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Out with the pink tiles and, yes, even the floating sink: Homebuyers expect your bath remodel to sync up with today’s trends. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s 2017 Remodeling Impact Report, a bath remodel, when done properly, recoups 50% of the cost put into the project and can increase your home’s value.
Bathrooms reveal your home’s age. When potential buyers spot bathroom trends that are out of style, they conclude the entire home is dated, even if it isn’t, and will keep clicking to the next listing or lose interest in the rest of the walk-through.
Because the price of a bath remodel runs between $9,600 and $11,000, it’s crucial to know what’s trending (and what’s not) to get the best bang for your buck.
We talked with top agent Marcy Mathewson of Kansas City, MO — with 20 years of experience, she works with over 67% more single-family homes than the average local agent — and interior designers about which bath-remodel trends you should avoid (and what to pursue instead).
Are you ready to take a serious, hard look at your home’s bath(s) so you don’t, pardon the pun, flush the upcoming remodel job down the drain?
1. Whirlpool tubs
Think about the last time you used or heard the word Jacuzzi. That’s probably when whirlpool tubs were last in for bath remodels — about 10 to 15 years after a man named Roy Jacuzzi introduced them to the market in the 1970s. Unless you’re planning to convert your house to a romantic b&b, it’s time to say goodbye to the jets as it’s now a bathroom trend that’s out of style. These noisy, machine-like tubs are not calming, and the maintenance, should they break, is a huge turn-off.
Now trending: Soaking tubs
Soaking tubs are not attached to a wall and sport a sleek, organic design. “Free-standing — even clawfoot — tubs are in,” says Mathewson. “They are very sleek and very deep, and along the same side [of the room] as the shower.”
2. Glass floating sink
Count those glass bowl sinks that rest on top of the vanity among the bathroom trends that have slipped out of style. Plumbing manufacturers and artists alike rolled these out around the turn of this century, with everything from hand-etched to hand-blown glass. “Some people thought they were popular — and some still do — but they’re not very practical, and they break,” Mathewson comments.
Now trending: Double sink vanity
Just like the “Jack and Jill” baths (designed for siblings to share, like in The Brady Bunch), today’s primary bathrooms feature a spacious double sink vanity. Decorative stands or sleek, prefab units from retailers like West Elm (with chosen finishes) are what buyers want.
Amarillo, TX, interior designer, and decor trend blogger Sara Mandeed believes a double sink can make for a happier marriage:
“Creating an option for two people to get ready at the same time gives the buyer the feeling of privacy and lowers [the] odds of intermarital fighting,” she says.
3. Barn doors
This brilliant solution for adding privacy in narrow bathrooms gained momentum thanks to the popularity of farmhouse design. In the last decade, barn doors were literally everywhere, probably even at your doctor’s office. And it’s this ubiquity that led to the trend’s demise. Not to mention unsealed wood and bathroom humidity don’t mix.
“Reclaimed wood just isn’t going to survive in your bathroom for very long, no matter how much lacquer you layer on it. Plus, the metal sliding mechanism is likely to get rusty, which will create trouble for you,” says Atlanta, GA, general contractor Harold K. Hardesty.
Now trending: Pocket doors
Less clunky than barn doors, pocket doors tuck into your walls to add privacy within a tight space. Forget the golden oak doors of the decade’s past; we love these 50 pocket-door designs — especially the frosted-glass panes that coax natural light into the room.
4. Exposed pipes
Coffee shops showcased exposed pipes first and, even before that, Victorian-era baths. Exposed pipes were part of a raw, gritty aesthetic in perfect pitch with Seattle’s grunge-music scene during the mid-1990s.
“Some people like the industrial look of exposed pipes, but it doesn’t work in the bathroom,” says Hardesty. “There’s hot water running through those pipes, so if someone bumps into them, they could burn themselves. Unfortunately, a lot of people are going to learn this the hard way, but take my word for it, you should definitely avoid this trend.”
Now trending: Industrial pipe shelving
If you simply cannot part with exposed pipes, move them to a different spot in your bath. Trending now is industrial-style galvanized-pipe shelving, paired with floating shelves. You can find these designs without even making your own, thanks to Amazon.com and retailers like Target.
