead interior designer for Trendey, a website for home design inspiration.
The gentle glow makes the mirror look like it’s floating on the wall and creates a natural focal point in the bathroom. Also, if you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, a backlit cabinet or mirror also serves as a soothing night light.
6. Wood elements
The use of wood in bathrooms—from vanities to dresser-style sinks—is a trend many homeowners are drawn to right now, says Erin Davis, lead designer for Mosaik Design and Remodeling in Portland, OR.
Why is wood so popular?
“Wood can warm up what is typically a clean-feeling, white space,” Davis says.
“And with wood-look tiles, you can have the beauty of wood combined with the durability of tile,” adds DelMonico.
Wood-look tiles come in porcelain or ceramic, making them impervious to water, easier to clean, and more sanitary than actual wood.
7. Smart shower systems
“I’m finding the new smart shower systems starting to hit the market to offer a fascinating new direction for both style, functionality, and efficiency in the bathroom,” says David Mead, founder of smart home blog Linkdhome.com.
Smart showers offer digital control of water temperature through multiple outlets, sometimes with different temperatures between different fixtures. You can also start the shower through voice commands. And your shower will notify you when the water temperature is to your liking. Bonus: You can specify presets for different family members!
8. Personality-driven design
One of the bathroom design trends we’re loving now is adding vintage and handmade touches to balance a modern clean look, says Henrieta Imrie of Imrie Design Studio in Dallas. This trend is inspired by wabi-sabi, a traditional Japanese worldview based on accepting the imperfect.
A few vintage pieces—maybe a salvaged wood shelf, a rustic wood stool, or a vintage-look rug instead of a traditional bath mat—will add a character.