Interior design is a luxury for many who buy tract homes and have to settle for builder’s grade finishes. Cost savings dictates generic looks and run-of-the-mill appearances. This is particularly the case with kitchens and bathrooms since they entail fixtures of all kinds, where style becomes apparent. If you are allowed to make choices, no doubt the word “upgrade” would cross your lips.
There are wonderful ways to construct a bathroom these days, and you just don’t want to miss out. Watch TV and read the magazines. People want spa-like spaces that make them feel relaxed and unstressed. They want a retreat that is up to date and uses the latest devices like low-water flush toilets and knobless sinks. They want to feel pampered when doing the most mundane activities. If you want to please your customer as a bathroom designer, there are now certain requirements advised. The smallest room in the house is hardly the least important.
It is always about form follows function in this most private room of the house, but it is also about a luxurious appearance to be sure. When vast numbers of faceless, nameless homes grew up after World War II, there was a tub or shower, a toilet and a sink with some added white tile. It was all about basics and nothing more-all in a pretty diminutive space. There were no “en suite” master baths, only Jack and Jill. If you had a stylish home with a big more grandeur, you might have some Malibu or Mexican tile, or the ubiquitous combo of pink and black. This was a paean to Art Deco and it was rife.
In the sixties, aqua reigned supreme as popular color number one. Sometimes you saw tubs and matching sinks and johns in pink or burgundy as well. Color was hot. Taste was minimal. It was a time of avocado and turquoise kitchens that held stacks of plastic Melmac dishes. They mirrored the color scheme of the bathroom if you could call it that. But things were still basic. As time wore on, marble was added to sink countertops or tub ledges for real pizzazz. It wasn’t just for powder rooms any more.
People seem to be able to identify when a house was built by the look of the bathroom and kitchen. They can put a date on it right away. We all know about stainless steel replacing just about any other stove and refrigerator option. Too much brass was used in bathrooms for a time as the accent metal and too much grout in the ever-widening tile. The look did not last in popularity and begged for a transformation. The late 20th century saw a change. The mansions of the 80’s were Dynasty personified, and the bathrooms followed suit. They got bigger and better. Floors were heated as were towel bars. Finishes improved. When things calmed down after a decade or two, and a few economic recessions later, the spa look came into being. It worked for any size room.
More and more people were joining gyms during the initial stages of the fitness craze. They are now hooked on exercise. The “me generation” wants to stay fit and young, even as they age. They started to look around when first exposed to the new-look gyms and came to appreciate that less is more. A spa style meant clean lines, granite or marble, not too much metal, and never gold or brass. It meant fixtures that look like sculptures and toilets that rivaled that of a prince in quality and style. No tacky decorations, shower curtains, decals, or window treatments. No area rugs that match your tissue holder and toilet seat.
Plush white folded towels, as dense and thick as sheepskin, are laid elegantly on beautiful chrome bars that cost a pretty penny. You have to have more than a few. They match your cabinet knobs that look hand-made, never mass produced. Tissue holders, toilet paper dispensers, and medicine cabinets are completely reborn. The look is stunning and you have to have it. Those who can afford to update are standing in line to get new bathrooms that rivals the best spas. Showers have pebble stone floors and high end fixtures like rain shower heads for two people or more. There is glass everywhere but no wall to wall mirrors. Music is piped in and soap comes from France. It is the epitome of the modern loo.
It is an exciting time for interior designers who want to create individual looks for the new generic concepts. They are experimenting with more than gray, white, and black. They are seeking alternatives to subway tile and mosaic inlays. We are all waiting to see the results.