Today’s Bathroom: The Trends, Perspectives and Forecasts
Get inspired by our findings from this year’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.
By Rebecca L. Rhoades
Bathrooms are big business. A survey by the National Association of Home Builders found that bathrooms overtook kitchens as the most popular home remodeling project in 2018. “Small-scale renovations are slowly becoming just as popular as large-scale projects,” said 2018 NAHB Remodelers Chair Joanne Theunissen in a release. “Homeowners are finding that cost-effective and shorter time frame upgrades can also add comfort and value to their homes.”
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the typical bathroom remodel costs, on average, between $12,000 for a powder room to $32,000 for a lavish master bath. As such, consumers are demanding more than just performance—they want lovely lavatories that express the newest must-have styles and innovations.
That’s where the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show helps. This annual event is one of the best places to discover the latest
developments in fixtures, surfaces and technologies from the most influential players in the industry. On the following pages, we look at the top trends and hottest new products that will be hitting the market in upcoming months.
Best of Show
The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show is the market’s largest trade show. This year, more than 600 brands exhibited their latest offerings, ranging from fresh takes on traditional fixtures to innovative tech in sleek styles. With thousands of items to choose from, there was bound to be something to wow every one of the more than 10,000 attendees.
Here, we share some of our favorite finds that push design and technology boundaries.
Never Miss a Drip
Unsuspected leaks can wreak havoc on homes. Flo by Moen can detect even the smallest drop of liquid, allowing you to seek help before damage occurs. The Wi-Fi-connected device attaches to the main water supply and is controlled by a smartphone app. Three sensors actively monitor flow, pressure and temperature, identifying vulnerabilities and, if needed, automatically shutting off the water to avert potential disasters. $500 (moen.com)
Low Flow, High Design
Hansgrohe’s PowderRain technology envelops your body in a drenching spray that minimizes water usage while creating a spa-like sensation. Thousands of micro-fine droplets fall gently on the skin, reducing splashing while helping to maintain warmth—perfect for open and outdoor showers. PowderRain is available in a range of overhead and handheld shower heads. Prices vary. (hansgrohe-usa.com)
Floating on Water
Bathers will experience total weightlessness in the Flotation freestanding tub by Toto. Zero Dimension technology and a reclining position offer a weightless experience by eliminating pressure on the joints, while massaging water jets produce a therapeutic flow of warm air bubbles that surround the body for a calming, tension-free experience. LED lighting adds to the soothing ambience. $19,269 (totousa.com)
Ann Sacks joins forces with Israel-based designer Itai Bar-On to bring homeowners the sculptural Pas Deco tiles. Handcrafted of concrete, each 8″H by 32″L 3D slab features a softly honed surface with naturally occurring pits and markings. The indoor tile gracefully curves away from the wall and can be backlit for a dramatic play of shadow and light. Available in white, gray and black. Starting at $43/square foot. (annsacks.com)
Raising the Bar
Robern upgrades its Uplift Collection of medicine cabinets with new Uplift Tech, which combines polished design with state-of-the-art features. Vertically opening, no-swing doors lift smoothly with the touch of a finger, exposing the cabinet’s interior, which includes a mirror, an electrical outlet with USB ports and dimmable LED lighting. Defogging technology ensures a clear reflection. A perimeter light option is available. Starting at $1,999. (robern.com)
Bold and Beautiful
Honored with the top prize at the prestigious Best of KBIS awards ceremony, which celebrates the most ingenious new products of the year, the prototype Blade Faucet is 3D printed in stainless steel and then hand-finished. Integrated sensor technology automatically turns on the faucet as the user’s hands approach. Water appears from a circular opening, creating a vortexlike flow into the sleek, handle-free fixture’s associated basin. (dxv.com)
Tech for Your Tush
Not only does the Numi 2.0 intelligent toilet come with LED night lights and ambient lighting, built-in surround sound speakers, a heated seat, bidet, warm-air dryer, and automatic open/closing and flushing, it is also equipped with Amazon Alexa, so you can check the weather, listen to the news or even order more toilet paper. Available in white (shown, $7,000) and black ($8,000). (kohler.com)
Making a Splash With Color
Functional and often prosaic, the bathroom typically is not the most fashionable space in a home. But because it’s where we spend a lot of our time, it should be a place that reflects our personal aesthetic as well as provides comfort, easy maintenance and a sense of well being. So let your imagination fly free and dream of a relaxing retreat that looks as good as it performs.
While a neutral palette is still in style, bright, bold shades dominated the KBIS showrooms this year. Moving beyond wallcoverings to cabinets, fixtures and faucets, vivid hues and striking patterns graced every surface and product imaginable.
Leading the way was black. This moody shade adds an air of subtle elegance to any bathroom. “Many manufacturers featured matte black products,” says Tucson-based interior designer Lori Carroll. “It was shown on everything from plumbing and countertops to hardware.”
Coming off of its recent iF Design Award—one of the world’s most esteemed design competitions—Moen’s Doux family of fixtures and accessories was a star of the show. The faucet and tub filler each showcase a gently arced, flattened spout and flared base, for a distinctive design element, while the luxurious matte black finish creates a sophisticated contrast in any design scheme.
Matte black also was front and center on Brizo’s collaboration with fashion designer Jason Wu. Featuring such innovations as smart touch and temperature control technology, the sleek fixtures invoke an indulgent, high-end experience.
