What’s hot (and what’s not) in a master bathroom design?
I know if you’re remodeling or building a new home making selections is overwhelming. And choosing products for the master bathroom (which is a space used almost as frequently as your kitchen) is no picnic.
While you want a bathroom which is stylish (and ‘on trend’), you don’t necessarily want a design which is ‘trendy’ or won’t live well for you, your spouse, or family.
So, in this article (and as a self-professed Bathroom Products Geek), my goal is to simplify your selection process. And to accomplish this I’m presenting 13 master bathroom and shower design ideas which are ‘hot,’ and 7 master bath and shower ideas which are ‘not.’
At the end, please add to my hot/not hot list, or feel free to tell me to ‘throw in the towel’ or I’m ‘all washed up’ (hey – a couple of bathroom puns never hurt anyone) if you think my ideas are all wet. Let’s start with ‘what’s hot.’
#1 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – The ‘5 piece’ master bathroom
If you’re not even sure what makes up a ‘5 piece’ master bathroom design, you’re not alone. Here’s what’s in a 5-piece master bathroom:
- 2 sinks
- 1 toilet
- 1 shower (preferably you can ‘super-size’ it)
- 1 free standing tub
Having these 5 components creates the spa experience ‘everyone’ (OK – maybe everyone except your ‘function-only’ driven spouse or partner) loves.
#2 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – A freestanding tub
OK – I know some of you in the ‘studio audience’ are gritting your teeth right now. Yes – freestanding tubs are controversial because while they ‘look pretty,’ if I’m being honest (and why should I be dishonest anyway?), in most bathrooms they’re seldom used.
However, if you want a bathroom design which is hot, hot, hot – they’re a must. Use a freestanding tub as the focal point in your bathroom. Put it by a window or near a wall when you walk in. You’ll have a master bath design which is certain to wow friends and family (even if your penny-pinching-partner is kicking and screaming about the idea of adding a freestanding tub).
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#3 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – Low maintenance products (which still look stylish)
While tile shower surrounds in master bathrooms are still popular, the desire to blow up grout joints (and the nasty maintenance which comes with them) has never been stronger. However, in a master bathroom what you DO NOT WANT is the cheap, plasticky, yet low maintenance, products you find in the aisles of your local home center.
So, where can you find low maintenance, yet high-style products which won’t cheapen your master bath designs today? Here’s 3 products to consider:
- Product 1 – Realistic-looking grout free shower and bathroom surround panels – Laminate wall panels give you the look of real tile and stone and eliminates grout joints.
- Product 2 – Stone shower pans – Stone shower pans not only DO NOT have to cost an ‘arm and a leg,’ but they’re available in low profile designs (more about this later) and patterns to create a high end look.
- Product 3 – Laminate or luxury vinyl plank flooring – Stop worrying about a wood bathroom floor warping, or a tile floor with discolored or moldy grout joints. Laminate and luxury vinyl plank floors are redefining the bathroom flooring market.
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#4 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – More natural light – bringing the outdoors in
There’s nothing more depressing (or unsafe) than a dark bathroom. In order to create the spa experience – and have a more enjoyable bathroom – find ways (even if the bathroom doesn’t include an outside wall) to bring in natural light.
If you can, use a window – either at eye level – or higher on the wall with a transom window (if you’re worried about privacy and the creepy neighbor next door).
If you can’t use a window, consider a solar light tube and/or LED lights.
#5 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – Better storage.
For anyone who’s been ‘wrestling’ (OK – not literally) with a bathroom vanity cabinet which has a ‘mosh-pit’ of products you have to rummage through to try to find what you need– you know a bathroom with more effective storage would be music to your ears.
A few ways to make this happen include:
- Storage niches inside wall cavities for towels.
#6 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – Being able to ‘see it’ before you ‘buy it.’
If you’re like most people, being able to visualize your master bathroom (and thinking through how selections from 5 stores your builder or remodeler told you to visit) will look together is near impossible.
However, you know the better you can see the finished space, the more comfortable you’ll feel you won’t make a ‘fatal error’ (as a computer geek might say) with selections.
Towards this end – what’s hot in master bathroom design is the ability (through 3D renderings, bathroom visualizers, or design tools) to ‘see’ your master bathroom come to life before you spend one thin (or one thick) dime making selections.
#7 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – Creating the spa experience.
You desperately want a place to get away from the kids (even if it’s only for 15 minutes) or shed stress from a long workday. And a perfect way to do this is in a spa-style bathroom with water from a rain head caressing your scalp, or bathing in a soaking tub.
