We talked to industry experts to find out which bathroom trends, both big and small, will be popular in the new year.

By Julianne Hilmes Bartlett
December 13, 2019
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The self-care and wellness movement continues to grow, and bathrooms are seeing the benefit. As these formerly utilitarian spaces become more personalized, acting as a spa-like retreat rather than simply a requisite room, we turned to industry experts to discover the top trends in bathroom design for 2020. If you're ready to hit refresh on your bathroom heading into the new year, these eight ideas will inspire you to make this everyday space into a total sanctuary.

Credit: Kim Cornelison

1. Accent Walls

Homeowners and designers are increasingly using accent walls to amp up interest in the bathroom. A 2019 trend report from Houzz revealed that more than one-third of renovating homeowners are now choosing to include an accent wall in their bathrooms. These can be used to liven up a neutral palette or help draw focus to a show-stopping feature, such as a soaking tub or custom vanity.

"Adding an accent wall provides a touch of elegance and sophistication to your bathroom," says Gena Kirk, vice president of the corporate studio at KB Home. "Not only will it make your room interesting, but as an additional bonus, it may also protect the wall from moisture." Outfitting a wall in pretty porcelain tiles, for example, creates an eye-catching (and durable) effect.

If you decide to add an accent wall to your bathroom, take careful consideration of which wall to showcase. Look to the features around or on the wall to help you decide. "A focal point should be interesting to look at, something colorful, or texturally and visually appealing," Kirk says. "However, if you are selecting a busy pattern tile or bright colors, be sure the other walls are more subdued and complement the focal point wall [instead of] compete with it." If you're still not sure which wall is best, select the one directly in the line of sight from the door.

Credit: Jim Franco

2. Freestanding Vanities

Personalization continues to be a top priority for homeowners, and freestanding vanities, with their furniture-like appeal, present a great opportunity to add a custom look.

"The recent trend in freestanding vanities follows a trend that we see across the building and remodeling market towards personalization," says Kate Bailey, director of showrooms at Ferguson, a bath, kitchens, and lighting gallery. "The home is highly personal and homeowners want customizable fixtures to make their spaces reflect their personality and lifestyle."

Updating your vanity is one of the quickest ways to change the look of your bathroom without undertaking an entire remodel. If you're working with a small budget, freestanding vanities generally offer similar design options and storage choices as built-ins at a less expensive price point. Although you can find freestanding vanities in nearly every design style, Bailey notes increased interest in those with "clean, crisp lines in a variety of finishes that include white and dark wood, bright bold hues, and dramatic black or navy." To customize your freestanding vanity even further, swap out the hardware with pulls in your favorite metallic finish, then accessorize the countertop with a pretty tray or vase.

Credit: Laurey Glenn Photography

3. Black Accents

Black is back in a big way for 2020. Though hardware and faucet finishes are one way to try this trend, we're seeing a heavier use of this dramatic shade beyond these quick updates. Bold black accent walls, deep-hued vanities, and even black plumbing fixtures are on the rise, according to Lynn Schrage, interior designer at Kohler

"Pairing matte black hardware and cabinets creates a pleasing punctuation within the bathroom space," Schrage says. Used sparingly, black accents can provide a pop of contrast in a traditional white bathroom. When applied liberally, black accents help foster a moody, glamorous vibe.

Credit: Edward Gohlich

4. Natural Tones and Textures

As homeowners seek to create a calming space, subtle natural hues are on the rise. "Shades that remind us of the calming effect of water and air are most popular in the bathroom," says Sue Kim, color marketing manager at Valspar. "They create a spa-like retreat, a space for us to unwind and relax."

Another reason for its popularity? "Neutral shades are common because they nicely accent shades of existing features," Kim says. Natural materials like wood and marble blend beautifully with a wide range of color palettes. Whether you prefer a minimalist Scandinavian look, a rustic farmhouse vibe, or a traditional feel, natural tones and textures work well with a variety of design styles, too. To help modernize the space, incorporate a small dose of black to ground the look. 

Credit: Brie Williams

5. Double Vanities

In 2018, the median size of a new single-family home was 2,435 square feet. Compare that to 1973, when the median home size was 1525 square feet and it's clear that new homes, including bathrooms, are bigger than ever. More space in master bathrooms means more opportunities for unique design elements, and homeowners are taking advantage of larger footprints by incorporating double vanities. "Since the master bath space is getting larger, most homeowners are opting for double sinks," says Bailey of Ferguson.

While incorporating two sinks into one vanity is a popular choice, Bailey recommends splitting the vanities into two freestanding structures for a custom look. To add another element of personalization, customize the countertop heights to fit their primary user. 

Although double sinks can reduce the amount of usable counter space, many manufacturers are now addressing that issue with creative storage solutions. Vanities outfitted with power outlets, full-extension drawers, and custom holders for grooming tools can help minimize clutter and make the most of limited space.

Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

6. Large Showers

When space allows, homeowners are saying goodbye to the shower-bath combo, instead opting for a walk-in shower and an equally luxurious tub situation. "Overall, consumers see value in separating the bathtub and shower and opt to include a large soaker tub in their master bathrooms," says Kirk of KB Home.

As the size of bathrooms continues to grow, many homeowners are also opting to expand their showers. In fact, more than four out of five homeowners who separate the shower and tub also choose to enlarge the shower, according to data from Houzz. That larger shower area presents ample opportunity for introducing customization and spa-like extras. Add an element of luxury with built-in storage niches or a teak bench lined with pampering products.

Credit: Courtesy of J. De Leo Photography

7. Round Mirrors

Thanks to tile, flooring, and woodwork, bathrooms tend to be dominated by hard lines. To break up all the sharp angles, homeowners and designers are increasingly choosing round mirrors over rectangular ones. The circular shape helps bring softness and visual contrast into the functional space. 

"Choosing a round mirror also creates a more modern look and a relaxed, calming vibe," says designer Kathy Kuo. "Plus, the round shape helps focus the light and your eye for completing tasks, like putting on your makeup or your nightly routine."

Kuo says a round mirror works for pedestal sinks and single and double vanities alike. For double vanities, she suggests using an oval shape to allow more space between the mirrors. "However you decide to go, the proportions should look purposeful," she says. "Avoid mirrors with diameters that are just short or long of the width of your sink." If you're unsure about the size, consider selecting an oversize option so the height of the mirror can accommodate people of various heights.

Credit: Courtesy of Moen

8. Spa-Inspired Luxuries

With more and more options for eco-friendly products and connected solutions, advances in technology are making it easier than ever to create a spa-like experience at home. "Many consumers are gravitating toward designs focused on creating a feeling of extreme comfort or a soothing retreat," says Lori Marks, senior product manager of showering at Moen. "The bathroom is the room where you start your day and wind down for the night, so it's only natural that spa-like qualities would be integrated into this space."

Many manufacturers are introducing ways to bring that luxury experience home at a variety of price points. "From voice-activated shower systems to showerheads that offer a spa-like experience, it's possible to transform your space no matter your budget," Marks says.

Personalize your shower experience with a smart outlet controller that uses voice commands or an app to start the water and adjust it to your desired temperature. Or install a showerhead that features massaging rollers or produces an overhead rainfall effect for a pampered feeling every time you shower.

Comments (2)

Anonymous
January 2, 2020
I love BHG; you have some of the greatest ideas to update around my home into some classic ideas and I can't wait to get started on my bathroom. Thanks.
Anonymous
December 31, 2019
Rain showers are for men only.......not strong enough or flexible enough for women....waste of $$$