Cover Cifre Overland sand and greige glazed porcelain tiles in a matte finish, from Hafary

Spa at home—turn your bathroom into a chic and intimate retreat by referencing these design trends

Our homes are where we ultimately seek safe harbour. And tucked away within these personal spaces is a private refuge where we can rejuvenate and unwind in complete solitude—the bathroom.

The importance of hygiene will continue to be paramount. “Undoubtedly, people are now paying more attention to their personal hygiene due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Antoine Besseyre des Horts, who leads the global design team of the Lixil Group, which carries brands such as Grohe and American Standard.

(Related: Beautiful Bathrooms: 8 Small and Inspiring Powder Room Designs We Love

“Hygiene and well-being will take precedence; we expect that contactless technology will become more popular. Homes will start seeing more sensor-based technologies, such as automatic toilet lids, shower toilets and touchless faucets.”

Hygiene and well-being will take precedence; we expect that contactless technology will become more popular

— Antoine Besseyre des Horts, leader of Lixil Global Design, Asia

Besides incorporating these technological advances, bathroom design will continue to become more personalised. “The bathroom is now a secluded and custom-made sanctuary for slowing down and recharging after a busy day,” says renowned architect Steve Leung, who is also the founder of Hong Kong-based practice Steve Leung Design Group.

Referring to a project he worked on for Yoo8 Residences in Kuala Lumpur, he shares: “As the urban population keeps growing, living spaces in cities are simultaneously smaller, and so are the bathrooms. The use of an open layout, bold patterns, metallic details and lighting creates chic bathrooms in these relatively small apartments,” says Leung.

(Related: What Will Bathrooms Of The Future Look Like?

Award-winning interior designer Katharine Pooley, who is based in London, agrees. “Smaller spaces require richer detailing and colours to ensure they don’t feel lost. I particularly like to use botanical wallpapers in bathrooms as they create a soft and intimate ambience that’s perfect for these rooms,” she adds.

Indeed, these ideas inspire us to rethink the bathroom as more than just a mundane setting for one’s daily needs. With some help from the experts, here are some ways you can reinvent these intimate spaces.

Smaller spaces require richer detailing and colours... I particularly like to use botanical wallpapers in bathrooms as they create a soft and intimate ambience

— British interior designer Katharine Pooley

1. Create a relaxing ambience

To create a resort-like environment at home, think about how elements such as music, lighting and scents can work in harmony with the material palette of your bathroom to create a calming mood that engages all your senses. 

The finishes elected for your flooring and wall tiles can also contribute to the tactility of your bathroom. “Matte and natural finishes will appear to be more contemporary and modern, whereas a polished finish is ideal for a more classic and luxurious look,” says Simon Cheong, business development director of Hafary.

He also recommends using subway tiles to augment the tactile look of your bathroom. “Homeowners are now looking for subway tiles with a more organic and handcrafted appearance. These tiles also feature shade variations for a more authentic look as opposed to uniform colours,” he adds.

If you’re not planning to renovate your bathroom yet, home fragrances in the form of candles and diffusers are among the easy ways to improve the ambience without a major overhaul of the space. Another way to tickle your senses is to incorporate speakers to play your favourite tracks, setting a relaxed aura.

(Related: 9 Bathroom Ideas For A Great Spa Experience

2. Infuse a touch of greenery

Biophilia refers to the human desire to be closer to nature—the term was first used by German social psychologist Erich Fromm in his book The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness in 1973 and later adopted by Harvard University naturalist Dr Edward O. Wilson.

According to Leung, biophilia can be interpreted by designers in various ways. “The physical method usually integrates natural elements with the space to bring nature within the built environment, blurring the boundaries between the indoors and the outdoors,” he explains. “This design practice commonly uses a rich array of natural materials such as wood, bamboo, stone, granite and marble. It tends to use an abundance of plants indoors, and also maximises natural light with floor-to-ceiling doors and windows.”

Leung adds that one can invoke a sense of the outdoors by incorporating “different wood patterns in smooth, ornamented textures that complement natural stones or a warm colour palette with a tasteful selection of wood and granite”.

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, the botanical influence can take the form of patterns inspired by nature. Kate Deng, co-founder of Mr Shopper Studio recommends incorporating wallpaper or framed artworks that feature plant life to create a calming, tropical feel in your bathroom.

(Related: 6 Nature-Inspired Hotels and Resorts with Elements of Biophilic Design

3. Mix and Match

“Ranging from marble and concrete to copper, a wide spectrum of materials in contrasting textures can be used together to achieve a more vibrant mood,” says Leung.

