We are just weeks away from moving into 2021, closing off for many what has been a tough year with the pandemic. But for many it was also an opportunity to give our homes much-needed TLC and start work on some essential tasks.
The past 12 months have also had a huge impact on how the bathroom industry is having to adapt, from hygiene and sanitation to functionality of our bathrooms.
For those that have invested in their homes but are still to work on their bathroom, getting with the latest trends is important. Questions asked include: ‘what colour is on trend?’, ‘should I go traditional or modern?’, ‘how can I add value to my home?’ and ‘how do I maximise my space?’. Well, we asked some experts to list their thoughts on the trends and they came up with the following 12 areas:
- Instagrammable and Personalised Bathrooms
- Hygiene Friendly and Touch Free
- Transitional Design
- Smaller and Compact Bathrooms
- Statement Furniture and Open Bathroom Storage
- Eco-Friendly Bathrooms
- Bolder Colours and Feature Walls
- Non-chrome finishes
- White Bathroom Fixtures and Fittings
- Showers replacing bathtubs
- Biophilia and Living Bathrooms
Relax, sit back and take time out to find out what’s going to be hot and not across the next 12 months according to some of the biggest brands in the industry, including Crosswater, Victoria & Albert, Origins Living, GROHE (LIXIL EMENA), Hudson Reed (Roxor Group) and SBH Radiators.
With social media – and in particular visual platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest – hugely popular now more than ever, it is unsurprising that this has infiltrated bathroom trends and increased interest in products.
According to the team at Victoria & Albert and Perrin & Rowe, this is having an impact on decoration and choices of fixtures and fittings: “Now that bathrooms are no longer exclusively private places, but spaces that may be shared on Facebook or Instagram, the choice of décor and fittings becomes ever more important.”
Whether it is pride, glamourising our personal spaces, or just want to show off our materialistic side, the industry is seeing more bathroom furnishings needing to cater for personalised and unique tastes.
As Juan Pillay, Marketing Director at Crosswater says: “The trend for personalisation in the home is one from 2020 that we see continuing well into 2021 – this will allow homeowners to combine colours, materials and patterns in unique ways that reflects their personality and individual style.”
As being an influencer is no longer reserved to celebrities but ordinary people, home improvement trends are likely to be started, boosted and inspired by social media. Data taken from hashtags on Instagram on 9th December 2020 shows that:
- 9.6m posts have included the hashtag #bathroom
- 3.1m have included #bathroomdesign
- 1.7m have included #bathroomdecor
This has already been seen with new colours, designs and finishes. Expect to see ongoing product development that really caters towards the Instagram and social media generation.
Technology changes have always been hugely significant and this has encompassed many aspects of the bathroom. Whether it is demisting mirrors, Bluetooth technology, LED lighting or simply better temperature controls and functionality with showers and taps, the race to create new solutions is heating up each year.
However, the latest bathroom technology trend has largely come about as a result of the events of 2020 and the pandemic. This is the surge towards hygiene-friendly touch-free and even personal hygiene improving products.
LIXIL (EMENA)’s Paul Bailey, Leader, Category Specialist UK and Elina Enqvist-Twomey, also a Leader, Category UK, whose group includes brands such as GROHE, advise that this is also something they are seeing in terms of shower products.
Bailey states: “the bathroom has been under much more scrutiny for its hygiene credentials and homeowners have been seeking solutions to improve the hygiene and cleanliness of this key space.
Enqvist-Twomey, meanwhile, focuses on shower toilets, which cross toilets with the functionality of a bidet: “Once thought of as a niche luxury, shower toilets are becoming an increasingly popular choice in bathrooms and are especially beneficial in properties housing multi-generational families.
“Shower toilets are by far one of the most innovative and accessible products around due to the features that promote intimate wellbeing, hygiene and optimise independence in the bathroom for less able users; from automatic flush and lid opening and closing, to personalised app-controlled washing and drying functions.”
Mike Bennett, Consumer Marketing Manager from Geberit UK, also adds: "Understandably, hygiene is now front of mind for many homeowners. Even before Covid-19, we were seeing the growth of infra-red and touchless products, and we can expect to see this trend continue with products like sensor activated flush plates, such as Geberit’s Sigma80 flush plate, automatic taps and toilet lids and sophisticated hand drying technology becoming the norm."
Crosswater’s Juan Pillay also states that this is likely to dictate product development alongside ever-changing technology: “As technology advances so too does our ability to create innovative bathroom products. With many homeowners looking for products that offer cutting-edge aesthetic design alongside high functionality and usability.
Technology in the bathroom is an area that will continue to grow, with products that seek to enhance our everyday life and improve our daily routines.”
Another consistently mentioned trend is that the line between modern bathrooms and traditional bathrooms is becoming blurred and this is likely to continue into 2021.
This doesn’t just extend between bathroom fixtures and fittings, but also the type of bathroom with the style of the house being renovated or upgraded.
Additionally, many bathroom brands are having to adapt to consumer trends combining both design, technology and functionality, which Pillay of Crosswater, and Jon Walker, Marketing Manager of Roxor Group – which includes brands such as Hudson Reed - say they are both seeing.
