Spa-like amenities have been the go-to design elements for master baths for many years, and people still seem to like the look and feel they provide. But now designers are taking master baths to another level, adding unique and special features – often modified from the kitchen – that offer personalization and true customization based on a client’s needs and wants. Items such as specialized storage, beautiful tile and statement lights are becoming the new ‘go-tos’ in the space where people begin and end their days.
This month, we asked designers to share their thoughts and a few master bath designs that showcase how storage and other design elements are making master baths unique, personalized and special.
REBECCA RYAN, DESIGNER/OWNER
REBECCA RYAN DESIGN • EDINA, MN
How can creative storage make a master bath unique and special? “We focus a lot on point-of-use storage and specialized storage such as lingerie drawers, toiletry pull-outs, mirrored and lit make-up tables and jewelry pull-outs. We also help them maximize the shower with niches of different sizes, toe shelves and hooks for sponges and loofahs.”
What are some other ‘go-to’ elements you use to make a bath personal and special? “One of the easiest ways to make a bath special is to add a statement light fixture. It can have a very big impact on the overall impression of the room. Spending a little money on it makes a huge statement and really elevates the space. And, since you only have to buy one or two, splurging is worth it.
“I also like to add cool hardware. Again, it isn’t super expensive. If you are tight on space, you can add a drawer at the bottom of a sink base cabinet. It also raises the floor of the cabinet so when you open the door section, the floor is higher and makes everything easier to reach.”
What current trends are you incorporating into your master bath designs? “Until now, the master bath has been the ‘orphan’ of the house. It didn’t get much attention and was strictly functional. Now people realize this is the place that sets the tone for the entire day. Their lives are busier than ever and they want things to be easy, calm and convenient.
“We’re seeing that a lot of what has evolved in the kitchen and other rooms in the home has moved into the bathroom. People are making their master bath as special as the rest of the house, elevating it with elements such as furniture details in cabinetry, ‘rug’ details in floor tile, statement lighting, wallpaper, etc. Showers are still huge and we’re also seeing more skirted toilets.
“There is also a trend toward true customization. In the master bath, it’s all about the homeowner’s specific needs and desires. It can be anything they want because no one else sees it.”
APRIL SHARLOW, REGISTERED INTERIOR DESIGNER, ASID
KITCHEN & BATH COTTAGE • SHREVEPORT, LA
How can creative storage make a master bath unique and special? “Open shelving can be a great way to display items such as a towels, baskets or candles. It also gives people a way to display beautiful things they don’t always display in a bath, such as family pictures, which can add a personal touch to make the space feel special.
“A lot of people also do vanities that look like furniture, with open shelves at the bottom. In the shower, niches – set off with beautiful accent tile – can store shampoo and shower accessories. In our under-the-sink cabinets, we have roll-out drawers with cutouts for the drain and full-extension glides to provide access to all of the items.”
What are some other ‘go-to’ elements you use to make a bath personal and special? “We have a lot of unique and beautiful handcrafted mosaics and stone tile. Having these beautiful pieces gives visual interest to the space. Lighting is another element that can make or break a space. We use it to highlight specific areas and create certain atmospheres. Plumbing fixtures, especially those with an architectural feel, can really elevate a space.
“Being able to add unique and special touches gives a level of importance to the master bath. We always elevate the master bedroom and now we are continuing that into the bath and are giving the entire master suite a level of sophistication.”
What current trends are you incorporating into your master bath designs? “We are seeing a lot of curbless showers and freestanding tubs. Steam showers are also a luxury element that isn’t limited to resorts anymore. People are seeing they can have them in their own home.
“Some of our high-end projects also have two master baths. We’re working on one now where her master bath has a freestanding tub and his has the shower. They each have their own vanity/dressing area and toilet. We’re also seeing some people incorporate entrances to the master bath that include special items such as a coffee bar.”
CHRISTOPHER GRUBB, PRESIDENT
ARCH-INTERIORS DESIGN GROUP • BEVERLY HILLS, CA
How can creative storage make a master bath unique and special? “The inside of our cabinets have a lot of bells and whistles, such as slide-outs underneath the sink so you have easy access to items in the back. I also like to include a blow dryer ‘holster’ on the inside of the vanity with an outlet so it’s easy to use while keeping drawer space open. I also do adjustable shelves and drawer dividers so you can separate all of the small things that get used in the bath. It’s about dividing and conquering to make storage more functional.”
What are some other ‘go-to’ elements you use to make a bath personal and special? “Using tile and stone in interesting ways can really elevate a space by giving it visual or tactile texture. It’s one of our signature design elements that we bring to a project. Mosaics in particular have visual motion. They really add dimension to a space that could otherwise feel flat if the same material is used on the floor and the wall.
