Big & Bold
authors Janice Anne Costa | August 14, 2020
Vanities are getting bigger, bolder and more sophisticated, as manufacturers find new ways to balance style and storage in the bath. Clean, streamlined looks continue to trend, with a growing interest in farmhouse styles, textural interest, statement vanities, material combinations and storage that is both luxurious and highly functional.
The wellness trend is also impacting vanity design, with demand for easy-to-clean surfaces and features that promote better hygiene – a trend that was already going strong and now is seeing increased interest in the wake of the pandemic.
Style trends favor transitional designs, though both traditional and European contemporary are in the mix, as regional trends come into play.
“Overall, bathroom designs will be more essential and streamlined,” believes Daniele Busca, creative director and brand ambassador for Scavolini USA, based in New York City. “Floating vanities, fixtures and sinks will continue to adapt to technological evolution, so we will see increased innovation in finishes and performances,” he notes.
Storage, too, remains essential, and Brian Yahn, sales manager at Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry in Schaefferstown, PA, says, “A combination of open storage and doors and drawers are popular.”
“Along with extra storage, people want their bathrooms and their vanities to really reflect who they are, so the ability to customize is critical,” adds Bob Gifford, director of Business Development at Hastings Tile & Bath, based in Ronkonkoma, NY.
Other key vanity trends include greater interest in color, rich finishes, oversized wall-to-wall vanity layouts and customized storage for everything from personal appliances to phone charging stations.
That’s according to manufacturers recently surveyed by Kitchen & Bath Design News.
Bonnie Schmitz, manager of Design, Trends and Innovation at KraftMaid in Middlefield, OH, points to two major trends she’s seeing in vanities right now. “The first is expansive vanity layouts: wall-to-wall base cabinetry, commonly paired with upper cabinet storage as well. The second trend is ‘statement’ vanities. These are found in every type and size of bathroom, [from] powder to master suite.”
She explains that consumers’ style preferences often determine which of these trends comes into play, noting, “A homeowner who leans more toward a traditional or transitional style is much more likely to choose the vanity layout solution with more typical vanity cabinetry, where a contemporary-leaning homeowner is very likely to choose a statement vanity, whether it’s a furniture-like piece, wall hung or just a standard vanity in a bold color.”
She sees vanity style trends favoring “farmhouse, rustic and soft modern, luxe and Nordic noire.”
Yahn agrees that modern farmhouse is very hot right now, noting, “Nobody wants a vanity that looks like a cabinet anymore.”
Craig Spence, director, Wood Products Management at Hardware Resources in Bossier City, LA, cites strong interest in “contemporary/modern designs” with “clean lines with minimal flare,” while Mark Wolinsky, president of the Montreal, Canada-based WETSTYLE, notes “a strong push in transitional designs with interest in bold colors and rich finishes for hand pulls and hardware.”
“The trends,” Busca adds, “highlight oversized, streamlined and visually light floating vanities with beautifully designed long and slim sinks integrated [into] the countertop. The inspiration for this trend is luxury hotel master baths, where the overscale vanities are part of the visual pampering that invite us to indulge while taking care of ourselves in our daily ritual.”
“Updated styles and functionality are what everyone is after, especially for high traffic areas like bathrooms,” adds Anna Popielarz, marketing director at the Chicago, IL-based LACAVA. She sees full-extension drawers and pull-outs as offering “the most convenience and access to every corner of the furniture’s storage capacity,” adding that “vessel sinks paired with countertop space allow for more personalized expression in décor.”
HEALTH & HYGIENE
Wellness was becoming paramount in bathroom design even before the COVID-19 crisis brought the idea front and center, and Busca sees the continued focus on spa and wellness features impacting vanity design. He notes, “Vanities will have dedicated handleless drawers and organizers for any product needed, not only body care products but also towels, robes and slippers.”
Of course the pandemic has made health and hygiene concerns a top priority for many homeowners and their families, and Busca points out, “Due to lifestyle shifts resulting from COVID-19, there is an increased need for easy-to-clean surfaces, making a seamless sink integrated to the countertop a must.”
Stephen H. Barry, managing director North America for Laufen in Miami, FL, agrees that cleanability is now top of mind for many homeowners, noting, “Consumers are looking for sleek, easy-to-clean solutions with a design edge.”
And hygiene impacts everything from cleanability to storage. As Yahn explains it, “Any way to help keep items sanitized and separate will rule the day.”
Yahn also expects the impact of the pandemic to be seen in bath and vanity designs into the future, saying, “I think what we will see very soon is the desire for ‘sanitizing stations’ throughout the home, UV lights to kill germs, sanitizer pumps built into cabinets, removable mats for easy cleaning of cabinet and drawer floors and touchless open and close mechanisms.”
While color trends vary by region and overall bath style, bright colors seem to be gaining some traction alongside classic favorites of white, grey and black.
Schmitz remarks, “We’re definitely seeing a wider use of bright colors than we have in the past. We’re also seeing an increased interest in stained finishes again. Muted, subtle wood tones are growing rapidly in the market as they warm up and give a sense of coziness to any bath-room style.”
Barry believes, “Greys and blacks are all the rage for contemporary, while white and wood tones are holding steady in the traditional forum.”
Spence admits that regional differences can make it tough to pin down color trends, but notes, “We are seeing more customers willing to experiment with color in the bathroom by adding vanities with blue or green finishes.”
Wolinksy agrees, citing strong interest in “bold colors and rich finishes.” He adds, “While white is always number one, greys and bold blues are on trend.” He also sees demand for matte black and satin brass hardware finishes.
