Get the Best Return on Investment in your Bathroom in 2020
If you’re thinking about selling your home in the near future, the bathrooms are important rooms to consider. Even if you just bought a home or are staying put for a while, you may want to invest in the bathrooms for your own enjoyment. You’ll want to make wise choices to ensure a good return on your investment.
It’s always a good idea to check out the latest bathroom design and decor trends. If you’re not doing a major renovation, there are lots of things you can make to update your bathroom on a budget.
Next to kitchens, bathrooms are often the most expensive rooms to update, and they make a difference to today’s home buyers. The bathroom design trends we’re seeing for 2020 are eclectic and have a broad range, so you’ll be sure to find something that fits your home and your taste.
My search around local model homes, as well as the worldwide web, has brought me several sources of reliable information on bathroom trends. Elle Decor, Huffington Post, House Beautiful, and Houzz, and, of course, Pinterest, are among my favorite resources. Angie’s List has some great information about bathroom design trends for the coming year, and it’s a useful resource to find local contractors.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links, read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
Bathroom Design Trends 2020
Home design and decor trends seem to follow certain “macro-trends” that stem from the way we live and work. You may have noticed over the last few years that minimalism is a consistent trend in design. As our lives have become more complicated, we look to our home spaces to be more relaxing and simplistic, less cluttered and fussy.
Take a look at two macro-trends that drive today’s bathroom design.
Macro-Trend #1: Wellness is on our Minds
As our lives have become more stress-filled, people in our society seem to have focused more on the important things in life. The enjoyment of family and friends is important, and having meaningful experiences, as opposed to collecting a lot of stuff. We all long for our homes to reflect those values and become a place to recharge. A well-designed bathroom is certainly a great place to recharge from and prepare for a hectic day.
Wellness has been a significant trend for the kitchen and bath industry, as well as for real estate and new construction. Neighborhoods with wellness features are in demand by fitness-minded Millennials, health-conscious Boomers and the emerging, sustainability-oriented Generation Z.
Micro-Trend: Zen is In!
Homeowners value spa-inspired bathrooms today. You may have heard the term “self-care” expressed more often. A day at the spa is now something we would all like at home. Visit any model home and you’ll see features like rainfall showerheads, freestanding soaking tubs and custom body sprayers in the shower.
Along with the need for Zen in a complicated world, the bathroom styles are becoming more streamlined, hiding hardware and pipes, for a cleaner look. Lines are simple, materials are less fussy.
In case you haven’t had a chance to get one of those trendy bowl-shaped sinks, many designers feel they are going out of style. People are opting for under-mounted sinks. Pedestal sinks and sinks with legs are becoming popular.
It looks like the whirlpool, jetted tubs are much less popular than they have been for the last two decades. A recent study by Remodeling Magazine showed that 69% of bathtubs purchased for renovations have been soaking tubs.
Micro-trend: Open concept
We’re seeing floating vanities in model homes in our area. Visually they add space to the bathroom. They may seem to take away some storage space compared to the traditional vanity that reaches the floor. A smart storage system will solve that problem.
We’re seeing more open concept showers. The tub and shower combo is an upgrade in many model homes today. Look for that feature to become common in the next few years.
Micro-Trend: Old Decorating Rules are Out
Modern bathroom design trends have been moving towards a bathroom that fits in with the decor in the rest of the home. The color combinations, architectural designs, and a blend of luxury and comfort are more personal and individual.
The good news is, you can create a spa-like relaxing bathroom in keeping with your own decorating tastes. Today’s homeowners are demanding more style choices, more elegance, and more choices in lighting and fixtures.
Personal style reigns in the bathroom. A lot of the old rules are out, so go ahead and hang a chandelier over the tub. A touch of elegance adds to the luxury feel. We’re also seeing artwork in the bathroom…you might as well have something to gaze upon as you luxuriate in your own home spa!
- A caveat for home sellers: Avoid too much personalization in the bathroom, as in any room of your house. Don’t make buyers work too hard to overlook your personal preferences while they’re on their way to making an offer on your home!
Micro-Trend: Natural Elements
Natural and organic materials like natural stone, concrete, timber, and timber veneers are increasing in popularity. Timber paneling reminiscent of the 70s sauna, but in an updated version, is making a quiet comeback. On-trend with the rest of the home, designers are bringing wicker, baskets, and natural materials into the bathroom to enhance the spa-like feel.