In this list of 13 ‘hot items’ you’ll find products to get you moving in the right direction towards this spa experience.
And, in addition, if you also want décor ideas for a spa-like bathroom read 7 Bathroom Décor Ideas to Create a Spa-Like Bathroom on a Budget.
#8 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – A ‘contrasting’ feature wall.
Today’s master bathrooms are no longer Your Fathers Chevrolet (or said another way, a space which is bland – yet dependable). Today’s fashion-forward master bathrooms have interest and style. And a way to add style is with a feature wall. This feature wall can be a unique tile (or faux tile) design. It could be a ‘green wall’ with plants. Or it could simply be a different color paint.
Don’t limit yourself to a ‘matchy-matchy’ decor.
#9 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – A larger shower – built for two!
In upscale master baths in new homes today, you won’t see the ‘standard’ 5’ x 3’ shower. Now you’ll see the ‘supersized’ master shower which is ‘built for two.’
The most popular layout is a rectangular shower which is 6’ x 3’ or 6’ x 4’ and has shower heads on both sides. It’ll work for 2 people at the same time…and that could be fun!
#10 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – Wet rooms or ‘low threshold’ shower pans
As an extension of point #9 (the shower built for two) – what’s happening in stylish bathrooms today is the concept of a continuous space where the entire bathroom (including the bathroom floor) is waterproof. And this concept is the one level wet room system.
And if you’re not adventuresome enough for the wet room (or don’t need a one level bathroom for someone with mobility challenges), then the low curb shower pan is the next best way to get there…at a lesser cost.
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#11 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – Make sure the look is ‘timeless,’ not ornate.
Whether you’re looking at the style of vanity doors and drawers or handles on your shower glass, bathrooms today – look timeless and contemporary, than ornate.
Three popular vanity door and drawer styles include Shaker, Euro (flat), or Mid-Century Modern. And if you want to be even sleeker go with a slim shaker. Stay away from ornate styles or raised panel designs.
#12 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design – More ‘matte,’ less gloss.
While a gloss-inspired bathroom can be ‘uber-cool’ (and modern), as a general trend the ‘more relaxed’ matte finishes are in, and glossier looks are out. When it comes to fixtures matte black, brushed brass and brushed nickel are more popular than ever (and as a bonus, matte finishes don’t show water spots like gloss finishes).
If you’re wondering whether you should choose matte or gloss read, 7 Critical Questions You Need to Know Between Choosing Between Matte or Gloss Finish for Your Bathroom.
#13 – What’s hot in a master bathroom design- Going ‘frameless,’ not framed.
A discussion of what’s hot in a master bathroom wouldn’t be complete without addressing a key component – your shower doors.
And if there’s one thing which is abundantly clear (and yes, I threw in that glass door pun on purpose), it’s that clear frameless glass shower doors are hot.
Why block the look of your fancy tile, or faux tile wall surrounds with an obscure glass door? And for the love of God (or for the love of your family member who cleans the doors) DO NOT use a framed shower door with tracks at the bottom which makes ‘your family cleaning person’ (and hint….DO NOT call them that if you know what’s good for you!) swear like a drunken sailor! Go frameless.
And if you want to be extra smart (and still have a hot design) – make sure the glass is manufactured with glass surface protection (it’s like ‘Rain-X’ for your shower door) it’ll be simpler to clean and minimizes the chance of getting (permanently) spotted from hard water.
Or if you want a modern looking shower which is easy to enter – choose a walk in glass shower. It’s smart for someone with mobility challenges and gives you a contemporary look at the same time.
The Ultimate Glass Door Shower Guide
A clear guide to making the best bath or shower glass shower door choice
So, now let’s turn our attention to what’s not hot in master bathroom design.
#1 – What’s NOT hot in a master bathroom design- A jacuzzi or corner soaking tub.
I remember going on a sales appointment years ago – and the client – believe it or not was my cardiologist (and yes, I wish I didn’t have to admit I HAVE a cardiologist!). And when I looked at his existing bathroom I saw the funniest thing. He was using his corner soaking tub as a place to store suitcases! This tub was used so little, he used the space to store stuff instead!
And while corner tub which is built inside a platform were soooo hot in the late 1990’s, they’re very behind-the-times today. If you want a shower (and a tub) in the same design, use a freestanding tub.
#2 – What’s NOT hot in a master bathroom design- Shower pans with high curbs (AKA thresholds).
