If, after being stuck at home for months on end, you are taking stock of your surroundings and looking for ways to spruce up your home, you are not alone. According to Review Home Warranties, online searches related to home remodeling are up 84% this year. And small updates in bathrooms, such as tile, hardware or paint, are among the more popular projects.
If you’re going to update a bathroom and you want your design choices to stand up over time, the first step is determining what styles will be timeless for you specifically.
“People tend to fall into one or two camps,” said interior designer Michael Winn of Winn Design and Build, Virginia. “They want a very classic-looking bathroom, or they want something contemporary and spalike.” Translation: For many people, the bathroom might not be the place to get splashy with trends.
But what if you adore bold colors and patterns? “Sometimes, the most timeless things are the things that you love,” said Katy Harbin, a designer in North Carolina.
Winn, Harbin and Boston-based interior designer Erin Gates, author of “Elements of Family Style,” agreed on five bathroom updates that are truly timeless:
All-white palette. Whether you prefer a classic-looking bathroom or a spalike retreat, Winn says, “white doesn’t go out of style.” Think white paint, tile, countertops, vanities and textiles. If you find yourself craving color, you can add it with window treatments and towels, or wallpaper and art. Harbin likes white towels with a contrast trim “in a perky color.”
Choosing the right paint color can be tricky, Harbin said, so it’s important to order larger color samples from paint stores rather than relying on paint cards. “You can have an earthy bathroom, like a really pretty travertine ... and if you put a stark white with it, it falls flat,” but rich creams will work, she said. If you can’t find larger samples, get a sample pot and paint a poster board to see how everything looks under your bathroom’s lighting. Put the paint next to tile and countertop samples to be certain they all work together.
Mixed metals. Blending two types of metals in the space can stand up better than going with one trendy finish throughout the room. “Polished nickel is timeless,” Winn said. Gates pairs polished nickel with a gold mirror in her bathroom.
When using two different metals (and no more than two), Harbin advises to “repeat them enough and it will look good.” Try using gold on knobs and a mirror and nickel on faucets and hardware, for example.
Investing in higher-quality metal hardware will also help with longevity. A faucet with brass fittings and water-efficient technology “may be pricier in the beginning, but you’ll be grateful later,” Harbin said.
Marble countertops. “Marble, or a faux marble, like quartz with a marble appearance, will never go out of style,” Winn said. The soft, porous stone requires some semiannual resealing to maintain its appearance; newer generations of countertops in sturdier materials provide that marble look without the maintenance. “These countertops are excellent in heavy-use bathrooms, such as those used by children,” he said.
Traditional tile patterns. White subway tile in a shower or bath will never age, Winn said. For floors, penny tile — white or black and white — is still found in homes built in the 1950s and ’60s, but clients are also asking for it in new bathrooms. Other classics include hexagonal and basket-weave patterns.
Choosing these tiles in white “will age a bit better,” Winn said, than tiles in bold colors or patterns. (If you love pattern and color instead of a super-bold tile pattern, try a rug that can be easily changed out.)
Winn suggests white grout with white tile for a classic look. For a more modern feel, try charcoal or black grout with white tile.
Furniture-style vanity. Winn recommends a “free-standing, furniture-grade vanity,” which will make the bathroom seem less utilitarian. Gates likes free-standing vanities with Shaker doors and undermount sinks. The Shaker style is simple, without ornate details, and it’s rooted in history. White, gray and limed oak wood are all safe bets for a classic look that won’t age, she said. In a powder room, Gates recommends a simple pedestal sink and free-standing cabinets or baskets to hold toilet paper and extra hand towels.