Nature-oriented bathrooms are becoming very popular and the look is relatively easy to achieve. To create a biophilic environment in the bathroom, you don’t have to add a verticle plant wall to your bathroom (although it would be awesome!). Most of us don’t have the room or light in our bathrooms to pull it off successfully. There are several easy additions you can make to bring nature in:
Add some potted plants to your bathroom, even if it’s one plant in a window. Plants will not only add visual beauty, but they also clean the air. According to the Spruce, 19 Best houseplants for your bathroom, these Eight plants are best:
- Aloe Vera – bonus: it’s good for sunburns and boo-boo’s.
- Bamboo – so easy!
- Dumb Cane
- Snake Plant – can fill a large space
- Spider Plants – easy to hang if you have no window sill
- Orchid – adds that exotic touch!
If your bathroom doesn’t have the space or light for live plants, you can add artwork or wallpaper to bring in a touch of plant life. As in many rooms in the house, statement walls are becoming popular in the bathroom. If you have such a wall, a plant-inspired wallpaper or some artwork would be dramatic and beautiful.
Add wicker or wood items to the bathroom. There are many choices of wood-grain accessories, including bamboo. The concrete/wood combination is very trendy now.
Natural stone looks fabulous in the bathroom. Even a pebble floor in the shower is a great touch. If you’re doing a bathroom remodel, consider stone countertops. Marble, though expensive is a classic that is always in style and looks fabulous in the right bathroom.
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Form and Function Meet
As the design trends in the main living spaces of the home, the bathroom can easily be treated to industrial decor. Light fixtures, shower rods, exposed pipes, and re-purposed industrial pieces are at home in the bathroom. A variety of metals can mix comfortably with industrial design.
We are more in tune with the experience we have in our homes, how our rooms make us feel. More than before, people want to have a spa-like experience at home. As life becomes more stressful, the ability to have a relaxing retreat in our own bathroom is in demand. Look for:
- Expansive Walk-In showers, with various showerheads and spray systems. Multi-head showers are the epitome of luxury in a large shower. Door-less and curb-less showers are really hot. As mentioned earlier, they are great for seniors.
- More frequently, people are opting out of a bathtub. Or, to save space, more stand-alone tubs are being purchased. In the past, free-standing tubs have been very expensive designer features, but as demand goes up, generally prices come down. Hopefully, this will be true for these gorgeous bathroom features.
- Thermostatic showers have been more popular, and steam showers have been added increasingly in bathroom renovations. For many years steam showers have been reported to have many health benefits. More people looking for a spa getaway at home are incorporating steam showers.
- For new homes, we’ll be seeing a fireplace in the bathroom for the ultimate luxury and comfort experience.
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Macro-Trend #2: Technology is at Home in the Bathroom
The increase in smart home products over the last few years is a well-known fact. According to the 2019 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, demand for bathroom technologies has increased each year for several years. In 2018, one-quarter of renovations included smart assistants and almost 1 in 5 homeowners choose smart lighting options. Smart tech in the bathroom has moved from high-end to the mainstream.
Upgraded, high-tech faucets, LED lighting, and advanced electronics are in demand, but not just for the sake of the technology. Homeowners are looking for more control and convenience. You can create a custom showering experience more affordably.
Consider a Digital Showering System…with smart features like a warm-up mode, a timer, and a way to pause water flow. Showerheads with LED lighting is on the rise.
High tech toilets aren’t just luxuries anymore. Self-cleaning, self-deodorizing toilets are becoming mainstream. The smart toilet features include luxury conveniences such as hands-free flushing. Heated seats, motion-activated seats, and built-in night lights have become common. (no more middle-of-the-night surprises when someone left the lid up;)
Heated floors are common these days. It is actually more cost-effective than most methods of heating.
Dock your iPhone or MP3 player directly with your speaker-equipped, high-tech toilet so you can entertain yourself on the commode. While you’re not likely to invest $4,000 for a Kohler Numi toilet using this technology today, start looking for competitive models with lower prices as this technology becomes more available and in demand.
Catch up on news and weather while you brush your teeth. Television screens are being integrated into medicine cabinets and vanity mirrors. The cost is still at a premium: $2,200 to $2,400 price tag.
Plug your smartphone or MP3 player into your medicine cabinet so you won’t miss a call or song while getting ready for work or bed. A built-in jack keeps your unit charged (and away from wet countertops) and linked into a built-in speaker system.
