Bathroom trends evolve with tile and technology

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Designer Tanya Woods has a standard joke when it comes to her design expertise.

“I always say I’m known for designing any room with a toilet,” laughs Woods, co-owner of XStyles Bath & More in Bloomfield Hills along with her husband Jeff.

But when you’ve designed as many bathrooms as Woods has, in a way, she’s not joking. The award-winning designer has created hundreds of bathrooms over 21/2 decades. She and Jeff have seen styles come and go for everything from tile to shower heads.

Woods says people may not think much about bathroom design, but “it’s a very important room.”

“A lot of people don’t focus on it but we’ve been focusing on it for 25 years,” says Woods, who won the Best Bath award earlier this month from the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

Indeed, that focus is well-deserved. According to a study by body wash firm Skinbliss, women will spend 136 days during their lifetime in the bathroom, which includes applying make-up, bathing and dressing. Men, on the other hand, will spend 46 days.

All the more reason, says designer Barbi Stalburg Kasoff of Stalburg Design in Bloomfield Hills, designing a bathroom takes careful consideration. Kasoff tells her client to view the powder room as a gift to the guests in your home.

“It’s sort of like the jewelry of the home,” says Kasoff. “It’s a space where your visitors can retreat from a dinner party or family gathering, shut the door, take a deep breathe and get away from you for a moment.”

The master bathroom, meanwhile, is about creating an intimate haven to get away from life’s daily stresses, says Kasoff.

“Many of our clients are full-time professionals,” says Kasoff. “They work around the clock. We feel honored that we can come into their home and create such a personal space.”

Rethinking the space

To do that, Kasoff asks her clients some detailed questions – how the space will be used, for example – and she designs from there. She says clients often come into a project with an idea of what they want from or other places but she and her team will point items they may have missed and design from there.

She says a bathroom renovation is a great opportunity to rethink the space’s footprint.

“It’s very rare that people remove and replace (in a bathroom) because there’s such an opportunity to do more,” says Kasoff.

So what are the trends these days when it comes to bathroom design? Kasoff says separate vanities are popular, along with man-made quartz counters. And abundant lighting, especially task lighting, is key.

Even separate vanities can be customized, Kasoff says. For a client in Huntington Woods, the husband is very tall and the wife is shorter so “we are doing two different heights for the vanity.”

Another big trend these days is soaking tubs, Kasoff says. She says clients are moving away from steam showers and focusing a bigger percentage of their budget on a nice tub.

Clients also are mixing it up when it comes to tile, says Kasoff. “Instead of bold colors people are doing soft neutrals with texture,” she says.

With every element in the bathroom, “something wants to be the star of the show,” says Kasoff. “If it is going to be your tile – say you’re going to do an interesting chevron tile ‘wood’ plank tile on the floor – then you’d tone down your countertops.”

Tile offers inspiration

Tile is often the starting point for Woods of XStyles, though her process starts long before that. She starts by taking “design cues” from a client’s kitchen or home to understand his or her aesthetic.

But in the bathroom, “usually I’m inspired from tile. Then I start to apply the jewelry with the plumbing and then the next thing with cabinetry. Out of that will evolve the lighting,” says Woods.

Tile has come a long way in the last 25 years, says Woods, who remembers she and her husband being among the first to start using glass tile.

“People didn’t want to touch it,” remembers Woods. “We embraced it. We were like, ‘Wow, glass!’ Over the past 25 years it’s really taken hold.”

One of the newest tile trends these days is three-dimensional tile, says Woods, who recently returned from the 2017 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Orlando, Florida.

Manufacturers “angle and fabricate it in a way that it’s not flat,” says Woods. “When you set it, you can create patterns with it. And by adding wallscaping lights, it makes it pop. I think we’re going to see a lot of that.”

When it comes to bathroom plumbing and hardware, one trend making its way back is gold or brushed brass. Though it isn’t for everyone, it’s definitely emerging, says Woods, who recently designed a white and gold bathroom in a historic home in Ferndale.

“It turned out very pretty,” says Woods. “I don’t think it’s everybody. I think a touch of it goes a long way.”

And as homeowners age and a growing number want to stay in their homes, Woods says accessibility in the bathroom also is important. That means curbless showers and linear drains.

“Universal design is very very popular,” says Woods.

So if you’re thinking about remodeling your own bathroom, give this jewel some thought. You – and your guests – will thank you for it later.

(313) 223-4686

Twitter: @mfeighan

Bathroom Trends

■Spa-like showers

■Tucking away the toilet

■Cabinets with furniture appeal

■Three-dimensional tile

■Vessel sinks

■Deep Jacuzzi tubs

■Jazzed up bathroom lighting

■Improved accessibility