Australia’s top bathroom design trends of 2017 – If you’re anything like us, the big ‘bathroom reveal’ has to be the most anticipated part of any home reno show.
With their shiny new tapware, encaustic tiling and luxurious freestanding baths, they’re the spa-like sanctuaries of our wildest dreams, and put our own porcelain-led spaces very much to shame.
Perhaps the TV-reno archetype is to blame, but bathrooms are evolving from the functional necessities they once were into a feature of the home – a mini haven within the house itself.
In the business of making bathrooms beautiful, Chris Ilias, of Sydney’s Teranova Tiles and Vanessa Katsanevakis, of Melbourne’s Sussex Taps, are one step ahead of the rest of us when it comes to the trends driving the ever-evolving vortex of bathroom design.
Here are the BIGGEST trends they’ve noticed for this year, and a few hints at what’s to come.
What’s old is new
An emerging preference for terrazzo and intricate marble mosaic tiles, taking us back to the mid-century era of design when these surfaces peaked in popularity, has reared its head.
Terrazzo, a surface material made up of concrete with marble chips, was invented by Venetian mosaic artists in the 16th century and rose in favour in the 1950s and ’60s.
Chris says terrazzo will “replace concrete” as the second (to tiles) most popular flooring choice in the bathroom. It feeds into another bathroom trend towards customisation – people are embracing the bespoke quality and uniqueness that comes from organic terrazzo mosaics.
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Square format tiles
While the subway tile trended its way through 2015, and hexagons took over for a brief period, Chris says we’re going back to the square tile – a large format version.
“Square is the new hexagon,” he says. The fact that larger tiles are more popular can be traced back to practicality. It’s less grout to worry about (and clean!).
The rise in popularity of the encaustic tile, where different colours of clay are incorporated to form a unique pattern, reveals just how much value people place on customisation in the bathroom.
“The bathroom is becoming more of a personalised space,” Chris says.
If it’s more green or more blue you want, create your own encaustic tile with that direction. It’s not just tiles, though. For easier elements to change, people are looking to tapware, or even towels to keep up with seasonal colour trends.
In autumn, it might be emerald greens and in summer pale blues and yellows. “A nice throw-down rug and some colourful towels can bring warmth into a natural-toned bathroom,” Chris says
Coming out of the ISH Trade Fair in Frankfurt, Vanessa says in terms of tapware there’s been a huge shift overseas from sharp and defined geometric shapes into the organic. “For me, that’s a level of customisation,” she says. “You can add marble or even wood into your taps. One of the bigger players in Frankfurt, for example, has made a really beautiful stone tap.”
While the Australian market may not be quite ready for that yet, we’ve definitely embraced the shift from a high polished look into beautiful organic textures and finishes.
We’re seeing this with the emergence in preference for gun metals (a cross between black chrome and traditional chrome) and beautiful brushed and matte finishes with tapware.
Brass is everywhere
Rose gold has certainly reigned supreme for a while and remains popular. But brass is the newest member of the gold family to have its moment, along with its venerable ancestor, aged brass.
Not just in tapware – brass is finding its way into tiles and other surfaces: Terrazzo with brass inlays, marble with brass inlays and marble tiles scored and implemented with brass.
Brass brings a warmth to a bathroom, dresses up ‘cold’ surfaces like marble and adds another layer of texture to tie in with bathroom accessories, such as towels, soaps or candles.
Five years ago marble was viewed as unaffordable by most. Now the market has diversified, there are more options available, and a ‘luxury’ material like marble, is finding its way into the average bathroom, one way or another.
Chris says the general consumer is a lot more educated now than they used to be. They know the difference between a nice product from Italy or Spain versus a generic porcelain product.
“We’re finding our mid to high-end items are moving quite quickly,” Chris says. “The lower-end items are sold mainly to developers and are the first to get ‘renovated over’. People are more interested in designing bathroom spaces that don’t need to be renovated again for 10 years.”
The bathroom, perhaps more than any other space, is an opportunity to splurge. Why not choose the best quality tile you can afford? It’s such a small space that it won’t add up as quickly as other rooms.
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Living finishes – a neat fit with the Australian preference towards natural tones and textures – are the latest to take the bathroom market by storm.
They are finishes that age naturally over the course of time. In light of current trends, uncoated brass is the best example. Lacking the slick top sealant that keeps it looking bright forever, uncoated brass begins to oxidise, weathering over time to take on a beautiful, warm patina.
On a whole, people are becoming less afraid of colour in the bathroom. We’re seeing this with customisation in different areas of bathroom design, from tiles to tapware.
To get more specific, Chris says to watch out for the takeover of pink in the next 12 months. Popular in the Art Deco period, pink ceramics have made a comeback, from lipstick pinks to dustier shades.
“We’ve currently got a marble called Norweigan Rose; it’s being cut down to form different unique shapes. We’ve also got a pink subway tile that’s huge at the moment,” he says.