Bathroom Design Trends for 2021

Spending more time at home during 2020 led families to rethink their space and its uses. Bathrooms became more than just purely functional rooms for washing up before dashing off to the office or school. With everyone home, bathrooms got more use, all day long, than ever before.

The result? Many homeowners want bathrooms where they enjoy spending time. These trends for 2021 reflect that change. Here are the design trends to watch this year.

High tech

In keeping with the “home spa” direction for bathrooms, items like showerheads and toilets will get upgrades so they do more for you. Showerheads with integrated speakers will play music while you wash, or shower heads with aromatherapy pods will waft scents through the bathroom. Smart toilets that clean themselves, light up (so you don’t need to switch on the bathroom light), and have built-in bidets are another trend.

More color

White is associated with cleanliness but can feel too clinical–and “clinical” doesn’t jibe with the new emphasis on bathrooms as places to relax. Homeowners looking to warm up bathrooms visually will turn to shades like ivory and cream, and those craving full-on color should look too deeply saturated shades like teal, or natural tones like moss and sea blue.

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Floating vanities

That cabinet holding your bathroom sink doesn’t have to go all the way to the floor. Vanities attached to the wall seem to float, creating a less bulky look.

Tubs

Bathroom designers have promoted freestanding tubs for a few years now, but many homeowners just don’t have room for a tub in the middle of the bathroom. For 2021, the trend is toward smaller tubs (especially “soaking tubs” with smaller footprints but deep capacity). Other tub trends will be shaped tubs–tapered at one end, to reduce the tub’s footprint, is one option–and tubs painted the same shade as the walls.

Large tiles

Oversized tiles on walls and floors make the bathroom appear larger and, bonus, there’s less grout to clean. Size isn’t the only news about tile for 2021: Subway tile, that nearly ubiquitous style choice, will stick around–but not in white. Look for brightly colored subway tile to start pushing out classic white as homeowners’ preferred look.

Fixtures with personality

Often a design afterthought, fixtures will draw more attention this year. Those faucets, handles, showerheads, and towel hooks, and bars can add a sculptural element to a bathroom. Dark fixtures in matte black provide a dramatic contrast to light cabinets. Fixtures in metallic finishes pop against colored cabinets or walls. Want to mix up different metallic finishes (brass faucet, nickel drawer pulls, anyone?) or even mix black with metallics? Give it a try. In 2021, “everything matches” gives way to “do whatever looks good.”

Lighting

Bathroom lighting might undergo the biggest changes of any design element this year. Old-school sconces and wall fixtures over the sink get a rethink: Look for pendant lights, even chandeliers. For a subtler style, do away with visible light fixtures completely. Place lights behind the mirror, under the edges of cabinets (even at floor level, under that floating vanity), and behind cabinets, throwing diffused light on the walls.

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