The Trendiest Design Decisions for Bathrooms this Year
Meet the Expert:
Katrina Rice is a professional kitchen and bath designer with 84 Lumber’s Kitchen & Bath Design Studio in Eighty Four, Pennsylvania. 84 Lumber’s Kitchen & Bath Design Studios exist in more than 30 of 84 Lumber’s 250 stores nationwide and are staffed by experienced professionals. She is an expert in the use of 20/20 Design Software and has a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
You’ve probably heard the saying on a popular television show, “In fashion, one day you’re in, and the next you’re out.” Sometimes, it seems like this holds even more true for kitchen and bathroom design. This can make life particularly difficult for fix-and-flip real estate investors, who must upgrade and modernize real estate investment properties to retail standards while staying on budget. Fortunately, the latest bathroom trends in 2018 appear extremely luxurious but, in many cases, are also available in affordable options.
“Some of the things we’re seeing in bathroom design these days are also less likely to go ‘out of style’ in the future because they directly affect the homeowner’s quality of life,” observed Katrina Rice, a design expert with 84 Lumber’s Kitchen & Bath Design Studio in Eighty Four, Pennsylvania. Rice, who has a degree in interior design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, noted that certain upgrades have “taken off” just since the start of the year and can make a property highly attractive to buyers since they are not available in many properties yet.
“One of the things that people want the most right now is technology in the bathroom,” Rice observed. “They want everything connected to their mobile phones, their smart-home technology, and even Alexa or Google,” she added. Rice does not just mean they want to pipe music into the bathroom via those devices, either. “I mean everything,” she emphasized. “We’re working on projects where the under-cabinet lighting or the medicine cabinet lighting is connected and even voice operated, for example.”
Along with that connected technology, bathrooms are starting to sport an old classic, the medicine cabinet, in a very different manifestation, Rice observed. Medicine cabinets, which remain quite common in older houses, have fallen out of design favor in recent years. Now, however, they are back and sleeker than ever (see image at right). “They look like mirrors and have much larger doors for a built-in look,” said Rice. “Especially in smaller bathrooms where you might have installed a pedestal sink, for example, or in larger ones with floating vanities that look like a spa, you need that storage somewhere! Today’s medicine cabinets are a great place to get it.”
Insider Design Tip: Don’t take the renewed popularity of the medicine cabinet the wrong way! Tri-view cabinets, which split the reflective surface into three lines, are still outdated and unpopular. “You don’t want to have to move around to see your whole reflection,” Rice said. She recommended cabinets with a single-pane mirror, no obvious handle on the door, and as much interior storage as possible.
Rice said another way to get the always desirable “spa-quality” in a master bathroom is to install a free-standing bathtub. “So many fix-and-flippers and homeowners who are updating their bathrooms have to rip out the giant corner jacuzzies that were popular 10 or 20 years ago anyway. They take up so much space and no one uses them or wants them anymore,” she said.
“A nice, sleek element like a free-standing tub (examples above) can still have jets in it, if you want them, and it requires a lot less labor and fewer supplies in terms of tile, grout, and installation.” Rice added that homeowners often opt to install the simplest, brightest tubs possible and use them specifically for soaking, not as jacuzzi tubs. “They tend to be acrylic, bright, sleek, and white,” she said. “Not a lot of lines or frilly stuff. That is what gives it that spa look and feel – especially if you have floating vanities or at least clean lines across the rest of the bathroom.”
Designing in the Best Light
Rice emphasized that simple design decisions are often the best in terms of budgeting and high-end looks. It doesn’t hurt, she added, to offer a few savings opportunities or just plain show a potential buyer in the best light – literally. “The most popular mirrors these days have lights installed in the mirror around the edge,” she said. “These are more economical because they tend to be LED lights, but they also are much more flattering than mirrors with lights that only shine from above. LEDs are a bit softer and gentler than the traditional vanity bulbs.”
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