Every March, KBDN’s Spring Bath Remodeling Report asks designers across the country to share what design elements and products they see trending in master baths in their region of the country. Invariably there are some similarities that have captured the attention of homeowners regardless of where they live, while others are more regional in nature.
Some trends have made our ‘trends list’ before and are showing no signs of slowing down in popularity.
While some trends mentioned in this year’s report may come as no surprise, it’s interesting to discover how designers are interpreting them and incorporating them with other elements within the space.
Trend: porcelain tile
Designing with porcelain tile isn’t necessarily new, as designers coast to coast have seen tile as a leading trend for several years now – especially large-format sizes that look like wood and stone. This year is no different, with more than half of the designers we talked to noting that porcelain tile is still hugely popular with their clients.
“We’re seeing a lot of 12×24, even up to 18×36,” says Brooke Eversoll, CKD, CBD, of S&W Kitchens, in Palm Harbor, FL. “People want to see less grout, and they prefer rectangular sizes over squares.”
The versatility of styles – including those that resemble natural stone and those with linear striations – adds to its appeal by lending itself to a variety of looks, adds Eversoll, who frequently combines porcelain tiles with large, rectangular glass tiles used as an accent. “Glass is especially popular behind plumbing, such as showerheads,” she explains.
Meredith Weiss, of Merri Interiors, in Commack, NY, has also noticed designers, including herself, using ‘wood plank’ porcelain tile on shower walls. “It can be contemporary or traditional, masculine or feminine,” she says. “It’s very universal…and fun. It’s an unexpected surprise to see in the shower.”
An added amenity that more and more designers are including with porcelain tile is radiant heat. “Since baths aren’t necessarily large spaces, the investment isn’t as high,” says Weiss, who notes that the availability of electric mats can lower the cost.
Even people living in warmer climates enjoy the comfort it provides. “Radiant floor heat has always been considered a luxury,” says Traci Shields, ASID, of Friedman & Shields, in Scottsdale, AZ. “People used to be afraid to even ask about it. But it’s more affordable than people think – if you’re already replacing the flooring – and there are so many systems that are user friendly for installers. I’m adding it to more than 50% of the baths I design. Even in Arizona, people are gravitating to it!”
Ken Perrin, Artistic Renovations of Ohio, in Cleveland, OH, often takes radiant heat a step further by also adding it to shower benches, especially those made of granite, which is still popular in his area.
Trend: freestanding tubs
The tub debate – whether to leave it in or take it out – seems to depend on whom you ask. Eversoll’s clients lean toward maintaining at least one tub in the home, as do clients of Liz Firebaugh, CKD, owner of Signature Kitchens, in Petoskey, MI. “Everyone thinks they’re going to take out the tub, but they end up leaving them in,” says Firebaugh, “especially in larger baths.”
But for Shields’ clients, a tub is no longer considered a necessity, though she does encourage them to keep it if they have the space. “Although having said that, I’ve done major remodels where clients want a huge walk-in shower,” she says. “I’m surprised by how few people care about tubs. They used to want to keep it for resale, but now more people say it doesn’t matter. It’s such expensive real estate.”
When homeowners do opt for a tub, it’s almost always a freestanding style. “My clients have moved completely away from deck-mounted tubs… at any price point, not just high end,” says Shields. “A freestanding tub is a really strong design accent, and it gives clients more opportunity to add personality to their bathroom since there are so many styles… everything from a slipper look to ones that are boxy or curved.”
Freestanding tubs are also almost always white, which was the resounding theme Shields observed at this year’s KBIS. “Fashion colors are out,” she says. “All I saw [at KBIS] was white, white, white…even more so than in the past. I think a lot of it is related to the freestanding tub movement. Everyone is also doing sinks, toilets and countertops in white, which gives a clean spa look.”
An added convenience is the use of accent tables placed near the tub, styled to complement the space, such as an antique furniture piece for charm in a traditional bath, a sleek, glass table in a contemporary space or a C-table made of solid surface material, such as those Shields saw at KBIS. “With the tub deck gone there is nowhere to put anything,” she says.
Trend: large, walk-in showers
Large showers are also still ‘in.’ An increasingly larger number of them will be walk-ins with a zero threshold entrance and linear drain, giving greater flexibility to use those larger tiles everyone wants as well as making them a great choice for clients looking to age in place.
“We do curbless showers even in small baths,” says Perrin, who adds that some also won’t have doors. “If the area outside the shower gets wet, the water just rolls back toward the drain. Younger clients are even showing interest in them because they see how nice they are for their parents.”
