By Athena McKenzie

While your bathroom may be one of the smallest rooms in your house, there’s no denying it’s also one of the most important. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to fill this space with stylish elements that are as functional as they are stunning. If you’re looking to inject some flair into your ensuite, consider one of these popular bathroom trends — all of which will have enduring appeal.


This serene retreat by Maximilian Huxley Construction and Jenny Martin Design won a 2014 CARE Gold Award for Best Bathroom (New or Renovated) under 100 sq. ft. The custom mirror frame was made by layering multiple frames to create a dramatic statement piece. Photo: Joshua Lawrence


1. Surface matters
Designer Jenny Martin knows how to make an impression with her bathroom designs. Recently, she won a Gold Care Award with Maximilian Huxley Construction in the category “Best Bathroom Under 100 square feet.” The space used a lot of Bianco Carrara marble, illustrating one of the trends that Martin embraces.

“Marble and natural materials are making a big comeback, but in more modern ways,” she says. “Showers done in whole slab pieces as opposed to tile. Even other materials, like quartz reproducing a marble look — some of them are getting really good.”

The options for using natural materials are quite varied. Large-scale use of marble on the walls can create a becoming wallpaper effect and is a striking statement piece in itself. It can also be used on the floor for a seamless feel.

Countertops are an obvious choice for these natural elements. For a more economical option, Martin points to a newer material, porcelain slabs, which come in big sheets like countertops, but are thin like tile and available in a range of looks and patterns.

“It can be used to do showers or built up to do countertops,” she says. “You can do all sorts of really neat things with it.”


Rain-heads in the shower continue to be a popular option.  Photo: Joshua Lawrence


2. Singing in the Rain
The materials used are not the only way to make a statement with your shower. Jennifer Pacheco, an interior designer at MAC Renovations, says that a lot of people are removing tubs and putting in big walk-in showers, over five feet long and three feet wide.

“People don’t even want doors,” Pacheco says. “They want to be able to just walk through it. So, we’re doing single panels of glass coming across and then leaving it open on the end. It gives it a much sleeker look and it is obviously much easier to keep clean, as you have no door or hinges or anything else.”

Along with the ever-popular steam and rain-heads for an indulgent shower experience, a new trend is to put in a combination of heads, with a jetted showerhead for washing hair and additional body sprays.

“If you’re going with all the bells and whistles, turning it into a steam shower that you can sit in is nice,” says Elissa Tucker, showroom manager at Kitchen & Bath Classics. “We see a lot of the built-in seats that are done in tile or the teak, fold-down seats.”


Oversize walk-in showers, like this one from Harbour City Kitchens and GT Mann Construction are a popular addition to an ensuite bath.


3. Soak Your Troubles Away
Of course, as Pacheco says, if you’re a bath person, then you’re a bath person, and people do love their soaker tubs, whether they go for the free-standing or drop-in option.

“We do lots of drop-in tub and shower combinations,” Pacheco says. “The tub deck runs into the shower and acts as a bench in the shower. It’s all one piece, so it looks really lovely when we have the space for it.”

If there is enough negative space in the bathroom, Martin encourages putting in a freestanding tub. A modern, organic–shaped bathtub can create an anchoring point in the room.

“Even the more modern ones with clean lines can work in a traditional space, as well as a contemporary space,” Martin says.

Alisha Kelly, manager at Victoria Speciality Hardware, recommends a composite freestanding tub, which is made of ground stone and resin.

“It allows for a wider range of shapes and designs,” Kelly says. “It also retains the heat quite a bit better than the other materials. It has function and design aesthetics to it.”


The Napoli tub from Victoria + Albert, a line carried at Victoria Speciality Hardware, offers an on-trend sculptural shape and a low step-in height. Photo: W Hotel, Atlanta


4. Light Effects
Both Pacheco and Martin describe statement lighting in the bathroom as a dramatic finishing touch.

“Picking light fixtures is probably my favourite thing to do,” says Pacheco. “I always think of the light fixture as that piece of jewelry you wear on your outfit. It does that for a room.”

From elegant crystal chandeliers to modern art-like pieces, lighting is a sure-fire way to make an impression.

“We’re also doing pendant lights often,” Martin says. “If you have a single sink, doing a single dramatic pendant over the sink and close to the wall can create a really neat effect.”

She also points to architectural lighting, such as recessed and indirect lighting, as a way to play and create drama.

“Whether it’s a back-lit mirror, or a mirror with strip lighting on the sides, you get a mirror that looks like it’s glowing,” Martin says.

5. Vanity Fair
The vanity is another area of the bathroom where one can express their sense of style. A popular choice is the furniture-like option.

“They have decorative legs and hold their own as a piece of furniture,” says Tucker of the vanities carried at Kitchen & Bath Classics. “People like the look that they’ve picked something up from a shop somewhere and turned it into their vanity.”

Kelly sees a number of customers who are actually finding antiques and repurposing them into vanities.

“They will often come to us looking for the sink or countertop for it,” she says.

Other ways to up-style a vanity include switching up the hardware, pulls and knobs.

“It’s a nice way to pull a room together,” Kelly says. “Glass knobs are quite popular and we have a few lines of modern glass knobs, so this doesn’t have to be limited to the traditional look.”


This Fairmont vanity from Kitchen & Bath Classics has the look of an artfully repurposed piece of furniture.


Whatever look you’re aspiring to, let these trends inspire you to start rethinking your bathroom design and décor.

“It’s how all the little elements come together that create the impact, with layers upon layers of detail,” says Martin. “But it is nice to have a couple different focal points that stand out when you walk into the room.”

So, whether it’s with that stunning soaker tub, an inviting marble walk-in shower or an eye-catching chandelier, transform your bathroom into a welcoming and stylish retreat.