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Macro-Trend #3: Efficiency and Convenience
Technology crosses over to efficiency and convenience. Many of the smart home features we want in the bathroom add to an efficient and convenient experience for us as we get ready in the morning, or unwind at night. We can customize any feature today.
Remote Control and Convenience in the Bathroom
Remote control is becoming common in the bathroom…TV, stereo, windows, and window treatments are easily controlled. There are smartphone apps for everything.
For $300 for simple controllers to $3,500 or more for a complete luxury installation, programmable showers let you digitally set your preferred water temperature, volume, and even massage settings before you step in.
To achieve a personalized showering experience, you’ll need a 120-volt power source and a thermostatic valve and controller in addition to your standard showerhead or heads. Luxury models may include a steam system, a wi-fi source for music, multiple body spray outlets, a tankless water heater, and a secondary controller to start the system from another room.
Here are some more customization options you can drool over:
- steam options for the shower
- heated flooring and towel rods
- back-lighted mirrors with built-in tech like digital clocks and defogging
- remote temperature control
Micro-Trend: Aging Demographics Emphasize Safety in the Bathroom
It’s not just high-tech that’s bringing an “experience” to the bathroom. As the baby boomers plan to “age in place”, we’re seeing more master bath renovations to accommodate future needs.
Trends in universal design features add comfort, convenience, and safety. But that doesn’t mean your bathroom has to look institutional. Here are some universal design innovations that can fit into your bathroom remodeling plans:
Sleek, low-profile linear drains are ideal for creating safe, zero-threshold showers. Unlike standard round drain covers that are typically mounted near the front end of a shower, these long, straight drains can be installed in different locations to minimize the slope of the shower floor. One popular location is at the outside edge of the shower, creating a wheelchair-friendly curbless shower.
Many bathrooms renovators are ditching the tub for a high-end, curbless shower. More shower fixtures are offered in more finishes — including nearly invisible tile-in channel models that are largely covered by non-slip shower floor tile — are becoming the standard for upscale spaces. Accessible features such as seats and grab bars are common.
The accessible tub is no longer limited to the high-walled, narrow-door format that dominated the market in the last decade. Newer models, such as Kohler’s Elevance, employ rising panels in front that give more of a traditional tub look with easier entry and exit. Others use standard hinged, sealed doors, but are increasing door width by several inches for better accessibility and appearance.
Touch-free faucets are making now common in the bathroom. The prices have come down substantially from their first appearance, making them an affordable option for most budgets.
The rapidly-expanding selection of porcelain, glass, and ceramic tiles makes it easy to find slip-resistant, low-maintenance floors that don’t skimp on style. Expect to see faux wood, linen, and uniquely-textured looks for tiled bathroom floors and walls. The texture adds both visual impact and better traction for wet feet.
Micro-Trend: Conservation Rules in the Bathroom
In many areas around the country, water reserves are stressed. In response, regional governments are implementing conservation measures. As a result, there are likely to be new regulations that’ll affect your construction or remodeling plans. Here’s what to watch for:
Water-saving toilets are more in demand. The flush that used to be 7 gallons a decade ago is now 1.2 gallons. Consider a double-flush version, or any low-flow toilet coming on the market that meets your style preferences. You’ll find them at home improvement centers from $100 to luxury showroom models for thousands more.
The WaterSense label, launched in 2006 by the Environmental Protection Agency to promote water conservation by plumbing manufacturers and homeowners, is becoming as well-known as Energy Star.
Water-saving showerheads are the norm. Low-flow showerheads of today have beautiful designs, especially rain shower models. A typical showerhead will use anywhere between 5 to 8 gallons of water per minute, while a low-flow head lowers that to 2.5 gallons or less with the same amount of water pressure.
By adding air, not water to the mix, these shower heads put out strong water pressure. They’re available in every price range, from ultra-affordable standard heads to luxury rain showers.
Body sprayers are common in today’s fixtures. They save water and they satisfy the growing interest in a custom spa experience that is so popular.
Modern motion sensor faucets are increasingly available to homeowners. Most major bathroom fixture manufacturers have them.
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Where are People Spending the Most Money in the Bathroom?