Pooley concurs. “Using contrasting finishes in bathrooms is a wonderful way to add texture and interest, accompanied by crystal lights, highly polished metal fixtures and marble vanity tops,” she says. “I also love to use dark marble slabs like Saint Laurent or Nero Marquina for a really luxurious feel.”

Pair these stone elements with minimalist, wood-like fittings and furnishings to enhance the calming ambience. “Woodgrain and earthy tones are best applied to vanities and fittings, adding warmth and softness while balancing the overall tone of tiles and faucets,” says Besseyre des Horts. “Simple and minimalist furniture helps reduce visual clutter, while allowing personalisation through the use of accessories, materials and finishes.”

(Related: 15 Home Design Trends to Watch in 2021)

4. Feature sculptural elements

Given the prevalence of streamlined and minimalist schemes, the distinctive forms of the fittings can make a statement without appearing too flashy or obtrusive. “In recent years, the increased application of organic shapes and unusual lines has prevailed in both interior and product design—this includes bathroom fixtures and wash basins,” says Leung.

One standout is the Axor Edge range of faucets by French designer Jean-Marie Massaud. They boast a sculptural composition of rectangular prisms, each polished with diamond-cutting technology to create their signature chiselled detailing.

(Related: 6 Inspiring Ways To Design Your Bathroom

5. Play with patterns

Bathrooms offer ample opportunity for experimentation. In this project by Perinelli Design, wallpaper from Brooklyn brand Flavor Paper makes an impact in the daughter’s bathroom. It’s matched with Fior di Pesco marble, hexagonal floor tiles, semi-circular timber beading for the curved vanity and fluted glass for the shower screen.

Designers will go into the realm of the unexpected while expressing the individuality of the client; this might mean a colour, print or accessory that transforms the space,” says Alessandro Perinelli, founder of Perinelli Design. “In this home, I was able to customise each bathroom to fit the specific aesthetic of the family member using the space. I also tried to bend the rules of what you would normally expect in a bathroom.”

In another project, Temple Newsam wallpaper from De Gournay makes a bold statement in Balfour Castle, Scotland. It features hand-painted motifs in the chinoiserie style, while its green hue adds a sense of dynamism to the space. The organic curves of the wallpaper’s floral motifs complement the other decorative flourishes in the room, such as the detailing on the wooden mirror and the side table.

(Related: Home Tour: See How A Gold Wallpaper Adds Instant Glamour To This London Apartment)

6. The trending palette: dark and glamorous

Already a popular look last year, dark and sombre hues will continue to dominate in 2021. “If you are worried about a monochromatic palette drowning out the entire bathroom, you can play with contrasting shades such as dusty blue walls and dark grey, patterned tiles against a glossy white brick wall,” recommends Deng.

Match these colours with wood-like textures to heighten the cosy ambience, then complete the look with bathroom fittings in metallic finishes for a luxurious touch. “Wood accents in dark-toned bathrooms can lend a sense of elegance,” Deng adds. “For a subtle yet refined finish, you can use polished gold fittings, which go well with dark colours.”

(Related: Home Tour: A Chic Apartment With Monochromatic Spaces And Industrial Details

7. Good lighting is key

“When creating a bathroom that really 'wows', there is nothing more effective than combining crystal wall lights with a bespoke mirror, wall panelling and polished marble slabs. This balance of glimmering light and soft reflection, along with the richness of the marble, always makes a space feel larger and more impactful,” says Pooley.

Deng suggests adding LED strip lighting to your bathroom; incorporate it around the mirrors and at the top and bottom of your cabinet doors to create a 3D effect, which injects depth in a small room. Accent lighting can do much to improve the look of a bathroom, too. Consider glass pendant lamps to add a soft glow and a modern touch to the space.

(Related: 10 Colourful Accent Lamps That Will Brighten Up Any Space

8. Include smart bathroom fittings

Given the increased attention to hygiene, the demand for hands-free features in the bathroom is expected to grow. These include toilets and faucets with motion sensors from Kohler and Grohe, which react to the proximity of the user. Apps such as Grohe’s Ondus and LG’s ThinQ will also help users monitor the water temperature and consumption patterns to make the bathroom more energy efficient.

Match these smart fittings with a minimalist interior and accessories in matching metallic tones, or go for a matte black finish for your faucets and decorative elements to create a slick look in your bathroom.

This story was first published in the April issue of Tatler Homes Singapore; the issue is available with our compliments on Magzter until 31 May 2021.

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