Shower pans with 5-6” shower curbs are not only a tripping hazard, and completely unfriendly to any member of your family whose mobility isn’t what it used to be, but any shower pan using a 5-6” curb is likely built from a mold which seen it’s better days…years ago. Their design isn’t sleek and contemporary like you’ll find in stylish bathrooms today. Go low profile.
#3 – What’s NOT hot in a master bathroom design- Tile showers (and shower pans) built with ‘old school’ methods.
If your contractor is creating a custom tile shower for you and you don’t know what installation methods they’re using, you may be sorry later.
For example, one ‘old school’ method to build a tile shower is using cement board (which is water resistant) behind the tile wall surrounds and building a ‘mud set’ shower pan by hand at the site. And while there are contractors still doing it the ‘old fashion way,’ there are better methods – which offer improved protection against water leaks.
For tub and shower surrounds made with tile, look into waterproof base and backer board systems made by Wedi, Schluter, or waterproof ready for tile shower pans. And although these systems aren’t something you ‘see’ on the surface, they provide an installation which has far better protection against leaks down the road.
And if you don’t want to worry AT ALL about leaks through tile grout joints, stop using tile altogether. Switch to grout free wall panels like this laminate shower panel system below.
And if you want to dig deeper into this ‘tile vs. no tile’ debate watch this video.
#4 – What’s NOT hot in a master bathroom design- Fixed bench seats.
Most showers are not as large as we wish they were. And when you add a fixed bench seat you’re eating up your precious ‘square inchage’ (OK, I know ‘inchage’ isn’t a word, but you get what I mean) with a fixed seat. It’s not space you can EVER reclaim until you decide to remodel again and remove the fixed seat.
And while it can be nice (or essential) to have seating in a shower – the smarter way to accomplish this goal is with a fold down seat. Fold the seat down when you need it, fold it up when you don’t. Sit down for a relaxing spa experience or use the seat to shave your legs WITHOUT sacrificing your ‘square inchage’ because you can fold it up when you’re done.
#5 – What’s NOT hot in a master bathroom design- Cultured marble or cultured granite vanity tops.
While cultured marble and cultured granite tops are waterproof, cost-effective, and durable, if you’re looking to make a fashion statement with your vanity top, they’re pretty bland (in the case of cultured granite) and very behind the times (in the case of cultured marble).
If you’re looking for ‘wow factor,’ (and have a larger budget) a quartz vanity top is what’s hot today. And if you want your top to be easy to clean and fit today’s contemporary looks – use a quartz top with a rectangular undermount sink.
#6 – What’s NOT hot in a master bathroom design- ‘Matchy-matchy’ decors.
I still hear a lot of people looking to match their shower wall surrounds, shower pans and vanity tops. And while this does simplify selections, it’s boring.
It’s OK in today’s master bathroom designs to break the ‘old school’ rules. Use mixed metals. Create a shower floor which contrasts with the shower walls (note: contrasting colors are a smart practice for an age in place bathroom anyway because they help older people – and I’m going to pretend this DOES NOT pertain to me – see better).
And if you worry about how everything will look together, use a bathroom visualizer tool to ‘see’ in 3D what your finished colors/textures look in the same design.
#7 – What’s NOT hot in a master bathroom design- Shower heads you can’t turn on without getting wet (or cold) due to a bad design.
OK, so this tip is (literally) NOT HOT.
Have you ever used a shower (either in your own home or at a hotel) and because of the location of a fixed glass shower door you had to move the shower head towards the wall so you wouldn’t get blasted with cold water when turning it on?
If you’ve had this ‘lovely’ (sarcasm intended) experience, you know this IS NOT something you want to deal with daily in your own home.
Fortunately – with proper planning (and/or the right shower door) you will not be a victim of this problem.
One solution is to put the shower valve close to the shower door or opening.
Another solution is to use a bypass glass door – so you can access the shower valve by opening one door, then enter using the opposite door.
REFUSE to get the ‘cold shoulder’ in your own shower. Make sure you don’t overlook how you’re going to turn the water on.
So, how do you feel about my ‘hot/not hot’ master bathroom design list? Do you need help with your project?
So, after reading these 13 ‘hot’ and 7 ‘not hot’ bathroom ideas – which are you excited about? Are there ideas you think are ‘all wet?’ I’d love to hear your comments below.
And if you’d like to see how various bathroom products look in finished rooms, check out the bathroom visualizer below.
Thanks for reading!
And BTW – if you’re an installing contractor and would like to learn about becoming a dealer of laminate wall panels, modern low profile shower pans, and shower replacement kits call Mike at 888-467-7488.