“We are seeing more customers looking to achieve the traditional look, but with bathroom products that include all of the advanced functions and usability of a modern item,” says Pillay, while Walker adds: “We are seeing a mixture of traditional and contemporary being merged into one bathroom suite, for example, a traditional unit with a modern black frame screen.”
Both Kathy Smith, Managing Director of SBH Radiators, and Sofia Charalambous, Founder of Origins Living, advise that interior designers are really driving this change. This is unsurprising when coupled with both the Instagram generation and the innovative changes that other industries have seen, such as fusion food and the resurgence of old fashion trends with a modern twist. It was perhaps naïve to think that home trends wouldn’t follow suit.
Smith states that the age of a property should no longer dictate whether you’re in the traditional or modern camp: “Many interior renovation Instagram accounts are showing ultra-modern homes being turned into traditional havens using wall panelling and bold striking colours.”
Charalambous, meanwhile, says that a movement called ‘transitional design’ – contrasting design elements in one space - is also taking hold.
“Typically, it refers to meshing modern with traditional, but it can also mean mixing different genres, such as edgy industrial with country cottage. Using transitional design is a great way to create unique bathrooms that truly reflect your individual style.”
The key takeaway for 2021 is don’t be afraid to reflect your personality in your bathroom styles and choices. Ultimately, bathroom design is all about creating a haven of peace and escape, and whether that is light and fresh or bold and daring shouldn’t be a barrier.
As there is a growing need for new houses, the sizes of houses is shrinking. In fact, according to a study done by LABC Warranty in 2019, the average house size of the UK is just 67.8m2. This is the smallest size since the 1930s.
As a result, this means that the demand for compact, smaller bathroom and cloakroom products is growing. Victoria & Albert’s team states: “New compact products are driving trends to make these smaller spaces more luxurious and stylish. As this is an especially British problem, British manufacturers tend to lead the way in solutions”. They go on to say that they will be really focusing on growing their product range of compact products, in particular compact baths in 2021.
Other brands also think that this could potentially lower demand for more trendy items of recent years such as freestanding bathtubs. “Although we love and do sell these, we feel they are equipped for the larger bathroom and not as family friendly as a classic shower bath,” says Jon Walker at Roxor Group.
There is no doubt that bathroom furniture is becoming trendier. There are now more styles and looks, whether it is the metallic look of industrial style, or something more traditional like Shaker Style. There are tall units, wall hung vanity units, bathroom vanity units that combine storage and basin, or something like a console basin and washstand with open space underneath for extra storage.
This year Google AdWords is showing that there were over 28% more searches for bathroom furniture between January and October this year (235,000 searches), compared to the same period last year (183,400). Google Trends also shows a much more sustained interest in bathroom furniture compared to 2019 as well.
Jon Walker, of Roxor Group, says that “statement piece furniture units” and also “furniture units with vessel [countertop basins] rather than [the] classic basin option” are going to be some of the key bathroom trends in the year ahead.
Sofia Charalambous, Founder of Origins Living, agrees, saying that there is also going to be a wider switch to more open and free bathroom storage.
“Open bathroom storage is set to be one of the key interiors trends in 2021 and beyond. The minimalism mantra is over – at least for bathroom storage ideas,” she says. “No longer must you hide everything away, hiding all traces of personality and pizzazz. In the past, luxury bathrooms have been synonymous with the bare and unembellished.
“So there has been no place (literally or figuratively) for beautiful display items. However, times are changing, and the opportunity to display stylish possessions in the bathroom is exciting for bathroom interiors.”
Like many industries, the bathroom industry has had to adapt to the green and eco-friendly awareness of consumers.
This means that brands have to be both inward looking and outward looking towards changing consumer demand, whether that’s simply being more eco-aware or conserving more water and energy.
Understandably, brands were keen to share how they are developing for the future as well as their own credentials, whether FSC accredited bathroom furniture like Roxor Group or WRAS approved. This also further highlights other trends, moving towards hygiene-friendly products that can contribute a small part in reducing waste.
Kathy Smith of SBH Radiators says that “many more customers are sensitive to where their purchases come from, how and from what they are made, and what these factors contribute to being environmentally friendly.” She goes on to say that they have recently introduced electrical controllers to their radiators that “offer the customer the ability to control the time and temperature of the radiator” and that “home automation is offering some big contributors to eco credentials.”
Juan Pillay at Crosswater, meanwhile, focuses more on utility usage warning that “luxury rainfall showers, high-tech digital valves and multi-outlet systems that include the likes of body jets, dual-function shower flows and additional handsets all require our bathrooms to work harder than ever and use more energy to run therefore it’s important to make sure that our products are as efficient as possible.”
He does advise customers to check whether products are WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) approved before purchasing: “Buying products that are WRAS approved is a calculable way to guarantee that you are not only saving water but also utilising it in the most efficient way possible. These regulations require that water fittings, such as valves and taps do not cause waste, misuse, undue consumption or contamination of the water supply.”
And Paul Bailey, of LIXIL EMENA (GROHE) adds that a survey they conducted highlighted that 42% of people like to enjoy long showers, so “there is a definite demand to provide solutions that enable a luxurious experience that use less resources and are kinder to the environment.”
