Like kitchens – that other vital interior space in the contemporary home – bathrooms were, until recently, basically installed rather than designed. Yet, over the course of the last century they’ve thankfully become so much more than a cramped place to wash and occasionally bath – perhaps even with a privy at the bottom of the garden. Today, the bathroom can take pride of place in a modern family home with varying styles, colour-schemes and layouts; allowing the owners ample scope to exhibit individual tastes. More importantly, in best case scenarios, the bathroom can become a valuable sanctuary in the maelstrom of daily domesticity. Ideally, 2018 bathroom design should create private, relaxing and comfortable interiors in which their users rejuvenate.

Cover image: Kohler

But the modern bathroom boom, particularly post-millennium, has posed a number of design challenges. What palette to use, which features to install, what look to opt for? These decisions in 2018 can be overwhelming, yet fortunately certain bathroom specialists provide one-stop design concepts as part of their installation or renovation services. Here, combining an eye for décor with a utilitarian understanding of available space is key to a successful result.

End users merely have to indicate personal preferences, taking into account a measure of inspiration from current bathroom design trends. We showcase several leading global directions evident so far in 2018.

For showers there is increasing demand for an open format (wet area). Bathroom renovators may favour a multifunctional equipped shower; the integration of a bench, steam system, ambient or anti-fog mirror and a linear drain trench rather than a circular central hole and grill. Consider storage by adding shelves or recesses to contain shampoo, shower gel and soap. And if a corner cubicle is still first choice, choose glass walls that create a minimalist appearance in addition to being easy to maintain; they also help conserve space while adapting to various décor styles.

Ronelle Badenhorst of Kohler Sub Sahara region says: ‘Overall, there’s been a move towards more compact bathrooms, probably informed by baths being replaced by showers and wet rooms. Personalisation in 2018 / ‘19 is important especially when it comes to taps and shower heads. Injecting an individual touch to create intimate spaces and a unique user experience is what bathrooms / wet areas are all about currently; and smaller bathing spaces allow for more expensive finishes, including floor-to-ceiling large scale tiles that help create spatial dimension.’

‘The trend is definitely towards colour – in tapware, mirrors, lighting and shower doors. And we’re noting different tones and textures: matt black, various versions of brushed bronze, dark platinum, and champagne. This confirms that clients are enjoying customisation, making their bathrooms unique with their own colour choices; chrome tapware is virtually foreign to us in mid-2018. Due to drought and water saving, certain bath manufacturers have designed new smaller baths that use far less water. They too are introducing impressive colour ranges, which can make a bathroom project unique,’ says Flush Bathroom InteriorsSiobhan Thomas.

Miguel Tavares of Bathco adds: ‘Revamping a bathroom doesn’t always require a total refit, it can be as simple as replacing the basins and taps. We see patterned counter top basins becoming more and more popular, along with natural finishes and wood basins.’

In South Africa ceramic and porcelain tiles still top the list for bathroom floors and walls – what are the latest developments?

Large-format tiles are still in demand for bathroom floors and walls, but so too are ‘busy’ mix-and-match mosaics. And that perennial storage problem? Recessed cabinets in walls, and hidden storage behind mirrors and within formed vanity tops are all on-trend.

Bathroom Butler’s Dessie Nikolova notes: ‘Interior designer Karen Steyn, from The Home Studio, suggests using plenty of texture as bathrooms can often appear cold and lifeless – especially when fully tiled. She says it’s important to add dimension and warmth to the space, which helps bring it to life and feel welcoming. She also advises homeowners to experiment with tile patterns and sizes as these considerations have the ability to create an impact in what could otherwise be perceived as a boring space.’

Showers are the everyday norm in 2018 / ‘19 lifestyle – what is the latest technology and thinking?

‘Four years ago, Dornbracht created an electronic shower, and now – with home automation – they have integrated the shower unit into the automation system. This ilk of shower allows the home owner the luxury of various bathing scenarios – think preset functions on a shower for heat and water flow or pattern. And our latest innovation in water saving is the Upfall, a recycling shower with a filtration system that allows a longer bathe with about 70 percent less water,’ says Siobahn Thomas.

John Westermeyer of Lixil Africa comments on advanced Grohe technology: ‘Grohe has expanded its cutting-edge, push-and-turn SmartControl shower range to include added practical, yet stylish features. One such is a new concealed shower model, which can be installed behind walls for a neater, more streamlined appearance. It’s a range designed to enhance the look of a contemporary bathroom and is available in square and round designs, in chrome or white finish.

‘SmartControl allows users to customise and program preferred shower settings – from water flow rate to spray patterns – which the system ‘remembers’ even after the water has been switched off.

After receiving less designer focus, compared to that of the shower in the last decade, the bath has returned strongly. And this by being available in more appealing and comfortable formats – and through offering space for ultimate personal relaxation.

JeevesMark Bennett takes a look at using the heated towel rail as a strategic and structural feature within the bathroom space: ‘The freestanding Jeeves Tangent X heated towel rail can adapt to a variety of design interpretations as its definitive, stylish appearance combines aesthetics with indulgence. With a height of 1000mm and a width of 620mm it can easily hold three to four towels, providing a good measure of pampering together with decorative individuality.

‘Designed to be positioned strategically for maximum impact, courtesy of under-tile base plates which allow for a hidden installation within the floor, this towel rail can act as an ideal divider in the bathroom, i.e. between a freestanding tub and the shower areas.

The heated towel rail can also double up as a feature wall. The Jeeves Classic Eight boasts two groups of elegant tubular rows set in a cutting-edge design, and with its dramatic border could act as a strategic feature wall in the contemporary bathroom. Yet, as a focal point, commanding centre stage in any bathroom, the Ladder L is one of the most sought-after designs in the Jeeves collection. With stylish tapering lines, this design is sleek and simple and has undeniable impact as a focal point within the bathroom interior.

Linea Brigio’s Lynne Mausenbaum summarises the 2018 / ‘19 trends: ‘Bathrooms should present as a sanctuary of peace and tranquility, and their design should be simple and uncluttered with accent features on certain products.

‘Water-saving / eco issues are at the fore in the latest tapware trends and most taps have adapted to being eco-smart without reducing the pleasure of functional usage. Many showers and basin mixers are fitted with flow limiters to use less water and certain showers dispense as little as five litres of water per minute. Meanwhile, space allowing, freestanding baths remain a must-have feature and they – together with basins – are reflecting new colours with black and various greys being popular.’

So indeed, the bathroom of 2018 can become a personal idyll. Integral and vital to the contemporary home, it represents all that’s needed to create the perfect space in which to bathe, relax and rejuvenate. Its design, decoration and accessorising should showcase confidence in the tastes of its users. In 2018 South Africa the options are vast and all embracing.

For the full article see Habitat #267 September / October 2018

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