“We also see a big demand for quartz countertops and natural stone for flooring in large-format sizes that are as oversized as possible to mitigate grout lines. The larger size also helps make a space feel larger, especially with natural stone, which can have so much variation.
“I usually try to play with lighting as well. Sconces and pendants are definitely a ‘go-to.’ They are a nice piece of ‘jewelry’ that boosts the creativity of the space and gives it additional texture.”
What current trends are you incorporating into your master bath designs? “We still have a lot of conversations about tubs, with a real push toward freestanding models because of their architectural feel. They are still very much in vogue and people like the look. However, the majority of people who like to take baths want jets and all of the bells and whistles.
“All-white baths are still trending, but gray is becoming popular as a main color rather than just an accent. I’m also starting to see gold fixtures, with brushed gold seeming to be the step in, although I do see polished gold as well. We’re probably going to see stronger uses of black, other than just as accent pieces. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all-black vanities.”
BRADLEY CASHIN, LEAD DESIGNER/CKBR
NEW ENGLAND DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION • BOSTON, MA
How can creative storage make a master bath unique and special? “People want to take ownership of their bath and to feel comfortable within their space, so storage is very client dependent based on how they use their bath. Having a private linen closet separate from a vanity or medicine cabinet is always great for long-term storage, and we also talk to our clients about open versus closed storage. Some people like to have towels rolled up on display while others prefer to have them put away.
“Countertop space also relates to storage. To keep tops clear, we do a lot of outlets inside vanities for hair dryers, straighteners and toothbrushes. They can be charging and plugged in without cluttering the countertop.”
What are some other ‘go-to’ elements you use to make a bath space special? “I try to avoid go-to elements because preconceived notions and ideas can limit the design process. When I talk to my clients, I also try to design free of any ‘isms,’ such as modernism, classicism, etc. Instead, I design toward ‘abilities,’ such as adaptability, sustainability, livability, etc.
“Natural light is super important and should be in every master bath. So is ventilation, so we’re using a lot of motion- and moisture-sensor fans to make sure a bath has adequate ventilation to avoid mold and paint issues.”
What current trends are you incorporating into your master bath designs? “Dual sinks were the ‘go-to’ years ago. They are still popular, but they are no longer ‘must haves’ because clients are realizing they never brush their teeth simultaneously.We also work in urban environments, where we are more constrained for space. If there is only room for a 60″ vanity and a portion of it is a second sink, that’s a lot of counter space that’s wasted. Instead, we are doing more trough sinks with single faucets.
“On the East Coast, we’re also beholden to our history, but my clients are starting to embrace modern design. We’re also seeing a lot of herringbone patterns, on the floor as well as the walls.”
KBR DESIGNS • JACKSONVILLE, FL
How can creative storage make a master bath unique and special? “Bathrooms have become super personal, and I treat each one individually since everyone has their own way of working within their bath. Generally my clients will have something that is important to them, and that’s how I bring out their personality.
“A lot of times it’s about storage. As a standard, I like to include drawers, since they are great for everything from cosmetics and toiletries to undergarments. If there is no room for storage on the counter, I routinely spec an outlet in a drawer so shavers, toothbrushes, curling irons, etc. can stay plugged in and hidden, unless they are being used. If there is room on the vanity top, I include an appliance garage with outlets, again so electrical items can stay plugged in but hidden. I will also include a ‘spice rack’ on the door for toiletries, cosmetics, etc. This makes the shelves inside the cabinet shallow so shampoo bottles, lotions, etc. are easier to find and access. If I have room for a tall cabinet, I include a hamper and pull-out, similar to a pantry pull-out in a kitchen. I include shelves above it for extra towels, toilet paper, etc. I also like grooming organizers, bottom-mount laundry hamper pull-outs and drawer cosmetic organizers.
“There are so many great storage items that are used in a kitchen that can translate to the bath. It just requires a little imagination.”
What are some other ‘go-to’ elements you use to make a bath unique and special? “Tile is gorgeous, and there are so many options for giving a really strong impact to the bath. Another personal item is a mirror. It can be utilitarian or decorative, and people can really express their personalities through a finish, color or trim. Lighting, especially sconces, is another element that can reflect a client’s personality. We always do recessed cans, but I will also sometimes add lighting in a toe kick or underneath a hanging vanity to serve as a night light, or to set a mood.”
What current trends are you incorporating into your master bath designs? “Everything is getting very personalized. For cabinetry, if you can dream it up finish wise, color wise, etc., you can create it. Classic style tends to reign here, with white shaker doors and marble, but for people who move into the area, I’m seeing more calls for contemporary/modern cabinetry with slab doors, textured foils and driftwood. For tile, I’m seeing patterns, especially Moorish patterns with a Spanish feel, and color that makes a big impact, particularly on the floor.
“Functionally, heated floors and towel warmers can make the bath feel special. In our high-humidity climate, they are great for drying out the bath and making it feel more cozy.”