NEWS

Relax in a restyled bath: Homeowners look for high-quality materials in these private spaces

Anne Hentz

Since ancient times the bath has played an important role in the physical as well as spiritual aspects of civilization. The flow of water throughout history has been so much more than most of us realize. The bath is a place people go to seek comfort, relaxation and renewal.

Your bath can be one of the most exciting rooms in your home to design and decorate. Whether it is a powder room, the family bath or the master bath, people seem to feel comfortable using vibrant and creative designs. Anything from whimsical fish to dramatic glazed walls are possible. It is a private place where our fantasies and creative nature can come forth.

Today's bath has become a haven for people. We are not seeing the large tubs for two. People want privacy. People want to conserve resources. Gone are the days of the sprawling bright white baths.

"I think with the stresses that we're faced with in the past seven years (referring to 9/11) people just need a quiet, peaceful place to go and I see the bath becoming a place of wellness," says Amy Zuckerman, manager of Waterspot, a showroom for faucets, fixtures, lighting and decorative hardware in Framingham.

What goes into the bath for 2009? How do we decide? Mary Hennessey of Urban Archaeology at the Boston Design Center says the design trends she sees continue to fall into two categories: contemporary and traditional. She sees people putting money into purchasing high-quality materials. The contemporary bath trends feature a lot of glass and eco-friendly materials. The designs are modern and sculptural with a propensity toward large rectangular tiles such as 4-by-12 inches or 12-by-24 inches. Clients seeking a more tradition bath continue to use stone, including stone tiles as well as stone tubs and sinks.

Comfort, quality and timeless materials are all important in today's bathroom designs. Many homeowners I've spoken to want to take out the tub in their master baths. They want the comfort and impact of a large wall of glass for a shower enclosure. Some bathrooms are fully tiled and no shower enclosure of any kind is used. Everything that the water or mist touches is made of stone, tile or glass. It is very luxurious as well as uncluttered. Thermostatic valves for the shower as well as steam baths create an atmosphere of total relaxation and renewal.

What if you aren't in a position to spend tens of thousands of dollars on your bathroom remodel? How can you have some of these design trends of 2009? One innovative look is to combine a practically priced tile with a more expensive tile used as an accent. If you have good basic tile design it is timeless. You can be innovative by using accent tiles as a bordered edge or placing your main field of tiles on an angle.

Let your wall treatments be your canvas for experimenting. It is a lot easier to change the color of your walls than to replace many dollars worth of tiling. Choose one thing that is really important to you like a gorgeous sink which could become the centerpiece of the room. It may cost a little more but if you play a bit with your bathroom budget, you can probably figure out a way to make it work.

Anne Hentz is an interior designer. She has over 25 years of experience in interior design and real estate trends. If you would like to contact Anne with your questions or comments, she can be reached at Anne@AnneHentzDesign.com or call her at 617-933-9822.