Today’s showers also have as much glass as possible. “Frameless glass opens up the whole bath, making it feel much larger,” says Molly Wilson of Design Savvy, in Martinez, CA. “It also shows off the tile design, highlighting its beauty, carrying it through the bath and tying it in with the floor and countertop.”
Trending amenities often added to the shower include ‘shower pipes’ for Eversoll’s clients, which give her the ability to include a rain showerhead and a hand shower. “It’s more decorative,” she says. “It’s also easier to retrofit because you don’t need valves and diverters.”
Shields often adds very large niches for storing shampoo, etc. “We match the lines of how the tile is set,” she explains. “It’s on the same grid, rather than being arbitrary. It’s completely uninterrupted and clean, complementing the tile’s rectangular format.”
For Jill Frey, of Jill Frey Kitchen Design, in Charleston, SC, steam is becoming a more popular request.
Trend: vanities transformed
One relatively new trend several designers mentioned is a transformation in vanities, with floating vanities and taller heights being more requested as well as furniture-look styles, organizational accessories, lots of drawers and mirrored doors.
“People don’t want to bend over,” says Eversoll. “We’re doing vanities as tall as 36”, even for relatively short clients.”
The furniture look, which has been extremely popular in kitchens in recent years, is now making its way into the bathroom. “The bathroom hasn’t always been an area where people would look for furniture-style cabinetry,” says Frey. “But people view their master suite as a sanctuary, an area where they go to unwind at the end of a busy day, or to start a new one.”
“We are doing a lot of furniture-style vanities, even for standard-size baths,” adds Weiss. “People want a bit of ‘wow’ and they can infuse some of their personality into the space with furniture-style vanities, which are no longer cost prohibitive.”
As a complement to these vanities, many designers are adding amenities such as outlets and organized storage.
“We’re doing a lot of outlets in drawers for hair dryers and other electric items for people who want to keep them plugged in but don’t want them on the counter,” says Firebaugh. “We’re also adding outlets to medicine cabinets for toothbrushes and skincare brushes.”
Specialized linen and towel storage is trending for Frey’s clients. “I’m also seeing pull-out shelving and a lot of drawers,” she says.
Both Firebaugh and Wilson have begun adding mirror, including antiqued mirror, to cabinet doors.
“It’s nice to create a unique design style,” says Wilson. “A lot of it is done with patterns and designs put into the tile, for example subway tile set in a herringbone pattern that changes the overall look. You can use something that is on trend, yet give it a unique feel. Another example is taking painted cabinets and adding mirrors for a bit of flair. It makes the bathroom sparkle and gives it some bling.”
Trending accessories associated with vanities include vessel sinks, which are popular with many designers, including Weiss. “They aren’t only high end anymore,” she says.
Rectangular sink shapes are also outpacing those that are round or oval. “It matches the tile,” says Shields. “It’s rare anymore that I do round or oval sinks.”
Perrin more frequently accents his vanities with chrome fixtures, which he estimates account for about 40% of all fixtures. “It sparkles and shines, and its price is a bit less than other finishes,” he says. “Our clients also like the classic look. Some homes we work on date back to 1910 and 1920 and these homeowners want something that feels original, yet is modern.”
Trend: shades of gray
It’s all about various shades of gray for an overall neutral, calm tone. “I’m doing lots of painted cabinets in either gray or white,” says Wilson. “The only contrast might be a dark gray stain on a vanity. With these colors, my clients are interested in natural stone, such as Calcutta and Carrara marble, which carry the gray theme throughout the space. Looking into the future, I’ve been hearing from cabinet manufacturers that there is a rise in bright greens and blues, which would be a huge change from what I’m doing now. But I also think the gray color and materials we’re using now – such as the Carrara and Calcutta marbles – are classic. They’ve always been around, and they always will be.”
Firebaugh also sees a lot of gray and white. “If there is any other color it will be pale green or pale blue… very Zen and soft,” she says. “Cabinets will be painted or glazed with light colored countertops. It’s calm and feels fresh.”
Gray and white are also indicative of the clean design aesthetic that is still popular as well. “My clients want a clean, crisp look in general, which offers longevity,” notes Weiss. “A lot of times cabinetry is white or gray… maybe blue. White feels light and airy and can be either traditional or contemporary.”
Trend: expanded lighting options
Chandeliers, sconces, drum shades and LED lights are all common requests according to many designers. “LEDs offer bright lighting and minimize heat,” says Eversoll. “Gone are the Hollywood lights of the past!”
Firebaugh is also including more chandeliers, as well as drum shades, instead of recessed can lights. “They add to the ambiance, and you can put them on dimmers for night lighting” she adds, noting that their inclusion is in addition to task lighting at the mirror and sink.