Metallics temper black’s heaviness. Brizo’s Invari collection, which celebrates a modern revival of classic forms, contrasts polished gold with black crystal knobs, while Kohler’s Ombré Vivant faucets graduate from dark titanium to a rich rose gold. Kohler complemented a line of black faucets with Cambria’s black Armitage countertop and black tile backsplash, creating a strong, masculine vibe.
Gold, brass and copper also show no signs of slowing down, whether used individually or mixed. Thompson Traders, Mr. Direct and Native Trails offered a variety of copper sinks, from hand-hammered vessels to sleek, contemporary pedestals. Thompson Traders also put forth a stunning polished-copper freestanding tub that would be at home in a traditional pueblo style house or a contemporary build.
Finally, gone are the days of selecting a standard white bathtub—or even a classic brushed nickel fixture. “There are so many custom colors available for tubs,” says Carroll. Victoria + Albert allows customers to personalize the exterior of its freestanding baths and basins. In addition to its existing six standard finishes (matte white, matte black, gloss black, anthracite, light gray and stone gray), the company offers 194 colors in gloss or matte finishes.
Kohler’s Shadow collection of cast iron products comprises three saturated hues: lavender gray, indigo blue and black plum; while Hastings Tile & Bath offers its Vola lineup of faucets and shower heads, designed in the 1960s by Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, in a rainbow assortment of 18 primary and metallic finishes.
A Materials Makeover
Thin is in. At only 4-millimeters thick, Dekton’s new Slim line is a durable option for wallcoverings and bathroom furniture. “It is good for creating seamless showers and very clean surfaces,” says Mossimo Ballucchi, director of marketing for Cosentino, which manufactures the ultra-compact material. “It has a wonderful spa feel.”
Wilsonart picks up on the European-inspired “thin” profile with its Thinscape countertop. Crafted of paper and resins and coming in at 0.5-inches thick, the composite slabs are scratch- and moisture-resistant and are available in 12 colors and patterns and four finishes. The distressed pine with a brushed finish lends a soothing Zen-like aura. “It fills the hole between porcelain and solid surface,” says Brooke Mays, designer for Wilsonart. “It’s not brittle like porcelain yet it still has that really slim look.”
The company also debuted its innovative Wetwall solution. The tongue-and-groove shower wall panel system is made of a high-pressure laminate that is waterproof. It can be installed in less than three hours over fiberboard and existing tile.
Not to be outdone, Corian Design added the M.R. Walls multidimensional system. The carved, textured panels are waterproof and impervious to mold and bacteria. Choose a pattern from the company’s extensive design library or create your own motif.
Concrete is making a statement, bringing an urban industrial feel to modern baths. Dekton offers the look in its new Orix color, which mimics the appearance of natural concrete.
For a more organic touch, Native Trails’ Avalon 72 freestanding concrete bathtub features thick walls that provide insulation and ensure a hot, relaxing soak. Brizo’s Vettis Concrete faucet is fiber-reinforced for added durability. Only 500 of the geometric centerpiece were made. And Ann Sacks offers a collection of handcrafted concrete wall tiles.
Recycled materials are also gaining in popularity—and growing in style. Kohler collaborated with Ann Sacks to create its WasteLAB Crackle Collection, which was displayed in a warm amber and a showstopping emerald. Employing waste from Kohler’s products as the medium, the tiles are hand-cut and glazed, resulting in an artisanal effect. Completing the setting, Robern’s Profiles vanity with a mottled gold Arcobaleno mirror front and matte gold frame offers a look that is pure antique opulence.
The Connected Bath
Technology still reigns in bathroom design. While many companies are coming out with high-tech shower heads, tubs and toilets, none can match industry leader Kohler. The company offers a suite of products that are controlled via the Kohler Konnect platform, which uses voice commands and unique presets managed through a smartphone app.
The DTV+ digital shower allows clients to personalize their showering experience by setting temperature, spray, steam, music and more with an intuitive wall-mounted interface. The Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror with Amazon Alexa lets people activate the cloud-based voice service directly through their mirror. And the Sensate Faucet can be turned on and off with simple voice instructions.
Kohler also offers a selection of smart toilets, including the Eir Intelligent toilet, the Veil ADA-compliant Intelligent toilet and the Karing 2.0 Intelligent toilet, all of which feature heated seats, hands-free opening and closing, and warm-water cleansing.
Integrated lighting was prevalent. “It was amazing to see how creative suppliers were with LED lighting,” notes Carroll. “It is in shower heads, under tubs, in mirrors—it’s technology at its finest.”
Robern introduced its Sculpt Lighted Mirror Collection with dimmable LED task lighting built into the frames, while Aamsco debuted the sleek Mirror-Lux. Dimmable, angled and backlit, it is designed for use by those in wheelchairs. Sterling entered
the fray with the Sunfield Lighted Mirror. Featuring LED lighting that matches daylight, it can be controlled with an optional dimmer switch.
Complementing its intelligent toilet, Kohler’s Veil lineup also includes a lighted mirror, vanity and freestanding tub. Each provides gentle illumination. And Delta shines a light into the shower with the Pendant Raincan Shower Head featuring water-powered LED lights that turn on and off with the flow of water. Unlike bright overhead bulbs, they emit a subtle glow.
These are just a few of the innovative products and ideas that are shaping the way we see and use our lavatories. With so many choices—from the perfect shade of metal to fixtures that make mornings more bearable—bathrooms continue to push design and technology boundaries.