It was over a decade ago when trend watchers started noticing the first stirrings of the inclusion of furniture in the bathroom. Today, this is standard practice, with a wide variety of beautiful and durable furniture on the market, made specifically for bathroom applications.
Jasmin Kraneveldt from Bathroom Bizarre said: "In the past, many homeowners took great care to convert valuable pieces of furniture into bathroom vanities — and they did so at no small risk — a steamy, moisture-drenched bathroom is not an ideal location for any untreated wooden furniture, not to mention the structural damage caused by actually installing the basin, faucets and necessary pipes.
"However, there is absolutely no need to go to such lengths these days, as there are a wide variety of vanities on the market today that look like pieces of furniture themselves. What is especially appropriate is that the materials used to make these pieces have been chosen and treated to withstand the typical hot and steamy conditions prevalent in any bathroom area — ensuring their longevity," she explains.
Drivers of the trend
Kraneveldt notes that in the perpetual quest for luxury, most homeowners are opting to transform their bathrooms into mini private retreats: "What was yesterday's ho-hum utilitarian bathroom space can now resemble an elegant living room, complete with all the mod cons and luxurious trappings. As a result, top-end modern bathrooms are getting larger, measuring on average between 60m² to 90m², and increasingly more of the bathroom is being designed to include some kind of living area.
"In fact, more and more en-suite bathrooms are even being incorporated into the bedroom itself — this open-plan bathroom-bedroom trend usually incorporates the bathtub, shower and basins, while the WC is enclosed in its own separate room," she explains.
Since today’s bathrooms are bigger, homeowners need to fill the extra space with items other than sanitaryware, which usually comprises some kind of furniture. Due to the seamless flow between the bedroom and bathroom, not just any kind of furniture will do — pieces need to be chosen to complement the rest of the bedroom’s décor. “Aside from armoires, rugs and chairs, it is common to see vanities that are true pieces of furniture, rather than merely built-in cabinetry," explains Kraneveldt.
Styles that are bang on trend
Today's bathroom cabinets are available in various kinds of designs she says: "Well-made bathroom furniture is fashionable amongst homeowners of all ages and style preferences — from solid traditionalists, to those who prefer a sleek, unfussy contemporary look. However, the most popular style includes the more cubist and contemporary designs – homeowners are approaching bathroom furnishing from a increasingly minimalist approach."
Straight lines, cube and geometric shapes are all the rage — designs that epitomise simplicity and functionality, but at the same time, are timeless in their aesthetic appeal. "The contemporary design philosophy of less is more is at the core of the latest bathroom design trends — and this not only appeals from an aesthetic point of view, but from a practical one as well. The less cluttered your bathroom, the more space you will have to include a large bathtub, comfortable seating, a well proportioned rug and perhaps even a fireplace, making the space more of a living area.
"A definite must-have for any modern bathroom is a space designed for two," explains Kraneveldt: "A bathroom designed for two would include features such as a double vanity, a large bath in which two people can soak comfortably, and a double shower if you have the space. The straighter and simpler the lines, the more space-saving the design will be. Floating cabinets and shelves also create the illusion of more space, leaving the floor underneath open and easy to clean."
Wooden it be nice
With regards to materials – the focus here is on mixing organic-inspired materials together with gleaming man-made ones. Tiles made from real or faux natural stone or merely in highly polished porcelain in neutral earthy tones, are ideal for bathroom applications. In many modern bathroom designs, the neutral floor and wall tiles are complemented with bright white sanitraryware, polished chrome faucets and accessories, and of course, beautifully crafted wooden cabinets.
Kraneveldt loves the juxtaposition of modern and natural materials: "This part of the contemporary trend allows the more traditional leanings to come into play —combining old and new design elements. Rich, dark wooden timbers, coupled with sleek chrome faucets and gleaming bright white sanitaryware keeps the contemporary and traditional factions happy, and creates timelessly elegant designs that won’t easily date."