Perrin pays more attention to lighting as well, especially in the areas of chandeliers and LEDs. “A lot of homes only have one light over the vanity, but we’ll add recessed, dimmable LED lights in the ceiling as well as underneath floating vanities, serving as a nightlight,” he says. “Chandeliers give the room a little jewelry, a little accent.”
Perrin is also fielding more requests for lights that can be controlled wirelessly. Technology in general is another trend he’s seeing. “People spend a lot of time in the bathroom,” he says. “We’re doing a lot more in the way of adding TVs, computer accessibility and charging stations.”
Trend: recycled materials
Finding ways to make a space unique is important to designers, including Perrin, whose clients are doing much more in the way of recycling materials from demolition projects. “We’ve taken a lot of items – including school bleachers and bowling lanes – and recycled them into furniture, table tops, countertops, etc.,” he says, adding he’s also done projects where traditional doors are replaced by barn doors. “People like to recycle, and to know something isn’t going into a landfill. It’s great to have a piece of history and to connect with it. A trend we’re definitely seeing is to be unique…our clients want to put their own stamp on their space.”
Perrin also had one client use the leftover granite from his project to create a sculpture in the shape of a mountain range. “We can really do some neat features with products that are typically countertops,” he says. “For this client, it’s like a piece of art in his bathroom.”
Trend: frosted glass
Keeping the bathroom bright can be challenging, especially with limited windows that allow natural light to flow into the space. Perrin often includes frosted glass in the door leading to the bedroom. “It offers privacy but also allows light to shine through,” he says. “We had one client use it in their master bath and now they’ve changed all their bathrooms.”
Shields often adds frosted glass to toilet rooms, which are a common inclusion for her clients. “Oftentimes it doesn’t have a window so I’ll use privacy glass in the door,” she says. “It’s much more inviting and open. I’ll also put the lights on a dimmer switch to serve as a night light, giving a soft glow. It can be a room that’s easily forgotten…but you do spend a lot of time there.”
Brooke Eversoll: Rickie Agapito
Molly Wilson: Indivar Sivanathan Photography
Liz Firebaugh: Beth Singer
Jill Frey: Photography by William Quarles
Ken Perrin: Tony Griffie/ACG Services, Ltd.
Traci Shields: Scott Sandler
Meredith Weiss: no credits needed for the white and dark grey/blue bath (Meredith Weiss_Merri Interiors.JPG and Meredith Weiss_Merri Inteiors_1.JPG); credit Randy IIowite for cream bath, if used (Meredith Weiss_Merri Interiors.tiff and Meredith Weiss_Merri Interiors_1.tiff)
Designers can be used in any order, although I’ve captioned them so each designer’s photos are grouped together.
Captions for Brooke Eversoll images: Brooke Eversoll_S W Kitchens_5.jpg, Brooke Eversoll_S W Kitchens_4.jpg; Brooke Eversoll_S W Kitchens_6.jpg (These are images of the same bath so they can be captioned together.)
In general, Brooke Eversoll’s clients prefer a clean, less fussy design aesthetic, characterized by this master bath which features a freestanding tub, glass tile accents and floating vanities. Large-format, rectangular-shaped porcelain tile is also changing the look of many of her baths. “Some porcelain tiles have the look of natural stone, which gives a traditional, classic look while others have linear striations which give a more contemporary feel. By changing the color or texture, while keeping the size the same, you can change the whole look of a bath.”
Other trends she sees her clients incorporating include curbless showers, LED lighting and a gray color palette, especially tending toward a warm, taupe gray.
Photo credit: Rickie Agapito
Captions for Jill Frey images: Jill Frey_Jill's Signature Kitchen and Bath_4.jpg; Jill Frey_Jill's Signature Kitchen and Bath_5.jpg; Jill Frey_Jill's Signature Kitchen and Bath_3.jpg (These can be captioned together)
Organization, such as pull-out shelves, towel storage and lots of drawers, are popular requests from Jill Frey’s clients, as are ‘morning’ kitchens that include coffee makers, refrigeration, etc….everything needed to get a morning started.
Caption for image: Jill Frey_Jill's Signature Kitchen and Bath_1.jpg and/or Jill Frey_Jill's Signature Kitchen and Bath_2.jpg
Aesthetically, Jill Frey’s clients are looking for furniture-style details that provide a way to reflect their personality. Sconces, framed mirrors, steam showers and towel warmers are also trending. “Master baths are certainly getting more luxurious. My clients are not afraid to spend and make an investment in their baths.”