Our panel of experts also predict that bold colours, feature walls and mixing style with statement-making fixtures and fittings is likely to continue into 2021.
Roxor Group’s Jon Walker admits that the “pink furniture finish caught [us] off guard” but admitted that they had “plenty up their sleeve”. He also added that in terms of bathroom styles he believed that consumers will “bring back funky wallpaper into their bathroom and creating a ‘feature wall’ to create a statement.”
Kathy Smith at SBH Radiators advises that coloured radiator demand has been higher than ever and “most specifically the need to match blacks, gold, brass and copper tones.”
Black is another colour that Nick Graville of Kudos Showers feels will continue into the New Year because it is versatile and can co-ordinate well with many other styles. “Black continues to prevail, being a strong robust colour, with more accessories, brassware and coordinating components allowing a complete theme
Smith concludes this by advising: “Instagram has been littered recently with bright bold striking patterns of dark colours available in bathroom suitable wallpapers. From taking the safe option, many homeowners are now taking the brave statement option. Having peacocks, koi carp or coloured marbling feature walls now brings the idea of putting colour into more lasting product choices.”
While conventional chrome will always remain popular, there is no doubt that more people are switching to alternative finishes alongside colours. We have seen brushed brass, brushed nickel, gold, stainless steel and anthracite come to the party in recent years, alongside coppers and tin. While bathroom furniture has seen things like driftwood grow in popularity.
Brushed nickel is the finish that Sofia Charalambous of Origins Living is predicting to stand out: “We can safely say, with its timeless appeal, brushed nickel ‘transcends trends’. The beauty of brushed nickel, with its warm yellow hue is the blurring between gold and silver, which makes it incredibly versatile.”
Meanwhile, the team at Victoria & Albert and Perrin & Rowe add: “In recent years there has been huge growth in choice of finishes. More than half of luxury brassware buyers now choose a finish other than Chrome. For Perrin & Rowe that has included 24-carot Gold, ‘living finishes’ such as Satin Brass or Aged Brass, and beautiful brushed metal finishes such as Pewter.”
They also add that “Victoria + Albert baths and basins can be specified in any of 194 exterior colours, in matt or gloss, supporting the trend for personalisation.”
White seems to be one of those divisive colours, a bit like Marmite, where you either love it or hate it. With a 15% increase in sales of products with white finishes this year here at Sanctuary Bathrooms, it looks like white’s popularity is set to continue. That is a view point shared by Origins Living’s Sofia Charalambous, who believes this will continue into 2021: “Fashion and interiors shows have been going wild for white. And, what’s big in clothing and homewares doesn’t take long to flow into bathrooms. Forget clinical, matt white fittings add a crisp freshness to the bathroom and when paired with natural materials such as wood and restful greens, gives a bathing space a warm and welcoming feel.”
Despite this, many Brits actually find the convenience of a shower much more efficient, with a survey for Mira Showers in 2018 finding 64% of us actually prefer showering.
And Jon Walker at Roxor Group believes that showers are only going to become even more popular in 2021: “people like to replace the bath tubs to wetrooms/enclosures.”
Biophilia, or the transformation of indoor spaces with outside features such as plantlife, has been mooted for a long-time. It has also gradually been seeping into workplace environments over the course of the last few years as companies search for more environmentally-friendly, enjoyable and mentally stimulating workplaces. This has also to an extent happened in homes as well with people bringing more plantlife indoors. However, Geberit's Mike Bennett believes this is likely to be more significant in 2021 as more people make the switch to working from home, as a result of the pandemic.
"With that in mind, the leading trends for the year ahead will centre on harnessing the home for happiness - think biophilic design to bring the outdoors in, bright colours to create a joyful or calming atmosphere, and accessories that inject personality into every corner of the room.
Geberit Set Design by Sophie Robinson, as part of Geberit's Inspiring Interiors Campaign (c) Geberit
"Bringing the outdoors in is also set to be a big trend in 2021, with more of us actively seeking the benefits of nature, biophilic design is set to be huge in the home this year.
“In the bathroom, consider natural materials like wood, slate and stone over high-gloss for furniture and cabinets.
"Of course, houseplants are also an essential accessory for any bathroom, and even using earthy colour palettes for towels, tiles and trimmings can further elevate that connection to the great outdoors."
Cottagecore is a trend that has grown over the course of the last decade or so, and in particular the most recent generation. Born out of the slower way of life people are now growing accustomed to, it is also called 'countrycore' or 'farmcore' and generally reflects rural life and farming ideals. Both fashion and lifestyle have taken inspiration from wildlife, plants and fauna, and country-style bathrooms have been growing more and more. As Beth Poole from the Bristan Group says: "In 2021, we’re set to see bathroom trends borne from the slowed-down way of living that we all became accustomed to over the last year. Trends like cottagecore are helping people create a relaxing space where they can escape the outside world."
That wraps up our guide to some of the key bathroom trends for 2021 but keep an eye on our blog over the coming months as we look at colour trends, eco trends, bathroom tips and focus areas and more over the coming weeks.