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Make a splash in the bathroom
Make a splash in the bathroom

It's one of the most-used rooms in the house, so it's not surprising that as much attention is now being paid to designing the bathroom as it is to kitchens and living areas.

Catherine Johnson, of Retreat Design, said that, more than ever, bathrooms were becoming a sanctuary rather than purely a functional place to go.

"This trend has been growing over the past few years and with emerging technologies allowing greater creativity in the products available, this trend is set to continue," she said.

Here, we take a look at the key trends making a splash in Aussie bathrooms:
Baths: Freestanding baths are still the most popular option, according to Tina Mills, of Claremont bathroomware retailer Lavare, but the latest trend is for compact models - perfect for small bathrooms.

"People are turning their bathrooms into havens and a freestanding piece acts like an artistic centrepiece," she said.

Showers: "We're seeing a lot of double showers these days with a mix of an overhead ceiling-mounted showerhead and a rail hose-style showerhead," Ms Mills said.

Ari Zorlu, of bathroomware distributor Paco Jaanson, said freestanding showers were a new trend. "This year we are seeing more shower changeovers than any other product in the bathroom," he said.

"The freestanding shower is distinguished by its geometrical shape - which is elegantly simple and the added bonus is most are able to be customised to suit any existing shower walls."

Tapware: Designer David Ellwood, of Design & Decorate, said taps were moving away from sharp looks to softer styles with a subtle square feel.

Ms Mills said chrome was still the main finish requested by clients because it suited different styles, while Accento Home's Wanda Bresa predicted that black and coloured taps, a key direction at international design fairs, would soon filter into local bathrooms. When it came to baths, Ms Bresa said floor-mounted mixers - which were "an architectural statement in themselves" - were most popular.

Vanities: Mr Ellwood said the main trend for vanities was for wall-hung (or floating) models, while Ms Johnson said vanities with long, integrated sinks were popular.

"More exotic wood veneers, like pear tree timber, are also being used to provide a point of difference," she said.

Vanity tops were becoming more like kitchens with the increased use of high-end surfaces such as Staron and Corian, according to Mr Ellwood, while Ms Johnson said international trends were seeing cement emerge as a new favourite.

Ms Bresa said another innovation was PaperStone, made from recycled paper.

Basins: Ms Mills said interest in above-counter or semi-recessed basins had given way to under-counter models.

"The under-counter (basins) allow the benchtop to be the feature and with more people using solid stone tops, that is becoming more important," she said.

Tiles: John Tavelli, of Ceramo in Osborne Park, said tile trends ranged from heavily patterned statement tiles to natural looks such as timber effects.

"Large-format, rectified feature tiles that use texture, volume and visually striking 3-D effects can be used to make an impression and turn any wall into a work of art," he said.

European Ceramics' Marisa Serra said Slimtech tiles were an innovative technology, with a slender slab that could simply be placed over an existing surface, so installation time was reduced.

Lighting: "Perhaps the biggest revolution in bathroom design has been the advent of feature LEDs, with strip LEDs now much easier to use in design," Mr Ellwood said.

"Before this the only choice for feature or hidden lighting was fluorescent tubes in different lengths where you always had a dark line between each fluorescent join."

Ms Bresa said there was also a big shift from task lighting towards soft ambient lighting and highlighting techniques to draw attention to a feature such as a freestanding bath.