Premium features are showing up commonly in toilets and showers. Among upgraded toilets, one-piece toilets are more and more common. The ease of care and cleaning have made this type of design very popular. These toilets fit in with the spa-like, zen appeal that is big.
Double-flush mechanisms are common as well. Price has come down as the demand has increased.
As the size of our showers increases, so does the demand for dual showers and specialty shower systems.
Generally, bathroom renovators are focusing on style and good lighting when they determine where their dollars go. Smart homeowners still put an emphasis on what will add to the resale value of their home.
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Bathroom Colors for 2020
Colors seem to fall in and out of favor quickly these days. Every paint company comes out with the “color-of-the-year”…and every new year you’re out of style! According to House Beautiful, the overall trend for several years has been moving to bolder and richer colors in the bathroom. The bathroom is a great place to try a new wall color. If you don’t like it, you can easily paint it again.
Black bathrooms are very trendy this year, but be careful…get a designer to help you pull it off. If you like to try new things, start with a powder room. You can make a dramatic statement in a small space with some flashy wallpaper and accessories.
The bathroom seems like a great place to play with color. As a real estate agent, my advice is to stick to neutrals in the permanent pieces. It’s easy to change out curtains, towels, and accessories in a bathroom without committing long term to colors that might force you to update your bathroom in a couple of years.
Once again, gray seems to be the leading choice in color, in-wall color, floor color, and in cabinets. White comes in second, and beige a close third.
It is always wise to incorporate neutral colors in the permanent features, and decorate around them with colors that are trendy.
Bathroom Materials in 2020
While the style is becoming more minimalist and streamlined, many bathroom designers are balancing the clean lines with warmth, texture, and furniture. The bathroom is being treated as one of the “heart of the home” spaces, just like the kitchen. You’ll find wood, fabrics, art and wallpaper.
Mirrors are more than just functional, they can be of different shapes, full length, and backlighted, an addition to the overall design. Circular mirrors are popular, as well as individual vanity mirrors, rather than a single large mirror. We’re seeing more and more mirrors with built-in defoggers, for extra convenience.
While mixing metals is more popular in the kitchen, the bathroom is a smaller space, and renovators are still choosing a single metal for fixtures. Faucets, showerheads, valves, door hardware, lighting fixtures, towel rods, etc., are unified in the master bathroom. Among the matched fixtures, brushed or satin nickel is the top choice (38%), followed by polished chrome (28%). Ultra shiny finishes are vanishing these days in favor of a more subtle matte finish.
Quartz countertops are the new thing. Marble is also showing up in the newest designs. Granite is not as popular as it has been in the past. Other innovative countertop materials that have been showing up in the kitchen are now showing up in bathrooms… like manufactured products, bamboo, concrete and recycled glass.
Tile is still very popular. In the vanity backsplash, the shower and the floor. Brick patterns are most popular, followed by traditional grid patters, with herringbone being last on the list.
Herringbone patterns show up in all the design magazines, but the public is not really buying into it. Perhaps they know it will look dated in a few years? People are smart, not always following designer trends.
Tile colors are many and can fit in with any design concept. Subway tile is also very trendy and classic at the same time. (Subway tile first appeared in the New York subway in 1904!) It complements any design or color scheme.
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Dedicated Spaces in the Bathroom
There will be more individual spaces, zones—dedicated dressing and makeup areas. Water closets (separate toilet rooms) are very common in new homes and in renovations. If space allows, every woman wants a built-in vanity!
The majority (83%) of bathroom renovations include the vanity and sink, with undermount sinks still the most popular. Most homeowners are fitting in double sinks if at all possible.
Bathrooms Matter to Home Buyers
Homeowners in the US usually spend between $2,000 and $15,000 on bathroom remodeling. The average price of a remodel is $7,000. Given all the choices we’ve listed above, it may seem daunting to know where to make changes. Few bathrooms are large enough to contain all the design ideas you like. The good news is that you don’t need to do a major overhaul of your bathroom. Just find a few ways to express some of the newer trends that you like the most. A few trendy touches will go a long way to make your home feel like it has been updated and cared for.
According to Remodeling Magazine, kitchens and baths sell homes. In the hottest housing markets, updating your kitchens and bathrooms is often a good idea, with a return on investment nearing 100%. Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas are one of those hot markets. Keep bathroom design trends 2020 in mind if you are thinking of selling your home in the near future.
For further reading:
Decorating Trends 2020
Kitchen Trends 2020
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