Above: The bathroom in chef Suzanne Goin’s Los Angeles home, designed by Nickey Kehoe. The jewel-toned tiles are from Clé.
After spending the majority of the past two years at home, getting your place up to snuff has gone from “a good idea” to “nonnegotiable.” (Cabin fever is a thing.) But while your kitchen and home office might’ve received preferential treatment in the earlier days, it’s time to shift your attention to your bathroom.
This space is essential to everyone who lives under your roof, whether they’re primping or brushing their teeth. And in 2022, according to industry insights, the bathroom is poised to become an even more stylish (and sustainable) sanctuary with the help of bold palettes, earthy elements, and high-tech finishes.
“A bathroom should be a one-of-a-kind space that still feels cohesive to the rest of the residence, while providing a private moment of respite from the day-to-day pressures of life,” shares Oliver Haslegrave, founder and creative director of New York design firm Home Studios.
To find out exactly how bathrooms will evolve this year, we enlisted a few designers and experts to share their predictions and insights.
Tiles Are Getting a Down-to-Earth Edge
Whether they line the floor or a sectioned-off shower, tiles continue to be the cornerstone of any bathroom. While crisp, classic subway tiles were popular a few short years ago, the surge of biophilic design will make dwellers opt for a more organic aesthetic.
“We love the warmth and earthiness they impart to spaces like baths, especially when contrasted with more refined or consistent materials like tadelakt and glass,” says ELLE DECOR A-List designer Michael K. Chen. “We love material contrast as a way to create aesthetic tension in a space.”
With roots in Northern California, Chen shares that he’s partial to Heath Ceramics’ offerings as well as both glazed and unglazed terra-cotta.
Marble Will Have Company
Marble and stone might’ve been the bathroom “it” materials for the past few years, but designers foresee that the days of a one-note, floor-to-ceiling look are over—especially stone from far-off locales.
“We absolutely love stone as a material but have been looking to use stone and other materials from our region, as they’re inherently less extractive from a sustainability perspective and gentler all around,” Chen explains. “I still love the impact of stone, but more as a punctuation and less as a message in all caps.”
This year, those sleek materials of yesteryear will be replaced by an assortment of warm, rich ones, designers agree.
“We tend to incorporate natural materials and finishes that will age well and stand the test of time, including copper, brass, tile, and wood details,” Home Studios’ Haslegrave explains. “We also try to custom-make what few furnishings there may be.”
Chicago designer Summer Thornton is especially partial to trading marble for warm woods. “I love marble as much as the next girl, but I also like introducing materials you wouldn’t normally find in the bathroom such as wood paneling,” she explains. “I love making a bathroom look like a modern men’s library—so cozy and luxe.”
Layered Lighting Is a Must
Whether you’re putting the last touches on your makeup or using your space as a stealth Zoom room, no bathroom is complete without some great lighting. But instead of focusing on the physical fixture, Thornton predicts a renewed interest in layered lighting.
“A bathroom cannot have too much lighting, although it needs to be the right kind,” she shares. “Nobody looks good in a room full of can lights.”
For Thornton, versatility is key. Overhead lighting that can be dimmed offers a moody touch, but rooms with extra height might benefit from a statement-making pendant. Thornton also points out that eye-level lighting is just as important as its ceiling-centric counterparts.
“I prefer light coming at my face at the vanity, whether that is a lit mirror, wall sconces, or both,” she says. “Also, everything should dim and most should be on separate switching.” Talk about a bright idea!
High-Tech Hygiene Is In
“It is safe to say that the general public is more hygiene-conscious as a result of the collective global pandemic experience,” says Tim Schroeder, president of Duravit North America, a global manufacturer of bathroom fittings. “When updating or renovating a bathroom, a top priority for many is hygiene-forward and well-designed fixtures and surfaces.”
Naturally, the advances in 2022 are poised to be a touch more innovative than slathering on sanitizer or adding an extra bottle of hand soap. Schroeder points to Duravit’s HygieneGlaze, an optional material coating that can be added to most wall-mounted and free-standing toilet solutions. This patented finish brings unprecedented cleanliness to the bathroom, killing 90 percent of bacteria after six hours and 99.999 percent after a full day.
Colors Are Bolder and Brighter
As the design industry swings back to the maximalist end of the spectrum, bathrooms will be swathed in bold and unapologetically eye-catching colors. For designer Delia Kenza, rich tones will be all the rage in 2022.
“Green is coming in with a bang, but there will also be more decadent jewel-toned baths with tubs that you can lounge in for hours,” she shares.
Chen agrees and says there will be a lot of emphasis on “punchy warm colors like coral and peach, [as well as] moodier, inkier ones like dark green.”
Green Isn’t Just for Walls
Speaking of going green, design experts are thinking beyond the verdant shade and predicting small, eco-friendly tweaks to their bathrooms.
“Organic [and] sustainable materials will reign supreme,” Kenza shares. “People are more conscious about the materials they use and the impact they have on the environment.”
Of course, designers aren't the only ones who are hearing and heeding the call for sustainability: Many consumer brands are bringing an eco-conscious touch to their offerings. At the core of Duravit’s HygieneGlaze is ceramic, which not only naturally inhibits bacteria growth but is also able to be reused and recycled. “Good design is not just about looks, but equally about practicality and sustainability,” Schroeder says.
Bathrooms that are functional, fashionable, and have Mother Nature’s seal of approval? It doesn’t get better than that.