Photo credit: Photography by William Quarles
Captions for Liz Firebaugh images: Liz Firebaugh_Signature Kitchens_1.tif and Liz Firebaugh_Signature Kitchens_2.tif
Many of Liz Firebaugh’s clients want ‘calm’ master baths illustrated in these spaces which feature gray, white and/or blue…all trending palettes for the Michigan designer. Furniture-style vanities – painted or glazed and topped with a light-colored countertop – and freestanding tubs are also popular, as are specialized lighting features such as chandeliers and sconces. Lighting is a great way to integrate trends, Firebaugh notes, as are faucets and mirrors. “They can offer a pop of a current trend, but can easily be changed out. My baths tend to be very classic, leaning toward trendless. But an element such as lighting, faucets and mirrors can be trendy. We just completed a daughter’s bath with a fun, bright green mirror above a white vanity. It made the room feel ‘young’ and brought a whole different ambiance to it.”
Photo credit: Beth Singer
Captions for Meredith Weiss images: Meredith Weiss_Merri Inteiors_1.JPG and Meredith Weiss_Merri Interiors.JPG (can be captioned together)
Many of the master baths Meredith Weiss has designed include a classic color palette that includes dark gray and white…maybe blue. “Back in the day, people would do a specific color. Now, it’s more of a classic color palette.” Other top trends include vessel sinks, radiant heat and porcelain tile, which is also showing up on shower walls for a fun and unexpected surprise.
Photo credits: no credits needed for the white and dark grey/blue bath (Meredith Weiss_Merri Interiors.JPG and Meredith Weiss_Merri Inteiors_1.JPG); credit Randy IIowite for cream bath, if you decide to use I can caption for you (Meredith Weiss_Merri Interiors.tiff and Meredith Weiss_Merri Interiors_1.tiff)
Captions for Molly Wilson images: Molly Wilson_Design Savvy_2025_a.tif and Molly Wilson_Design Savvy_2004_a.tif or Molly Wilson_Design Savvy_2013_a.tif (these can be captioned together)
Gray, gray, gray. Molly Wilson’s clients are all trending toward gray, accented with Calcutta and Carrara marble which carries the gray theme throughout the bath. “Ten years ago colors were in the taupe family with tumbled marbles. That look has become passé and people have moved on.” Mirrored doors add a bit of sparkle and bling while giving on-trend painted cabinetry a unique look. Wilson also often includes freestanding tubs, chandeliers and frameless glass in the shower, which opens up the bath and shows off the tile design in the shower.
Photo captions: Indivar Sivanathan Photography
Captions for Traci Shields images: Traci Shields_Friedman Shields.tif
This master bath represents many elements being requested by Traci Shields’ clients, including freestanding tubs, floating vanities with rectangular sinks, framed mirrors, oversized shower niches and porcelain tile. “Tile that mimics wood is a huge craze right now. In this bath there are so many different pattern combinations so it doesn’t look repetitive. It looks natural and believable.”
Photo credit: Scott Sandler
Traci Shields_Friedman Shields_1.tif
Although many of Traci Shields’ clients are questioning whether or not to keep a tub, those who do opt for one almost always choose a freestanding style… and it’s almost always white. “A freestanding tub is a really strong design accent, and it gives clients more opportunity to add personality to their bathroom.”
Photo credit: Scott Sandler
Traci Shields_Friedman Shields_2.tif
Rectangles are ‘in’… everything from tile to mirrors follows the rectangular format, offering a very linear look, says Traci Shields. Tiles are also European-influenced… “what I would call classic European… clean and classic, nothing crazy or futuristic… just timeless.”
Photo credit: Scott Sandler
Captions for Ken Perrin images: Ken Perrin_Artistic Renovations of Ohio_10.JPG
Zero threshold showers are popular with Ken Perrin’s clients, regardless of age since even younger homeowners are showing interest in them. He also often includes benches, which many times are heated, as are the floors. Porcelain tile is growing in popularity as well.
Ken Perrin_Artistic Renovations of Ohio_7.JPG and Ken Perrin_Artistic Renovations of Ohio_8.JPG
Recycling is on-trend for Ken Perrin’s clients who have been known to make the old new again, such as this ‘new’ icebox vanity fashioned out of old timber from a torn down home in Cleveland and this repurposed sewing machine vanity topped with a recycled glass countertop. Other clients have saved barn doors, school bleachers and bowling lanes from going into landfills.
Ken Perrin_Artistic Renovations of Ohio_3.JPG and/or Ken Perrin_Artistic Renovations of Ohio_4.JPG
Finding ways to make a space unique is important to designers, including Ken Perrin’s clients. This particular client used the leftover granite from his project to create a sculpture in the shape of a mountain range. “He says his bathroom is like walking into a spa every day.” Additional trending elements include chandeliers and windows in the shower.
Photo credits: Tony Griffie/ACG Services, Ltd.