5. All-white baths
Thanks to design gurus like Chip and Joanna Gaines (stars of the HGTV show Fixer Upper), the all-white bath aesthetic took off like a rocket, alongside the modern-farmhouse trend. Subway tiles, vanities, flooring, even linens, in various shades of white transformed mundane bathrooms into spa-like sanctuaries. However, according to our design experts, all-white bathrooms are on the way out.
“While white supposedly implies cleanliness, aside from it forcing you to make it look sparkling clean every time, an all-white bathroom design is pretty much outdated,” says Greg Bond, President and Owner of Renovation 320 in Orlando, Florida, who has completed 200 home renovations in the last decade
Now trending: Bright colors
Peel-and-stick wallpaper — which costs around $35 a roll at Home Depot or Target, where there are 400-some designs — makes a colorful switcheroo easy. “Now we’re seeing a lot more wallpaper, to change frequently to make bathrooms a little bolder,” says Mathewson.
“But it’s not the wallpaper we knew in the ’80s. It’s more of a stick-on piece.”
Cabinetry is another opportunity for color expression. And for proof there is no place you can’t use color? “White grout is going out,” she says. “Several colors are in.” Many homeowners, Mathewson says, install “statement tile” on one wall to offset the sea of neutrals. Use these 48 ideas as inspiration for your wall, especially if time or money is tightly budgeted and you need a quick fix.
“Tiling has, and always will be, the best way to cover a wall in a bathroom,” says Tony Mariotti, CEO/owner of RubyHome in Beverly Hills, CA, who suggests a mosaic design. “Draw attention to the mosaic, and you can simplify the rest of the bathroom.”
6. Brass fixtures and hardware
Polished brass knobs, handles, and faucets drove bathroom designs in the ’80s and ’90s. While brass has made a recent comeback, today’s styles are vastly different than the previous iteration. If your bathroom still features original brass hardware and fixtures, they need to go.
Now trending: Gold
The brass trending today has a softer, warmer finish, reminiscent of gold. Brushed and satin finishes create a matte look that is stunning against the semi-reflective white porcelain in bathrooms. Mathewson confirms that these sleek gold designs reign, as well as mixing brushed brass with other metals for a more eclectic design.
7. Glass-walled showers
Checked into a hotel room within the last decade? You probably showered in what felt like a glass room. Glass-walled showers made their way from commercial to residential design in the past five years. However, Mathewson warns that glass-walled showers are a burden for homeowners to clean as a streak-free shine is difficult to achieve in a constant splash zone.
Now trending: Door-less showers
With proper drainage and ample space, who needs a shower door anyway? Mathewson is noticing more and more showers sans doors in her seller’s recently remodeled homes—and shares that buyers are on-board with this trend.
James Upton, a Seattle-based general contractor with 20 years of experience installing tile, couldn’t agree more. “The trend is to expand the footprint of the shower which is something that is used every day,” he says.
8. Built-in wall mirrors
While not the worst design, built-in wall mirrors reveal your home’s age. Today, homeowners and buyers alike prefer more contemporary designs such as a large framed mirror or round mirrors over each sink.
Now trending: Shapely mirror
Whether this super-popular Gleaming Primrose Anthropologie mirror or a nautical-inspired round mirror hung to the wall with rope, shapely mirrors are a hot bathroom trend.
“It’s more of a modern-style mirror, in different shapes and flush with the wall instead of a big medicine cabinet,” Mathewson comments. Some people do away with the medicine cabinet altogether, storing toiletries, medications, and other items in drawers, baskets, or bins.
“If you are able to, add more functionality in a bathroom such as hidden storage spaces without making it look too cluttered, then that is how you can make it more marketable,” Bond adds.
9. Stained cabinetry
During the 1990s, honeyed and golden-oak cabinets adorned a home’s bath and kitchen, often paired with a chicken, bunny, or rooster motif (it was a very preppy time). Nobody wants light, warm-hued wood anymore.
Now trending: Natural wood
Everyone these days is into loving the earth and adopting sustainability practices, so it should come as no surprise that bamboo is trending as a wood source in the home. Even if you can’t replace the cabinets or want to go all-in with these lighter-hued woods, fold in a few bamboo or teak accessories, such as this five-piece set from Macy’s. “Elements like bamboo are very popular and light in color,” says Mathewson.
Header Image Source: (Sanibell BV / Unsplash)