Popielarz, by contrast, is seeing colors tone down a bit. She explains, “Although last year’s style with bolder colors and variation of materials does not feel tired this year yet, [we’re seeing] more neutral colors and natural looks making a comeback.” She also cites “aged wood, in both darker and lighter shades, rustic wood knots and rough textures [that] make the furniture pieces real to touch and less susceptible to little dents and wear of everyday uses” as popular right now.
At Scavolini, Busca cites top colors as “nude, blue, deep brown in a wood finish, bronze accents on fixtures and spicy yellows like mustard yellow to offer vibrant color in matte finish, silky lacquer or glass.” Material wise, Busca points to Fenix as new and noteworthy, and it offers a warm tactile feel; the material, he says, “is the latest version of laminate made using nanotechnology. This strong, sustainable material is used for countertops, or to build integrated sinks and bathroom vanities as well so you can match doors to the countertops. It comes in interesting colors from black to white and hot colors like Jaipur red. While not incredibly popular yet, Fenix is quickly gaining ground for its durability and longevity.”
Busca also sees “lacquer and glass finishes, both matte and glossy” as being on trend for bath vanities, along with matte or glossy glass countertops, integrated sinks in sophisticated or bright colored glass tops (polished or matte) and material combinations combining silky matte glass with tactile surfaces like wood (reclaimed or repurposed) and stone.
Manufacturers and designers agree: There’s no such thing as “too much” storage. The trick, however, is how to provide the right mix of storage to maximize functionality, space and style, balancing the need for open and closed storage, custom storage options and even storage for a wealth of electronic gadgets that are increasingly making their way into the bathroom.
“Storage solutions are paramount in bathroom design,” Barry believes, noting that today’s consumers “have a lot of ‘stuff’ and they need efficient solutions.” In addition to traditional storage requirements for towels, medications and appliances, he notes, “There is a growing demand to incorporate more electronics into the bathroom storage solution.”
Space tends to be at a premium in the bath, and Spence maintains, “Storage is key, and finding ways to maximize storage by adding roll-out drawers to access hard-to-reach portions of the vanity is important. The open cabinet still reigns supreme simply because of the plumbing, but by adding an adjustable shelf with a roll-out drawer beneath it, we are able to take full advantage of the space.”
Gifford is seeing designers increasingly specifying a combination of open and closed storage. He explains, “You can have open storage on the side of your vanity, as well as having drawers, and you can have storage shelving that is complementary to your vanity.”
Schmitz sees the need for custom storage growing, stating, “Homeowners are looking for more functional options for their vanities – built-in wastebasket options, drawer organizers, roll-out trays – many of the same things that we’ve had in the kitchen space for years.”
According to Popielarz, “The open vanity concept with display shelving is back in favor. The lighter the furniture appears, the larger the room feels.”
She continues, “Open storage is receptive to so many organizing and style options [and] it makes the space easy to redecorate for occasions, seasons or mood.” She also sees “a natural need for concealed storage in a grooming area [since] not everything is worthy of being in plain sight. However, the multitude of fashionable organizers for open storage make daily tasks so much easier. One can put most needed items almost at one’s fingertips – drawer organizers, electric outlets and USB ports, LED interior lighting and soft-closing hardware, just to name a few of the most coveted features. Obviously, the trend has to do with the modern chargeable gizmos we’ve been using in our daily routines. Everyone needs the phone fully charged – everywhere and at all times. [And the] bathroom is no exception.”
Wolinksy also sees more details changing how storage is addressed in vanities. He explains, “We are starting to see more interest in LED lighting for drawers, drawer organizers and the little details that have improved kitchen cabinets [that] are now making their way into bath vanities.”
While bigger isn’t always better, in vanities, where storage is always needed, larger vanities seem to be getting the nod, according to manufacturers.
Yahn is one of many who sees vanities trending larger, noting, “Most of our sizes tend to run larger – from 48″ to 84″ wide, some even wider!”
Gifford concurs: “We sell more large vanities than any other size – double sinks are still popular.”
“Single vanities tend to get on the larger side – unless one must limit to 24″ due to limited space, the preferred size is 30″+,” Popielarz states, adding, “A similar trend shows, with double-sink vanities, 70″+ is the preferred way to go. We all recognize that bathrooms are a large part of our daily living, so some extra space is a great bonus, even if that’s at the expense of the next room over.”
Barry agrees that “vanities are trending larger, where possible,” citing a trend toward 48″ to 60″ furniture in baths. At the same time, he says, the 24″ vanity is a staple in the larger cities where high-rise buildings abound.
By contrast, Spence sees more demand for mid-sized (30″ to 48″) vanities, though he believes there is also a need for the larger 60″ vanities as well as vanities as small as 18″ and 24″ for bathrooms where space is at a premium.
Of course, size is impacted by regionality, with Wolinsky noting that, “24″ and 30″ are the most popular by volume for the urban market, but the larger sizes [of] 60″ and up [are more common] for the larger suburban homes and master bathrooms.”
According to Schmitz, there are several considerations that go into size decisions. For that reason, she believes, “It’s hard to make a blanket statement on whether or not vanities are trending larger or smaller. Vanities differ a bit more than something like islands, which you can easily track the change of, due to the restrictions in size of space. Another element is that, with the increasing desire of homeowners to have a space catered to their needs and for customization, baths are more varied than ever. This brings me back to the expansive vanity layouts versus the statement vanity. A statement vanity is likely to be 30″ to 42″ wide as a standalone unit. The large vanity layout varies greatly by the space available and is created modularly.” She concludes, “One thing I can say for certain is that 30″ and 36″ vanity sink bases aren’t going away at all.” ▪