With the advent of Instagram, bathrooms have become as pivotal a point in the house along with the long-coveted kitchen. Picture free-standing baths, soft LED lighting, marble tiling, and walk-in showers – the modern master bathroom is becoming a sanctuary for many homeowners.
Landmark Homes North Shore/Rodney’s Senior Designer, Wendy King, has designed hundreds of bathrooms in her career, including an award-winning ensuite in 2019, and she agrees.
“Bathrooms have become so much more exciting now than they used to be!” reflects Wendy. “People are going more for a luxury feel than they used to, particularly for the master ensuite, so there’s that bit of extra opulence for the homeowner.”
How to design your master bathroom
The very first step to designing a master bathroom is to establish what you want in the bathroom.
Single bowl or double bowl in the vanity? Long countertop with single bowl on it? Bath or no bath? Walk-in shower or no walk-in shower?
Once you’ve established what’s on your wish list, then you’ll know how big the space needs to be. For example, if you want a walk-in shower, then you’ll need a lot of space to abide by building code rules.
To bath or not to bath?
Most new homes only have one bath per house, says Wendy. “It used to be the trend that the bath was in the family bathroom, but nowadays it’s more likely to be in the ensuite – which is in keeping with the trend towards luxury.”
Having a built-in bath set against the wall is great for families – since it adds that extra layer of safety, and you and the kids can sit on the side of it. But the reality is that children are only small for a short amount of time, and often people decide that they would rather have the nice luxe freestanding bath that they will use and indulge themselves in for a long time.
Surprisingly, Wendy has also noticed a trend away from having a bath at all – especially in New Zealand where the spa pool is often the go-to for long-soaks – with some homeowners only installing a large shower instead.
She estimates that up to 50% of people are only putting a bath in for resale value, often asking her “I know they say we need it for resale value, but do we REALLY need it?” (Her answer? Usually, yes.)
Going bath-free is something to consider only if space is at a premium – because a bath takes up to three square metres, and that’s not an insignificant amount of room.
2020 bathroom design trends
Clear glass in windows
We’ve noticed a definite trend towards clear glass in windows – because obscured glass cuts out so much light, and you can always put in a beautiful blind if you’re craving privacy.
Another option if privacy is a priority, but you still want to leverage the lighting benefits of clear glass, is a skylight – it gives a really fantastic light for looking in a mirror, much better than light that is coming in sideways from a window. Perfect when you’re trying to put in contact lenses or do your makeup in a rush before work!
Matte finish is more ‘in’ than gloss finish nowadays. Such as matte bowls for your vanities, matte baths, matte tilling. Says Wendy, “A bathroom we’re putting in now is a beautiful marble, but the surface is smooth matte and slightly undulating, it gives the feel that it’s been around for centuries and it’s slightly worn.”
Out with the gold and in with the grey
Gold, bronze, black were popular colours in 2019, but black especially can be very polarising. 2020 has seen a move towards more muted colours with brushed nickel and gunmetal being the most popular colours of the year so far.
A tip from the pros: “The most important piece of advice is to source all of your bathroom hardware (taps, towel rails, shower fittings, door and drawer handles) in your colour of choice. It’s that attention to detail that will make the difference between a great bathroom and an amazing bathroom,” says Wendy.
Dare to be different with a completely custom vanity
Highly unique vanities are huge right now, says Wendy. And when going through her design process, people really respond to the idea that they’re picking everything and making it super unique.
“St Michel is definitely top of the game with the city series – with this company you get to choose the top, the drawer fronts, the cabinet, the vanity. Everything. You are customising your vanity in a way that you simply haven’t been able to do in the past. No two vanities will be the same because there are so many variables as to how you can customise them. They are very cool!”
Think: Black on the side, white on front, wood grain on top and black bowl. The possibilities are endless.
As technology gets smarter, so do bathrooms! New features Wendy is noticing include automatic taps that are set at the heat you like, so you don’t need to fiddle with the temperature dial on a freezing cold morning, and automatic taps where you don’t need to turn the tap at all, you just swipe your hand and it turns on.
One final technology note? Wendy always recommends LED lighting around vanities or around mirror, for mood lighting, and to create that relaxed and calming ambience.
Room with a view
Wendy is currently designing a bathroom that includes a full glass wall at one end of the bathroom and an enclosed garden outside – offering something to look at while you’re in the bath. So, if you want (or have) something beautiful to look at, consider adding or leveraging the outdoor landscape in your bathroom design, especially if you love a soak in the tub at the end of a long day or week.