Bright colors have moved into the bathroom in a big way, offering a fresh alternative to bland beiges.
This color transformation is being seen in everything from paint to tile to sinks. It's more than just adding bold-colored accessories, it's about changing the hues and tones of the major fixtures and products that help define a bathroom's style. With this addition of color comes a softening of many finishes used for faucets, tub fillers and shower controls. The result is a vivid backdrop coupled with warm, sophisticated finishes.
"Color is in," said John Dalbis, owner of Showcase Kitchens and Design in Geneva. " Burnt orange and terra cotta have come to the forefront—we're all tired of the monochromatic beige look."
When buying a new home, there are many ways to add these color and fixture trends to the bathroom. The key is to select one or two places where a bold color, a warm faucet finish or a dramatic sink can add a splash.
While most people would cringe at rows and rows of bright orange floor tile, for example, many are willing to try it as an accent to offset neutral white, tan or cream tiles.
That color palette then can be enhanced with paint, wallpaper and accessories. The paint can be darker than the tile to add a bold effect or lighter to soften the look.
When adding color, homeowners should look to all the horizontal and vertical surfaces around the room. The color can start with a pattern on the floor and continue up the wall, along the side of a bathtub or into the shower stall.
The color can be sprinkled throughout the room or focused in one or two areas, Dalbis said.
As color is being carried throughout the bathroom, fixtures also are being updated to show a softer side. The shiny brass of yesteryear has been replaced with warm gray or brown finishes, such as polished nickel and brushed bronze, said Lynn Schrage, marketing manager for the Kohler Store in Chicago.
Color also is being applied differently to create unique hues and tones. Some manufacturers are using a layering effect that adds more depth to the color. This can take a basic white sink and give it more dimension or add texture to a faucet, Schrage said.
Today's warmer finishes add a rich, sophisticated look to a bathroom and are neutral enough for almost any design scheme. A satin nickel faucet and tub filler combination can fit with a contemporary bathroom setting with a black and white theme as well as a traditional bathroom design with Tuscan colors and more ornamentation.
Chrome also is making a comeback in some circles, as manufacturers soften the shine and create a more muted finish than that seen five years ago. "People are seeing how universal chrome is," said John Wozniak, president of J. Lawrence Homes, which is building homes priced from $200,000 to $400,000 in Joliet and Wadsworth.
On the other end of the spectrum are the darker finishes, which are popular with people who want an Old World look for their bathroom. Oil rubbed bronze has dark brown tones and blends well with many rustic sinks and ornate tile products.
Materials that have been relegated to the kitchen also are being introduced into the bathroom. Stainless steel is now being used on faucets.
"The big question was, 'How can we make stainless steel work for the bath?' " Schrage said.
The answer was to soften the look and give it more warmth.
As you peruse various bathroom showrooms, remember that design guidelines also have softened over the years. It is no longer a design faux pas to mix and match finishes. This is a big plus to those who are debating between a few finishes for their door handles, faucet, toilet handles, tub spouts, shower controls and towel bars.
"People are doing a lot of mixing and matching in the bathroom," Wozniak said. "Just because the door handle is one color, you don't have to use the same color everywhere else."
Designers often recommend that you stick to two finishes for the main bathroom fixtures.